Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that supply the bulk of each beard oil’s distinct fragrance. They also form the basis of many claims about any given beard oil’s healing or restorative properties (though very few of these claims have been clinically tested). Used alone, they can be drying or just too fragrant, so they’re mixed with carrier oils.
We found a wide range of fragrance intensity in the beard oils we tested. A few oils had a “bite,” a gentle tingle that Mr. Dandie, the bearded operations director of Toronto-based all natural luxury skincare company Skindew, says is a common effect of essential oils such as peppermint and black pepper. Other oils, like grapefruit seed extract and sandalwood oil are typically more subtle.
We also tested a handful of unscented oils, including Leven Rose, which contains no essential oils, and Gentleman’s Unscented, which contains only non-aromatic essential oils.
Of the scented oils we sampled, some were very subtle, while others generated a steady and lasting aroma, almost as if we were carrying rosemary bushes or whiskey soaked leather saddles on our shoulders. We like whiskey and horses, but just like choosing a cologne, intensity is a matter of personal preference.