Last week I told you all about how I went to the dollar store to pick up hair ties for a project that my wife was working on, and happened to stumble across a box full of beard care products. I tried their beard wash, and well, I mean, the results were, uh...well, lets just say that while it wasn't the worst thing in the world, I highly doubt I'll be going back to grab more any time soon. Today we dive back into the WTF files as we try what is quite possibly the only stranger product than dollar store beard wash; dollar store beard balm. Now I'm going to try my best to put aside any preconcieved notions that I may have about a beard balm that literally comes in a tube (seriously...why??? how!?!?!?), and try to approach this product as objectively as possible. After all, I've been surprised by dollar store pickups before...I mean, if youre into energy drinks, I highly recommend checking out the Gronkowski flavor of Monster Energy that both dollar stores near me always seem to have in stock...weird name for a flavor, but it actually reminds me of a better version of whatever that white can Monster is supposed to taste like is...but we're getting way off topic here, so let's just give this balm a try and see what's up...
While their wash had some weird chemical scent that was clearly designed to smell "masculine" but just ended up smelling sort of "meh", this product actually doesn't have much of a scent at all. There was definitely something put in it to give it a bit of a scent, I'm picking up a hint of some sort of generic "woodsy" notes that resemble cedar sawdust mixed with ground nutmeg, but this is not a strong scent by any means. I much prefer this to the fake, perfumey miasma that low-cost products can at times attack you with. There's a trace of something chemical, and the slightest hint of something fatty too, but all in all, this product smells exponentially less offensive than I was imagining that it would. Strength is pretty much non existent, clocking in somewhere south of very low, and staying power is even less than that. The upside to this, of course, is that you don't need to worry about it interfering with whatever oil you are wearing...the downside is that it doens't work for layering purposes, as it has no contrasting or complimentary notes to accentuate your oil.
How does it work?
So why is it in a tube? Well, because the consistency is very thin, almost like a lotion. It looks and acts like a bootleg version of the underwhelming Scotch Porter Balm, or even worse yet, the downright laughable Maestro's butter. Much like those two products, this stuff goes on white, and requires a bit of combing in before it is no longer visible on my beard. Where this product is actually perhaps a bit better than those two is the fact that it doesn't leave any sort of "crunchy" residue when it dries (probably because it doesn't seem to do much of anything when it dries). Frizz, flyaways, the whole nine, all crop back up within minutes of applying this stuff, if you're like me and have any sort of curl to your beard, don't bother going with any sort of heat treatment (blow dryer, straightener, etc) because this stuff seems to instantly bring the curl right back to my beard after application, so in that respect, it almost does the exact opposite of what you'd expect a balm to do. A quick glance at the ingredients list reveals that clearly they were at least halfway trying when they decided to add argan, sweet almond and vitamin E oils to this product, unfortunately these fall well below a litany of chemicals; synthetic emolients like alkyl benzoate and octyldodecanol, as well as plastic derivitives such as sodium acrylamidomethylpropane sulfonate copolymer (try saying that three times fast) . Staying power is pretty difficult to gauge, since this product fails to deliver any discernable level of performance right from the get-go, but I will say that mercifully, it's fairly undetectable in-beard after an hour or so.
The bottom line.
Readers of this page know that I like to be a flatterer, I take a product, I try to find the good in it...I feel like a review of a subpar product can still be honest without being overly negative. That being said, this product doesn't really manage to check any necessary boxes to even be considered a beard balm...yes, yes, I know there isn't any officially labeling regulations that define what a "beard balm" really is, but anybody with a beard, and a functioning brain can tell that this stuff is a beard balm in name only. Of course it's still awesome that beard-care has come to be accepted as such a legitimate segment of the grooming industry, that even places like the dollar store are trying to get in on the fun, but, unfortunately this is a pretty poorly executed product. If on your next trip to the Dollar Tree you find yourself tempted to pick this stuff up, take my advice, walk over to the candy aisle and pick yourself up a thing of those Haribo sour snakes instead...it's a much better way to spend a dollar.
Ingredients: Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glycerin, Octyldodecanol, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acrylamidomethylpropane Sulfonate Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Jojoba Oil, Argan Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Vitamin E, Paraffinum Liquidum, Octyldodecyl Xyloside, PEG-30, Dipolyhydroxystearate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Trideceth-6, C11-15 Isoalkanes.
$1 at Dollar Tree stores.