The other day I received a coupon in the mail, nothing too unusual there, I mean who doesn't get a shitload of coupons in the mail? This one was a little bit different because it was for beard-care products, stranger still, was that it was from my local grocery store. I mean, okay, I've purchased stuff for my beard from the grocery store before, so maybe they put me on some sort of list or something, who knows? Still, it's a little weird to get such a thing in the mail, but I figured "what the hell, why not?" and decided to bring the coupon along with me on my way to grab a sixer and some laundry soap, if nothing else this would be a new product to review. I was a bit surprised to see a big display in the beard-care/shaving aisle (is it wierd that those two are always together? I guess they figure no matter what type of dude you are, they'll have something for you. but anyway...) featuring the same brand I had gotten the coupon for; Bromley's. As far as I can tell, after doing a little digging, Bromley's is basically a store-brand available at your local Kroger affiliate (in Arizona, we call them Fry's). Now there is already one store-brand of beard-care stuff sold at Kroger (remember the beard oil by Simple Truth I reviewed a while back?), so I don't know if this Bromley's brand is designed to be a replacement for that, or if it's just another line they're introducing. Interestingly enough, nowhere on the Bromley's packaging does it say it's manufactured by or for Kroger stores exclusively, but there are some pretty big hints, mainly that it is made by a company called Inter-American products, which a simple google search reveals is owned by, you guessed it, Kroger...now what does this all mean? Not a darn thing...so let's just give this stuff a try and see if it's any good.
The package says bergamot and lavender, but honestly, I don't get much of either. There's a faint artificial citrus note that I guess could come across as bergamot to those not paying close attention. I do get a hint of something sort of sweet and floral, that I want to call lavender, but it's so mild that it may be a matter of my brain trying to trick my olfactory bulb in to believing that's what it is. There's a bit of that familiar grainy/cereal note that comes from fresh shea butter, but unfortunately the most prominent note in this entire product is something sort of bitter and artificial, a chemical smell that screams of petroleum derivitaves...but upon checking the ingredients list, I couldn't find a culprit...until I dug a bit deeper...synthetic beeswax. Made of a blend of waxes derived from coal and petroleum, synthetic beeswax is, just as the name suggests, a synthetic alternative to the regular beeswax that we commonly find in our beard care products. I'm assuming this was added as some sort of cost-cutting measure, (because heaven forbid that one of the bigger brands ever prioritize quality over their bottom line), and in fairness, it seems to work okay (more on that in the "How does it work?" portion of this review), but boy does it stink! Overall strength is pretty low, and staying power is essentially non existant, leaving no discernable scent on my beard after just a few minutes.
How does it work?
Surprisingly, from a performance standpoint, this isnt a terrible balm. Unlike most of the beard-care products produced by corporations looking to hitch their wagon to what they surely see as nothing more than a trend, it would appear that Bromley's may have actually taken the time to do homework on what guys look for in their beard care products. With an ingredients list that is, for the most part, impressive (with the exception of that damn synthetic beeswax, which has probably pisses me off more than it should, as it is used in lots of household and cosmetic products, and is by-and-large safe...it still just feels like a big middle finger to quality at the expense of saving a few pennies...I mean why not just use natural beeswax? Especially since natural beeswax is also listed as one of the ingredients of this product...but I'm getting off-topic here). When I apply some of this stuff, I find that it at least makes an attempt to be a serious balm. It's definitely on the softer side, with a very low melting point, it works easily into my beard, and does a good job of combing through evenly. It doesn't leave any residual greasiness, which is definitely a plus, but I do find that there is a bit of that "crunch" (which I associate with lower quality products) left behind, not a terrible amount, but it's definitely present. Occlusive properties seem to be very good, nicely sealing in any oil I used before hand. Hold is decent, by no means strong, and in fact, I'd stop short of saying that it is even medium, but this product definitely does offer some. Surprisingly, it seems to do a good job of keeping my face feeling fairly hydrated throughout the course of a day.
The bottom line
Unlike many supermarket beard-care products, this stuff is actually worth a second look. Will it earn a spot in my regular roataion? Ha! No...but would I recommend it to a beardsman who was balling on a budget, looking for something better than most of the other products in its price category? Absolutely. The scent leaves a lot to be desired, but from a performance standpoint, this stuff could hang with balms that cost twice as much, making it a very good value (especially when you consider the fact that this comes in a generous 3 ounce container). Bromley's isn't going to revolutionize the beard-care game any time soon, but they may help a certeain segment of the market step up to a more premium option, and I suppose that is probably the entire reason they exist. So if you end up finding that same coupon in your mailbox for this stuff, dont be afraid to pick some up on your next trip to the grocery store.
Ingredients: Sunflower Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, Synthetic Beeswax, Beeswax, Argan Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Rosemary Leaf extract, Tocopherol, Fragrance
$5.99 (before discount) at Fry's Supermarket
It looks like Savage Mane (makers of V&T seasonal favorite Pumpking balm) will be adding an all new scent to its portfolio. Accoring to the above IG post, it looks like the new scent may be called "Venom" or at least that's my best guess at deciphering the scrambled word (If you were a 90's kid who stayed up late at night, you got really good at unscrambling images...if you get the joke, you get it...if not, I'm not going to explain it to you). No word on what the profile may be, but I seem to recall a wax made by Savage Mane back in the day also called Venom, no clue what it smelled like, or if this even has anything to do with that. Make sure that you are following Savage Mane on social media in order to get all the details on this new scent, including when we can finally get our hands on it!
Chronic Beard makers of workhorse hemp-based beard-care products like Home Grown beard butter, is offering one hell of a deal on their beard oils. Head on over to chronicbeard.com, add any two oils you'd like to your cart, use code CHRONIC, and enjoy getting one of those oils absolutely free...and as always, they pick up the tab for shipping to the lower 48!
Just in time for Winter! According to his social media account, Luxurious Bastard (manufacturers of V&T favorite The Fantastic Bastard beard oil) will be dropping these awesome beanies featuring the company logo in the coming days. No word on if these will sell out as fast as their legendary beard care products do, but it's probably worth following Luxurious Bastard on IG, if you don't already, to make sure that you are one of the first to know as soon as these go on sale!
While winter isn't officially here for a month and two days, the weather outside seems to indicate that it has no intention of waiting, add to that, the fact that beard-care brands everywhere are rolling out their winter scent collections one after another, and well, even in mid November, you'll notice that things are feeling nice and wintery already. Now a good amount of winter scents are holiday themed (I cannot reccomend Ho, Ho, Ho! by The Bearded Bastard highly enough if you're looking to comb a little holiday cheer through your beard), but a few producers out there, like Ruddy Man Grooming have gotten a bit more ambitious with their winter blends, creating something that doesn't just go for the typical pine-tree-meets-baking-spice holiday scents, and instead aims to capture the entire feeling of the season; afternoon sunsets, the rush of cold air filling your lungs, that perfectly broken in wool beanie that is just the right amount of scratchy and warm, there is so much more to the season than just Santa and doug firs. Founded in North Carolina by a part-time rock band frontman, and full-time pastor, Ruddy Man Grooming has already made quite a name for themselves in the beard-care game as a small-batch producer of both beard and body products in a variety of inovative and appealing scents.
As somebody who can trace his family lineage back to a small colony in Russia as far back at the 1700's, and a huge fan of Russian tea, I knew I'd be trying Moscow Morning the minute I saw it advertised. I could go on and on about how important tea culture is to Russian people (in spite of what you may have heard, tea, and not vodka, is the national drink of Russia...and believe me, I love my vodka too, but that's a topic for a different conversation), or the weird ancestral connections I feel at times when I brew up a pot of Prince Vladimir by Kusmi Tea (any and all fans of black teas who have never checked this blend out, simply must do so...you can thank me later), but instead, let's just give this oil a try and see if it can speak for itself.
So you know how I do that thing from time to time where I'm all like "oh I was expecting this to be blah blah blah, but boy whas I wrong, because it turned out to be blah blah blah instead"? Yeah no, not here...I was expecting a product called Moscow Morning to draw up a mental picture of a little glass of Russian Caravan (another tea you need to check out if you're into black teas), exuding smoky, astringency, with sugar crystals on a stick meant to be parked inbetween your teeth while you drink, and a slice of lemon arranged neatly on a saucer next to it, and I was not disapointed. Intense clouds of rich, pine-wood smoked Lapsang Souchong mixed with that extremely familiar citrus/floral tang of an Earl Grey, come barreling forward with the power and intensity of a freight train slicing through the still night air. This kicks up an intoxicating tailwind of dark, astringent Darjeeling so mouthwateringly accurate that you can almost feel the fuzzy tannins left behind on your teeth, blended with a spicy accord vaguely reminiscent of those scented pinecones that every grocery store has up front by the doors this time of year. In the high note, a solitary candied orange peel, in all of its saccharine glory, stands alone as if it had been dropped into the dregs of a still slightly warm tea-pot to release its aromatic sweetness. At once a holiday scent and something so far beyond that, this is quite possibly my favorite winter themed oil to be released this year. Strength is a shade above medium, while staying power is good, but unfortunately not great, lasting a few good hours before fading to a delicate whisper.
How does it work?
Sporting a fairly spartan list of ingredients and a middle-of-the-road viscosity, I wasn't really expecting to be blown away by the performance of this product, but was pleasantly surprised to see that it definitely offered a good amount of conditioning. Imparting an acceptable level of softness, I can't help but think how much of a superstar this product might be with a bit more comprehensive carrier blend...I mean, in beard feel is good, very good, in fact, but it seems to fall short of feeling "great", this product takes my beard right to the edge of that same softness and strength that an oil like Williamsburg by Brooklyn Grooming (an all time favorite that I still use regularly) might, but just doesn't quite cross that threshold. I find that this oil works best when paired with a stiff, hearty balm (I recommend Night Owl by Vintage Grooming as it wont interfere with the downright brilliant scent of this oil). Staying power is good, and can hold up to the elements up to a point, but I do find that on colder, more high-impact days a touchup may be in order in the afternoon.
The bottom line
With a scent accurate enough to have you hearing a balalaika being played somewhere off in the distance as you comb it through your beard, this oil has instantly earned a place in my winter rotation. Performance is good, but lacking in that "little something extra" category that would surely have turned this stuff into something truly epic. As it stands, it is a solid adition to any lineup, and only serves to have me more intreagued as to what else Ruddy Man Grooming has to offer.
Ingredients: Fractionated Coconut Oil, Moroccan Argan Oil, Golden Jojoba Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Essential and Fragrance Oils
$18 at ruddymangrooming.com
While not a deal for today...still a deal to keep an eye out for. In just five short days, Chesapeake Beard Co (makers of the super awesome Solace beard oil) will be offering their biggest sale of the year! Black Friday will be arriving a week early, but there's just one catch, this deal won't be available on their website, instead you'll need to download the Chesapeake Beard Company app (that's right, the beard-care game has gone high tech). So make sure you click the button below to turn your iOS or Android device into your ticket to incredible Black Friday deals!
I'm too sure that my wine drinking readers out there know all about cult-wines...no these arent some sort of wines produced by zealots who follow some whack-job that claims to be an alien sent from outer-space to save humanity or something. Instead, these are wines that are so amazing that they have gained a cult like following, you won't see any ads for them, and you rarely, if ever see them for sale in stores, usually you have to know somebody or pay big bucks for them on the secondary market. These are the top-of-the-top when it comes to their respective weight classes (more often than not, Cab-heavy blends from Napa), you've got Screaming Eagle, Colgin, Harlan Estate, and my personal favorite Sine Qua Non (not from Napa, nor ever made with Cab), just to name a few...now, you're probably thinking "this is a beard-care blog...why TF is he going on about wine?" well...one, because I love wine, my education is in it, and in a past life (my overly dramatic/prosaic way of saying "many years ago") I worked as a Sommelier...but more than that, it's to familiarize those who may be uninitiated to the concept of cult wines, and how that same concept can apply to the beard-care game. You see, there are many top quality producers of true beard love out there, churning out solid gold products that keep your mane looking and smelling downright magical...but, with rare exceptions, the products from these companies are all pretty much readily available, day or night, any time you want to treat your face to a little something special. Currently, I can think of only one company that beardsmen need to mark their calendars to make purchases from. With new drops every sunday at noon Pacific, that invariably sell out quickly and leave customers counting the days, weeks, or even months until the next time they'll see that specific product, Luxurious Bastard has established themselves as one of (if not the only) true cult beard-care producers. This goes beyond small batch, beyond indie, what they're (and when I say "they", I actually mean one single dude who handles the entire process from concept, to shipping, and everything in between...how is that for hands-on, huh?) doing over there in Apple Valley, California, is nothing short of creating their own category within the market. I was able to get my hands on this oil last week, one of their more limited edition products released recently, and I really couldnt wait to give it a try! So enough with the long-winded preamble...let's get down to it and see what this stuff is all about...
When I first opened this product, I really wasn't sure what was going on here, big, perfumey, candy-like, almost artifical notes of some sort of laffy-taffy type sweetness came leaping forward and smacked me across the face. I was expecting a berry-based scent from the description, but holy shit, this was some heavy-duty, above and beyond type of berry...the good news is, that's just the initial greeting, and this stuff seems to calm down quickly, going from this weird, saccharine note that I wasn't sure I wanted my beard to smell like all day, to something much more refined, still big and jammy, but not nearly as sweet. That loud candy-like chord yields to a deep dark blackberry, ripe with bright red juice and tempered with a syrupy pie-filling type of cooked quality, plush, and richly textured. This is supported by a secondary component of fleshy, ripe blueberries exploding with a sun-kissed sweetness, mixed with a warm, home-made cranberry sauce that provides the perfect amount of tanginess. As the background develops, layers upon layers of dimensionality reveal themselves in the form of black-currant wine-gums, a vegetal component that reminds me of bay-leaf (not bay rum, but honest-to-goodness bay leaf like you'd use to cook with), some sort of mountain vegetation (can't say for sure exactly what, but if you've ever taken a deep breath through your nose while hiking a mountain trail, you'll know exactly the scent I'm talking about), mixed with a hint of sweet earth, and a sort of funk that reminds me of noble rot (if you're not familiar with this note in some wines and beers, it's a weird, kind-of-sour, kind-of-honeyed note with a bit of a floral edge...just super complex and wonderful). Without question there is a lot going on here, definitely not just any old berry scent, but perhaps the thing that I love the most about this oil is the way it blends with a great many other balms and butters to form something completely different. The first time I wore it I paired it with the Bilberry Bastard balm by this same company, and got this super rich, almost Cognac quality from the combination, it also pulled out a weird cigar box/Spanish cedar note that I don't find in either of the individual components. Perhaps my favorite product to follow this oil with is the ridiculously multi-dimensional Egyptian Dragon beard butter by Nicholas Beard Works, the two work together to create something so deliciously refined and hard to describe, just a brilliant aura of sweet smoke that evolves to reveal a great many pleasant secrets throughout the course of a day. Staying power of this oil is without question, phenominal...strength is also good, starting out a few ticks above medium plus, but quickly settling down to a solid medium.
How does it work?
Viscosity is good, not the thickest oil I've ever tried by any means, but certainly thick enough to really get down deep into my beard and make its presence felt. With an all-star list of ingredients in its carrier blend, this product goes to work right away, offering great absorption, and little-to-no tactile slip, just a fantastic softness and strenght right from the get-go. I mean seriously, right upon combing through I noticed the difference, of course any good oil will offer enough conditioning properties that you shouldn't have to deal with tangles or snags while combing, but I cannot recall another oil Ive ever tried that made my beard feel so thick and luxurious immediately during the styling process, to call this stuff fast working is an understatement. The best part of all is that the brilliantly touchable, soft feel imparted by this product seems to last all day. My face feels just as wonderfully nourished and hydrated too, I'm assuming that hezelnut oil (in addition to many of the other skin circulation promoting, moisure locking heavy hitters included in the carrier blend) has something to do with this. Prized for its ability to act as both a moisturizer, as well as an astringent, hazelnut oil also helps boost collagen production and increases your skin's own natural regenetative abilities, it is also said to help eliminate free-radicals and protect your skin from elemental damage (which is especially handy this time of year). The argan and jojoba oils used in this blend are clearly of an exceptionally high quality, as the shine that this stuff imparts is beyond that of most oils, lending an almost unreal lustre to my beard. Staying power is also stellar, something that I wasn't really expecting considering how quickly this product seemed to absorb into both my beard and skin. Truly an oil worthy of both the luxurious and fantastic monikers bestowed upon it.
The bottom line
This product represents everything you could ever want in a beard oil; more than just smelling amazing, the scent of this product evolves over time, creating an all day experience...and if that wasnt enough, this stuff way overachieves from a performance standpoint, leaving my beard feeling as healthy and as strong as any oil in recent memory. There's just one problem with this product...you can't buy it...given the limited nature of this particular scent, and the golden-ticket like exclusivity of most Luxurious Bastard products, I understand that this oil sold out on the day of release, and as such, there may be quite a long wait before it's up for sale again...if it ever does hit the market again. Now, the good news, there appears to be a limited amount of the Fantastic Bastard balm still up for grabs on the Luxurious Bastard website, now if I were reading this and wanted to get in on some of that action I'd head over there soon, and pick some up, because you know that you'll be kicking yourself if you pass up the opportunity to add something with this amazing scent profile to your collection.
Ingredients: Almond oil, Avocado oil, Rice bran oil, Hazelnut oil, Hempseed oil, Apricot oil, Castor oil, Grape seed oil, Jojoba oil, Argan oil, Vitamin E oil, Essential oils.
$17.50 at luxuriousbastardco.com
To celebrate the release of their latest scent, What the Cuss, (inspired by the Wes Anderson classic, Fantastic Mr Fox...and described as an amazing blend of apple cider, berries, and burning pine, which I am super excited to try!) Last Looks grooming is offering 20% off of everything on their site, all day today! So if you have been kicking around the idea of seeing what this new company is all about, now is the time. Just head over to lastlooksgrooming.com, use code SQUAB and enjoy the savings!
Industry titan, Scotch Porter, has just dropped a very special collection for the holidays. Combining the luxurious quality that has already made them a household name in the beard-care community, with the relaxing properties of top shelf CBD oil, this new limited edition collection is sure to make a huge splash, and might just help keep some of that holiday stress in check. These products are almost guaranteed to sell out, so make sure that you head over to scotchporter.com and grab some for yourself today!
image credit @freshbeards
If you've been waiting to try the legendary butters and oils by Fresh Beards, now is the time! For the rest of the month of November, they are offering a BOGO deal that is just too good to pass up; when you purchase their awesome pine-scented Recon beard butter, they'll throw in a matching oil absolutely free! There is no code required, no hoops to jump through, just head over to freshbeards.com and choose the BOGO deal featured on the front page...it's just that simple.