...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