Which non-toxic beard oils are effective in safeguarding your man’s hormonal health & his hair growth? We looked at the most popular products out there to tell you. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like safest cookware, safest organic mattresses without PFAS treatments, and safest non-toxic shampoos, now join us as we bring you all the most popular beard oils ranked by ingredients for human health and the Planet.
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. It also contains affiliate links.
Beard Oils Have Lots of Undisclosed Fragrance Which Can Contain Ingredients Problematic to Hormonal Health
After evaluating over 70 different beard oil products, we realized the most important thing to look for when evaluating the ingredient label is “fragrance.” When you see the word “fragrance” on a bottle, it means the brand has chosen not to tell you what ingredients they are using to create a scent and keep it long-lasting. Fragrances are considered a “trade secret” or “proprietary” so brands technically do not have to disclose that information by law. However, the problem with that rule is what can be added into a “fragrance” that is problematic to hormones, and particularly to male hormones.
There are over 3,000 commonly used fragrance ingredients available for brands to use, lots of which are categorized as a “health hazard” by the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (UN GHS). These chemicals of concern in fragrance are linked to allergies, cancer, birth defects, and infertility.
One of the most common additives used to bolster the staying power of fragrance is a chemical class known as phthalates. Phthalates are also found in vinyl and plastic tubing, household products, and many personal care products such as soap and shampoo. According to Dr. Shanna Swan, who is one of the world’s leading environmental and reproductive epidemiologists and a professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, phthalates are very problematic to men’s hormonal health. In fact, in her research on phthalates looking at over 40 years of sperm quality from sperm banks and following pregnant mothers and their male babies for many years, she has discovered phthalates to be quite problematic to male reproduction, development, penis size, and testosterone levels. In her best-selling book, Countdown: How the Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race, she recounts the dangers of chemicals like phthalates and what they have done to sperm counts in American men.
Below is an interview with Shanna Swan and Joe Rogan on the Joe Rogan Show in the spring of 2021 about her book and the perils of sperm in the United States based on environmental chemicals like phthalates.
Phthalates can be found in “fragrance” inside beard oil and are linked to some of the following health impacts:
- testicular dysgenesis
- breast cancer
- less “masculine play” by little boys
Some Beard Oils Can Cause Allergic Reactions
Another problem we found with most beard oil products, was a lack of disclosure of essential oil ingredients. Some brands literally said “a bunch of essential oils” as a way to disclose they were not using phthalates, but still were not transparent about which essential oils they were using. This can cause a big problem with allergic reactions and sensitivities.
Most of the time, allergic reactions are to natural ingredients, so it’s important to test out the beard oil first before you cover your entire beard with it. Start by applying a very small amount on your face and monitor if you see any allergic reaction like itchy redness, swelling of the lips, eyes, face, or lips, tightness of your chest, hives, coughing, or shortness of breath. If none of these signs are present within the first 3 hours of use, go ahead and use it on your beard.
Some Beard Oils Can Stunt Male Hair Growth
Ironically, some beard oil, even those that are labeled as “beard growth oil” can contain ingredients that are linked to suppressing male hormones. Testosterone and DHT are the hormones that regulate beard hair growth.
DHT stands for dihydrotestosterone and it’s the androgen hormone that comes through testosterone from the enzyme 5α-reductase (5AR). As the rule goes, the more DHT you have, the fuller your beard growth is. Conversely, it’s also one of the same hormones that are responsible for male pattern baldness.
But have you ever noticed that some men with full beards have shaven their heads? Well, it may be because they have male pattern baldness and that’s also a symptom of high amounts of DHT. DHT isn’t the only factor for male pattern baldness, but it’s one of them. So you don’t want DHT blockers on your beard but you do want them on your head.
But if you do want a fuller beard, it’s important not to use beard oils that are DHT blockers. DHT blockers are high in unsaturated fatty acids and inhibit the enzyme 5α-reductase (5AR).
Because beards have become so popular, there has been an increase in cheap polyunsaturated vegetable, plant, and seed oils on the market that may actually do more to inhibit full beard growth than help it. The worst ones are polyunsaturated oils that are not balanced with monounsaturated and saturated oils in the formulation.
Oils are known for being DHT inhibitors:
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- Tea tree oil
- Lavender essential oils
- Rice bran oil and safflower oil
- Coconut Oil
- Emu Oil
- Soy-based oil
- Other types of oils high in unsaturated fatty acids and possibly could be a problem include hemp, canola, sunflower, and sesame.
Types of oils that are great for beard development because they are not high in unsaturated fatty acids are:
- Castor oil
- Jojoba oil
- Squalane oil
- Peppermint oil
In our investigation, we have put all products containing oils high in unsaturated fatty acids into our “better” but not “best” category. Other types of oils that were not called out specifically in research as being DHT inhibitors but are known to have high polyunsaturated fatty acids, like almonds, were only acceptable if they had a good balance of other oils present like jojoba oil. The information here is enough to drive you crazy, so if this gets confusing, you can always just opt for a good organic jojoba oil.
Beard Oils Linked to Photosensitivity
There are a handful of essential oils that are responsible for increasing photosensitivity to light. Photosensitivity means they increase the risk of sun damage by reacting to the UV rays with more sensitivity and thus making your skin absorb more UV radiation than normal.
If you are pale, work outside, spend lots of time at the beach, have a family history of skin cancer, or go to tanning salons, you’ll need to pay close attention to these essential oils and avoid them:
- Lemon essential oil
- Lime essential oil
- Orange essential oil
- Tangerine essential oil
- Bergamot essential oil
- Grapefruit essential oil
- Angelica essential oil
If you haven’t noticed, most of these essential oils have a citrus component. So stay away from anything containing a citrus ingredient because that is what makes beards photosensitive.
Beard Oils to Avoid Around Children and Pets
If you have children or pets at home, you may also want to be careful which essential oil you use on your beard for that very purpose. Here is a list of essential oils to avoid around children under 6 years of age:
- Peppermint: consists of up to 55% menthol and up to 10% 1,8-cineole. In children aged 1-3, studies showed 1,8-cineole and menthol can cause serious, yet non-fatal reactions. Keep watching till children are over 6 years old.
- Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus contains varying amounts of 1,8-cineole, with Eucalyptus globulus having up to 84%, Eucalyptus Radiata having up to 65%, and Eucalyptus polybractea having up to 92%. The concern is seizures, however rare, but it’s expected that approximately 2% of children will experience a seizure after extensive exposure to Eucalyptus.
- Rosemary: This oil is high in 1,8-cineole and can potentially cause respiration to slow in children. Avoid with children under 6 years old.
- Marjoram (Spanish): This oil is high in 1,8-cineole and can potentially cause respiration to slow in children under 6 years old.
For pets, there is a completely different list to avoid, but there are lots of cross-overs with these ingredients and ingredients to avoid for other reasons.
For dogs avoid the following:
- Tea Tree
- Sweet birch
- Ylang Ylang
For cats avoid the following:
- Tea Tree (THIS ONE IS THE MOST DANGEROUS AND DEADLY!)
- Anything with citrus
- Cassia (cinnamon)
For the purposes of this investigation, we pulled out these ingredients from the “best” list. So if you have dogs or cats or any children under 6 years old, the “best” list would work best for you.
Ingredients That Help or Cause Dandruff & Itching
The same polyunsaturated fats that block DHT in your beard growth, also are prone to oxidation when they are exposed to light, oxygen and heat. Because your face presents the environment for those oils to be exposed to light, oxygen and heat, they can go rancid and harden on your face pretty quickly.
One way to prevent this from happening is to include ingredients full of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a natural fat-soluable antioxidant that can prevent the oils from going rancid. When oils harden up and go rancid, they start to dry out the skin undernearth your beard and that may lead to itchiness and increased dandruff. When you start to see this happening, there are several precautions you can take to fix it.
- Stop washing your facial hair too often. You only need to wash your beard 2-3 times per week. Seriously.
- Stop using regular shampoo and get a good beard wash and beard conditioner. (Expect this investigation soon!)
- Take note of what you are washing your bead with. Are you using shampoos that have sodium hydroxide (lye) or potassium hydroxide in them? STOP! Use a product without lye.
- Don’t use anti-acne cleansers to wash your face and beard. They strip your face of the natural oils you are already producing and that can cause dryness.
- If you are trying to grow out a long beard, you’ll need to add more good quality beard oil because your sebaceous glands can’t keep up with the production of all that.
- Make sure to use a beard oil with added Vitamin E, jojoba oil, or other oils high in Vitamin E.
But don’t forget the vitamin E in your beard oil product because it will help with itchiness, dandruff, and keeping those oils from going hard and rancid.
Mamavation’s Investigation of Beard Oils for Hormonal Health & Better Hair Growth
Mamavation analyzed the ingredients of about 70 different beard oil products looking for the ingredients and issues we mentioned in this article: hormone disruption from “fragrance” chemicals, allergic reactions, ingredients that inhibit DHT, photosensitivity, children under 6 years old, pets, and transparency.
If you do not have an issue with allergies, already have full beard growth, don’t have children under 6 years old, and do not have a dog or a cat, the “better” and “best” category lists would both be fine for you. If you have any of the issues mentioned, I’d stick to “best.”
Not Our Favorite Beard Oils
This post contains products that contain the word “fragrance” meaning they are not transparent on what is inside that fragrance, which could be hormone-disrupting like phthalates or chemicals linked to allergies. This section can also contain products that have other synthetic emulsifying agents like polysorbates.
- 18.21 Manmade Beard Oil
- Arlo’s Beard Oil
- Baxter of California Beard Oil
- Billy’s Jealousy Devil’s Delight Beard Oil
- Biotopic D.N.A. Beard Growth Serum
- Bulldog Original Beard Oil
- Detroit Grooming Company Beard Oil
- Every Man Jack Sandalwood Beard Oil
- Every Man Jack Natural Hemp Beard Oil
- Gibbs Grooming Alpha Male Beard & Tattoo Oil
- Hawkins & Brimble Beard Oil
- Isner Mile Beard Growth Oil
- Isner Mile Beard Oil: cedarwood, sandalwood, sweet orange, & sage
- Jack Black Beard Oil with Kalahari Melon Oil & Vitamin E
- Jack Black MP10 beard, face, & hair oil
- King C. Gillette Beard Oil
- Paul Mitchell MVRCK Beard Oil
- Proraso Olio Cura Barba Beard Oil
- Pura D’Or Beard Oil
- Reamir Beard Oil
- Rich by Rich Ross Luxury Beard Oil
- The Art Of Shaving Beard Oil
- The Gentlemen’s Beard Bay Rum Beard Oil
- Tom Ford F*cking Fabulous Beard Oil
- Tom Ford Oud Wood Conditioning Beard Oil
- U76 by Vaughn Hydrating Beard Oil
- ULAH Prairie Beard Oil
- Zeus Refined Beard Oil Verbena Lime
Better Beard Oils
This list is full of brands that have not been transparent with the different “natural” fragrances they are using. This is problematic because people have a lot of sensitivities to different types of essential oils and they need to be disclosed. We also put beard oil products here that use oils that have been linked to inhibiting DHT, which means slower and less full beard growth. If you do not have a problem with allergies or beard fullness, do not have children under six years old, or do not have a pet (dog or cat), this category is fine for you.
- Bad*ss Beard Oil The Ladies Man
- Bad*ss Beard Oil The Mountain Man
- Bad*ss Beard Oil The Outlaw
- Bad*ss Beard Oil The Patriot
- Bad*ss Beard Oil The Viking
- Badger Beard Balm
- Badger Balm Beard Oil
- Beardbrand Blank Slate Beard Oil
- Beardbrand Tea Tree Beard Oil
- Beardoholic Light Cedar Beard Oil
- Bossman Jelly Beard Oil Naked Unscented
- Brothers Artisan Oil -The Grooming Oil Eucalyptus & Juniper
- Cremo Revitalizing Beard Oil Mint Blend
- Cremo Revitalizing Beard Oil Forest Blend
- Cremo Revitalizing Beard Oil Unscented
- Duke Cannon Supply Co. Big Bourbon Beard Oil
- Era Organics Beard Oil Sandlewood Vanilla
- Grave Before Shave Beard Oil Original
- Grave Before Shave Beard Oil Teakwood
- Honest Amish Classic Beard Oil
- Honest Amish Premium Blend Beard Oil
- Lather & Wood Ultra-Moisturizing Beard Oil
- Majestic Pure Beard Oil
- Mountaineer Brand Beard Oil WV Timber
- Mountaineer Brand Beard Oil Lime & Sage
- Northern Fir Beard Oil
- Origin Organic Beard & Shave Oil
- Origin Perfect Storm Cedar Beard Oil
- Pete & Pedro Beard Oil Woodsy
- Ranger Beard Oil Escape Cedarwood
- Shea Moisture Beard Conditioning Oil
- Simply Great Beard Oil Unscented
- Simply Great Beard Oil Lumberjack
- Stubble & ‘Stache Beard Oil
- The Gentlemen’s Beard Unscented Beard Oil
- US Organic Beard Oil
- Zeus Beard Oil with organic oils Verbena Lime
Best Beard Oils
This list contains beard oil products that do not have ingredients linked with hormone disruption, are linked to lesser beard hair growth because they inhibit DHT, are problematic to children or pets, or will cause any photosensitivity. Each brand in this list is also 100% transparent with ingredients as far as we can tell. If you do not have a problem with allergies or beard fullness, have children under six years old, or have a pet (dog or cat), this list or the better list would be fine for you.
- Badass Beard Oil The Original
- Badass Beard Oil The Secret Agent Unscented
- Brothers Artisan Oil – The Grooming Oil Rosewood & Cedarwood
- Clara Bella 100% Jojoba Beard Oil
- Mountaineer Brand Beard Oil WV Barefoot Unscented (need another Vitamin E companion product for anti-itch)
- Prophet & Tools Unscented Beard Oil
- Ranger Unscented Beard Oil
- Rogue Beard Co Fragrance-Free Beard Oil
- Yoobeaul Beard Growth Oil
Great article! I’d love to also recommend Dr. DHT as a really great hormone safe beard product. They are amazing!!
Such an amazing article for a beard-guy like me! This helps me a lot for maintaining my beard healthy.