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In light of recently writing about crafting your own unique beard oil, I wanted to further reveal a similar product that is just as popular in the marketplace (and just as easy to craft), beard balm.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
If you really hone in on creating a unique men’s line through effective products and branding, the question between using beard oil and beard balm will inevitably come up with your customers.
Though some would argue that they are too similar to really make a substantial difference, they are in fact quite different, and this should be explained to your end consumer. Beard oil is a leave in moisturizer and conditioner, crafted by mixing carrier oils with essential oil blends or in some cases fragrance oils, per our discussion in the beard oil post.
Beard balm is a pomade (or, ‘pommade,’ if you’re into the French thing) made by mixing, heating and cooling moisturizers and sealants (along with fragrance).
Beard balm is a styling and shaping aid as well as a leave in beard conditioner. Thus, in effect, it serves two purposes. This, more than anything else, can be a vital piece of selling and marketing this product.
WATCH OUT FOR SYNTHETICS
A good beard balm should moisturize facial hair, provide hold for styling and make the beard look thicker. Personally, I stay away from synthetic sealants like petroleum jelly, as they may irritate the skin, clog pores and even damage facial hair over time.
Thus, I prefer to utilize all natural sealants like shea butter, cocoa butter or beeswax. These ingredients are natural, help the beard look thicker and are much less likely to irritate the skin under the beard.
As the founder of a men’s grooming company (to which I have since sold), I talked to a lot of guys who had patchy beards that didn’t grow in full and rich. For this reason, I crafted my beard balms with shea butter, as shea is especially good at making facial hair appear thicker. This is why you see shea butter in so many shampoos.
In addition to all natural sealants, such as shea butter and beeswax, we can’t forget about the moisturizing aspects of the balm. Much like quality beard oil recipes, you must make sure to guarantee as much moisture quality as possible with as little greasy after-effect, which is explained below. Without the moisturizers, the sealants will just seal in dryness, making a brittle beard that is prone to breakage. A quality beard balm containing all natural moisturizers and sealants will moisturize, condition and provide hold for shaping and styling as well as make the beard look thicker.
All you really need to make a great beard oil are 4 components:
- Oils and/or Butters
- Essential Oils (or Synthetic Fragrance Oils)
OILS & BUTTERS
Referring to the list from my beard oil post, below are some of the best moisturizing oils to be utilized in a balm. Some have their advantages by their utility and use, while others have their advantages by their price. Let’s look at a few of my favorites:
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Sweet Almond oil has a light texture and it can easily penetrate through the skin cells, therefore it is able to dislodge debris and dirt that has accumulated on (and under) the hair follicles and skin pores. Sweet Almond Oil is reasonably priced, and has a steady shelf life, thus a great choice for a carrier oil for any and all beard products.
- Argan Oil
- Argan oil is most commonly used as a moisturizer to hydrate and soften skin and hair. With its high vitamin E and fatty acid content, Argan oil is the ideal product to beard follicles a natural boost. It absorbs easily and is non-greasy and non-irritating, which makes it a great choice for beard balm. The less greasy your beard balm is, the better. Nobody likes a greasy, oily cell phone after taking a call. Argan is expensive, but worth it. Even when used in small quantities, Argan adds an immense benefit to beard balm.
- Apricot Kernel Oil
- Apricot Kernel oil is rich in plant antioxidants as it is a good source of vitamins A and C but also have vitamins E, K, and even niacin. They have a huge mineral content including copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and potassium. It has excellent softening and moisturizing properties that aid skin, scalp, and hair as it helps skin retain its elasticity and suppleness. This is a good choice for beard balm, however the price and shelf life might factor in.
- Avocado Oil
- The health benefits of avocado oil come from the presence of high quantity monounsaturated fats. Because of its lubricating nature, the oil coats all the strings of beard follicles, thus making it shinier and stronger. This is a great choice for beard balm, as it is priced affordably and has a steady shelf life.
- Castor Oil
- When used in small quantities, castor oil makes for a [very] shiny beard. Most of the glimmer you see from a beard that has just been doused in a quality beard balm will most likely come from castor. For me, Castor is a must. And, much like Argan oil, it doesn’t take much at all to make a lasting difference. Even as little as 5% in the overall carrier oil blend will add great benefit. Plus, it is inexpensive and has a very long shelf life.
- Coconut Oil
- Coconut oil is very effective in beard balm, as when cooled (generally), it will revert back into a solid or semi-solid state. This is perfectly suitable to balms. It melts in your hands for ease of application, and then can stiffen back up in the beard follicles, depending on the season.
- Jojoba Oil
- The crown jewel of all carrier oils for beards. Yes, it is incredibly expensive, but profoundly worth it in my opinion. Much like Castor and Argan, the benefits are through the roof, and it is non-greasy.
- Shea Butter
- As previously discussed, shea butter is a wonderful natural sealant. Reasonably priced considering the benefits, shea butter is an absolute must for beard balm (in my opinion). Though you are welcome to utilize refined shea butter, I actually prefer a more natural, unrefined shea butter, like Soaper’s Choice’s “Ghana Beige.” If you use this particular butter, you would obviously know the source (Ghana in West Africa), therefore you can use this information in your marketing strategy.
- Cocoa Butter
- If you are going to use cocoa butter, I would advise utilizing it in very small quantities (5 – 8%), as it is VERY hard. I have purchased beard balms with sizeable amounts of cocoa butter in them, and while I did like the subtle fragrance that comes through, it was virtually impossible to get out of the tin in cold weather, which was incredibly frustrating.
- Much like shea butter, I believe an essential ingredient in beard balm is beeswax. This wax is what is going to give your balm the hold it will need, and it supplies much needed vitamin A. It doesn’t take much beeswax to create a nice sealant for beard balm. I prefer the natural golden color that hasn’t been overly processed. I personally love the smell of natural beeswax and find it to be a compliment to any essential oil blend. If you plan on making a lot of balm, I would definitely recommend getting the pastilles as opposed to the blocks, as it will save you an immense amount of time. My favorite supplier of yellow beeswax pastilles is Soaper’s Choice.
As mentioned in my previous beard oil post, don’t be afraid to spend a little money on better raw materials. Your customers will notice, and they will pay good money for it. Besides, you and your company are worth it.
Also, don’t be afraid to experiment. I have seen a plethora of different oils, butters and natural sealants (such as anhydrous lanolin) in balms. Depending on what your clientele might be looking for, don’t be afraid to play around with different materials. That is part of the fun!
ESSENTIAL OILS (OR SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCE OILS)
First off, I don’t personally recommend using synthetic fragrance oils for beard balm. Even the muskier, meant-for-men scents don’t sit right with me, as they smell, well…inauthentic. But, that is subjective to my own sensibilities, so if you choose to use synthetics, more power to you!
Men have a vast and more-complicated-than-you-think set of scents that they admire. Anything from woodsy to floral is on the table for men. That said, I would recommend slightly heavier tones that are met with brighter notes, such as a Clove Bud met with some Rosemary and Sweet Orange. This gives a more balanced approach to scent-blending for men, as opposed to just thinking that all men enjoy woodsy stuff only.
I wrote a book specifically about essential oil blends for men. You can check it out here.
Most containers on the market for beard balms/pomades are no more than 2 – 3 ounces. I think this is a great size, as depending on the size of the beard, the user really only needs a pea-size amount for each application. Thus, even 1 ounce of balm goes a long way.
Proceed as you wish, but my recommendation would be to purchase the 2 ounce tins, knowing that your net product weight will yield close to 1 – 1.2 ounces, due to the viscosity of the product.
The most popular container on the market for balms/pomades are circular metal tins. Typically, these come with either a “rolled edge” lid or a “screw top” lid. I personally don’t have a preference between the two, however I used the rolled edge for my company’s balms. One of my favorite suppliers for these are SKS Bottle & Packaging.
Another cool idea I have seen around are the metal slide-top tins.
A good beard balm just wouldn’t be completed without a well-designed label. If you need help with beard balm label design, you can contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am well-equipped for label design and enjoy it very much.
Once you do have a good label design, I would recommend uploading it to a professional printer, such as Short Run Labels, Sticker You or Leapin’ Lizard Labels, as they can create a beautifully printed label with the appropriate finish and sheen that repels it from water and sun and/or indoor light damage. The process is very simple and emailing them all your questions and concerns will open the dialogue for getting your labels done. If you utilize my services for design, I can serve as your intermediate for the printing companies, as I’ve worked with just about everyone in the industry at this point!
Based on my opinions of each the different raw materials comprised above, I will show you a truly excellent recipe blend, along with a great essential oil blend for men.
The recipe below yields approximately 600 grams (a smidge over 21 ounces):
OILS & BUTTERS:
- Shea Butter: 180 grams
- Coconut Oil: 120 grams
- Beeswax: 120 grams
- Castor Oil: 60 grams
- Avocado Oil: 60 grams
- Argan Oil: 30 grams
- Jojoba Oil: 30 grams
I recommend crafting your essential oil blend at a quantity no more than 3% of the total weight from your combined oils and butters. In this instance, we have 600 grams of oils and butters, so the essential oil blend will comprise 18 grams by weight. If you would like to go over this amount, feel free to do so, but be advised of the skin sensitivities that might incur.
Now we will take a blend from my book, Essential Oil Blends for Men, titled, “Crazy Horse.”
- Pink Grapefruit: 50%
- Clary Sage: 25%
- Lemongrass: 25%
Now we will multiply each percentage by 18 grams to come up with our blend:
- Pink Grapefruit: 50% x 18 grams = 9 grams
- Clary Sage: 25% x 18 grams = 4.5 grams
- Lemongrass: 25% x 18 grams = 4.5 grams
Since it would be nearly impossible to obtain accurate gram readings in the decimal points, simply round up or down, depending on your sensibilities. There is no exact science to essential oil percentages in beard oil. Here is what I will do:
- Pink Grapefruit: 9 grams
- Lemongrass: 5 grams
- Clary Sage: 4 grams
First you must melt any and all solids in the recipe. In this case, it will be beeswax, shea butter and most likely coconut oil. Whether using a microwave or a double boiler, only heat the solids until it is just melted, stirring as often as possible to expedite the melting process. Overheating can be bad for the properties.
Once completely melted, combine your other moisturizing oils, but net yet the essential oils. Due to the pesky nature of beeswax, when you introduce the liquid oils, your mixture will inevitably solidify a bit. Simply reheat very slowly and mildly, stirring often.
Once completely melted, add essential oils. Stir until well blended and pour into containers of your choice.
Allow to completely cool before lidding to avoid sweating, which can lead to mold growth.