It all started with a cup of coffee...okay, so I'm doing some weird artsy intro here, but stick with me, because this story is going somewhere. So, this morning, I got up, and started my normal routine; fed the dogs, put some music on, checked my emails, and went to brew the coffee. It was at this point that I noticed the hopper on the coffee grinder was completely empty. Now, I know what you're thinking (if you're a coffee snob anyway), but I'm just not "cool" enough to bust out the scale like some sort of mid 2000's dope dealer who is trying to show off how "accurate" their quarters are, and measure my coffee every morning...so I just dump a whole bag of coffee in the grinder and let the chips fall where they may with every pot. Reaching into the cabinet, I pulled down a freshly roasted bag of honey process Honduran from Just Coffee Co-Op (at the risk of sounding like a card-carrying douche canoe, I can't do shitty grocery-store coffee), ground some up and put the coffee on as usual. While cooking breakfast (black pepper bacon, with potatoes and eggs fried in the same grease), I poured up a cup, and holy smokes! What a great cup of mud! So good in fact, that by the time breakfast was over, I had flushed a whole pot (minus the one cup that I had poured for my wife) down my gullet. Now, I have a pretty high tolerance for caffeine...I mean, I usually drink a pot of coffee and an energy drink throughout the course of a day, but it's rare that I ingest so much so quickly. What does any of this have to do with beard wash? Well, I'm getting to that...you see, after breakfast, and thouroghly jacked up on caffiene I headed to the master bathroom to get ready for the day. With top quality coffee coursing through my veins so quickly that it made my hands tremble, I decided that a nice shave would be just what the doctor ordered (because, of course, why not?). After whipping up a luxurious mug of Chokecherry scented shave soap from Sphinx, and thouroghly lubricating the stubble at the edges of my beard and on my throat with the surprisingly very good multi-tasker from Rebel's Refinery, I grabbed my straight razor. What happened next...well, lets just say I learned my lesson about waiting for the caffeine tremors to subside before ever attempting wet shaving again. Long story short, I took a huge bite out of both cheeklines of my beard (Not a huge deal, as I'll have enough of a 5:00 o'clock shadow by this evening that I'll be able to fake a crisp line again in no time)...my neck line however, yikes, it looks like I took a weed-whacker to it...good thing nobody really sees it, but holy-hell, it's bad...anyway, as you can imagine, there were more knicks on my face than on the floor of Madison Square Garden by the time everything was done, which led to a little bit of blood getting into my beard. This is of course where beard wash comes in...
I had picked up this all new Scent from Skully's CTZ when it first dropped at the end of last month. Released to a good amount of fanfare among Skully's fans, Nemesis represents the latest scent in their Beards Never Die collection (I still havent figured out what exactly makes this collection different from their core lineup...even their website states that this collection is the same natural formulation as their standard line with "new unique fragrances"...soooo, yeah), but I mean, the labels are pretty cool, so rock on, right? This wash had been hanging out in my shower, mostly getting used as a shampoo over the past couple of weeks, but when I needed something to scrub the sickly iron smell of blood from my beard, I decided it was time to really put this stuff through its paces. How does this compare to some of the other beard washes in my collection. Let's take it for a spin and find out!
Skully's scents all have a certain powdery, fresh, sweetness about them...it's safe, it's unoffensive, but at the same time, it kind of robs them of any personality. Nemesis is no exception, taking a universally known and loved beard-care note, leather, and running it through two equally overused chords, cedar and amber, and then mixing in that same weird powder note that all Skully's scents are required to have, Nemesis is about as exciting as you'd expect. Conjuring up mental images of middle-of-the-road deodorants and soaps designed to smell "manly" according to a committee sitting around in a flourescent light bathed R&D department somewhere, it reads as a lightly better version of something you might expect from Old Spice or Axe. I mean, it's fine, there's absolutely nothing offensive about it, but to call it boring would be an understatement. If you really concentrate, there's a sort of chemical, aerosol scent on the back end that doesn't take this scent in any particular direction. It's sweet, it's fresh, it's just okay. For those who don't like a ton of complexity, this is definitely worth considering...but I can't help but wonder, why did they even bother rolling out a new scent if they were going to make it so absolutely unremarkable? I mean, not everything has to be completely challenging and nuanced, but damn, give me something here. Strength is a breath below medium, which is fine...and it's completely undetectable after rinsing out, also fine...come to think of it, "fine" is the word that I would use to describe every single aspect of this scent...just fine...
How does it work?
Ive tried two Skully's washes previously, Rum Dumb (also part of this nebulously defined Beards Never Die collection) was actually pretty good. Pale Rider on the other hand, well, not so much. Just like those two, this stuff is sold as a multi-tasker, pulling duty as a body wash and shampoo in addition to being a beard wash. As I mentioned earlier, I've been using this stuff as a shampoo, and it's not bad at all, of course for the purposes of this review, we're just going to focus on how well it works as a beard wash. It's lightweight, foams up easily, and thankfully doesn't have that weird sticky/slimy feeling that made me dislike the Pale Rider version so much. As far as actual cleansing properties, this does a very good job, getting deep into my beard and also rinsing cleanly, taking any buildup (and incidental, shaving accident induced blood drops) with it, right down the drain. That being said, there's also a noticable gentleness about this product, not enough to use on a daily basis mind you, but it's definitely kinder to my beard than some of the other washes out there, while still doing a remarkable job as a strip-wash. Upon stepping out of the shower, my beard felt incredibly healthy, no tangles, no knots, just an all around awesome feeling, ready to accept a dose of oil.
The bottom line
So today I learned that I'm not skilled enough with a straight razor to attempt any clean-up jobs while jacked up on caffeine. I also learned that Skully's new scent is less than exciting...but their beard wash does a great job from a functional standpoint. I hate to harp on the middle-of-the-road nature of this scent, but for all the buzz that Skully's has tried to create via paid social media ads, the scent is admittedly a let-down, but I suppose that it's still better than being flat out offensive (which it definitely isn't). Is this a product that I recommend? I mean...from a performance standpoint, it's a no-brainer...but again, the scent...the scent...
Anyway, Skully's has a huge following, and it's understandable as to why. As one of the big guys, I suppose they can't really afford to take too many risks when it comes to avant-garde scents...Looking at it that way, I can't necessarily fault them for Nemesis being such a "meh" fragrance. Of course, the funniest part of all of this is that in creating a scent that is seemingly for everybody, they've created a scent that definitely isnt for me.
89 See where this lands on The Big List
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Betaine, Xantham Gum, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice Powder, Citric Acid, Phenonxyethanol, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, fragrance.
$13 at skullysbeardoil.com