A couple weeks ago I was having a patio chat with my friend Dallas, who was dithering over what to do with his facial hair. It was at the scruffy hipster beard stage, and he was considering sporting mutton chops, or perhaps a sturdy ‘stache. In his beard researching adventures he had started to learn about beard balms, oils, and mustache waxes, and was generally perplexed about the entire thing. Could he just use hair conditioner, he wondered? And that got me to thinking… I could make a conditioning beard balm.

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For something to be truly conditioning, it needs to be cationic. Cationic (or positively charged) ingredients adsorb (creates a very thin film on) our negatively charged hair. This leaves our hair feeling silky and soft, helping reduce breaking and increase hydration. Susan has an excellent post on this—I highly recommend giving it a read as it’s where I learned all this, and she’s clearly the master on this front.

Now, your standard beard balm offers all kinds of great things to beards: some hold from a wax, some gloss and shine from the oils, taming, and some nice skin softening goodness for that face under the beard—but I’ve never seen a conditioning one before. Combine the gloss/hold/skin softening with some super awesome conditioning goodness, and I figured we’d have something pretty rad. It would be a bit like a solid conditioner bar, but waxier so it has some shaping and physical fly-away-taming abilities.

Since beard balms are oil based, we’ll need an oil based conditioning ingredient, which is where BTMS-50 comes in. Since BTMS-50 is also a complete emulsifying wax, it’ll also help this beard balm wash out a bit better when scrubbed at with water, reducing build up and negating the need for fancy beard shampoos (Dallas tells me he came across such a thing in his beard researching adventures… perhaps I shall invent one someday). It also means it works extra well when you use it with a slightly damp beard; the beard balm and water will self-emulsify, creating an awesome beard conditioner.

The consistency of this beard balm is also pretty nifty when compared to more standard beard balms—it’s quite creamy and wonderfully silky! Some viewers on YouTube have been asking about how to make a creamier beard balm, so hopefully they’re stoked about this 😃 If you want a firmer balm instead of this semi-soft creamy one, try adding another gram or two of beeswax to the blend to firm it up, but I would recommend checking out the video first to see what the consistency is like when made as-written.

So! If you are looking for an easy to make, creamy, conditioning beard balm, this is your recipe 🙂 Happy making!

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Conditioning Beard Balm

6g | 0.21oz BTMS-50 or BTMS-25
2g | 0.07oz beeswax
4g | 0.14oz castor oil
8g | 0.28oz camellia seed oil
5g | 0.18oz mango butter
2 drops vitamin E oil

5 drops pine essential oil
5 drops spruce essential oil
2 drops cypress essential oil

Weight the BTMS, beeswax, castor oil, camellia seed oil, mango butter, and vitamin E into a small saucepan and melt over low, direct heat. Keep a close eye on it to be sure it doesn’t scorch!

Once everything has melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir the mixture as it cools to ensure it stays nice and creamy and uniform. Once the mixture has cooled quite a lot (the outside of the pan should only be warm to the touch) and the mixture has thickened into a lovely, yoghurt-like creamy consistency, stir in the essential oils.

Decant into a 30mL/1 ounce tin and leave the balm to set up; it’ll be usable in a couple hours, but give it a couple days before you assume it’s fully firmed up. To use, massage a small amount of the balm into a damp or dry beard. Enjoy!

Substitutions: You can use another lightweight oil instead of camellia seed oil. Broccoli seed, grapeseed, safflower, hazelnut, and macadamia nut would all be good choices. You can use shea butter instead of mango butter, but it will make for a greasier final product. You can use 10 drops of fir, pine, or spruce instead of the blend of pine and spruce, but I don’t recommend cedarwood; it’s too soft in the scent department.

Because this beard balm is 100% oil based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.

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