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Should You Apply Baby Oil on Your Beard?

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By: Adam Williams

Baby oil, also known as mineral oil, has been around for years.

While we don’t care to give a history lesson (it was created around 1771, if you must know), there are some things you do need to know if you are applying this stuff to your beard regularly.

While we will dive into all the ins and outs of mineral oil (pssst…you should be using something else), we will also talk about some alternatives on the market, including options that are perfect for even the most frugal men out there.

So, let’s go ahead and dive into mineral oil (we will use the terms baby oil and mineral oil interchangeably in this article as they are the same product), and what it’s exactly doing to your beard whenever you apply it:

Baby Oil Is A Petroleum-Based Product

Likely not a news flash for many of the men reading this right now; it’s still worth mentioning and reinforcing.

Mineral oil is derived from petroleum.

You can find mineral oil in everything from products suited for infants, heavy machinery in factories, or your standard hair pomade.

The point is this:

It’s incredibly prevalent in many products and industries.

But why?

Mineral oil has lubricating and water retention properties.

Secondly, mineral oil has non-comedogenic properties, which makes it great for people with acne.

However, not to sound like an alarmist, there was one note that caught our attention about mineral oil:

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies highly refined mineral oils as a Group 3 carcinogen (non-refined or mildly treated mineral oils are a Group 1 carcinogen).

While refined mineral oil is not suspected to be a carcinogen, there hasn’t been enough information published to fully classify them as harmless either (source).

Furthermore, the Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA) also has regulations primarily around untreated/mildly treated mineral oils and how much a person can inhale in their work environment on any given day (source).

The point that stood out to us the most for our readers is the word inhale.

Now there is no known link (that we could find) where regular inhalation of refined mineral oil is a cause for concern.

So, if you are a man who applies mineral oil to your beard regularly, you may want to check out some natural alternatives that exist instead.

Specifically, if you are currently using mineral oil, it may be time that you learn about beard oil:

Proper Beard Oil Is Derived From Plant-Based Products

While we have reviewed countless beard oils over the years, one common theme that you will see in a quality beard oil is that it relies on all-natural ingredients.

Now, I get it; many men may brush off the idea that beard oil is just reserved for the hipsters…

…and since it’s natural, it probably won’t work half as well as other conditioning products.

I’ll admit it; I was once as skeptical as well. But after regular use of beard oil, you will be converted for life.

It’s good at doing several things for both your skin and beard.

Relying on two simple ingredients, carrier oils and essential oils (found in a ton of natural grooming products), beard oil is about as clean as you can get when it comes to formulation.

The most notable benefit that any beardsman will instantly realize is that beard oil will be the relief of an itchy beard.

From a short stubble to a yeard (beard for a year), the carrier oils in beard oil will be terrific at providing moisture to your skin to ensure that you don’t get dry, irritable skin.

Secondly, and I heard this one from my wife, my beard would feel ‘spiky.’

The sharpness or brittleness of the beard comes when it’s not adequately moisturized as well.  Many beardsmen also commonly refer to this brittleness as a dry beard and will significantly curb a beard from reaching its fullest potential.

Providing a better cure than mineral oil, beard oil applied to your beard regularly will just simply make your beard both look and feel a whole lot better!

Lastly, and perhaps the most important, most men out there applying baby oil to their beards are scent.

Seriously, while I cannot deny the awesome scent of baby oil that can make ALL women turn their heads in excitement to see a baby only to find a rugged beardsman in their presence, maybe you should try beard oil.

Baby oil isn’t precisely the manly scent that many men are after.

As we eluded earlier, quality beard oils are often comprised of two oils: carrier and essential oils.

While carrier oils are responsible for all the awesome benefits we went over above, the essential oils provide fragrance.

Seriously, check out the beard oil market. You will see some incredible scents, including pine, cedarwood, sandalwood (that classic barbershop scent), cinnamon, tobacco, and so many other incredible fragrances.

A word of caution, though, essential oils can cause rashes and mild irritation for some men (source).  So be sure to patch test before complete application.

But Beard Oil Is Too Expensive – There’s Gotta Be A Better Way!

If there was anything we excluded above about beard oil when compared to baby oil, it’s the cost…

Seriously, baby oil is CHEAP.

…and it’s REALLY hard to try and compare on a cost basis to a NATURAL product.

Ringing in usually around $15 – $20 an ounce, many men find themselves making beard oil at home.

While we put together an incredible guide that outlines EVERYTHING you need to do in order to make your own beard oil, there are a few pointers you should know:

If you NEVER used beard oil before, you are better off buying a bottle first from a beard care company.

The reason is this:

These guys are pros.

They put a lot of hard work to make a beard oil…

…including testing different levels of essential oils, carrier oils, etc.

Secondly, when you try a professionally made beard oil (again, check our guide if you are looking for recommendations), you have a baseline for comparison.

This way when you go to make your own, you know what to expect for the final product.

Oh, and about that cost:

If you want to take a shortcut and skip the whole DIY beard oil thing, you can simply apply a bit  (dime-sized amount) of jojoba oil or argan oil to your face to substitute for beard oil.

This will nearly rival the cost of mineral oil on a per ounce basis.

But…you will be missing out on all the great scents of essential oils should you go this route.

Beard Oil Is The Next Closest Comparable Product To Baby Oil – But There’s Another…

While yes, beard oil is without a doubt the closest comparison to baby oil, it’s worth at least mentioning beard balm.

A bit more of a conditioner than a beard oil, beard balms also include butters (shea and cocoa) along with beeswax along with the staples of carrier and essential oils.

These two supportive ingredients (butter and beeswax) are incredibly effective for men who live in dry climates and are looking for an added layer of moisturizer and protectant from harsh conditions.

Also worth noting is that beard balm does tend to run a bit cheaper than beard oil.

While not as cheap as straight up carrier oil, a beard balm will also provide nice light manly scents if that’s what you are looking for.

Like beard oils, we also did a comprehensive review of the best beard balms on the market in this recent article.

The Final Verdict When It Comes To Applying Baby Oil On Your Beard

While some men may very well go on with applying baby oil to their beard regularly (which is completely fine), if you really are looking for an effective conditioner for your beard, then a product that was designed FOR YOUR BEARD is going to yield much better results.

As we touched on briefly, these natural ingredients found in beard oils and balms aren’t just in these products alone.

In fact, you can also find several grooming products including shave creams, shampoos, body washes, and more that are starting to rely on these key ingredients.

But at the end of the day, if you are growing a beard – you’re awesome!

Seriously, just make sure you take the extra minute or two in the morning to maintain it properly so you look your very best…cause you never know what could happen or who you could run into!

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more.

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