It all started with a cup of coffee...okay, so I'm doing some weird artsy intro here, but stick with me, because this story is going somewhere. So, this morning, I got up, and started my normal routine; fed the dogs, put some music on, checked my emails, and went to brew the coffee. It was at this point that I noticed the hopper on the coffee grinder was completely empty. Now, I know what you're thinking (if you're a coffee snob anyway), but I'm just not "cool" enough to bust out the scale like some sort of mid 2000's dope dealer who is trying to show off how "accurate" their quarters are, and measure my coffee every morning...so I just dump a whole bag of coffee in the grinder and let the chips fall where they may with every pot. Reaching into the cabinet, I pulled down a freshly roasted bag of honey process Honduran from Just Coffee Co-Op (at the risk of sounding like a card-carrying douche canoe, I can't do shitty grocery-store coffee), ground some up and put the coffee on as usual. While cooking breakfast (black pepper bacon, with potatoes and eggs fried in the same grease), I poured up a cup, and holy smokes! What a great cup of mud! So good in fact, that by the time breakfast was over, I had flushed a whole pot (minus the one cup that I had poured for my wife) down my gullet. Now, I have a pretty high tolerance for caffeine...I mean, I usually drink a pot of coffee and an energy drink throughout the course of a day, but it's rare that I ingest so much so quickly. What does any of this have to do with beard wash? Well, I'm getting to that...you see, after breakfast, and thouroghly jacked up on caffiene I headed to the master bathroom to get ready for the day. With top quality coffee coursing through my veins so quickly that it made my hands tremble, I decided that a nice shave would be just what the doctor ordered (because, of course, why not?). After whipping up a luxurious mug of Chokecherry scented shave soap from Sphinx, and thouroghly lubricating the stubble at the edges of my beard and on my throat with the surprisingly very good multi-tasker from Rebel's Refinery, I grabbed my straight razor. What happened next...well, lets just say I learned my lesson about waiting for the caffeine tremors to subside before ever attempting wet shaving again. Long story short, I took a huge bite out of both cheeklines of my beard (Not a huge deal, as I'll have enough of a 5:00 o'clock shadow by this evening that I'll be able to fake a crisp line again in no time)...my neck line however, yikes, it looks like I took a weed-whacker to it...good thing nobody really sees it, but holy-hell, it's bad...anyway, as you can imagine, there were more knicks on my face than on the floor of Madison Square Garden by the time everything was done, which led to a little bit of blood getting into my beard. This is of course where beard wash comes in...
I had picked up this all new Scent from Skully's CTZ when it first dropped at the end of last month. Released to a good amount of fanfare among Skully's fans, Nemesis represents the latest scent in their Beards Never Die collection (I still havent figured out what exactly makes this collection different from their core lineup...even their website states that this collection is the same natural formulation as their standard line with "new unique fragrances"...soooo, yeah), but I mean, the labels are pretty cool, so rock on, right? This wash had been hanging out in my shower, mostly getting used as a shampoo over the past couple of weeks, but when I needed something to scrub the sickly iron smell of blood from my beard, I decided it was time to really put this stuff through its paces. How does this compare to some of the other beard washes in my collection. Let's take it for a spin and find out!
Skully's scents all have a certain powdery, fresh, sweetness about them...it's safe, it's unoffensive, but at the same time, it kind of robs them of any personality. Nemesis is no exception, taking a universally known and loved beard-care note, leather, and running it through two equally overused chords, cedar and amber, and then mixing in that same weird powder note that all Skully's scents are required to have, Nemesis is about as exciting as you'd expect. Conjuring up mental images of middle-of-the-road deodorants and soaps designed to smell "manly" according to a committee sitting around in a flourescent light bathed R&D department somewhere, it reads as a lightly better version of something you might expect from Old Spice or Axe. I mean, it's fine, there's absolutely nothing offensive about it, but to call it boring would be an understatement. If you really concentrate, there's a sort of chemical, aerosol scent on the back end that doesn't take this scent in any particular direction. It's sweet, it's fresh, it's just okay. For those who don't like a ton of complexity, this is definitely worth considering...but I can't help but wonder, why did they even bother rolling out a new scent if they were going to make it so absolutely unremarkable? I mean, not everything has to be completely challenging and nuanced, but damn, give me something here. Strength is a breath below medium, which is fine...and it's completely undetectable after rinsing out, also fine...come to think of it, "fine" is the word that I would use to describe every single aspect of this scent...just fine...
How does it work?
Ive tried two Skully's washes previously, Rum Dumb (also part of this nebulously defined Beards Never Die collection) was actually pretty good. Pale Rider on the other hand, well, not so much. Just like those two, this stuff is sold as a multi-tasker, pulling duty as a body wash and shampoo in addition to being a beard wash. As I mentioned earlier, I've been using this stuff as a shampoo, and it's not bad at all, of course for the purposes of this review, we're just going to focus on how well it works as a beard wash. It's lightweight, foams up easily, and thankfully doesn't have that weird sticky/slimy feeling that made me dislike the Pale Rider version so much. As far as actual cleansing properties, this does a very good job, getting deep into my beard and also rinsing cleanly, taking any buildup (and incidental, shaving accident induced blood drops) with it, right down the drain. That being said, there's also a noticable gentleness about this product, not enough to use on a daily basis mind you, but it's definitely kinder to my beard than some of the other washes out there, while still doing a remarkable job as a strip-wash. Upon stepping out of the shower, my beard felt incredibly healthy, no tangles, no knots, just an all around awesome feeling, ready to accept a dose of oil.
The bottom line
So today I learned that I'm not skilled enough with a straight razor to attempt any clean-up jobs while jacked up on caffeine. I also learned that Skully's new scent is less than exciting...but their beard wash does a great job from a functional standpoint. I hate to harp on the middle-of-the-road nature of this scent, but for all the buzz that Skully's has tried to create via paid social media ads, the scent is admittedly a let-down, but I suppose that it's still better than being flat out offensive (which it definitely isn't). Is this a product that I recommend? I mean...from a performance standpoint, it's a no-brainer...but again, the scent...the scent...
Anyway, Skully's has a huge following, and it's understandable as to why. As one of the big guys, I suppose they can't really afford to take too many risks when it comes to avant-garde scents...Looking at it that way, I can't necessarily fault them for Nemesis being such a "meh" fragrance. Of course, the funniest part of all of this is that in creating a scent that is seemingly for everybody, they've created a scent that definitely isnt for me.
89 See where this lands on The Big List
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Betaine, Xantham Gum, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice Powder, Citric Acid, Phenonxyethanol, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, fragrance.
$13 at skullysbeardoil.com
So you know how I do that thing, where on days that I condition my beard, I have to use an unscented wash first? Even if you don't, I'll just say that it's a quirk of mine...no real explaination why, I just don't like to follow up a scented wash with conditioner...it just seems like I can't appreciate the scent of the conditioner as much when I combine it with a scented wash, conversely, I cant appreciate the scent left behind by a wash when I immediately slap a conditioner into my beard afterwords...so I find it's best to just go uscented with my wash on days that I plan to condition. To that effect, I always keep at least one unscented wash on hand. The last one that I was using...wellllll...I used it up, and we'll leave it at that. So when the last little bit of that stuff was finally gone, you can imagine how excited I was to see that Anointed AK, makers of some very good oils, and an awesome revitalizing beard cream that I still use regularly, were dropping their very own line of beard washes. It seemed like a no-brainer that I pick up their unscented offering and see how it stacks up...so without too much preamble (because, honestly, I'm still sick and between the cold medicine and lack of quality sleep, my brain isn't on its A-game), let's get down to business and give this stuff a try...
It's unscented...I mean, there is a slighty "soapy" scent, like the stuff that children blow bubbles with, but beyond that this is as close to unscented as a beard wash is going to get. So good job there...
How does it work?
I was a bit worried at first, because this stuff comes out just a little bit thick, and it has been my experience that washes on the thicker side don't rinse out as cleanly...but we'll circle back to that in a minute. This stuff creates a big, rich lather the texture of soft meringue. Thousands upon thousands of fine, tiny bubbles work their way deep down into my beard. It is this deep penetration that makes this product so effective at cleaning both my beard and face, removing any residual buildup that may have been left behind by the odious combination of dead skin cells, perspiration, the previous day's products, and whatever sauces, crumbs, or cream cheese I may have dripped into my beard. While still a gentle wash, I don't know that I would recommend using it on a daily basis as it does a darn good job of stripping, as such I'd say that this wash is ideal for those who skip a a couple of days between beard washings. The ingredients list is just as impressive for what it has as what it doesn't...namely soy protein, which seems to be a very popular ingredient in many washes out there, but always leaves a sticky, slimy funk in my beard, so I definitely appreciate its omission here. As far as rinsing, this stuff is something of an odd duck in that I've never experienced a wash that foams up as well as this product, that also rinses as easily as this stuff does (which completely dashed whatever worries I had in the back of my mind over the inital thickness of this product). After stepping out of the shower, the feeling that this stuff imparts is excellent, even if you don't follow up with a conditioner, you'll find that after nothing more than a towel drying, there will be no knots or tangles for your comb to contend with. Definitely one of the better washes I've tried recently.
The bottom line
I've always said that washes were the products that I have the least practical knowledge of, but since starting this blog, I've certainly used enough of them to know a quality one when I try it, and this is most definitely a quality wash. Anointed AK has done a great job recently of integrating new and exciting products into their catalogue, and this wash is no exception. From a value standpoint, the price is definitely north of the industry average for washes, with a four ounce bottle sporting a price tag that is more customary for eight ounce offerings, but that being said, the performance is good enough that you just may be able to justify it in your own mind. If unscented washes aren't your thing, Anointed AK has also released five scented offerings, all with matching conditioners available too, so without a doubt, the next time youre in the market for a wash, you'll want to keep Anointed AK in mind!
Ingredients: Deionized water, organic sage leaf extract, shea nut oil, vitamin e, organic horsetail extract, organic marigold extract, chamomile flower extract, ginseng root extract, oat extract, disodium 2 sulfolaurate, cocomidopropyl betaine, lauramide mea, certimonium chloride, ped 15 distearate, lemon peel extract, aloe vera leaf extract, pro-vitamin b5, polyquaternium 7, citric acid, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexylglycerin, hexelyne glycol, sodium methyl 2 sulfolaurate.
$20 at anointedak.com
Do you every have one of those days where your brain just feels like clam chowder (Manhattan or New England style, whichever you prefer...although everybody knows that New England style is better, but that's neither here nor there) sloshing around in your skull? You can't focus on anything, and even though you literally shotgunned a Monster immediately after drinking a pot of coffee, you just can't seem to wake up. Yeah, that's the kind of day I'm having right now, which is why I had to push back the product that I was originally planning on reviewing today (It's a pretty exciting product, and I'll definitely get to it in a day or so), in favor of something that, for whatever reason seemed like it might be a bit easier to break-down.
I picked this wash up the other day on a grocery run, it's actually something that I've used in the past, long before I had even thought of creating a site to share my thoughts on beard-care products. It happened to be on sale, and I thought "what the hell?" after all, I'm always looking for a good mix of products, not just small-batch stuff (as I've pointed out about a bajillion times now). For those unfamiliar, Bulldog is a men's grooming company from England. Founded by two buddies from London in 2006, they have grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade and a half, somewhere along the way being purchased by a company called Edgewell (one of those companies that you probably have never heard of, but owns a bunch of other companies that you are familiar with, some of the big ones being Schick, Jack Black, Hawaiian Tropic, Playtex, and Wet Ones, but there are many others under their umbrella). Boasting a full compliment of skincare, shaving, and most importantly, beard-care products, the Bulldog portfolio seems to be geared towards value-minded consumers who still prioritize quality. Even though I'm not the biggest fan of "two-in-one" type products (because they usually end up combining elements of two different things to create something not quite as good as either), this wash seems to sport a fairly impressive ingredients list for something you can buy at the grocery store (there's still some chemicals I'm not too jazzed about, but such is usually the case for these types of products), so I plan on approaching it objectively. How will it measure up? Only one way to find out...let's take it for a spin!
There's something there...but not much. A soft, subtle sweet grass aroma with hints of mint and something that vaguely resembles eucalyptus. It hangs around politely in the background, adding just enough to heighten the overall beard-washing experience, while still remaining so light that it doesn't leave any sort of impression. Those who are sensitive to scents but have gotten bored with unscented washes may want to check this out as it offers just enough of a smell, so as to be enjoyable, without becoming overbearing in any way. It rinses quickly and as soon as it swirls down the drain, it is no longer detectable in the slightest.
How does it work?
Performance is good enough that I don't even feel compelled to point out the fact that I regularly see this stuff on sale for $6-$7, as a qualifier (but I just did, so, whatever). A fairly thick wash that foams up into a very nice lather, perhaps not the finest, or most dense, but definitely still enough to get deep down into my beard and make me feel like it's doing something. This stuff is very mild, meaning that it could be used every day if you don't like to skip a day or two between washes. Of course, the flip side to this, is that if you don't wash your beard as often, or are looking for more of a strip-wash, this stuff might not really fit your needs. It rinses cleanly and easily, and leaves my beard feeling good and healthy after a quick towel dry. There is a little bit of conditioning going on (although you're definitely still going to want to hit your beard with a good quality conditioner a couple times a week), leaving a soft feel and keeping tangles at bay (in that respect, this stuff actually reminds me a of a "Diet Coke" version of the Hawaiian Lion wash from Beard Booze that I absolutely love and still use regularly), as such, I find this to be a particularly good wash for days when I plan on rocking a natural curl in my beard. The green tea extract in this product seems to do a top notch job of keeping my face feeling calm and free of any itch or dryness (this is probably due to the incredible regenerative properties of Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG for short...one of the key components of green tea extract, and something of a super-food for your skin). Unlike some other "multi-tasker" washes that promise to condition, I find this stuff leaves no buildup or residue on my beard, which as we all know, can lead to a dull, lifeless apperance...instead it leaves no trace and has my beard feeling like a primed canvas, ready to accept whatever products I plan on using afterwords.
The bottom line
I know that sometimes when it comes to more, shall we say, "commercial grade" products, it's very easy (and at times necessary) to approach them with tempered expectations...but I would still consider this a pretty good wash even if it were made by an indie brand. Are there better washes out there? Of course...but can you buy them at the grocery store? Maybe, maybe not. One word seems to come to mind when it comes to describing this product; pleasant...From the scent to the performance, this product is an all around pleasant experience, nothing earth shattering, but nothing to complain about either, it's simply a good product that can be had at a very good price. If you're extremely particular about your washes, this stuff might not perform at an elite enough level for you, but the average bearded guy looking for a wash that just plain works, could do a hell of a lot worse than this stuff.
Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl betaine, Sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate, Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, Sodium chloride, Acrylates copolymer, Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, Sodium benzoate, Fragrance*, Potassium sorbate, Trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate, Camelina sativa seed oil, Glycerin, Camellia sinensis (Green tea) leaf extract, Citric acid, Tocopherol. *A blend of natural ingredients.
$9.99 at bulldogskincare.com
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been reviewing my way through the entire catalogue of beard-care offerings from Baroque Royal. So far, every product I've tried with their signature gold logo on the package has been outstanding (including non beard-specific things, like their phenominal face lotion, heavenly eye gel, which I use every day...and amazing travel humidor which does an exceptional job at keeping some of my favorite Opus X cigars in optimum condition when I need to bring them with me on-the-go). I've already been absolutely blown away by one of their beard cleansers, their beard soap proved to be such an amazing beard wash product that I was almost a bit hesitant to try their beard shampoo, as I wasn't sure how it could match the incredible performance of their soap. But duty calls, (and besides, it's not like I've ever been let down by this awesome brand), so let's give this stuff a try and see what we think...
When is a scent more than a scent? When it has the power to more than just draw up mental images of a time and place but rather, transport you there. This particular permutation of Ocean Blue resembles a more intense version of the beard soap bar. Since this is such a similar scent to all of the other Baroque Royal products, there's really no need for me to get into how this is an idyllic beach scent that opens up into a romantic world of luxury seaside resorts, expensive vintage Champagne, and a feeling of peace and serenity that only comes from a day spent lounging lazily by the ocean. But...it is worth going over some of the finer points of this scent for those just joining us. A bracing, chalky mineral opening explodes into a cool, oceanic redolence brimming with kelp, cucumber, hyacinth, and bright, ripe, satsuma. Brisk salt water and nose tickling ozone carry you away to a foggy coastal morning where all is still and quiet, before lazily fading into a plush clean linen accord that dances and spins in the high note with the grace of a feather in the wind. Sporting a sophisticated, relaxed vibe, this scent has the power to turn a quick shower into a luxurious dive into the ocean. Strength is wonderfully medium-plus, and it does seem to faintly stick around in my beard even after stepping out of the shower, making it ideal to layer with all of the other Baroque Royal beard-care products, or other aquatic scents.
How does it work?
Deep cleansing and luxuriously foaming, it becomes instantly evident that this is a hard working cleanser. While the addition of SLS to the formulation may be a bit of a turnoff to some, it is worth noting that if you rotate this among several other washes, it really shouldnt have any impact one way or another (My skin is notoriously sensitive to such things, and I've yet to experience any dryness or breakouts using this product). That aside, this stuff does a tremendous job of cleansing dirt, sweat, and excess buildup, while still leaving my beard feeling voluminous, soft, and managable. It rinses cleanly and with minimal effort, and leaves absolutely no tangles or broken hairs for my comb to contend with when I step out of the shower. It also helps impart a very healthy shine on days when I use it. All in all a tremendous effort, and just another reason to be excited about this amazing company!
The bottom line
The outstanding level of care and quality that Baroque Royal puts into their products becomes more and more evident with each and every one of their offerings that I try. While personally, I think I slightly prefer their beard soap over their beard shampoo (and that is in no way a criticism of this shampoo, that soap is just, honestly, one of the best beard wash products I've tried in my life) Those who prefer the convenience of a liquid will become instant fans of this stuff after trying it. The scent is on the same level of amazing of all the other products in this lineup, and performance is on par (if not a bit better) than many other washes in this price range. Now one quirk about this product worth noting, is that you can not purchase it by itself...you need to get it as part of a combo pack with the matching conditioner, or in the luxury grooming kit, which contains every Baroque Royal product I've reviewed on this page to date, in addition to a super high quality wooden beard comb (that I use every day) and a luxurious boars hair brush. That being said, both of these sets are priced incredibly reasonably, so you shouldn't hesitate to pick either up, especially the Luxury Grooming Kit, as that will give you the opportunity to see for yourself how absolutely outstanding these products, and this company truly are!
Ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin Chloride, Polyquaternium-7, PEG-7, Glyceryl Stearate, Propylene Glycol, Parfum, Phenoxyethanol, EDTA
$17.99 - $34.99 at baroqueroyal.com
~The shampoo sampled for this review was provided by Baroque Royal
Right about now, you're looking at this and thinking "Really? Another wash review? Why?"...and yes, I've been reviewing, like, a lot of washes lately...I was actually planning on holding back the review of this stuff until some time in the new year...I was going to make some lame dad joke about waiting until "next decade" to review it, but I've been seeing some fierce, and downright uncivil debates on social media (I know, right? I was just as shocked as you are to hear about incivility on social media, I mean there's something that never happens...amuhrite?) as to whether or not the new decade starts tomorrow, or a year from tomorrow...aaaaand I wasnt about to open up that can of worms...suffice it to say, I was just planning on waiting a week or so to review this stuff. You see, every so many weeks I need to grab a new unscented wash to use on conditioning days, we've already established that I'm weird, and for reasons that I cant fully articulate, I just prefer to use an unscented wash on days when I condition my beard. So the original plan for today was to go over one of the many oils balms or butters I have queued up to be reviewed, but after trying this stuff, I pretty much wrote the entire review in my head while still getting ready for the day, and felt I had to get it out. Will that be a good thing, or a bad thing? Let's give this stuff a whirl and see...
Unscented, so it smells like...well, it smells like nothing...and to be fair most unscented products still smell a little soapy/oily whatever as a result of the products used to make them, but Skully's has done a good job here of actually keeping this as close to unscented as possible...so good for them!
How does it work?
I reviewed Skully's Rum Dumb wash last month and really enjoyed it...so much so that I ended up blowing through the entire bottle pretty quickly because I used it as my daily shampoo (yup even us closely cropped, "number one or number 2 guard using once-a- week to make our male pattern baldness look not-so-dramatic" guys need to use shampoo too), so I was expecting a similar experience here; nice luxurious foam, deep cleaning that left my beard feeling healthy and soft after just a quick towel dry. I mean, you'd think that'd be what you'd get after using a wash made by the exact same company, with a nearly identical ingredients list, right? Yeah, you'd be pretty wrong for thinking that. What I got instead was a product that came out of the bottle feeling almost slimy in consistency, barely lathered at all, and just felt oily, and almost "sticky" in beard as I tried to work it down to the roots. It rinses cleanly enough, but by then, the damage is done, and not even a great quality conditioner like Detroit Grooming can help undo all of the tangles that I ended up getting when I mashed this stuff into my beard. After stepping out of the shower, the "fun" continued in the form of breakage due to those very same tangles, I even had to set my trusty Kent comb down and grab an extra-wide toothed wooden comb, which still hit multiple snags on every pass. After spending twice as long gently combing my beard to finesse all of the knots and tangles out of it, I will admit that it felt sufficiently clean, but I mean, seriously, at what cost?
The bottom line
While definitely more of a value-priced product, this is easily one of the most dissapointing unscented washes I've ever used. What few redeeming qualities it has are quickly negated by how downright damaging the results that I experienced were. I'm still waiting to come across that one unscented wash that just blows my mind, and makes me consider going unscented even on days when I don't condition...but I can say without a doubt that this stuff isn't it. Skully's does a great job when it comes to most of their catalogue, but this right here? Huge swing and a miss...
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Betaine, Xantham Gum, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice Powder, Citric Acid, Phenonxyethanol, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid
$13 at skullysbeardoil.com
I've really been bulking up my collection of washes lately. Don't ask me why, maybe I feel like this is an element of the beard-care game that I haven't been paying as much attention to as I should lately, who knows? Whatever the reason, I find myself gravitating towards the wash selections when I check out a new company lately. After being inroduced to Burton's by their wonderful smelling Pacific Blend oil, (If you remember from that review, I wasnt particularly moved by the carrier blend in that product, but I was absolutely captivated by the scent.) I wanted to see if this company was able to capture lightning in a bottle again with another of their all natural scents. The ingredients list also drew me in, as it was free of any parabens and harsh additives. So what are we waiting for? Let's take this stuff for a spin and see where it ranks amond all the washes I've been picking up lately.
After lathering up with this stuff for the first time, one thing became abundantly clear to me...Burton's is a company that knows how to blend some magnificent scents. Deep cedar and redwood notes resonate in a glorious baritone like a symphonic bassoon, painting the picture of a camphoraceous forest scene; mighty sequoias rising up from the snowy ground to scrape the heavens, as cool mountain air fills your lungs. Meanwhile a relaxing breeze fills the air as divergent winds scented with sage, lavender, and lemon peel each intermingle into one plush, multi-dimentional zephyr that serves to compliment the big earthy, dusty, redwood forest accord brilliantly. This is the true embodiment of an "outdoorsy" scent, so beautifully earthy and primal, yet at once balanced and natural, like a morning hike that turns into an all-day forest adventure. Strength is slightly below medium, which is just perfect for a wash, and staying power is minimal, as this stuff is somewhat detectable after stepping out of the shower, but not so much that it would interfere with your enjoyment of whatever oil you choose to follow up with.
How does it work?
Creating a light lather that is just slightly too loose to be called "luxurious" or "rich" or whatever superlative you prefer, it still does generate a sufficient foam which seems to penetrate deeply enough into my beard to do a good job of cleaning. If you're looking for more of a "strip wash" this may not be the stuff for you, as this is definitely one of the most mild and gentle washes I've tried in a while...of course, the obvious benefit to this is the fact that it would be ideally suited for every day use. To that effect, it also pulls double duty acting as a body wash too, now even though I'm strictly grading this product on its performance as a beard wash, I must add that while I'm not a big body wash guy (because I find that most of them leave a bit of a film on my skin), this stuff rinses cleanly and leaves my skin feeling soft, smooth, and well hydrated when I step out of the shower, so if you prefer liquid over bar soap in the shower, this product may be the perfect bit of one-stop shopping for you. Speaking of clean rinsing, I find this stuff rinses out of my beard with minimal effort, and doesn't leave behind any tangles or nastiness that some more chemical laden washes do, making combing on non-conditioning days a breeze.
The bottom line
If you're looking for an all-around great wash, this is definitely worth picking up. The scent is, without question, one of the best "outdoorsy", "woodsy", whatever, scent's on the market today (Seriously, just as Picasso was with paint, so is Burton's when it comes to blending scents, there is just somehting "next level" and transformative about what they're able to do with a handful of essential oils), and the performance checks all the boxes. Your wash sets the tone for your beardcare routine, if you start the day off with a shitty one, no matter what you do afterwords, it will feel like your beard just didn't live up to its full potential that day...so why not make sure that you're using a good one? This stuff may cost a bit more than some of the other washes out there (although it is by no means pricey, comparitively), but it's well worth paying just a little bit more for a product that delivers the great feelings that this stuff does!
Ingredients: Aqua (water), Decyl Glucoside, Laurel Betaine, Xantham Gum, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice Powder, Citric Acid, Phenonxyethanol, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Essential Oils
$18.99 at burtonsbeardoil.com
...and now for something completely different...The other day, I was stepping out to run some errands, when my wife asked me if I could swing by the dollar store to grab some elastic hair ties for a craft project she was working on. Now the Dollar Tree is a store that I can't help but be fascinated by...sometimes you find things there that make you stop and ask yourself, "now how can this only be a dollar?" (seriously, one time we found a bunch of these really cool Star Wars Travel mugs with an MSRP of $25 each, we got one of each character they were selling), so I always make it a point to do a full lap around the place, even if I'm only there to pick up one thing, but it was the very aisle I was sent there for, where I found perhaps the most interesting dollar store pickup in recent memory. While strolling down the hair care aisle, I saw a bearded guy and his wife shopping, "hey check this out!" the guy said enthusiastically as I walked past them, I almost wasn't sure he was talking to me, but then he pointed to a display on one of the shelves in the aisle "Only a dollar! Can you believe it?" I sort of couldn't, because the box he was drawing my attention to contained a number of black tubes, each printed with metallic writing declaring that the contents were either beard wash, or beard balm (beard balm in a tube? okay, yeah, you already know we'll be getting into that next week). After chatting about products with the guy and his wife (who looked about as interested by beard-care products as my wife does when I start geeking out over them), I grabbed this stuff and threw it into my shopping basket. My hopes were not high from the start, but of course, I thought that this could represent an all new ultra-value segment of the market, after all, we are talking about only a dollar here. So why not give it a review? The question is, will the same place that I go to buy cheap envelopes and sponges become the new spot to pick up beard care products? Only one way to tell...let's take it for a spin and see what we think.
I mean, it has a scent, but I'm not really sure what it is they're shooting for here...objectively, it isn't terrible, but I don't think anybody is going to buy this stuff based on whatever fragrances they're dumping in the mix here. It's sort of cedary, but not like the fresh honest-to-goodness cedar lumber type of notes that we find in many a great beard-care product...no, this sort of reminds me of one of those little cedar scented pucks the carwash slides under your seat after you get the $9.99 special. It's not an offensive smell or anything, but it isn't anything you'll want people to smell on you either. There is also a hint of something sort of plastic and artificial, like the way the air blowing from a brand new fan smells for a week or so when you first start using it, again not particularly unpleasant, but not anything a beard-care product should smell like. Thankfully, the strength of this scent is quite low, and it doesn't linger for any amount of time after rinsing.
How does it work?
This product, surprisingly has some beneficial ingredients in it, including jojoba and vitamin E. It also has some not so great ones too, like Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS for short)...in fact, let's chat about big, bad, SLS for a minute...while I generally prefer my products to be sulfate free, and yes, SLS can dry your skin out which can lead to irritation after prolonged exposure, the fact that it's still present in many products sold in Europe (where regulations are much more strict than they are here in America), shows that it isn't necessarily the toxic sludge we've all painted it as in our imaginations (in fact, according to research done by Cancer Research UK, a nonprofit who makes it their business to do some serious homework on these sorts of things, there is no evidence to suggest a proven link between SLS and cancer...one of the main arguments used to scare people away from using it). Now this might come across as some sort of pro-SLS tubthumping on my part, and I certainly don't mean for it to. Don't get me wrong, if you have to option to choose between a product containing SLS and a sulfate-free version, go sulfate free, as SLS is still proven to be comedogenic, and why subject your skin to anything harsh when you dont need to? But at the same time, understand that some of the risks wev'e been warned about when it comes to certain products are a bit overblown...either way, now that I'm done ranting about sulfates, let's get back to the wash...
This stuff actually lathers up decently (probably due to the very SLS we were just talking about) and seems to do an okay job of cleaning my beard. I certainly wouldn't put it int he same camp as some of the more legendary washes I've ever used (The Scotch Porter CBD wash or the Baroque Royal beard soap are two of the more opulent washes I've been giving heavy rotation to lately), but it isn't exactly the worst wash I've ever tried either (I'm looking at you Gillette). It rinses cleanly, and surprisingly leaves no tangles. My beard actually feels pretty good after using this product. While it seems to perform gently enough, I certainly wouldn't recommend using it on a daily basis, as in addition to SLS there are other chemicals in there that I'm sure are not healthy to subject your beard and face to every day.
The Bottom Line
The fact that beard care is truly everywhere these days, even the dollar store, is a true testament to the staying power of the bearded community. We come from different walks of life, we have different priorities, but at the end of the day, we are a market force, and companies have taken notice. Would I recommend that you go out and buy this product? Unless you're really strapped for cash, then probably not...but it is still pretty cool to think about how far beard-care has come...I mean, come on, you can literally buy products specifically designed for grooming your glorious mane just about anywhere, from high end boutiques, all the way down to the dollar store. How cool is that?
Ingredients: Water, SLS, Sodium Chloride, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Jojoba Oil, Vitamin E, Cocamide, MEA, Polyquaternium-7, Methylchloroisothiasolinone,Methylsothiazolinone, Blue-1.
$1 at Dollar Tree stores
So put yourself in this situation, you just recieved a veritable treasure chest of beard-care products in the mail from a luxury lifestyle brand...which one do you try first? I don't think many people would say the small bar of soap, and yet, being the weirdo that I am, that's exactly what I did. Let's back up for a moment shall we? First, for those who may be unfamiliar, the luxury lifestyle brand I'm speaking of is Baroque Royal. Based out of Beverly Hills, this brand was created by a team that boasts a collective résumé made up of some of the most prestigious and well known couture houses in the world. They offer a full line of high end products from skincare, to slippers, travel bags, humidors, even some really awesome looking flatware in their signature blue color scheme (that I'm going to need to pick up a few sets of, before the next time my wife and I have company over for dinner). Now I may be biased, but, to me, the most interesting thing they offer is a full suite of beardcare products, boasting first rate ingredients and ISO certification (meaning that all products have been tested by an independent, third party to ensure that they meet the most strict requirements when it comes to quality), there is no doubt that these are serious beardcare products designed for the expert beardsman with the most exacting of standards. Needless to say, I was absolutely floored when they sent me their full range of beard-care products to try and review, reading the ingredients list on every product, I knew I was in for a truly luxurious experience, but where to start? This of course leads us back to this little bar of soap. I normally don't care for my beard wash in bar form (I had a bad experience once with a product from another company that shall remain nameless), but I've been sampling a lot of great washes lately, so I figured "what the hell?" and decided to take this stuff into the shower with me a few mornings ago...let's see if I made the right choice.
The Ocean Blue scent is at first glance (sniff?) a fairly straightforward aquatic scent, reminiscent of a clean, fresh smelling "beach" scented hand soap or candle that your wife might put in the guest bathroom. But just like the mighty Pacific, there is a brilliant world of complexity just below the surface. A chalky, mineral base reminiscent of vintage champagne conjures up images of success and prosperity, while a warm, amber-meets-driftwood accord oozes masculinity and adds an edge of dark, intreague, wrapping this scent in a mysterious allure as deep and as dark as the Mariana Trench. Just above this is a fresh, effervescent note reminiscent of the citrus chords that give many aquatic colognes their "bite", perhaps a bright squeeze of sweet orange, expertly restrained so as not to insist upon itself. This is rounded out by a light ethereal note as crisp and clean as a breath of fresh ocean air, it's slightly green, slightly floral, but a bit difficult to describe; a hint of lavender, perhaps a bit of violet? it's calming, it's relaxing, it envelopes you in a comfortable embrace like a perfectly timed breeze that makes your saltwater drenched skin tingle as you emerge from the crystaline ocean and dig your toes into the warm sands of a prestine beach. Finally the faintest hint of clean cotton, like taking a deep inhale as you lay back on a plush beach towel and let the sun's glorious rays wash over you, swirls and dances in the topnote as if carried on a lazy summer wind, creating perhaps one of the best in-shower sensory experiences of any beard wash product I've ever tried. Strength is solidly medium, and staying power is very good (but not so strong as to interfere with whatever products you choose to follow up with).
How does it work?
Earlier, I had touched on the fact that I don't really care for my beard wash in bar form, the last product I had tried in this format didn't lather very well, and it left a shitty residue on my beard that was nearly impossible to rinse off. Of course, I'm not reviewing that product (I'm not even mentioning what it was), so let's shift focus to this particular bar. A couple swipes across my beard was all I needed as I could tell this was going to build up to a big foam. I know I use the word "luxurious" quite often to describe lather when it comes to many beard washes, but after working this amazing product into my beard with my fingers, and creating a lather so thick and rich that it literally felt like I was rubbing freshly whipped meringue into my mane, the new minimum for what constitutes a "luxurious" lather has been significantly raised. Millions of tiny fine buttles create a dense foam that more closely resembles shaving cream than any beard wash I've tried before, which imparts a deep down clean to my face as well as each individual follicle of my beard. The natural antibacterial properties of the lauric acid (one of the active compounds found in coconut oil which make it such a miracle product) in this bar make it an ideal cleanser for both beard and face as few cleaning products are as effective at removing Propionibacterium acnes (the scientific name for gross skin bacteria that causes zits and breakouts), it also reduces inflammation and improves circulation, making this bar a worthy substitue for your daily face wash as well...in fact, it has been argued that lauric acid is more effective than benzoyl peroxide at reducing acne in general, so if you're like the many adults out there who still deal with the occasional breakout, you might want to reach for this product the next time you feel a new blemish coming on. The other half of this bar's big "one-two punch" is stearic acid, a long-chain fatty acid that helps break down excess sebum, a nasty oily secretion that your skin naturally produces, which can clog pores and hinder beard growth. Considering the beneficial properties of both of these ingredients not just for your beard but for your skin in general, I would go so far as to say that this product can be used as an all-around utility bar, but due to the size, you might not get quite as much mileage out of it as you would if you reserved it strictly for beard use. As a beard wash, this bar is mild enough for every day use, of course if you don't wash your beard every day, I can imagine that this would still give you a satisfactory deep-down cleaning.
The Bottom Line
This product has completely changed my opinion on bar-form beard washes, delivering a clean that could compare to any of the best washes I've ever tried, with a scent that is nice enough to be bottled and sold as a summertime cologne. I'm still not entirely sure what compelled me to try this product first when I had my pick of everything that Baroque Royal makes for beards, but I honestly can't think of a time when I've experienced a more impactful introduction to a new company (I mean, just a few days ago, I hated the concept of soap bars for my beard, and now I've used one several days in a row). This little bar is a product that's easy to get excited about, and without question delivers on Baroque Royal's promise of offering a world class experience. In the world of beard-care there are a great many luxury brands who offer a first rate experience, Baroque Royal has come storming out of the gate with the intent of adding their name to the upper eschelon of those brands, and if every product they make delivers as impressive of an experience as this particular one, it won't be long before they do just that! I'm already excited to report my findings on their other beard-care products, so stay tuned...
Ingredients: Propylene glycol, glycerin, sugar, stearic acid, lauric acid, water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium hydroxide, fragrance, tocopheryl acetate.
$9.99 at baroqueroyal.com
~The soap sampled for this review was provided by Baroque Royal
If you're looking for the hottest trend in health and wellbeing these days, look no further than CBD. Yes, cannabidiol (CBD for short) has lately been touted as the best thing that you can put in your body since...I dunno...Vitamin C? Aspirin? Chicken Soup??? Anyway, you get the point...Recently popping up in a wide range of products, from candies, to drinks, to cartridges you can vape, even topical solutions, and pet treats (my dogs positively love their CBD treats we buy from the local olive oil shop), it seems like if you can name a product designed to be consumed, a CBD version of it exists out there. The beard-care game isn't wasting any time getting in on the CBD craze, as indie brands all the way up to luxury titans are producing CBD infused beard-care products lately. The amazing Ghost Buck butter by V&T favorite Barn Brand Beards was one of the first beard specific products that I can recall trying which included that magical hemp derivative, but now it appears that industry juggernaut Scotch Porter is getting in on the fun too. Recently releasing an entire line of CBD infused beard care products (as well as a really great face wash...and a lotion and body wash that I've yet to try), the good folks over at Scotch Porter promise an experience that combines their well established quality with the benefits of cannabidiol. I wasnt really in the market for a new wash, but the novelty of this product was too much for me to pass up, which is why I decided that it needed a review...so let's lather up with it, and see what we think!
If you remember from my review of their conditioner, I'm not completely in love with the scent of the Scotch Porter standard line (It's not bad, just not really my thing). Well, it appears that they've tweaked the scent of their CBD infused products just a bit, I don't know if this is just in the interest of changing things up, or if this was done to help consumers differentiate the two products (even though they come in sufficiently different packaging to do that, but either way, it's a welcome change). A pleasant, mild rose sets the tone and defines this scent as a floral one, but this is quickly tempered by a masculine edge of a soft leather, not that big in-your-face tanning chemical laden leather that our minds immediately go to when we think of leather scents, but rather a well worn baseball glove, an old wallet, a treasured leather good that has done some serious living. As this product does its job, a faint secondary note somewhat awkwardly lurches forward, not unpleasant, but perhaps a bit disjointed, it's powdery, it's musky, I mean, it's fine, but it just doesnt seem to have any real sense of identity, nor does it serve to heighten the initial rose and leather accord that this product so brilliantly greeted me with. There is also a detectable hint of that earthy, honeyed, almost salty aroma that is instantly identifiable as saffron in the top end of this scent, which creates for a really lovely in-shower experience. Strength hovers right around medium minus, which is just fine for a wash, Staying power is pretty much non-existant, which, to me is actually a plus in a wash, as it won't interfere with any products I use after I step out of the shower.
How does it work?
As a wash, it works very well, nothing particularly earth shattering about the clean I get from it, but nothing disapointing either. It does seem to do a great job at stripping away any buildup that milder washes may leave behind, as such, it probably isn't gentle enough for every day use, but it is a great suppliment to whatever your every day wash is (yes, yes, "you shouldnt wash your beard every day and blah blah blah"...I mean, as I've stated before, I'm a messy eater, and I tend to sweat a lot, so I'll continue to wash mine as often as I'd like. Besides, I've been washing my beard every day for years now, and it still hasn't spontaneously combusted, or whatever all the dire warnings against daily washings claim it will do...seriously guys, your beard isn't a Fabergeé egg or something, it's really nowhere near as delicate as some of the companies out there would have you believe it is...but I'm getting way off topic now, so lets pull it back in). The lather which this product produces is fine and silky, downright luxurious as it works its way down to the roots of each individual beard hair, providing a deep down clean that has my skin feeling great too. This is, of course, all well and good, but what you really want to know about is the CBD, right? Well, let's back up for a moment and talk about what we really can expect from the addition of CBD.
So first, a "quick and dirty" explaination of CBD and its value as an ingredient. CBD is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis (Marijuana, weed, dope, wahtever nomenclature you're comfortable with), the most prevalent, of course being CBD's fun cousin THC. For commerical purposes, CBD is derived from hemp plants (a close relative of the plants you used to buy in high school, only this one produces higher amounts of CBD, and has about a bajillion industrial applications). When isolated by itself, CBD doesnt get you "high", but can have the pleasant effect of imparting a sense of calm, as well as possessing tremendous anti-inflamatory properties (It has also been proven as an effective treatment for a wide range of maladies from epilepsy to insomnia...but if you have a serious medical condition, no beard wash is going to fix it, go see a doctor...c'mon). There of course have been some wild, unsubstantiated claims about its effectiveness against some really nasty diseases, and since I'm not a doctor, I'm not going to weigh in, but everything I've read on the matter advises consumers to beware of CBD products that overpromise results, so just keep that in mind (Scotch Porter, of course makes no such claims with regards to this product or any of the other products in their CBD line). So to recap, it's a completely legal derivative of the hemp plant, doesnt get you high, but can elevate your mood a bit, and has great anti-inflammatory properties...got it? yes? Okay moving on...
You're probably asking yourself why you need CBD in your beard wash, and the answer is simple. Since it does posess such wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, this is an awesome additive to any beard wash, I can almost "feel" it working as I massage it into my beard, calming the skin underneath and improving circulation, which in turn, promotes a healthy, strong beard. I dont know that the CBD content of this product is really high enough that it can impart a sense of calm just from topical exposure, but there is certainly something relaxing about how great my beard and face feel after using this product.
The Bottom Line
If you're looking for a wash that just simply works, this is definitely one to pick up. Now don't buy into the hype about the addition of CBD turning an everyday product into this miracle cure-all type of thing (again, if youre dealing with real medical issues, beard wash isn't going to be the cure, I can pretty much guarantee that), but it is interesting to compare the results you'll get from this product with those you get from other beard washes (I've yet to try the standard Scotch Porter wash, but it would be fun to see how this stacks up when compared to it). If you're the kind of guy who keeps only one wash in rotation, this may not be the one for you, as it isn't really gentle enough for every day use, but if you like to switch it up and use a couple different washes over the course of a week, this is definitely deserving of a spot on your shower ledge. From a value standpoint, it may not be the best deal in the wash category, but it's not unreasonably priced either (epecially considering the luxury pedigree that the Scotch Porter name brings). I definitely think that CBD is more than just a passing trend, and as such, it's really cool to see the beard-care industry embracing it, for that reason alone, I highly recommend trying this product, the curiosity of this one little extra ingredient may be what gets you to try it, but the overall performance of this product as a whole will be what will make you want to keep using it!
Ingredients: Deionized Water, Botanical Infusion of (Basil Leaf, Shavegrass, Gotu Kola Herb, Slippery Elm Bark, Turmeric Root Slices, Burdock Root and Neem Leaf in Deionized Water), Anhydrous Hemp Oil, Sodium Alpha Olefin Sulfonate (Derived from Coconut Oil / Not a Sulfate), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (Derived from Coconut Oil & Corn Starch), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Organic Blue Agave Nectar, Cocamidopropyl Betaine (Derived from Coconut Oil), Hydrolyzed Silk Protein, Citric Acid, Stearamide AMP, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil (Abyssinian Oil), Panthenol (Vitamin B-5), Sucrose Cocoate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (Derived from Sarcosine – A Natural Amino Acid), Decyl Glucoside (Derived from Coconut Oil), Cocamidopropylamine Oxide (Derived from Coconut Oil), Coconut Oil, Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol, Polyquaternium 10, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Fragrance
$20 at scotchporter.com
Lately, I've been worrying about venturing too far away from my original mission statement when I created this page. As somebody who, for the most part, loves small-batch, indie producers, I tend to gravitate towards them much more than say, those of the large manufacturers, or the value segment...but this isn't a page just for small-batch reviews, my goal was to explore all segments of the beard-care game, the good, the bad, and the ugly. As luck would have it, I go to the grocery store, like, almost every day, so I decided to take a stroll down the beard care aisle and check out what new things they might have to offer. They didn't have anything new to offer...so, I decided to check out some of the options I've previously passed up on. I never really paid much attention to any of Gillette's beard care offerings, it has nothing to do with people being mad over a certain ad campaign (if I didn't allow myself to buy products form every company that I didn't aggree with, I probably wouldn't be able to buy too many things...but that's enough talk about that), I always just found their prices incongruous with other supermarket brands. I mean, there are a lot of other good quality beard washes out there sporting a similar price tag to this stuff, but the point is to try stuff accessible to all beardsmen here, and I know most of you out there visit the grocery store pretty regularly...so, let's give it a try and see if this is worth picking up on your next beer and toilet-paper run.
I honestly don't know what I'm smelling here...this isn't a blend of good-smelling essential oils like I'm used to, it's very chemical and artificial...my best guess is that it is some labratory manufactured approximation of lavander and cedar (I'd imagine some focus group decided that this was a "manly" smell, and Gillette ran with it). There's a very harsh chemical component to this scent as well. There really is no polite way to say this, but this stuff smells very "manufactured", and not even in a slightly good way, like honestly, the best way I can describe it is if you mixed dollar-store fabric softener with prescription dandruff shampoo, this just isnt a very good smell at all. Strength is medium plus, but thankfully when it rinses out, it doesn't leave much of a trace.
How does it work?
This stuff works about as great as you'd expect a sulfate laden shampoo relabeled as a beard and face wash would...Cleansing properties are so-so (to be fair, they are actually better than I was expecting), but the amound of irritation that I experienced after just one washing was more than enough to negate that. I'm still finding split ends, days after using this (extremely drying) stuff. The residue left behind from this product, while not quite as bad as the residue that the Original Gangster Wash by Billy Jealousy (a product that has gained mythical status as a punchline on this site) left behind, was still nearly impossible to rinse out. After combing out the shitload of tangles my beard was left with after using this product, I found myself dousing my beard and face with an almost comical amount of oil to try and calm my skin down. I usally try to use a product at least three times before writing a review about it, but I only managed to get one use out of this stuff before my beard and face had me saying no mas (especially fitting because this product did as much damage to my beard as Sugar Ray did to ol' Roberto back in 1980). I've never washed my beard with GoJo or Boraxo or one of those harsh shop/art class soaps from back in the day, but I'd imagine that the resulting feeling of doing such a thing couldn't be any worse than what I experienced after trying this product.
The bottom line
This may, very well be the first product I've ever tried with literally no redeeming qualities, I don't like being this negative, so I'll just go ahead and say that I like the way it foams...but even that is the result of harmful sulfates. Honestly, I can picture a bunch of stuffy busienss men in a board room at Gillette dreaming up a way to shift some hard earned dough form the pockets of beardsmen everywhere into their own coffers, because this stuff was clearly developed without the input of real live bearded men. With the scoring format I've devised for this site, it's nearly impossible for a product to receive less an 80 points, I mean, all it has to do is meet some very minimum requirements, and this garbage couldnt even do that. I would be doing a disservice to beardsmen everywhere if I didn't make it a point to stress how much I do not recommend purching this stuff.
Ingredients: Ingredients Water, Sodiumlaureth Sulfate, Sodium Citrate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodiumchloride, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Glycerin, Dimethiconol, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimoniumchloride, Dimethicone, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Tea-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Tetrasodium Edta, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Trideceth-10, Polyquaternium-6, Polyquaternium-10, Trihydroxystearin, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Butyrospermumparkii (Shea) Butter, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone
$10.99 at my local Fry's Supermarket (should be about the same price at your local grocery store)