A little less than a week ago, we changed seasons...and as the hot, sticky days of summer give way to the crisp, mild days of autumn, shorts become jeans, tequila steps aside for whiskey, and the ambient smell of BBQs in the atmosphere is replaced by the perfume of chimney smoke. Each season has its own distinctive charm, and autumn is, of course, no exception...right there alongside football games and fleece hoodies, few things define fall quite as much as pumpkin spice. The spicy blend has come to be the harbinger of the season, from coffee, to candles, pumpkin spice will be everywhere for the next few months, the ubiquitous spice has even made its way into beard care products. Savage Mane is one of those companies that seems to have a very devoted following, but for whatever reason still seems to sail just under the radar. I picked up some of their Apex beard oil a while ago, and I just love it. The Pumpking line was the first seasonal scent offered by Savage Mane, and it definitely seems to be one the company is quite proud of. I picked this balm up because it definitely felt like my fall lineup was lacking without some sort of pumpkin spice (and let's be honest, as dudes, we may never order a PSL for ourselves, but we never seem to have a problem taking a sip when our wives offer us some of theirs...so we can pretend we dont like it all we want, but we do). Will this be just the piece I need to round out my autumn rotation? Let's give it a try and find out...
Soooooo...pumpkin spice...what is it exactly? Well, its one of those things that there isn't one definitive recipe for, but it seems that the general consesus is that it's a mix of cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. It was originally marketed by the McCormick company in the 1960's, but didnt really gain traction until everybody's favorite painfully average coffee shop started shaking a little into their lates in the early 2000's...over the past decade and a half or so it has gone from autumnal guilty pleasure, to punchline, to cultural phenomenon. No matter if it's in the form of breakfast cereal or hand soap, when we hear pumpkin spice, we know to expect that familiar spicy aroma that is as comforting as a wool sweater and a mug of hot apple cider with a shot of bourbon in it. This product does not disappoint on that front, an initial note of clove leaps to the forefront, while sturdy notes of freshly ground Madagascar cinnamon support an angular, crisp ginger and a soft nutmeg seems to occupy the top note. There's even a hint of something slightly sweet, slightly fruity like real pumpkin, but that may just be the power of suggestion. Definitely a quality pumpkin spice scent, but the absolute best part is that while there is no mistaking what it is, there is something so great about what it is not; this time of year we are bombarded by artifical scents crafted in a lab to stir up a feeling of autumn, while being overbearing, and sickeningly "in your face"...this product is bold, but never over the top, Savage Mane has struck an incredible balance here, sure it's Ugg boots and Orvis vests, thats what makes it fun, but it doesnt insist upon itself. It leaves just enough of a silliage that those you walk past won't be confused about what season it is, but it doesn't fill a room with that shitty orangey essence that can make those with scent sensitivities dread this time of year. Perhaps my most favorite part of this product is how well it compliments other oils, layer it over coffee scents, cologne scents, even woodsy scents, for a whole new dimension of autumnal excellence! Staying power is fantastic, hanging around well into the evening after a single application in the morning, and because it is made with all natural, organic ingredients, it never runs the risk of becoming "too much".
How does it work?
This is a waxier balm, beeswax is the first ingredient listed, and I would venture to guess that it makes up the bulk of this formulation. It takes a little bit more effort to warm up in your hands, but when it spreads through your beard, it does so evenly, and combs in nicely. Hold is fantastic, but I find that it takes a bit of patience to wait for the wax in it to "set" (for lack of a better term), I generally hit it with a shot of cold air from the blowdryer to keep everything in place, otherwise, unruly fly-aways have a tendency to pop back up immediately. This product seems to seal whatever oil I use beforehand in nicely. My only gripe from a performance standpoint is that this product seems to be fairly "matte", but those who don't dig a shiny beard will actually appreciate this, as it literally seems to kill the shine imparted by whatever beard oil you choose to use first.
The bottom line
I havent tried a whole hell of a lot of pumpkin spice beard products...in fact, this is the first one I've ever tried, but damned if this isn't the quintessence of autumn condensed down into a handy two ounce tin. Just an all around fun product that performs well, and smells great. A true representation of the time of year, but with a sophisticated twist that still tells the world that you know how to take care of your beard. And just like all things pumpkin spice, it's only available for a limited time, so make sure you pick some up to make your autumn rotation complete...you'll be glad that you did!
Ingredients: Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Essential Oils
$20.99 at savagemanebeardco.com