Picture this; you've got somewhere important to be, maybe it's a big job interview, maybe it's date night, maybe a family gathering...no matter where it is, you want your beard to be looking even more magnificent than usual. But, wouldn't you know it? Your beard has picked this particular day to misbehave, you've got fly-aways galore, and the end of your beard is doing that weird thing where it splits in two and you end up looking like the portrait of Vincent Van Gogh's mailman...what product do you reach for?
I'm assuming you see what I'm getting at here...balms seem to be losing more and more market share these days as butters have become all the rage. Of course, there is still a time and place for balms, and as such, it is important to keep some good ones in your beard-care arsenal. With that being the case, when the folks over Bearden asked me to check out their products, I was more than a little excited to see they had sent a couple of balms my way. A relatively new company that focuses on quality and innovation, these guys set out to do things the right way, often handcrafting products to order, they have set out to make products that bearded men from all walks of life can appreciate. This vanilla balm jumped out at me immediately, as they have taken the innovative step of scenting this stuff with real vanilla powder in addition to the essential oils that you might find in other products. Will this prove to be something that revoloutionizes vanilla scented products for the entire beard-care game? Only one way to find out...let's give this stuff a try.
Without being privy to industry-wide sales figures, I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb whan I say that vanilla may just be the most popular of all gourmand scents in the beard-care game...and it's easy to see why. Everybody loves a great vanilla scent, it's relaxing, it's comforting, it's both familiar and exotic, it may very well be one of the most approachable scents that a guy can put in his beard...and most importantly, it smells great on everybody!
A vanilla scented masterpiece, this balm delivers on its promises in a major way. A sweet, complex, and creamy Madagascar vanilla chord conjures up images of delacate, masterfully baked delacacies served up on Florentine Ivory Wedgwood, with resplendant Rococo dragons suspended in 24 karat gold around the rim...in a word, decadent. A grainy, natural shea butter note seamlessly melts into the rich warm vanilla, hightening the overall "baked good" feel and creating a multidimentional olfactory feast so jaw-clenchingly indulgent, you'd swear this stuff was edible (It's not though...so don't go trying to eat it, even though it smells like something from a fancy French boulangerie). Luscious and sophisticated, this is a truly epicurean vanilla, designed to showcase the very best of that ever popular aroma. Strength is a perfect medium, and staying power is good, detectable for a solid 4-6 hours every time I've worn it.
How does it work?
A heavyweight, pliable balm, the first thing I notice is that there is a slight "gritty" texture to this product...now, as anybody who has purchased beard-care products in the summertime can tell you this could very well be the result of variations in temprature during shipping, so I'm not going to let this take away from the overall experience. The melting point of this stuff is just perfect for a balm, not too light that it melts with my body heat alone, but not so heavy that I'm giving myself friction burns on my hands trying to get this stuff to take a liquid form. It distributes into my beard evenly, and combs through with ease. Conditioning properties are outstanding, thanks to the addition of top quality shea as well as jojoba and mango seed butter. A generous helping of beeswax provides ample amounts of hold, taming strays and fly-aways on my beard's most unruly days. The one-two punch of cocoa butter and hibiscus powder (a powerful, yet tragically underutilized ingredient) help to rejuvenate the skin under my beard, having my face feeling great, and improving circulation, which, in turn can help promote more rapid and healthier beard growth. In-beard feel is interesting, if you didn't know you were wearing a waxy balm, you might think this stuff was a lighter butter, as it leaves my beard soft to the touch, without even the slightest trace of that sticky feel or "crunchiness" that seems to be the signature calling-card of so many balms out there...in fact, if it werent for the tremendous hold of this product, it would be quite easy to forget youre wearing a balm at all. Staying power is very good, providing control and protection for hours (a morning application should see you into the late afternoon before the first one or two unruly fly-aways pop up and beg to be brushed).
The bottom line
Never dismiss the importance of a good balm. From a performance standpoint, this stuff works like a charm, delivering all the hold and control that your beard could possibly need on its most unmanagable days, while still offering a tremendous in-beard feel, complete with silky, touchable softness. The scent is a high-quality interpretation of a straightforward classic that everybody is sure to love. From a value standpoint, one might initially suffer from a bit of sticker shock when they see the price of this stuff, but when you factor in the massive 3.4 oz size (nearly twice that of most balms), it becomes clear that this product represents a temendous deal overall. I cannot recommend this product, or this company, highly enough. I can't imagine that anybody who tries this product wouldn't instantly include it in their rotation of favorite balms.
Ingredients: Beeswax, Shea Butter, Apricot Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, Mango Butter, Cocoa Butter, Lanolin, Hibiscus Powder (Infusion) and Vanilla Planifolia.
$30 at beardenbeardco.com
~The balm sampled for this review was provided by Bearden Beard Co.