Unless you've only recently decided to grow a beard, the name Scotch Porter should be one that you're quite familiar with. One of the more well-respected "big guys" in the beard-care industry, they've made a name for themselves with what is regarded as perhaps the best beard conditioner in the game. I reviewed it a few months back and it quickly became a favorite of mine (the rest of their beard care line...eh, not so much...with the exception of their limited edition CBD leave in which is nothing short of amazing...and also no longer available, so that'll be the last time I mention it). So if I've already reviewed their conditioner, then why in the hell am I reviewing it again? Well, unless you really don't keep up on the latest beard-care news (which would beg the question, why are you reading a beard-care blog now...but either way, I'm happy to have you here), then you already know that Scotch Porter products have been given something of a makeover to coincide with their launch at Target stores everywhere. Yes, the packaging has been given a facelift...gone is the impactical tub that the previous permutation of this product came in, replaced instead by a much more sensible tube that doesnt become waterlogged in the shower. The formulation has also changed...how much has it changed, you ask? Well enough that I felt it warranted trying this product again. Will this stuff be able to fill the very big shoes left behind by the version that turned just about every bearded dude out there into a Scotch Porter fanboy? Well there's only one way to find out...let's take it for a spin...
So one of my biggest complaints about the previous conditioner (and, in fact, the entire core-line of Scotch Porter products), was the scent. It wasn't necessarily "bad"...just not something that I wanted my beard to smell like. To put it politely, it reminded me of the inside of a high-traffic liquor store in an urban area; just this weird melange of cheap incense, cardboard boxes, blunt wraps, and an implacable soda-pop sweetness. Like the kind of place around the corner from a concert hall, where you'd stop before a show, to grab a bottle of vodka and an off-brand juice to split with your friends so that you could build up a good base layer of "buzz" before you go inside to $20 cocktails and frustratingly long lines for them. This new version is similar, but dialed way back, it's less smoky, it's less sweet...still not something that I'd smell and be all like "oh yeah, I definitely want to rub this on my face", but just a bit more restrained (In fact, when I was showering this morning, I smelled this next to what I had left of the previous version, and the new stuff only made the old stuff smell even more sickly sweet). I wouldn't necessarily call this new scent an improvement in the traditional sense, but I think the good folks over at Scotch Porter realized that less is more when it comes to their signature fragrance (so I guess when you look at it along those lines, you could indeed call this an improvement). Strength is a tick or two below medium, which is A-okay with me. Staying power is good, leaving just a bit of scent behind after I step out of the shower, but after applying my daily oil, it quickly yields the floor.
How does it work?
The general consensus among beard-care reviewers is that this product doesn't quite live up to the old Scotch Porter conditioner. For the most part, I agree, but there are some things that I actually really like about it. If you read my writeup on co-washing last week, you'd remember that after a few days in a row of co-washing with Scotch Porter conditioner (the old stuff), my beard started to feel weighed down, there was a ton of buildup, and I even started getting beard zits. I assume that this is because the old conditioner was an incredibly heavyweight product which seemed to be geared towards intensive deep-conditioning. This new stuff is much more lightweight in texture, which seems to make it a bit less ideal as a form of intensive therapy, but a bit more effective as a daily co-wash. Tactile slip is significantly lower when it comes to this version, and a quick look at the ingredients list should tell you why...gone are many of the exotic ingredients in the previous version, replaced instead by a more common (although still very good) list of components that don't really seem to set this stuff apart from any of the other quality conditioners that you could walk into your local grocery store and pick up...if you read my take on the whole "glycerin in Beardbrand oils" conversation, you could probably already guess that my thinking as to why they did this most likely has something to do with their agreement to sell their stuff in Target stores and the need to have a more shelf-stable formulation, since they can't control how long their products are going to sit there before somebody decided to take them home and use them.
As far as end-result, this is still a very good conditioner, leaving my beard quite soft and managable regardless of whether I use it as a traditional conditioner or a co-wash. If you're in need of a more intensive conditioning, they still make a leave-in conditioner (although this, too has been reformulated...and as I mentioned before, much to my chagrin, they retired their CBD version, that I said I wasn't going to mention again). On those days when your beard is feeling like it could use a little extra love, if you expect to get the same results from this as you did when you'd reach for that familiar brown jar...well, you're going to be let down (the good news is that Detroit Grooming is still offering the same great formulation of their conditioner as they always have, and it never fails to do the trick on days when you need it most), but if you're looking for a quality every-day conditioner that you can trust to just plain work, then look no further than this awesome black tube with the copper and white lettering.
The bottom line
While Scotch Porter has implimented some improvements that I can definitely get behind here (no more ridiculous jar, and dialing back that weird scent), it would be a mistake to say that this stuff is every bit as good (or even on the same level) as its predecessor. No longer will the name Scotch Porter be synonymous with a heavy duty conditioner that could turn even the roughest of beards beard into a velevety soft cloud, instead they will be known for producing a "good enough" product that will probably work just fine for everybody, but with nothing particularly "special" about it either. That being said, if you're at Target and looking to pick up some good beard-care products, you could do much worse than Scotch Porter (I'm looking at you Maestro's...you and your dreadful beard butter). Will this ultimately hurt Scotch Porter's reputation? Among the most hardcore devotees to thier old conditioner, I'm sure it will...but to the average bearded-guy who doesn't necessarily obsess over this stuff the way that beard-care dorks like myself do, I think the Scotch Porter name will remain just as prestigious as ever. Before I go, I really must reiterate that this is still a good product, but I just can't imagine it coasting on the reputation of the old version forever, it's still worth picking up...but I'd definitely recommend approaching it with tempered expectations.
90 See where this lands on The Big List
Ingredients: Water ((Aqua) Eau), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oil, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Pentylene Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Tropolone, Panthenol, Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sodium PCA, Sodium Phytate, Glycerin, Arctium Lappa Root Extract, Equisotum Arvense Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Biotin, Phospholipids
$11.99 at scotchporter.com and Target stores everywhere.