Now, more than any other time of the year, it seems as though new product announcements are a coming fast, and furious. Everybody is dropping their own seasonal holiday scents, guaranteed to conjure up images of firs trimmed head to toe in lights and ornaments, sparkling in the dim winter light as the fireplace crackles in front of you while snow gently falls just outside your window. You really have to be a Christmas person to get this into it. Now, I'm the kind of guy who likes to celebrate Christmas lazily in front of the TV all day long with my wife, a bottle of Champagne and some take-out Chinese food spread out on the coffee table in front of us, but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate a good holiday party with friends and family. So to make sure that my beard is ready for the upcoming season of merriment and all the dinner parties, egg nog, and dreadful sweaters (seriously, when is that trend going to go away?) that come along with it, I turned to The Bearded Bastard (makers of that awesome Rum Runner balm, and the oh-so-legendary Barbershop wax), their Ho, Ho, Ho! beard oil has gained a somewhat cult-like following, and is perhaps one of their most sought after limited releases. Let's take it for a spin and see if it will have me feeling the holiday spirit.
I'm not sure what I was expecting here, I mean, what does Christmas smell like, really? Pine trees? fireplaces? the cheap Autozone air-freshner in the Uber you had to take home because your buddy decided to crack open the bottle of Bruichladdich Black Art, and nobody was allowed to leave until it was empty? Whatever the case may be, it's a pretty difficult scent to nail down...generally, we expect our Christmas-y scents to be spicy and sweet, a little cinnamon, a little ginger, a little clove, maybe some peppermint, and perhaps a bit of generic pine thrown in, to make you think of a Christmas tree or something. This stuff checked all those "holiday scent" boxes, but in a way that is a bit less lazy and generic than many other "holiday scented" products (and not just beard care either, I'm talking candles, and those dreadful hand soap/lotion sets that everybody loves to bring to gift exchanges, and all pretty much everything else that can have a scent added to it). Theres far less of that "Bath and Body Works" type of in-your-face quality here, intead we have a very smart blend that still maintains a great festive nature. Cinnamon and clove take center stage, and are perhaps the two biggest notes I get all-together, evoking an almost Bay Rum feel at first, there's this wonderful spicy bite that goes so far beyond your typical candy-like holiday spice. This is tempered by a magnificent, camphoraceous fresh-split pine log that is just so perfectly understated that it's almost not there, it just serves to gently support the initial spicy accord, adding a bit of depth and a slightly out-doorsy edge, which reads as downright regal. I detect just the slightest whisper of vanilla and a wintery mint in the high note, like that first breath of cool winter air when you step out in the morning. While not the most complex scent that I've ever tried by this company, there is something really interesting here, because they've taken the traditonal holiday themes that we are used to, but given them a dignified, masculine edge...while still keeping them just as whimsical and light-hearted as ever. Strength is medium, and staying power is phenominal. This can be layered with a great deal of balms and butters; you can crank up the spice by pairing it with the awesome Rum Runner balm, you can get a really neat contrasting effect by pairing it with the Whiskey Blend butter made by Premium Beards, hell it even partners nicely with the Dark Roast butter by Fresh Beards. Either way, make sure you save some to use after the holidays, because this is a great oil to layer when youre looking to come up with some warm, spicy combinations.
How does it work?
For a thinner oil, this stuff really is no slouch. I find myself needing a few drops more of this than other oils, but it really does seem to go right to work upon application. Combining the occlusive properties of almond oil with the conditioning properties of castor, this stuff has my beard feeling extra soft and healthy immediately after combing through. The high amounts of oleic acid in the safflower oil that is used to create this product, acts as a natural vasodialtor, penetrating deeply down into the skin, offering benefits for my face, as well as helping deeply hydrate my beard. It is even said to help promote hair growth, which can help your beard look its thickest and fullest, and the natural fatty acids help it keep your face and beard from drying out on those chilly winter days (it's a wonder why this isn't used in more beard-care products). It imparts a wonderful shine, while leaving behind no greasy residue or unpleasant feel. Staying power is good, but it could be better, as I find myself needing to reapply on busier days where I may be spending a bit more time outdoors.
The bottom line
While some guys get extra festive with their beards during the holiday season, those of us who arent quite as committed can still get in on the holly-jolly fun. There are a whole bunch of holiday beard scents out there, so why not make sure that you're going with a quality one? The Bearded Bastard is definitely an upper echelon company when it comes to beard-care, and this Ho, Ho, Ho! oil is no exception. While there may be better values out there in the Christmas beard oil category (is it just me, or is it a little weird that it is such a large category? Either way, 'tis the season...), there are very few out there that manage to take the concept of the typical Christmas-y scent and make it so downright awesome. Long after the last present has been opened, and the tree has been put away, and you're so sick of that ubiquitous Mariah Carey song that you're ready to throw a candy cane at the head of the next person who plays it, you'll still find yourself reaching for this product...it's just that good!
Ingredients: Sweet Almond Oil, Safflower Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Jojoba Oil, Argan Oil, Natural Fragrance, Olive Oil, and Castor Oil
$25 at thebeardedbastard.com