Despite having worn a beard for the past couple of years – a response, in part, due to the lack of variety in my appearance that followed a waving of the white flag in the battle against baldness – it is only recently that beard oil appeared on my radar. What is it? How does it work? What would the benefits be? And, given I have stopped shaving and no longer spend money on shampoo, conditioner or wax, could it fill the void in an ever-so-slightly vain man’s now sparse grooming regime?
Thankfully, as I pondered these questions, a chance meeting with the esteemed editor of this website afforded me opportunity to give said facial lubricant a go, by testing out three different types made by Barbatus and penning a few words on the experience. As a newcomer to the concept, it must be noted that I have no point of reference and my beard is not quite the length of those celebrated by Beardrevered or seen in your average East London artisan scotch egg outlet.
Nevertheless, it does tend to get a little unruly and dry – something easily countered when rubbing a few drops from the brown pipette bottle into the face after giving my furry fashion statement a towelling down post-shower. I have tried three scents in the Barbatus range: Old School, Surf and Coffee and found each one added a decent sheen without leaving the beard greasy. I’m told a benefit is keeping the skin underneath hydrated too, although, without wanting to boast, this has never been an issue for me personally. Were this the case, I suspect it would however.
Unquestionably, Old School is the standout of the three in terms of fragrance, befitting the bowler-hatted W.G. Grace-type character that stares back at you on the packaging; think of walking into an oak-panelled room that has a gramophone crackling away in the background: authoritative, traditional and ever so slightly jaunty.
Surf is lighter and has more of an outdoor tone to it, while Coffee is pleasant although could perhaps have the word liqueur tacked on the end; it’s not a cup of Kenco, more a glass of Kaluha. Each one is subtle, however, and feels a better way for a bearded gentleman to make a scented statement than a squirt of the now ultimately redundant Old Spice.
As a means of turning a bramble thicket into mink coat for the jawline, I would, without any experience of rival products to compare it to, recommend Barbatus to others, especially those with similarly wiry facial hair that doesn’t always remain pointing in the intended direction. As for the smell, I would tell them to go Old School. It’s a belter.
Ali Martin is cricket news reporter for the Guardian. You can follow him on Twitter here: @Cricket_Ali
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