The other day I received a coupon in the mail, nothing too unusual there, I mean who doesn't get a shitload of coupons in the mail? This one was a little bit different because it was for beard-care products, stranger still, was that it was from my local grocery store. I mean, okay, I've purchased stuff for my beard from the grocery store before, so maybe they put me on some sort of list or something, who knows? Still, it's a little weird to get such a thing in the mail, but I figured "what the hell, why not?" and decided to bring the coupon along with me on my way to grab a sixer and some laundry soap, if nothing else this would be a new product to review. I was a bit surprised to see a big display in the beard-care/shaving aisle (is it wierd that those two are always together? I guess they figure no matter what type of dude you are, they'll have something for you. but anyway...) featuring the same brand I had gotten the coupon for; Bromley's. As far as I can tell, after doing a little digging, Bromley's is basically a store-brand available at your local Kroger affiliate (in Arizona, we call them Fry's). Now there is already one store-brand of beard-care stuff sold at Kroger (remember the beard oil by Simple Truth I reviewed a while back?), so I don't know if this Bromley's brand is designed to be a replacement for that, or if it's just another line they're introducing. Interestingly enough, nowhere on the Bromley's packaging does it say it's manufactured by or for Kroger stores exclusively, but there are some pretty big hints, mainly that it is made by a company called Inter-American products, which a simple google search reveals is owned by, you guessed it, Kroger...now what does this all mean? Not a darn thing...so let's just give this stuff a try and see if it's any good.
The package says bergamot and lavender, but honestly, I don't get much of either. There's a faint artificial citrus note that I guess could come across as bergamot to those not paying close attention. I do get a hint of something sort of sweet and floral, that I want to call lavender, but it's so mild that it may be a matter of my brain trying to trick my olfactory bulb in to believing that's what it is. There's a bit of that familiar grainy/cereal note that comes from fresh shea butter, but unfortunately the most prominent note in this entire product is something sort of bitter and artificial, a chemical smell that screams of petroleum derivitaves...but upon checking the ingredients list, I couldn't find a culprit...until I dug a bit deeper...synthetic beeswax. Made of a blend of waxes derived from coal and petroleum, synthetic beeswax is, just as the name suggests, a synthetic alternative to the regular beeswax that we commonly find in our beard care products. I'm assuming this was added as some sort of cost-cutting measure, (because heaven forbid that one of the bigger brands ever prioritize quality over their bottom line), and in fairness, it seems to work okay (more on that in the "How does it work?" portion of this review), but boy does it stink! Overall strength is pretty low, and staying power is essentially non existant, leaving no discernable scent on my beard after just a few minutes.
How does it work?
Surprisingly, from a performance standpoint, this isnt a terrible balm. Unlike most of the beard-care products produced by corporations looking to hitch their wagon to what they surely see as nothing more than a trend, it would appear that Bromley's may have actually taken the time to do homework on what guys look for in their beard care products. With an ingredients list that is, for the most part, impressive (with the exception of that damn synthetic beeswax, which has probably pisses me off more than it should, as it is used in lots of household and cosmetic products, and is by-and-large safe...it still just feels like a big middle finger to quality at the expense of saving a few pennies...I mean why not just use natural beeswax? Especially since natural beeswax is also listed as one of the ingredients of this product...but I'm getting off-topic here). When I apply some of this stuff, I find that it at least makes an attempt to be a serious balm. It's definitely on the softer side, with a very low melting point, it works easily into my beard, and does a good job of combing through evenly. It doesn't leave any residual greasiness, which is definitely a plus, but I do find that there is a bit of that "crunch" (which I associate with lower quality products) left behind, not a terrible amount, but it's definitely present. Occlusive properties seem to be very good, nicely sealing in any oil I used before hand. Hold is decent, by no means strong, and in fact, I'd stop short of saying that it is even medium, but this product definitely does offer some. Surprisingly, it seems to do a good job of keeping my face feeling fairly hydrated throughout the course of a day.
The bottom line
Unlike many supermarket beard-care products, this stuff is actually worth a second look. Will it earn a spot in my regular roataion? Ha! No...but would I recommend it to a beardsman who was balling on a budget, looking for something better than most of the other products in its price category? Absolutely. The scent leaves a lot to be desired, but from a performance standpoint, this stuff could hang with balms that cost twice as much, making it a very good value (especially when you consider the fact that this comes in a generous 3 ounce container). Bromley's isn't going to revolutionize the beard-care game any time soon, but they may help a certeain segment of the market step up to a more premium option, and I suppose that is probably the entire reason they exist. So if you end up finding that same coupon in your mailbox for this stuff, dont be afraid to pick some up on your next trip to the grocery store.
Ingredients: Sunflower Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, Synthetic Beeswax, Beeswax, Argan Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Rosemary Leaf extract, Tocopherol, Fragrance
$5.99 (before discount) at Fry's Supermarket