Manscaping: Breaking down beard care

Beauty is big business. From skincare and makeup to hair and body, women have a plethora of products to choose from that rakes in billions annually. But what about the guys?

Max Jackson, our resident beard expert, got the chance to try out Oak & Adze and Honest Amish products. Photo by Jonathan Scott
Max Jackson, our resident beard expert, got the chance to try out Oak & Adze and Honest Amish products. Photo by Jonathan Scott

In a world where appearance is important, beauty routines are no longer gender-exclusive to women. “Historically, men have groomed just as much as women up until about the 1970s and then they stopped. To be fair, everyone stopped,” says Jessica Dodd, the inventory manager of St. Augustine, Florida’s Oak and Adze. “Women picked up again in the 80s, but the idea of dirty being manly has lingered.”

And while there are plenty of guys with sharper winged liner than their female counterparts, we’re talking about the “manliest men” – bearded guys. However, the beard is no longer synonymous with being dirty and is instead revolutionizing the way “manscaping” is viewed.

Alfredo Ortiz of Brooklyn Grooming in New York says, “When it comes to men, they think that shaving and wearing cologne is all they have to do and they never worry about anything else. So, it’s so interesting how the industry is changing now.”

Wayne Bailey of Fisticuffs, a beard care brand based out of California, says, “I think guys are more involved with facial hair care mainly because it shows good hygiene and self-worth while still maintaining a strong manly look.”

“The face is the first thing people look at. First impressions mean so much and having a maintained beard can really sway someone’s self confidence.” – Wayne Bailey

But, there’s more to it than sitting and waiting (or praying) for peach fuzz to turn into something luscious. Beard care requires palmfuls of TLC that comes in the form of oils, balms and waxes, and they aren’t that much different from women’s products.

For starters, the key to beard care is hydration. Roscoe of Honest Amish, a Pennsylvania-based beard care company, explains: “Beard hair does not receive the same oils that keep scalp hair from drying out. Balms and beard oils provide oils and nutrient butters to keep the beard hydrated – this makes the beard soft, more controllable, tangle free and supple so it does not break.”

Breaking it down further, beard oils are similar to serums. They moisturize the follicles to keep hair soft and are ideal for those with shorter beards, while beard balms are thicker and more like deep conditioners. Lastly, waxes are meant for taming and styling in addition to providing intense moisture.

Additionally, Roscoe mentions that balms keep the skin underneath the beard moisturized, helping to eliminate “Beard Itch”.

Combing and brushing is also important to maintain shape and help distribute product and encourage the production of natural oils. A spokesperson for Leven Rose, a Colorado-based beauty product company, says that a comb is good for those with “long fluffy beards”, as it allows them to “gently section comb, instead of pulling from top to bottom.” This is the same method that girls with long hair should follow.

A brush can then be used as a skincare tool “since it opens up the hair follicle base to free it from dead skin that results in ‘beardruff.’” Lastly, a soap specifically for facial hair can help breakdown product buildup; using a regular soap can dry out the hair and make it brittle, according to Ortiz.

So, how do you find the perfect brand? We chose five brands from around the country that not only provide high quality products, but have something for every type of guy:

Fisticuffs’ Grave Before Shave

Courtesy of Fisticuffs
Courtesy of Fisticuffs

The Grave Before Shave line is for the “cool guy”. Not only is their packaging badass, but their products have some really unique ingredients that set them apart from a lot of other companies. For example, their moustache wax has pine sap in it!

They also sell large products (up to 4 oz.) which is convenient if you really love it. Plus, they have an array of blends. Bailey says, “I prefer our Cigar Vanilla blend myself, and I rotate with the Gentlemen’s Blend mostly. But I do use all for different occasions.”

“The Outdoorsman blend is amazing for repelling bugs and I recommend it anytime someone is camping, fishing or hiking.” – Wayne Bailey

Their best sellers include the Bay Rum Beard Oil, the Gentlemen’s Blend Beard Oil in “Bourbon” and the Beard Wash Shampoo.

Two Seventy Tested: Oak & Adze

Photo by Emily Creighton
Photo by Emily Creighton

Built on quality in Florida’s historical St. Augustine, Oak & Adze is the ideal brand for a guy who loves a story behind his products. They were kind enough to send along some products for review:

Living in Florida I was attracted to the “Florida Winter” scent featuring grapefruit and fir, and as soon as I opened the tin I knew I made the right choice. The scent has a warm sweetness about it and is very refreshing and lasts most of the day.

Their balm is the right strength to hold my beard (I’ve had to ration this balm because I don’t want to run out too quickly). And the oil is great for times when I want to keep the beard healthy, but I don’t need to keep it in place. My only grievance is that there’s no dropper for the beard oil, which isn’t a deal breaker, but having one makes life much easier, and I always have to wonder why some brands don’t use them.  

I’ll for sure be ordering another tin of their “Florida Winter” balm when I run out.

Leven Rose

Leven Rose’s Starter Beard Kit. Courtesy of Leven Rose
Leven Rose’s Starter Beard Kit. Courtesy of Leven Rose

Use TWOSEVENTY at for 15% off your entire order! Limit one use per customer.

Leven Rose offers something for every stage of beard growth, and is especially great for the “newly bearded” as they break down every aspect of their beard care on their site. With attention to detail, their products contain classic ingredients, including jojoba, argan and coconut oils – all of which are natural and known for being moisturizing.

“It’s our philosophy with all of our products that natural is better – that our bodies weren’t made for interacting all the chemicals that we’ve become used to using daily,” says a brand spokesperson.

We source our oils from farms or buyers we trust, we package our products in dark amber glass bottles that not only can be recycled but help your oils last longer.”

If you’re shopping for someone new to the world of beard care, check out Leven Rose’s Starter Beard Kit, which will hook them up with everything they need. The oils have a shelf life of two years, but it’s more than likely they’ll use them up before then.

Two Seventy Tested: Honest Amish

Photo by Emily Creighton
Photo by Emily Creighton

Who knows beards better than the Amish? Not many, and Honest Amish centuries-old product recipes prove that. They shipped us an array of items to get the full experience:

Opening the box from Honest Amish felt like Christmas morning, as it was full of beard care products. To start, they have two different strength balms – the “Regular” Leave-in Conditioner and “Heavy Duty” – and I found that half of each gave me the amount of hold I was looking for (my beard is about 2 inches). Honest Amish’s Roscoe recommends the “Regular” for those under 1.5 inches.

They also sent along a beard wax (which I only really used for my moustache) and the largest bottle of beard oil I’ve ever seen (2 oz). Lastly, and coolest of all, was a tiny tin of lip balm that came with it all.

Their “Original” scent smells like black licorice, but it’s not overwhelming, and in lip balm form it’s delicious. The scent of their balms is not as strong as most, and while it keeps my beard under control all day, I stop smelling it midway through the day. The lip balm packaging reads: “Caution: Highly Addictive”, I’d have to agree.

Brooklyn Grooming

Courtesy of Brooklyn Grooming
Courtesy of Brooklyn Grooming

Brooklyn Grooming provides high end products and is perfect for the guy who isn’t ashamed of putting time into his appearance. Handmade in Brooklyn, they stay true to their roots and embody a level of authenticity that sometimes gets lost in the beauty industry.

Using organic and natural ingredients, Brooklyn Grooming offers a variety of scents featuring essential oils, including hemp seed, jojoba and argan oil. They also have a range of scents with varying strengths.

“Scent is a personal thing. It’s a matter of what you’re comfortable with and not overusing it.” – Alfredo Ortiz

If you’re looking for a suggestion though, Ortiz recommends “Red Hook”, which features warm scents with cardamom, bergamot and bay leaf extracts, for the cooler seasons. “Fort Greene” is more refreshing, featuring rosemary, juniper and lavender, making it ideal for warmer months. But, if a scent just isn’t for you, there is also “Commando”, a fragrance-free option.

Disclaimer: Honest Amish and Oak & Adze sent products to Two Seventy. This did not affect the review of either brand.