I have to admit something...amidst all of the social distancing induced binge watching going on, I may be the last man remaining in America who hasn't seen either Tiger King or Uncorked. It seems like they both have a ton of social media buzz surrounding them, the former has inspired a ton of memes that I'm sure would be hilarious if I had any frame of reference, and having a formal education in wine, I've lost count of how many DM's I've had to answer about the latter. I'm sure I'll get around to watching both between now and whenever things return to normal, but for whatever reason, I'm still dragging my heels. Now, I'm no stranger to dragging my heels at times, but I do always manage to get the lead out at one point or another. Today's butter is a perfect example of that. For longer than I care to remember, Tex over at Barn Brand Beards has been telling me about his Banana Bum butter and how it's one of his most popular products. I have no good excuse for waiting so long to pick this one up, but I've got it now...so let's give it a try and see how it compares to some of the other heavy hitters in the Barn Brand catalogue.
So as the name suggests, there's definitely some banana in this scent, and we'll get to that in a second...but to me, the real story of this scent is hops. Yup, the little green pine cone looking things that make IPAs so wonderful. This isn't the first hop based beard-care scent I've ever tried, years ago back when I was first getting into premium beard oils, I had picked up one by Badass (a brand that I haven't reviewed on this site...and I have no clue why...I'll have to remedy that soon...but anyway, back to the topic at hand), I really didn't care for it, it was an unrestrained miasma of hops with no direction, just a big smelly mess that reminded me of toxic waste floating on the surface of a bucket of flat beer that had long since turned skunky. Suffice it to say that the experience had somewhat soured me on the overall concept of hop scented beard-care products...but that being said, if any brand could help me once again appreciate hops in my beard, it would definitely be Barn Brand Beards, time and again, Tex has proven his ability to work with uncommon scents the same way that René Magritte worked with paints, creating something equally as cutting edge and magnificent. With that in mind, this is easily the best take on hops I've ever experienced in a beard-care product.
Opening up with a vibrant, fresh hop note that is equal parts floral and citrussy, with a green-ness that couldn't possibly be mistaken for anything other than what it is. Banana soon rolls in like tropical sunshine, tinged with a hint of pineapple and sea salt. There's a certain sweet, perfumey aldehyde fizz hanging out just on the periphery, I can't quite put my finger on it, but it acts as a perfect drop-shadow to make that tropical banana chord leap forward just that much more. In the background, a warm tobacco and musk accord slowly lurches forward, but as soon as your nose fully appreciates it, it shifts to become something much more rich and floral, while silmultaneously waxy and almost industrial, like jasmine flowers pressed in the pages of a book and long forgotten. This works in tandem with a lingering cigar-box note to ease the overall sweetness of the initial fruit. A sturdy scent unlike any other, it could be called the olfactory equivalent of a lenticular hologram, constantly morphing into a different image depending upon your point of view. Strength is initially medium plus, but quickly settles down to around medium where it remains for a good long while, detectable a solid 8 hours every time I've worn it.
How does it work?
A considerably lighter texture than the last Barn Brand butter I reviewed, this is a very practical whip, not as airy as many of the whipped butters out there. In fact, from a tactile standpoint, this actually reminds me of a better version of the ever-popular butter offerings from Fresh Beards. But unlike those butters, this stuff has quite the comprehensive ingredients list, packed to the gills with all the best things that a guy can put in his beard. Jamaican black castor, one of my absolute favorite carriers, adds incredible healthy strength to my beard and keeps shedding to an absolute minimum. Golden jojoba, hemp seed, and pumpkin seed oils all impart a brilliant softness to my beard while delivering a ton of wonerful nourishment and big time moisturization to my face. Hold is incredible for a butter, which I suspect is due in no small part to both the high quality kokum, working in concert with (the tragically underused in beard-care) arrowroot powder. Now if you remember my review of Smooth Talker beard butter by Whiskey N' Hardtack, then you'll remember that arrowroot (or tapioca) powder is something of a workhorse when it comes to beard care products, helping offer a bit of hold while reducing buildup, and offering a ton of benefits for your skin. Not the least of these benefits is promoting better circulation, which in turn, may help promote faster, healthier beard growth...and who wouldn't want that? Finishing properties aren't quite on par with the other Barn Brand products I've tried, with a noticable mattifying effect on my beard (which isn't necessarily a bad thing depending upon what look you're going for). Staying Power is fantastic, offering that incredibly lightweight, super healthy in-beard feel all day long on a single application.
The bottom line...
As I mentioned before, this is one of Barn Brand's most popular products, and that's completely understandable...although to be fair, you could pick any broduct with the Barn Brand name on it, and tell me that it was one of their most popular ones, and I'd believe it. This company is just that good! I already knew that I'd enjoy this butter, but I don't think I could have expected something quite this different. Has Banana Bum become my new favorite Barn Brand product? Well, that honor still belongs to the otherworldly amazing Anxiety Butter...but that being said, I still highly recommend this stuff, if you're looking for elite level performance, top-shelf quality, and a scent unlike anything else you'll experience out there, then look no further, this is the butter that you've been looking for!
95 See where this lands on The Big List
Ingredients: Shea, Kokum, and Aloe Butters, Deodorized Cocoa Butter, Liquid Lanolin, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Pumpkin/Hemp Seed Oils, Jojoba Oil, BTMS-50 Conditioning Wax, Vitamin E, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, with Essential/fragrance Oils. Cranberry Butter, Banana Pulp Extract, Banana Leaf Extract, Banana Flower Extract, Arrowroot Powder and Sunflower Seed Extract & Oil
$18.99 at barnbrandbeards.com
After almost a year of writing about beard-care products, I've decided that beards just aren't cool anymore. Which is why I've decided to not only shave, but also to dedicate this site to all things shave related. From here on out V&T will be repranding as Babyface & Razorburn, your number one source for all things related to shaving and shaving accessories. You want to hear about the latest in razorburn and unsightly bumps? This is the place for you...Want to learn all about setting time aside every single day to drag a sharp piece of metal across your face? You've come to the right place! Want to master the fundamental points of looking like you arent old enough to buy beer anymore? Look no further!
Babyface and Razorburn aims to be your ultimate destination for all things shaving related, because I mean, it's high time you listened to the fickle writers in fashion mags and ditch the beard...after all, what's more imporant than following trends?
...so just in case you have forgotten what day it is...I'm just fucking with you (I mean, "fashion mags"? Do they even have those anymore?) Anyway...I hope you figured that out quickly and had a good laugh at this cringey attempt at April Fools humor. Regular BEARD RELATED content returns to V&T tomorrow!
If you're as big of a Ghostbusters fan as I am, then surely you'll recognize this classic exchange when our heroes finally convince the Mayor to take them seriously...
Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Now, while things may not be all that bad these days, it certainly does seem like the definition of "normal" has been rewritten lately...If you need further proof of that, then look no further than Savage Mane Beard Company...even though PSL season is months away, they've decided that now would be an ideal time for a quick-strike release of their insanely popular, and super limited Pumpking scent. Maybe they feel we could all use a comfy autumnal scent to wrap us up like a comfy sweater right now? Maybe they just thought we could all use a distraction? No matter what their reasoning, it's always exciting to have the opportunity to get your hands on this most anticipated limited edition. Last year's release sold out in just two days, so don't drag your feet on this one, get on over to savagemanebeardco.com and pick some up for yourself...if nothing else, it'll be nice to have a great autumn scent to remind us of carefree Autumn evenings huddled around the fire pit.
There are very few companies in the beard-care game that I would call as downright artistic as Barbu. With a catalogue of scents that could be called conceptual masterpieces, they don't do anything ordinary,. So it should come as no surprise that their latest limited edition scent is going to be like nothing we've ever seen before. Dubbed The Earlybird, this super limited collabo with Guinness world record holder Joel Strasser will feature notes of bacon, orange juice, and syrup...I mean seriously who wouldn't want their beard to smell like bacon? This release will be limited to beard oil only, and only 20 bottles will be made available worldwide. So make sure you head over to barbubeardco.com this friday at 1:00 PM Eastern, so that you can get your hands on this wholly unique scent!
Last week (or was it two weeks ago? These social distancing days really are starting to run together, arent they? Like seriously, I know I can't be the only one losing track of the days, or how many beers and cans of Pringles I've gone through, or if I happen to be wearing pants at any given time...but anyway, I'm getting way off topic, so let's reel it back in), I had the honor of finally trying a beard balm from Sphinx. Their Chokecherry scented balm was an incredible surprise, offering wonderful, lightweight hold and top-shelf ingredients, all neatly tied together in a scent inpired by Tom Ford's insanely popular Lost Cherry perfume. Now the good folks at Sphinx didn't stop with sending over some Chokecherry samples to review...knowing how absolutely blown away I was (and still am) by their Authentic Oud oil, they decided to send me another oud based offering to try. Smolder is one of the more popular scents in the entire Sphinx catalogue, so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested to see what exactly it's all about. How will this balm stack up to the awesome Chokecherry offering? Only one way to find out...let's give it a try...
Some ouds are smoky, spiritual, and dark...others are woody, seductive, and oppulent...but I honestly don't think I've ever experienced an oud based scent that reads quite as fresh, and almost gourmand as this one does. An exhubrant resinous incense blends with juicy florals, and creamy vanilla coffee to create a redolence that positively hums with powerful, vibrant energy and raw appeal. Blending smoky oud (that has a brilliant "church incense" edge to it, not dissimilar to the oud in Holy Grail by Kingsman), with lush, sweet leather reminiscent of a brand new pair of Ferragamo calf-skin loafers, fresh out of the candy-coated red box, the rich, deep heart of this scent reads as a bold declaration of luxury. Compellingly robust notes of freshly roasted coffee beans wrap tightly around a creamy vein of vanilla and sandalwood. While a rich saffron steeping in hot water, like so much liquid gold, is tempered by a brilliantly crisp night-blooming jasmine to create a three-dimensional composition that projects a breathtakingly romantic gravitas. I certainly hope that at some point in the future Sphinx strongly considers making a cologne in this scent. If you're looking for an ideal layering partner to go with this balm, I find that The Covenant by Miner's Beard seems to be the ideal complimentary pairing, highlighting the gorgeous oud notes, as well as the overall "ceremonial" feel of both. Strength is just a hair below medium-plus, while staying power is exceptional, easily detectable a solid 8-10 hours after application, ever time I've worn this balm.
How does it work?
Unsurprisingly, this is just as soft and almost jelly-like as the Chokecherry balm, meaning that it has the same great, low melting point and applies just as easily. Imparting that same incredible conditioned, healthy in-beard feel, with tremendous absorption. Occlusive properties are outstanding, leaving my face and beard feeling tremendously moisturized all day long. Once again, I find myself totally impressed with how Sphinx has been able to pack incredible amounts of hold into such a lightweight, soft balm. Finishing properties are also outstanding, imparting a wonderful shimmer that has my beard looking all dressed up, (even without anywhere to go lately). Staying power is excellent as well, delivering that great protection and lightweight in-beard feel all day long on a single application (I even went on a grocery run earlier today, and wore my customized mask that I can stuff my whole beard in, by the time I took it off, my beard was still looking and feeling amazing, even though had been scrunched up in there for a good 30-45 minutes.
The bottom line
After experiencing several of their products first hand now, I can say with no small degree of certainty that Sphinx is not a brand that plays around. Offering high quality products, great scents, and brilliant packaging, they have made it abundantly clear that they want their name to become synonymous with high-end beard care...and with an offering like this Smolder balm, they're doing just that. This is an incredible, original scent that really is unlike anything else out there. Performance is, of course, exceptional. Truly a great all-around experience, definitely a product that no well rounded beard-care arsenal is complete without!
94 See where this lands on The Big List
Ingredients: Organic Sunflower, Organic Olive Oil, Castor Jelly, Candelilla Wax, MangoButter, Kokum Butter, Poppy Oil, Red Raspberry Oil, Cranberry Oil, Frankincense Essential Oil, Ginger Essential Oil, Coriander Essential Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Bees Wax, Shea Butter, Ricebran Oil, Vitamin E Oil
$21 at sphinxbeard.com
~The balm sampled for this review was provided by Sphinx
So you're all settled in with the family...you've stocked up on all the essentials, you've got more TP than you could use in a year (but just in case you need more, gono2.com is taking preorders on their luxurious tripple-ply to ship towards the end of next month...but all joking aside, don't hoard...make sure you take what you need so others can get some too), you have a pantry full of canned goods, snacks, and for some reason, cereal (I read something the other day about people hoarding cereal...oooookay then, I guess if shit really goes haywire, it's good to have Cap'n Crunch in your corner), you've got enough soap and cleaning supplies to have your hands and every surface in your house squeaky clean for months...you're set! But wait...what about your emergency heat and light? What is "emergency heat and light" you might ask? Well, it's just a fun name that Duke Cannon Supply Co has given their range of candles to make them sound more useful than they are...but never the less, it's important to keep your environment smelling good to boost your overall mood. So for the time being, with every order of $35 or more, they're going to throw in one of these long burning, great smelling candles absolutely free (I highly recommend the leaf and leather version)...just a little something to brighten your day during these crazy times. This deal has already been extended once, so who knows how much longer it will be available? Head on over to dukecannon.com and get your order in today!
and while you're there check out their awesome PSA posters, available for free download, just another fun little morale booster that you can post up around your worksite (or home office, as the case may be)...this one is my personal favorite...
Never one to rest on their laurels, Chesapeake Beard Co has decided to take their already popular beard oils and improve them with an all-new carrier blend. Featuring jojoba, sweet almond, coconut, emu, shea nut, and squalane oils, this new blend is sure to impart all new levels of softness and health to both your beard and face. Available in all of their great scents, this new carrier blend is available now over at chesapeakeberd.com, so head on over and get your order in now so that you can be amond the first to try this brand-spankin-new carrier blend!
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.
Beard Booze has gone through something of an operational shift over the past couple of months. Rolling out an all new concept where they drop their fantastic products in only one of their intoxicating scents every month. It's an interesting way of doing things and allows the owners to focus on their other business (they own a rather large screen-printing company), while still making their top-quality goods available to anybody who wants them. Their monthly release for March was so popular that they've decided to give everybody early access to their April scent. Sumggler's Blend is a Bay Rum fan's dream, featuring big notes of bay, black pepper, clove, cinnamon, and just the right amount of citrus, this is a top-shelf interpretation of an old classic. Availalbe in their full suite of products (including their superlative beard wash), Smuggler's Blend is available for sale now at beardbooze.com. When this month's allocation sells out, it'll be a while before you can get your hands on this awesome scent again, so head on over there sooner rather than later, and get some Smuggler's Blend for your collection before it's too late.
Since their debut at the end of last year, The Bearded Mack has established themselves as one of the true heavy hitters of the indie beard-care scene. With instant classics like The 18th Mack and The Highlander Mack in their lineup, this brand has already become synonymous with great scents and top shelf performance...and now, their catalogue is expanding with the addition of an all new scent tomorrow! Dubbed The Gentleman's Mack this new aquatic scent has all the makings of another hit, with notes of citrus, amber, sandalwood, and patchouli! This all-new scent will be available in an oil, balm and butter, so make sure that you head on over to thebeardedmackgroomingco.com first thing in the morning and pick some up for yourself!