There are very few companies in the beard-care game that I would call as downright artistic as Barbu. With a catalogue of scents that could be called conceptual masterpieces, they don't do anything ordinary,. So it should come as no surprise that their latest limited edition scent is going to be like nothing we've ever seen before. Dubbed The Earlybird, this super limited collabo with Guinness world record holder Joel Strasser will feature notes of bacon, orange juice, and syrup...I mean seriously who wouldn't want their beard to smell like bacon? This release will be limited to beard oil only, and only 20 bottles will be made available worldwide. So make sure you head over to barbubeardco.com this friday at 1:00 PM Eastern, so that you can get your hands on this wholly unique scent!
Last week (or was it two weeks ago? These social distancing days really are starting to run together, arent they? Like seriously, I know I can't be the only one losing track of the days, or how many beers and cans of Pringles I've gone through, or if I happen to be wearing pants at any given time...but anyway, I'm getting way off topic, so let's reel it back in), I had the honor of finally trying a beard balm from Sphinx. Their Chokecherry scented balm was an incredible surprise, offering wonderful, lightweight hold and top-shelf ingredients, all neatly tied together in a scent inpired by Tom Ford's insanely popular Lost Cherry perfume. Now the good folks at Sphinx didn't stop with sending over some Chokecherry samples to review...knowing how absolutely blown away I was (and still am) by their Authentic Oud oil, they decided to send me another oud based offering to try. Smolder is one of the more popular scents in the entire Sphinx catalogue, so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested to see what exactly it's all about. How will this balm stack up to the awesome Chokecherry offering? Only one way to find out...let's give it a try...
Some ouds are smoky, spiritual, and dark...others are woody, seductive, and oppulent...but I honestly don't think I've ever experienced an oud based scent that reads quite as fresh, and almost gourmand as this one does. An exhubrant resinous incense blends with juicy florals, and creamy vanilla coffee to create a redolence that positively hums with powerful, vibrant energy and raw appeal. Blending smoky oud (that has a brilliant "church incense" edge to it, not dissimilar to the oud in Holy Grail by Kingsman), with lush, sweet leather reminiscent of a brand new pair of Ferragamo calf-skin loafers, fresh out of the candy-coated red box, the rich, deep heart of this scent reads as a bold declaration of luxury. Compellingly robust notes of freshly roasted coffee beans wrap tightly around a creamy vein of vanilla and sandalwood. While a rich saffron steeping in hot water, like so much liquid gold, is tempered by a brilliantly crisp night-blooming jasmine to create a three-dimensional composition that projects a breathtakingly romantic gravitas. I certainly hope that at some point in the future Sphinx strongly considers making a cologne in this scent. If you're looking for an ideal layering partner to go with this balm, I find that The Covenant by Miner's Beard seems to be the ideal complimentary pairing, highlighting the gorgeous oud notes, as well as the overall "ceremonial" feel of both. Strength is just a hair below medium-plus, while staying power is exceptional, easily detectable a solid 8-10 hours after application, ever time I've worn this balm.
How does it work?
Unsurprisingly, this is just as soft and almost jelly-like as the Chokecherry balm, meaning that it has the same great, low melting point and applies just as easily. Imparting that same incredible conditioned, healthy in-beard feel, with tremendous absorption. Occlusive properties are outstanding, leaving my face and beard feeling tremendously moisturized all day long. Once again, I find myself totally impressed with how Sphinx has been able to pack incredible amounts of hold into such a lightweight, soft balm. Finishing properties are also outstanding, imparting a wonderful shimmer that has my beard looking all dressed up, (even without anywhere to go lately). Staying power is excellent as well, delivering that great protection and lightweight in-beard feel all day long on a single application (I even went on a grocery run earlier today, and wore my customized mask that I can stuff my whole beard in, by the time I took it off, my beard was still looking and feeling amazing, even though had been scrunched up in there for a good 30-45 minutes.
The bottom line
After experiencing several of their products first hand now, I can say with no small degree of certainty that Sphinx is not a brand that plays around. Offering high quality products, great scents, and brilliant packaging, they have made it abundantly clear that they want their name to become synonymous with high-end beard care...and with an offering like this Smolder balm, they're doing just that. This is an incredible, original scent that really is unlike anything else out there. Performance is, of course, exceptional. Truly a great all-around experience, definitely a product that no well rounded beard-care arsenal is complete without!
94 See where this lands on The Big List
Ingredients: Organic Sunflower, Organic Olive Oil, Castor Jelly, Candelilla Wax, MangoButter, Kokum Butter, Poppy Oil, Red Raspberry Oil, Cranberry Oil, Frankincense Essential Oil, Ginger Essential Oil, Coriander Essential Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Bees Wax, Shea Butter, Ricebran Oil, Vitamin E Oil
$21 at sphinxbeard.com
~The balm sampled for this review was provided by Sphinx
So you're all settled in with the family...you've stocked up on all the essentials, you've got more TP than you could use in a year (but just in case you need more, gono2.com is taking preorders on their luxurious tripple-ply to ship towards the end of next month...but all joking aside, don't hoard...make sure you take what you need so others can get some too), you have a pantry full of canned goods, snacks, and for some reason, cereal (I read something the other day about people hoarding cereal...oooookay then, I guess if shit really goes haywire, it's good to have Cap'n Crunch in your corner), you've got enough soap and cleaning supplies to have your hands and every surface in your house squeaky clean for months...you're set! But wait...what about your emergency heat and light? What is "emergency heat and light" you might ask? Well, it's just a fun name that Duke Cannon Supply Co has given their range of candles to make them sound more useful than they are...but never the less, it's important to keep your environment smelling good to boost your overall mood. So for the time being, with every order of $35 or more, they're going to throw in one of these long burning, great smelling candles absolutely free (I highly recommend the leaf and leather version)...just a little something to brighten your day during these crazy times. This deal has already been extended once, so who knows how much longer it will be available? Head on over to dukecannon.com and get your order in today!
and while you're there check out their awesome PSA posters, available for free download, just another fun little morale booster that you can post up around your worksite (or home office, as the case may be)...this one is my personal favorite...
Never one to rest on their laurels, Chesapeake Beard Co has decided to take their already popular beard oils and improve them with an all-new carrier blend. Featuring jojoba, sweet almond, coconut, emu, shea nut, and squalane oils, this new blend is sure to impart all new levels of softness and health to both your beard and face. Available in all of their great scents, this new carrier blend is available now over at chesapeakeberd.com, so head on over and get your order in now so that you can be amond the first to try this brand-spankin-new carrier blend!
Unless you've only recently decided to grow a beard, the name Scotch Porter should be one that you're quite familiar with. One of the more well-respected "big guys" in the beard-care industry, they've made a name for themselves with what is regarded as perhaps the best beard conditioner in the game. I reviewed it a few months back and it quickly became a favorite of mine (the rest of their beard care line...eh, not so much...with the exception of their limited edition CBD leave in which is nothing short of amazing...and also no longer available, so that'll be the last time I mention it). So if I've already reviewed their conditioner, then why in the hell am I reviewing it again? Well, unless you really don't keep up on the latest beard-care news (which would beg the question, why are you reading a beard-care blog now...but either way, I'm happy to have you here), then you already know that Scotch Porter products have been given something of a makeover to coincide with their launch at Target stores everywhere. Yes, the packaging has been given a facelift...gone is the impactical tub that the previous permutation of this product came in, replaced instead by a much more sensible tube that doesnt become waterlogged in the shower. The formulation has also changed...how much has it changed, you ask? Well enough that I felt it warranted trying this product again. Will this stuff be able to fill the very big shoes left behind by the version that turned just about every bearded dude out there into a Scotch Porter fanboy? Well there's only one way to find out...let's take it for a spin...
So one of my biggest complaints about the previous conditioner (and, in fact, the entire core-line of Scotch Porter products), was the scent. It wasn't necessarily "bad"...just not something that I wanted my beard to smell like. To put it politely, it reminded me of the inside of a high-traffic liquor store in an urban area; just this weird melange of cheap incense, cardboard boxes, blunt wraps, and an implacable soda-pop sweetness. Like the kind of place around the corner from a concert hall, where you'd stop before a show, to grab a bottle of vodka and an off-brand juice to split with your friends so that you could build up a good base layer of "buzz" before you go inside to $20 cocktails and frustratingly long lines for them. This new version is similar, but dialed way back, it's less smoky, it's less sweet...still not something that I'd smell and be all like "oh yeah, I definitely want to rub this on my face", but just a bit more restrained (In fact, when I was showering this morning, I smelled this next to what I had left of the previous version, and the new stuff only made the old stuff smell even more sickly sweet). I wouldn't necessarily call this new scent an improvement in the traditional sense, but I think the good folks over at Scotch Porter realized that less is more when it comes to their signature fragrance (so I guess when you look at it along those lines, you could indeed call this an improvement). Strength is a tick or two below medium, which is A-okay with me. Staying power is good, leaving just a bit of scent behind after I step out of the shower, but after applying my daily oil, it quickly yields the floor.
How does it work?
The general consensus among beard-care reviewers is that this product doesn't quite live up to the old Scotch Porter conditioner. For the most part, I agree, but there are some things that I actually really like about it. If you read my writeup on co-washing last week, you'd remember that after a few days in a row of co-washing with Scotch Porter conditioner (the old stuff), my beard started to feel weighed down, there was a ton of buildup, and I even started getting beard zits. I assume that this is because the old conditioner was an incredibly heavyweight product which seemed to be geared towards intensive deep-conditioning. This new stuff is much more lightweight in texture, which seems to make it a bit less ideal as a form of intensive therapy, but a bit more effective as a daily co-wash. Tactile slip is significantly lower when it comes to this version, and a quick look at the ingredients list should tell you why...gone are many of the exotic ingredients in the previous version, replaced instead by a more common (although still very good) list of components that don't really seem to set this stuff apart from any of the other quality conditioners that you could walk into your local grocery store and pick up...if you read my take on the whole "glycerin in Beardbrand oils" conversation, you could probably already guess that my thinking as to why they did this most likely has something to do with their agreement to sell their stuff in Target stores and the need to have a more shelf-stable formulation, since they can't control how long their products are going to sit there before somebody decided to take them home and use them.
As far as end-result, this is still a very good conditioner, leaving my beard quite soft and managable regardless of whether I use it as a traditional conditioner or a co-wash. If you're in need of a more intensive conditioning, they still make a leave-in conditioner (although this, too has been reformulated...and as I mentioned before, much to my chagrin, they retired their CBD version, that I said I wasn't going to mention again). On those days when your beard is feeling like it could use a little extra love, if you expect to get the same results from this as you did when you'd reach for that familiar brown jar...well, you're going to be let down (the good news is that Detroit Grooming is still offering the same great formulation of their conditioner as they always have, and it never fails to do the trick on days when you need it most), but if you're looking for a quality every-day conditioner that you can trust to just plain work, then look no further than this awesome black tube with the copper and white lettering.
The bottom line
While Scotch Porter has implimented some improvements that I can definitely get behind here (no more ridiculous jar, and dialing back that weird scent), it would be a mistake to say that this stuff is every bit as good (or even on the same level) as its predecessor. No longer will the name Scotch Porter be synonymous with a heavy duty conditioner that could turn even the roughest of beards beard into a velevety soft cloud, instead they will be known for producing a "good enough" product that will probably work just fine for everybody, but with nothing particularly "special" about it either. That being said, if you're at Target and looking to pick up some good beard-care products, you could do much worse than Scotch Porter (I'm looking at you Maestro's...you and your dreadful beard butter). Will this ultimately hurt Scotch Porter's reputation? Among the most hardcore devotees to thier old conditioner, I'm sure it will...but to the average bearded-guy who doesn't necessarily obsess over this stuff the way that beard-care dorks like myself do, I think the Scotch Porter name will remain just as prestigious as ever. Before I go, I really must reiterate that this is still a good product, but I just can't imagine it coasting on the reputation of the old version forever, it's still worth picking up...but I'd definitely recommend approaching it with tempered expectations.
90 See where this lands on The Big List
Ingredients: Water ((Aqua) Eau), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oil, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Pentylene Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Tropolone, Panthenol, Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sodium PCA, Sodium Phytate, Glycerin, Arctium Lappa Root Extract, Equisotum Arvense Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Biotin, Phospholipids
$11.99 at scotchporter.com and Target stores everywhere.
Beard Booze has gone through something of an operational shift over the past couple of months. Rolling out an all new concept where they drop their fantastic products in only one of their intoxicating scents every month. It's an interesting way of doing things and allows the owners to focus on their other business (they own a rather large screen-printing company), while still making their top-quality goods available to anybody who wants them. Their monthly release for March was so popular that they've decided to give everybody early access to their April scent. Sumggler's Blend is a Bay Rum fan's dream, featuring big notes of bay, black pepper, clove, cinnamon, and just the right amount of citrus, this is a top-shelf interpretation of an old classic. Availalbe in their full suite of products (including their superlative beard wash), Smuggler's Blend is available for sale now at beardbooze.com. When this month's allocation sells out, it'll be a while before you can get your hands on this awesome scent again, so head on over there sooner rather than later, and get some Smuggler's Blend for your collection before it's too late.
Since their debut at the end of last year, The Bearded Mack has established themselves as one of the true heavy hitters of the indie beard-care scene. With instant classics like The 18th Mack and The Highlander Mack in their lineup, this brand has already become synonymous with great scents and top shelf performance...and now, their catalogue is expanding with the addition of an all new scent tomorrow! Dubbed The Gentleman's Mack this new aquatic scent has all the makings of another hit, with notes of citrus, amber, sandalwood, and patchouli! This all-new scent will be available in an oil, balm and butter, so make sure that you head on over to thebeardedmackgroomingco.com first thing in the morning and pick some up for yourself!
Tex over at Barn Brand has been super busy in his lab lately. Cooking up all new creations to keep both your beard and skin looking and feeling great (trust me, I've been using his new anti-aging cream twice a day, and holy smokes! It's great stuff...I'm actually planning on doing a full write up on it further on down the road...but anyway, I'm getting off topic). With everybody being cooped up, he figured now is as good of a time as any to get as many of his awesome creations as possible in your hands. That's why he's offering this awesome deal! Simply head on over to barnbrandbeards.com, load your cart up with their already bargain-priced, top-shelf offerings, enter code CABINFEVER at checkout, and enjoy free shipping on your entire order! There are no minimums required, so head on over and get your order in today!
Every Sunday Luxurious Bastard drops some quality scents that get swooped up quickly by bearded guys everywhere. This sunday will be no exception, but with an added bonus! An all new scent being added to the Luxurious Bastard catalogue! Dubbed the Distinguished Bastard, this scent will feature notes of black pepper, clove, saffron, bergamot, orange, patchouli, smoked tonka, glowing embers, guaiacwood, and vanilla (holy crap, that's gonna be complex)! Dropping in both an oil and butter, this stuff will be available at noon, Pacific, this sunday, so make sure you head over to luxuriousbastardco.com and pick some up for yourself, so that you can be among the first in the world to try this all new offering from one of the hottest luxury beard-care labels in the game!
How can a year that isn't even three months old feel so freakin' long? Yeah, 2020 has been a rollercoaster, no doubt...but let's focus on the positive...we've seen some big time releases in the world of beard-care. Perhaps the most anticipated of all of these releases is the oft-requested beard butter from Kingsmen Beard Club. With the addition of butters, Kingsman finally has a full suite of beard-care products in their catalogue, all available in their incredible scents including fan-favorite Holy Grail and the sporadically available Wizard, among others. Of course, I'll admit that I was already extremely excited when I heard that Kingsmen was finally releasing a butter, but when I saw that their White Knight scent (that was previously not available to the general public) was one of the scent options, I knew that this would be the one I'd need to have! Will this all-new butter formulation in this exclusive scent live up to expectations? Will the wait have been worth it? Only one way to find out...let's give it a try and see how it stacks up against other butters out there!
To the best of my knowledge, White Knight is the only scent in the well rounded Kingsmen lineup that I haven't reviewed yet. A light, ephemeral floral with brilliantly crisp underpinnings that paint a beautiful picture of warm spring days which gracefully melt into wine-colored evenings that you wish would never end. A marvelous expanse of smooth, clean French lavender undulates in a gentle breeze, like the shimmering surface of some mythical purple sea. This is tempered by a dry, dusty vein of clary sage, imparting a rich herbaceousness that almost reads as smoky, but still maintains an incredibly harmonious weightlessness. Just above all of this, shooting stars of round, nuanced lemon peel note streak in and out leaving brilliant glistening tracers as the only evidence of their presence, like a beautiful citrus scented meteor shower. A wonderfully executed combination of refreshing and seductive all in one lightweight scent that dances on air. Strength is somewhere between medium-minus and medium, making this a butter that is best paired with unscented (or at the very least, lightly scented) oils. Due to its lavender-forward nature, this would be an ideal night-time butter. Staying power is decent, I've only worn this scent twice, and both times I've noticed it's fairly undetectable after around 6 hours.
How does it work???
The thing I noticed right away about this butter was the incredible lightness, I picked up the jar and honestly thought it was empty, there is absolutely no weight to this stuff at all. This had me expecting a light, airy whipped concoction when I opened it up, but instead, there's actually a good bit of density to this product, it really has quite a unique texture that is unlike any other butter I've tried before. The melting point of this stuff is incredible, it literally starts to liquefy in my palm with nothing more than my body heat. It works easily into my beard and gets deep down, directly to my face, delivering long-lasting moisturization as well as tremendously light in-beard feel. Absorption is absolutely incredible, leaving behind no trace of greasiness or residue. The ingredients list is a fairly simple one, but the quality of each component is undeniable, delivering top-notch conditioning and an incredibly healthy feel overall. Hold is completely non-existant, which is not terribly uncommon for a waxless butter...and since we're all currently at home anyway, so who cares about a fly-away or two every now and then? Staying power is outstanding, delivering that great moisturized, healthy feel to my face, and touchable silky softness to my beard all day long on a single application.
The bottom line
Some beard butters are a larger than life rock-opera, while others are a smooth jazz standard...this butter is something more akin to your favorite easy-listening yacht-rock jam; pleasant, comforting, and able to turn any moment into a relaxing comfort-cruise for the senses. The scent is on the lighter side, but I find that only helps further play into the overall ultra-light airiness of this product. Performance is absolutely first-rate, with a great in-beard feel and brilliant levels of moisturization. From a value standpoint, this is right in line with a great many other high performing butters.
This is a product that the bearded community has been wanting for quite some time, and the excitement surrounding its release is absolutely justified. An outstanding butter that is truly worthy of the Kingsmen name! Unfortunately, it looks like this butter (along with all of the other scents) is currently unavailable on the Kingsmen website (I'm assuming that has a lot to do with the current craziness going on in the world), but this is definitely a product that it's worth waiting a little longer for, so keep an eye on the Kingsmen IG account, and sign up for their mailing list on their website so that you'll be among the first to know when you can get your hands on this awesome butter again!
93 See where this lands on The Big List
Ingredients: Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Grapeseed Oil.
$19.99 at kingsmenbeardclub.com