It's no secret that I regard Barn Brand Beards as one of the all around top small batch/indie brands in the beard care game. After trying the amazing Arnie Palmer scented oil and butter, I had to make them both part of my regular rotation. One of the things that I like best about Barn Brand is the company ethos of striving to be different, there are a lot of great brands out there, but lets be honest with ourselves, a whole lot of these brands produce products that smell and perform pretty similarly to one another. Tex over at Barn Brand has made it abundantly clear that he wants people to pick up one of his products and know that they're holding something unlike anything else on the market today. To that effect, when he created Ghost Buck, he set out to make the most unique oud scent imaginable. As readers here are well aware, oud scentes are generally some of my favorites, so after hearing about this stuff, I just knew I had to give it a try, which is why after commissioning some custom soaps from Barn Brand (yes, they are oud scented, along with lavendder and rose, and they are awesome!) I put an order for the infamous Ghost Buck butter. Let's give this stuff a try and see how unique it really is.
I've worn this butter multiple times, and I still can't claim to have it completely nailed down. Unique is definitely the name of the game here. Starting out with a very straightforward agarwood chord, not quite the typical resinous, medicinal oud notes that we instantly think of, but rather the funky aquilaria heartwood where oud resin forms...it's earthy, sour, and vanillic with a hint of decay like you might smell rising up from a damp forest floor in early autumn, it reminds me of a string of raw agarwood prayer beads, but then the oud resin starts to shine through, smoky and deep, it's like inhaling the very essence of mystery; at once dark and brooding, while maintaining a sweet, almost cheerful facade. This, right here would be a fantastic scent in-and-of itself, but we are still at the beginning, my friends...this animalistic agarwood accord is only the rough hewn wooden frame upon which hangs sinewy notes of something leathery and primal, very reminiscent of rawhide, animalistic and natural without a hint of the typical tanning notes that we usually associate with leather type scents. Enveloping the entire fragrance is a beautifully balanced, perfectly restrained note of something camphoraceous and balsamic which reminds me of fresh red cedar, but is way more plush and "round" (if that makes any sense), perhaps tempered with a bit of amber? A variety of notes seem to appear and dissappear as this product continues to evolve throughout the course of a day, a perfumey tobacco, a sweet, almost powdery chord, and something buttery and herbaceous that I can't quite put my finger on (If you've ever smashed open an acorn and smelled the inside that's the closest comparison I can draw up...dont judge me, I was a weird kid). Strength starts out a good bit above medium plus, but quickly settles down to a solid medium. Staying power is very good, lasting all day and a good bit into the evening.
There is something so absolutely different about this scent that I would hesitate to try and make it fit into the typical oud category. I had to wear this product a few times before I could even begin to tackle what it really was that I was smelling here. It's fresh, it's deep, it's a cologne type scent, it's a natural type scent... it's a contradiction in a two ounce tin...it's truly one of those products that is extremely difficult to fit into a single category. Those looking for a straightforward type of scent may find this too challenging, but anybody looking to add something that represents a true change of pace to their collection, definitely needs to check this out. Now, word is that Barn Brand will be releasing a more winter version of this product called Snow Buck very soon, I can only imagine what an experience that is going to be!
How does it work?
Different in texture than the Arnie Palmer balm, this is lighter, definitely a bit more whipped. There is a fine "grit" to this product, and I'm not entirely sure that it's intentional (sometimes when butters and balms get exposed to drastic temprature changes in shipping they can develop a "gritty" texture...this can be remedied by sticking the product in the microwave for a few seconds and then throwing it in the fridge for a couple of hours), but it doesn't really bother me, and it seems to melt away quickly as I work this product into my beard. Conditioning properties are excellent, imparting a tremendous softness, while in-beard feel is extremely pleasant, and in no way heavy. Sporting an impressive list of ingredients, this nutrient rich butter really seems to have a great absorption rate, leaving behind no greasy feel whatsoever, just a super healthy, lustrous beard, and hydrated, well nourished skin. Hold is on the lighter side, but staying power is fantastic, as my beard feels freshly conditioned all day long...in fact, I may add this to my night-time butter rotation, but it seems something of a shame to use up such an awesome smelling product when I'll be sleeping and cant fully enjoy it.
The bottom line
This is another hit from a producer who knows a thing or two about making hits. The level of performance is as high as I've come to expect from Barn Brand...and the scent profile is a work of art, definitely won't be mistaken for anything else any time soon. With his innovative use of unconventional ingredients (name another beard-care product that uses CBD terpenes in the recipe...I'll wait), to his ability to push the envelope when it comes to building on an already great thing and making it even better, Big Tex has further solidified his reputation as one of the most unique producers in the beard-care game today. Ghost Buck is definitely a departure from your typical run-of-the-mill oud scents, and begs to be layered with products you might not expect (it worked surprisingly well with the Moscow Morning oil by Ruddy Man Grooming that I reviewed earlier this week), without question a product that every beardsman who truly appreciates the unconventional must have in his collection.
Ingredients: Refined Shea, Yellow Shea,and Ivory Shea Butters,Local Alabama Beeswax, Organic White Beeswax, Mango & Kokum Butter, Refined Coconut oil, Filtered Cocoa Butter, Liquid Lanolin, Macadamia Nut Oil, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Hazelnut Oil, Pumpkin/Hemp Seed Extracts, Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil, BTMS-50 Conditioning Wax, Emu Oil, Warermelon Seed Oil, Vitamin E, Shea Nut Oil, and Castor Oil, essential oils.
$16 at barnbrandbeards.com