I'm too sure that my wine drinking readers out there know all about cult-wines...no these arent some sort of wines produced by zealots who follow some whack-job that claims to be an alien sent from outer-space to save humanity or something. Instead, these are wines that are so amazing that they have gained a cult like following, you won't see any ads for them, and you rarely, if ever see them for sale in stores, usually you have to know somebody or pay big bucks for them on the secondary market. These are the top-of-the-top when it comes to their respective weight classes (more often than not, Cab-heavy blends from Napa), you've got Screaming Eagle, Colgin, Harlan Estate, and my personal favorite Sine Qua Non (not from Napa, nor ever made with Cab), just to name a few...now, you're probably thinking "this is a beard-care blog...why TF is he going on about wine?" well...one, because I love wine, my education is in it, and in a past life (my overly dramatic/prosaic way of saying "many years ago") I worked as a Sommelier...but more than that, it's to familiarize those who may be uninitiated to the concept of cult wines, and how that same concept can apply to the beard-care game. You see, there are many top quality producers of true beard love out there, churning out solid gold products that keep your mane looking and smelling downright magical...but, with rare exceptions, the products from these companies are all pretty much readily available, day or night, any time you want to treat your face to a little something special. Currently, I can think of only one company that beardsmen need to mark their calendars to make purchases from. With new drops every sunday at noon Pacific, that invariably sell out quickly and leave customers counting the days, weeks, or even months until the next time they'll see that specific product, Luxurious Bastard has established themselves as one of (if not the only) true cult beard-care producers. This goes beyond small batch, beyond indie, what they're (and when I say "they", I actually mean one single dude who handles the entire process from concept, to shipping, and everything in between...how is that for hands-on, huh?) doing over there in Apple Valley, California, is nothing short of creating their own category within the market. I was able to get my hands on this oil last week, one of their more limited edition products released recently, and I really couldnt wait to give it a try! So enough with the long-winded preamble...let's get down to it and see what this stuff is all about...
When I first opened this product, I really wasn't sure what was going on here, big, perfumey, candy-like, almost artifical notes of some sort of laffy-taffy type sweetness came leaping forward and smacked me across the face. I was expecting a berry-based scent from the description, but holy shit, this was some heavy-duty, above and beyond type of berry...the good news is, that's just the initial greeting, and this stuff seems to calm down quickly, going from this weird, saccharine note that I wasn't sure I wanted my beard to smell like all day, to something much more refined, still big and jammy, but not nearly as sweet. That loud candy-like chord yields to a deep dark blackberry, ripe with bright red juice and tempered with a syrupy pie-filling type of cooked quality, plush, and richly textured. This is supported by a secondary component of fleshy, ripe blueberries exploding with a sun-kissed sweetness, mixed with a warm, home-made cranberry sauce that provides the perfect amount of tanginess. As the background develops, layers upon layers of dimensionality reveal themselves in the form of black-currant wine-gums, a vegetal component that reminds me of bay-leaf (not bay rum, but honest-to-goodness bay leaf like you'd use to cook with), some sort of mountain vegetation (can't say for sure exactly what, but if you've ever taken a deep breath through your nose while hiking a mountain trail, you'll know exactly the scent I'm talking about), mixed with a hint of sweet earth, and a sort of funk that reminds me of noble rot (if you're not familiar with this note in some wines and beers, it's a weird, kind-of-sour, kind-of-honeyed note with a bit of a floral edge...just super complex and wonderful). Without question there is a lot going on here, definitely not just any old berry scent, but perhaps the thing that I love the most about this oil is the way it blends with a great many other balms and butters to form something completely different. The first time I wore it I paired it with the Bilberry Bastard balm by this same company, and got this super rich, almost Cognac quality from the combination, it also pulled out a weird cigar box/Spanish cedar note that I don't find in either of the individual components. Perhaps my favorite product to follow this oil with is the ridiculously multi-dimensional Egyptian Dragon beard butter by Nicholas Beard Works, the two work together to create something so deliciously refined and hard to describe, just a brilliant aura of sweet smoke that evolves to reveal a great many pleasant secrets throughout the course of a day. Staying power of this oil is without question, phenominal...strength is also good, starting out a few ticks above medium plus, but quickly settling down to a solid medium.
How does it work?
Viscosity is good, not the thickest oil I've ever tried by any means, but certainly thick enough to really get down deep into my beard and make its presence felt. With an all-star list of ingredients in its carrier blend, this product goes to work right away, offering great absorption, and little-to-no tactile slip, just a fantastic softness and strenght right from the get-go. I mean seriously, right upon combing through I noticed the difference, of course any good oil will offer enough conditioning properties that you shouldn't have to deal with tangles or snags while combing, but I cannot recall another oil Ive ever tried that made my beard feel so thick and luxurious immediately during the styling process, to call this stuff fast working is an understatement. The best part of all is that the brilliantly touchable, soft feel imparted by this product seems to last all day. My face feels just as wonderfully nourished and hydrated too, I'm assuming that hezelnut oil (in addition to many of the other skin circulation promoting, moisure locking heavy hitters included in the carrier blend) has something to do with this. Prized for its ability to act as both a moisturizer, as well as an astringent, hazelnut oil also helps boost collagen production and increases your skin's own natural regenetative abilities, it is also said to help eliminate free-radicals and protect your skin from elemental damage (which is especially handy this time of year). The argan and jojoba oils used in this blend are clearly of an exceptionally high quality, as the shine that this stuff imparts is beyond that of most oils, lending an almost unreal lustre to my beard. Staying power is also stellar, something that I wasn't really expecting considering how quickly this product seemed to absorb into both my beard and skin. Truly an oil worthy of both the luxurious and fantastic monikers bestowed upon it.
The bottom line
This product represents everything you could ever want in a beard oil; more than just smelling amazing, the scent of this product evolves over time, creating an all day experience...and if that wasnt enough, this stuff way overachieves from a performance standpoint, leaving my beard feeling as healthy and as strong as any oil in recent memory. There's just one problem with this product...you can't buy it...given the limited nature of this particular scent, and the golden-ticket like exclusivity of most Luxurious Bastard products, I understand that this oil sold out on the day of release, and as such, there may be quite a long wait before it's up for sale again...if it ever does hit the market again. Now, the good news, there appears to be a limited amount of the Fantastic Bastard balm still up for grabs on the Luxurious Bastard website, now if I were reading this and wanted to get in on some of that action I'd head over there soon, and pick some up, because you know that you'll be kicking yourself if you pass up the opportunity to add something with this amazing scent profile to your collection.
Ingredients: Almond oil, Avocado oil, Rice bran oil, Hazelnut oil, Hempseed oil, Apricot oil, Castor oil, Grape seed oil, Jojoba oil, Argan oil, Vitamin E oil, Essential oils.
$17.50 at luxuriousbastardco.com