There are a ton of great dedicated beard-care and grooming brands out there, this we know...the question is, can a non beard-care specific brand create a solid beard care offering? Of course they can, I'll point to Baroque Royal as a lifestyle brand that has created some absolutely tremendous beard-care products that could hang with just about any of the best stuff from companies that only do beard care. On the other hand, there are other bigger, more commercial brands that seem to have hastily tacked a few beard care options to the margin of their portfolio, in what I can only attempt is a cash-grab type of situation (I'm looking at you Gillette)...so, I find that it is important to keep an open mind in my approach to beard-care products from companies that established themselves in other industries...at best, I'll end up pleasantly surprised, at worst, I can make some snarky comment about how whatever product was clearly "designed by a bunch of smooth faced jackasses in a boardroom somewhere"...or something along those lines. Now, Wolf & Iron may not be a beard-care specific company, but they have definitely thrown their hat into the beard care ring in a big way...a lifestyle brand that focuses on "masculine pursuits" or whatever, they seem to be aiming for a segment of the market that finds Duluth Trading to be too utilitarian, and Orvis too fancy...if I'm being honest, I get the impression that it's for the guy who fancies himself an "outdoorsman" but doesn't like to get his boots dirty, thinks guns are "too loud", and is "grossed out" by cleaning fish (which, even though it sounds like it, isn't a knock, it's just the impression that I get from the company, it takes all types, and who the hell am I to judge? With their "manly" graphic tees...no, really, check out their website, that's what they call their tee shirt section, "manly" wall-prints, because nothing says rugged man's man like a framed inspirational quote superimposed over a vaguely Ansel Adams-esque black and white nature photo, and "manly" stationary, because, y'know writing your notes on a plain piece of paper is for sissies). Their beard care products seemed intreaguing, as they certainly took the time to invest in some cool packaging, and seem to have a pretty well rounded variety of scents (odd that they didn't play the "manly" angle here, but okay). I grabbed this particular fragrance because I recently read a book about Blackbeard, and plus I'm a big Bay Rum fan...will it serve as further proof that lifestyle brands know what they're doing when it comes to beard-care? Or will it be about as useful as a "pocket knife handbook" (another thing that you can actually buy on their website...because, y'know, every real "manly man" needs instructions on how to use one of the oldest tools on the planet)? Let's give it a spin, and find out.
Definitely Bay Rum...and I love that...Brimming with all the traditional notes of that old-school standby that reminds me of Spring. Sure to appeal to those who dig a good "barbershop" type scent, or Bay Rum junkies such as myself, it's just about as textbook as they come; Big, shiny, Bay Rum leaves steeped in citrus oil wrap themselves neatly around a core of warm cinnamon, clove, vanilla, and the faintest whisper of ginger to create that classic that we are all familiar with...if you're looking for the straight-up experience without any deviation, look no further. It's an old-school pirate story without the slightest hint of modern embelleshment. This very straightforward nature serves as a double edged sword in that the scent doesn't evolve in any way...I mean, I think I catch a hint of tobacco and leather every now and then, but that may be my mind playing tricks on me, either way, neither note is bold enough to proclaim itself as part of the core group of scents, nor are they nuanced enough to provide their mark through pushing the overall fragrance in any interesting directions. As much as I appreciate a good Bay Rum, that's literally all there is to this scent, so don't make the mistake of approaching this product and expecting something more, like I did (I guess I've been spoiled by all of the incredible, multi-facteted fragrances that I've tried lately...so when I encounter something that is "only" what it claims to be, it feels a little anti-climactic...but that's my bad). Strength is a solid medium-plus initially, but settles to a shade below medium fairly quickly, and remains there. Staying power is...well, there are some issues with the staying power of this product from a performance standpoint (we'll get into that in a minute) and as such, I don't think I can render a fair judgement on the staying power of this scent...but I guess it hangs around for long enough to do its job, again, the excitement doesnt really build from the time you apply it, so it's not like it needs to hang around terribly long, I guess.
How does it work?
So I'm almost positive that there are no actual rules for what constitutes a "beard oil" so concievably, somebody could put dirty cooking oil in a little bottle, slap a label on the front, and a downright laughable price tag (more on that later) on the back, and proclaim it the greatest beard oil ever...but in my book, this stuff is not beard oil (relax, it isn't dirty cooking oil either). If you check the ingredients list on this product, you'll find that literally the only carrier in it is argan oil. Now of course argan has a ton of beneficial properties, and is considered a solid addition to any beard oil formulation, but when your "beard oil" consists of just argan and essential oils for fragrance, it seems to me that it's less of a beard oil, and more of a scented argan product. Performance is okay I guess, nothing to scream about, it kind of reminds me of this beard oil that this hipster guy I used to hang around with made once because he thought it would be "easy"...dude ended up irritating the hell out of his skin (but to be fair, that was due to the fact that he added way too much essential oil)...anyway, this stuff, it's sort of greasy, doesn't really make my beard feel all too healthy, or even conditioned. It's just okay...like the sort of thing that your non bearded friend might give you in a giftset from one of those other discount retailers that sell weird skincare products. I honestly struggle to even muster up the enthusiasm to write about this product, which is odd, because as I've said before, I consider myself a flatterer, even if a product sucks, I try to find something nice to say about it, but this entire thing just feels like one big middle finger to the bearded community. Staying power is okay, I mean, even though the ends of my beard start to feel a little dry towards the end of the day, it does manage to leave a slight greasy feel on my roots and skin all day long, so I guess that counts for something, right?
The bottom line
Seriously who in the hell is this product for? Like, guys who like cool labels and need their shirts to specify that they are of the "manly" variety, lest they forget that they were born with a pair of testicles or something? To further evidence how stupid this brand thinks the bearded community is, this shit sports an MSRP of nearly FORTY FUCKING DOLLARS a bottle...for one ounce of argan oil with a few drops of essential oil in it (just to put that in perspective, this sixteen ounce bottle of organic argan is currently going for $40), to be fair, it's currently "marked down" on their website to $22, soooo, there's that. Everything about this product feels like it was designed by somebody who thinks that bearded men are suckers, from the formulation that can only be described as lazy (bonus points for list of ingredients being "conveniently" absent from the product page on their website), to the fact that they double down and try getting away with charging more than some of the most well respected names in the game. To say that your hard earned money could be better spent elsewhere is an understatement...I honestly don't know if I could recommend this stuff if the company was giving it away for free...oh well, at least it smells pretty good.
Ingredients: organic argan, essential oils...thats it‽‽‽
$38 at wolfandiron.com