We’ve already written about shaving, trimming, brushing, and conditioning beards. But the first and perhaps the most important step to maintaining a healthy and nice-looking beard is keeping it clean. During the day, your beard collects the microscopic dust and debris that’s constantly in the air. It also comes into contact with germs, odors, and whatever else you deposit when you touch it with your hands, smoke, make out with someone, eat, or drink. According to dermatologist Morgan Rabach of LM Medical in NYC, “Washing your beard every day not only cleans it of food particles and saliva, which carry germs, but will prevent the buildup in your pores that can lead to beardruff and acne.” While some would argue that beards don’t need a dedicated product to stay clean, buying soaps and washes designed for facial hair lets you target beard-specific problems that regular shampoo may not address or could exacerbate. For example, Rabach suggests avoiding sulfates and other harsh ingredients commonly found in shampoo, which can irritate and dry out the skin on your face. To help you find the best beard wash, bar soap, or combination face and beard wash for you, we spoke to Rabach and seven other beard experts.
Best overall beard wash
Three of the seven experts we spoke to recommend Jack Black beard wash because it’s formulated for beards and the skin underneath. Rabach specifically cites the aloe-leaf juice powder, which “helps soothe dryness and irritation” — issues that most men with beards will experience. Eliut Rivera, founder of Eliut Salon, likes that Jack Black’s wash both cleanses and conditions facial hair. The best beard products “incorporate rich, moisturizing ingredients such as aloe, camelina oil, and shea butter,” he says. This wash has all three of those ingredients, plus jojoba oil, vitamin B5, and organic sea kelp to help balance your skin’s moisture levels. Annette Moore, owner of Boldbarber.com, agrees that it does a great job, and she likes that it has a fresh and pleasant scent, thanks to the added grapefruit, rosemary, and basil.
Best overall less-expensive beard wash
In both of our recent articles about beard oil and beard balm, Honest Amish products came in at the top or close to it. So it’s no surprise that their organic beard soap was also a favorite among these experts. Both Rabach and Torrey Grobes of Paul Labrecque Salon are fans of this all-natural soap, which is made with super-moisturizing (and only slightly fragrant) ingredients including virgin olive oil, virgin pumpkin-seed oil, apricot-kernel oil, palm kernels, and lavender. Grobes suggests “rubbing the bar against your beard for about 15 seconds, or until you have a rich, sudsy lather.” Make sure to “get all the way to the base of your beard follicles,” he says, and let it sit on your beard for a couple minutes before rinsing out. He says Honest Amish soap improves skin tone, softens beard hairs, and adds fullness to create a healthier and nicer-looking beard. Rabach also points out that this is a “great price point” for such high-quality ingredients.
Best beard wash for dry skin
Two of our beard experts — Rabach and Tony DeAngelis, owner of Blue & Black Barbers and Apothecary in Brooklyn — recommended this cedar-citrus-and-lavender-scented beard wash from Tel Aviv–based grooming brand Maapilim. “I am loving it right now,” says DeAngelis, who believes in a less-is-more approach to beard care. Like other beard products, he says, a good beard wash should contain “carrier oils such as argan or jojoba oil.” He also advises staying away from parabens and harsh chemicals. (Maapilim beard wash is paraben-, alcohol-, and sodium lauryl sulfate–free.) Rabach highlighted the same essentail oils, which he calls a “deeply moisturizing and fortifying” mix, and says they make this beard wash specifically effective for people with dry skin.
Best beard wash for beardruff
Moore also likes this beard wash, which she says is highly effective and will last a long time, since you need to use only a little bit at a time. Rabach likes the “plant-based” ingredients, including peppermint and eucalyptus, which add an invigorating smell and have an astringent effect that helps fight dandruff. This wash also contains Argan and jojoba oil to help soften facial hair and add lightweight moisture to skin.
Best-smelling beard wash
“Always look for a facial-hair wash that is free of harsh chemicals or sulfates,” says beard-care expert Matt Benevento, who recommends this Austin-based brand. In addition to coconut and sunflower oils, Brass Knuckle contains moisturizing and follicle-strengthening rose-hip-seed oil, camelina-seed oil, and oat protein. There’s also a nice blend of aromatic essential oils to make your beard smell more like a forest and less like the burger you ate last night.
Best moisturizing beard soap
A lot of people think bar soaps will dry out your skin, but it’s not the form that a cleanser takes that matters. It’s the ingredients. Moore recommends this olive-oil-and-shea-butter-based soap in a tin. It’s “perfect for everybody, even those with sensitive skin,” she says. “This is truly a great product that cleans, moisturizes, and soothes.” Mr. Natty’s is also sulfate- and paraben-free and contains scents of rosemary and peppermint to keep your facial hair (and you) smelling fresh. As with the Honest Amish bar soap, make sure you massage the lather throughout your beard and down to the skin underneath. Then rinse with warm water until all of the product is gone.
Best frizz-fighting beard wash
Lucas Dennington, grooming expert for The Insider Guide to Spas, likes Billy Jealousy beard wash because of its smoothing properties. To give your beard a smoother, less wacky appearance, this beard wash uses aloe-leaf juice, which works to soften and rehydrate thirsty skin and facial hair; soy proteins to add shine and conditioning, leaving your beard manageable and frizz-free; and green-tea extract, which strengthens damaged whiskers from root to tip.