Today I’m sharing my last formulation of 2020—a Midwinter Conditioning Beard Balm. Beard balms are usually made up of carrier oils thickened with some sort of wax to create a firm balm. This formulation features argan oil, jojoba oil, and a small amount of beeswax—plus something a bit different for extra softness and all-around loveliness. The finished beard balm has an indulgently rich, almost ointment-y consistency and leaves beards feeling softer and more manageable. Let’s dive in!
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The conditioning ingredient in this Midwinter Conditioning Beard Balm is cationic BTMS-25, which contains 25% Behentrimonium Methosulfate and 75% Cetearyl Alcohol. At 20% of the formula, this translates to 5% Behentrimonium Methosulfate and 15% Cetearyl Alcohol. I adore the rich, conditioning feel that Behentrimonium Methosulfate brings to products of all kinds, and I think it’s a really easy way to level up a beard balm.
BTMS-50 also contains Behentrimonium Methosulfate, but at 50%, and the remaining 50% is not cetearyl alcohol, but a blend of Cetyl Alcohol and Butylene Glycol. The cetearyl alcohol content in the BTMS-25 plays a big role in the hardness and melting point of the finished product (along with the beeswax in the formula), so if you want to use BTMS-50 instead of 25 your starting point would be using half (10% overall) due to it containing twice as much active ingredient. After that, you’ll have to do your own experiments with the remaining 10% to get the end consistency of the beard balm to roughly the same place. I’d probably start with using 10% cetearyl alcohol and see how that goes, but I haven’t tried it.
I chose four of my favourite for-hair carrier oils for this formulation. Luxurious argan oil, satiny jojoba oil, rich castor oil for added shine, and slippy coconut oil. Coconut oil is one of the very few carrier oils that has been shown to penetrate the hair, while argan and castor oil may. Jojoba oil won’t penetrate the hair and instead coats it. A combination of penetrating and coating oils helps both soften the hair and add shine. This blog post about which oils coat vs. penetrate the hair from Science-y Hair Blog is excellent and very informative—definitely check it out!
For scent, I’ve included 0.2% Kentucky Bourbon fragrance oil from Brambleberry. I’m occasionally asked where to find good beard-y, manly type fragrance oils, and while I’m far from an expert in this area, I have purchased some lovely ones from Brambleberry. If you’d prefer to use essential oils, try cedarwood, pine, fir, and spruce for lovely tree-ish scents. Mints can be lovely, as can citrus scents. A tiny amount of vetiver or cade essential oils can add a hint of smoke. Benzoin has a rich, sweet, vanilla-like scent that pairs beautifully with everything mentioned here for a great base note. Whatever essential oils you use, make sure you are researching and abiding by their maximum usage rates so you create a safe product. You may also wish to use slightly more essential oil than I’ve used for fragrance oil; simply reduce the jojoba oil to make room for it.
The finished Midwinter Conditioning Beard Balm has a rich, ointment-ish consistency. It’s not rock hard, so you can easily pick up a small amount of product with warm fingertips and work that through your beard. You could also use this product as a conditioning hair balm, or even as a body butter. Due to the emulsifying properties of BTMS-25, you can also blend this product up with a small amount of water in your palm to create a cream conditioner—perfect for those with less oil-tolerant hair, or if you just want a bit of hydration with your conditioning. Enjoy!
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Midwinter Conditioning Beard Balm
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the water bath from the heat, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and dry it off with a dishtowel. Set the measuring cup on a towel or hot pad to insulate it from the counter and stir the mixture with a flexible silicone spatula to combine everything. Add the post-heat phase ingredients and stir as the balm cools.
Once the balm is thick enough that drawing your spatula across the bottom of the measuring cup leaves a visible line for a moment, add the cool down phase.
Continue stirring the balm until it is thick, ointment-y, and scoop-able. Transfer the product into its container. That’s it!
If you are making a larger batch you may wish to use an ice bath to speed up cooling—a 15g batch cools fairly quickly without one, but that cooling will slow as the batch size grows.
To use, work a small amount of beard balm into your beard with your fingers, re-applying as needed. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this product does not contain any water, 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.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 15g, which fills a 15mL (0.5 fl oz) tin nicely.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- I do not recommend substituting the BTMS-25 or beeswax. Both of these ingredients are integral to the finished viscosity; if you do opt to use something else for one or either please be aware that you may need to re-develop the formulation in order to get a desireable end consisitency.
- If you’d like to swap around the carrier oils in this formulation, please read this.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil instead of the fragrance oil I used, please read this.
The coconut oil was gifted by Baraka Shea Butter. Links to Baraka Shea Butter are affiliate links.