With the official announcement of their new line of colognes yesterday, and a complete overhaul of their official website today, Beardbrand has definitely established themselves as the busiest of the "big guys" in 2020. Earlier this year, they rolled out their first new scent since 2016, the absolutely incredible Stone Mason, which completely reignited my excitement for this brand. Soon after, they launched a mysterious ad campaign featuring videos of bottles of their gold and silver label beard oils being destroyed (reminiscent of that Rag & Bone campaign a few years back where they dropped a huge chunk of cement on a Porsche). These ads turned out to be an announcement for all new formulations and packaging for both of these lines. With all the excitement surrounding these new-look oils, I figured it would be a good time to revisit the gold label offerings from Beardbrand. It was at that point that I realized I've never actually tried any Temple Smoke scented products, which is weird, because this is arguably the most popular scent in their entire catalogue...so why not take this opportunity to not only get acquainted with Temple Smoke, but also to let it be my introduction to the all-new Beardbrand gold label oils? With that in mind, let's give this stuff a try and see what we think!
Billed as an oud incense blend, this follows in the tradition of other Beardbrand offerings I've tried in not really smelling exactly like what it's supposed to...but be that as it may, it's still quite a pleasant scent. Emerging from a heavy, marble censor rolls a thick smokey base of nag champa; not necessarily the really high quality stuff from India, but rather the stuff you used to buy at the corner store as a young man to cover up the smell of pot in your living room, (this is not a bad thing at all, in fact it's quite fun and nostalgic). This is blended with a resinous woodiness, which I guess you could call oud, wrapped in an ephemeral spice that reminds me of any number of those dark, elegant colognes that were all the rage in the early 2000's, but have since become something of a cliche trapped within a snapshot of the excessive zietgeist where they reigned (Rocabar by Hermès, and Rive Gauche Intense by YSL immediately come to mind). This is rounded out by a brilliant olive-tree meets clean earth note that conjures up mental images of exploring a sprawling wine country estate on a mild afternoon, a glass of obscenely priced Cab in hand while you breathe in the nature-tinged atmosphere. Strength is initially a notch below medium plus, but quickly quiets down, and rides out a solid medium for the remainder of the day. Staying power is very good, easily detectable 6+ hours every time I've worn it. Initial impressions may have you believing that this scent would prove challenging to layer, but after spending a bit of time with it, I find that it actually plays well with a wide gamut of balms and butters, if you're looking to play up the woodsy/ceremonial angle, the combination of this scent with Legendary Bastard balm by Luxurious Bastard is an absolute feast for the senses...but perhaps the most suprising (and my personal favorite) combination is the youthful energetic cologne-like redolence that comes from layering this oil under What the Cuss butter by Last Looks Grooming...an absolute delight that is sure to elevate your mood!
How does it work?
So now we get down to the really exciting part of trying an all new blend. On the topic of the oil itself, it's brilliantly viscous, able to work its way deep down into my beard and deliver wonderful, nourishing moisturization to the skin below. In-beard feel is good, lightweight, and fairly quickly absorbing...it does however, leave juuuuuust the slightest bit of residue on my beard, not terrible, it's definitely not a greasy feel or anything, just a "filminess" (for lack of a better term) that leaves me with the feeling that somehting is in my beard...in fairness, it's not even particularly noticable if you aren't looking for it, but it's there. The carrier blend includes some heavy hitters; Abyssinian oil, in all of its lightweight, molecularly dense glory imparts a wonderful, healthy strength to my beard, while babassu and castor oils leave both my beard and skin feeling incredibly moisturized and refreshed all day long. On the subject of ingredients, Scuba over at BeardTube recently posted this video after trying all the new Beardbrand blends (make sure you give him a follow if you don't already, his is definitely one of the most educational beard-care channels on YouTube), where he brought up two very valid concerns; the first being that Beardbrand isn't using cold-pressed oils in their blends, which doesnt make a ton of difference of course, but when you're paying twice what a good number of other companies out there charge for their oils, it would be nice to know that you're getting something made witht he absolute highest quality ingredients. The other concern brought up about the ingredients in these products is the addition of glycerin, this is an ingredient that serves no functional benefit for beard oil (and in fact, can add a strange overall tactile sensation when applying product, which may be where that "filminess" I mentioned earlier comes from)...so why add it? Well, according to another beard oil manufacturer that I spoke to recently (who shall remain nameless, of course), glycerin acts as a stabilizer and a preservative. I can see the value of adding such a thing to their white label offerings, as they are sold in Target stores and Beardbrand has no control over how long they are on the shelf, but it makes far less sense to have it in the gold and silver label offerings...but in fairness, it is the last ingredient listed, so I'm assuming there is very little in the formulation. Finishing properties are good, imparting a decent amount of shine to my beard. Staying power is excellent, delivering that great healthy feeling to both my beard and face all day long on a single application, with absolutely no need to reapply at any point throughout the day...My wife and I volunteered to hand out breakfasts to children who might otherwise go without, at the school where she normally teaches, yesterday and even after nearly two hours with my beard stuffed into a protective cloth mask while standing in the sun, it still felt fresh as a daisy afterwords. Truly a testament to the elite levels of performance offered by this product!
The bottom line
Years ago, I was going through a rough time personally...one of my best friends (who is no longer with us, and I miss dearly) insisted that I tag-along with him and his crew to Burning Man, on one of the last days we gathered around to watch the temple burn (something I enjoyed even more than watching the man burn), that event was such an uplifting experience for me, the smell of the smoke as this brilliant structure was engulfed in flames will forever be a huge part of that day for me. I suppose that's why I have subconsciously avoided any Temple Smoke products, as I already knew that the scent wouldn't be the same as my temple smoke. That being said, this stuff smells great (I'm honestly not sure if it beats out Stone Mason for the title of best scent in the beardbrand catalogue though). From a performance standpoint this is a very good oil, but, even though Beardbrand reduced the prices of their gold and silver label offerings with the rollout of these new formulations, the fact of the matter still remains that there are probably better performing options for $30. Another slight nitpick on my part (and I know this is just a personal trip of mine), is that I just don't care for the new bottles, I get that brand identy is very important, and a company as big as Beardbrand wants to have a distinctive look...but the new bottles, just dont light my fire, first off, they remind me of nail polish or lipstick or something, which I guess is fine in-and-of itself...but the big square top doesn't seem to line up exactly with the glass part of the bottle (if you look at the above picture, you can see how it's kind of crooked). This also seems to lead to leakage issues, as a bit of this oil had leaked out into the box during shipping, again, not the end of the world, but when you're paying that much for a beard oil, you don't want any of it wasted before you even get a chance to try it. So, is this stuff worth picking up? Well, yes and no, if you're a value shopper looking to get the most out of your beard-care products, and place a priority on bang-for-buck, then you'll probably want to keep shopping around (to that end, Beardbrand acknowledges that their products arent for everybody)...but if you enjoy a luxury experience heightend by a brilliant and unique scent, then this is definitely somehting worth grabbing. Either way, Beardbrand is doing a great job in continuing to grow their company and taking great steps to avoid the trap of complacency that many of the other brands that they share space with at the top of the beard-care food-chain seem to have fallen into.
92 See where this lands on The Big List...
Ingredients: Abyssinian Seed Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Babassu Seed Oil, Castor Seed Oil, Fragrance, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Glycerin
$29 at beardbrand.com