The big picture
Full disclosure: I didn’t write this post from personal experience.
However, I’ve been married to a beard for most of the past 20 years. And I had input from several proud beardsmen. My thanks go out to Aaron, Marty, Benny, and Tyler.
Personal care products that stay on the body for extended periods of time warrant extra scrutiny. I’m talking things like moisturizers, deodorants, hair products—and facial hair products. We keep these on all day—even all night—and the body has maximum exposure to them. If any of it can soak through our skin, it will. This is why it is so, so important to know what’s in them. What’s in them will get in us.
Vague terms like “fragrance” can conceal thousands of possible ingredients, commonly hormone disrupting phthalates. Any scent should come from pure essential oils.
Preservatives can also be a mudpit. Here are some big bad guys to avoid, with links to the Environmental Working Group’s analyses:
- Butyl– and Propylparabens (endocrine disruptors)
- Quaternium-15 (formaldehyde releaser and sensitizer)
- Methylisothiazolinone (allergen)
- Diazolidinyl urea (formaldehyde releaser)
You’ll see these everywhere. And this is not all the red-flags, but enough to get you started.
These ingredients you’ll find far down the ingredient lists, hoping to escape notice, I guess. And the concentrations are so low, it is hard to make a direct trace should a problem arise.
However, think about using these ingredients all day. Every day. In multiple products. Layer upon layer. How much exposure does that add up to?
Let’s focus in on beard care. If you are caring for some luxurious facial locks, you’ve upped the ante a bit. Not only can your beard products penetrate your skin, but because of the proximity to your mouth, you might even inadvertently swallow them. Dr. Bronner’s can help you avoid all these nasties.
Dr. Bronner’s serves up some versatile options here with the Castile Soaps, Sugar Soaps, and Shaving Soaps.
It all depends on how much moisture your beard needs. This is a personal issue, and the folks I spoke with gave me a range of answers.
If you tend to be on the oily side, Dr. Bronner’s Castile in Tea Tree or Peppermint is what you want. This is the original, the classic, in either Liquid or Bar. The Peppermint Castile will invigorate and wake you up. The Tea Tree will help balance your skin.
If you’re tending to be on the dryer side, check out Dr. Bronner’s Organic Sugar Soaps—the one in the pump. The Shikakai powder, which gives the unexpected dark brown color, is a ground tree bark, long used in traditional hair care in India. Further, the sugar is a natural humectant, drawing moisture into the skin. This is a great soap for both skin and hair.
The maximum nourishment comes from Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shaving Soap which not only lathers beautifully for shaving around the edges, but also is a great beard wash. It will leave your beard soft and your skin soothed.
One of the best perks here is that these don’t add yet another bottle to your overcrowded shower ledge. You can wash with any of these from head to toe.
When it comes to smoothing and styling, Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Organic Magic Balm makes for a fantastic beard balm. It moisturizes the skin, eliminates itchiness, softens coarse beards, tames unruly beards, styles limp beards. And because it’s unscented, it won’t interfere with any other scent you might want to wear.
Rub the Balm on your hands and work it through your beard. Brush with a wide-toothed comb if desired.
Whether you’ve just graduated from the stubble or you’re at full on lumberjack, give your beard products a couple extra minutes of thought. Keep it simple. Keep it close to nature. Your 80-year old self will thank you.
Good info! I’ll try out the soaps and magic balm, no that I’m a “Beard”.
Thanks for pointing out that when it comes to smoothing and styling, Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Organic Magic Balm makes for a fantastic beard balm. It moisturizes the skin, eliminates itchiness, softens coarse beards, tames unruly beards, styles limp beards.
Thanks for keeping KQV under local ownership.
Love this article, didn’t realize how some men take care of their facial hair. Insightful.
Hi, Lisa! I love these posts. If the beard shampoo and balm work so well for beards, wouldn’t they also work as a shampoo and hair balm, for hair in general?
Hi Carola – Yes! The soaps work great as a shampoo. I regularly rotate through all three of these – Castile, Sugar, Shaving – depending on how much moisture I need. Usually I opt for Castile because I love the scents, but lately it’s been so dry around here that I’ve needed the Shaving soap on my hair. Regarding the balm, it would provide a heavier styling than our Hair Creme, but that might be exactly what some styles need. For short hairs, it would be great.
Thank you for muddling through my grammatically questionable query, earlier! I have had great luck with balm on my hair from another source, but I would so much rather use your product which I hadn’t known existed! I have long hair but I just use it on the ends (due to my extreme laziness in keeping it trimmed) and it seems to work well. I’ll switch to Dr. Bronner’s ASAP.
I am truly looking forward to experimenting with all of the products; initially, I ceased using ordinary shampoo and conditioner for reasons of cost-effectiveness, though after getting my routine down (it took a couple of months of titrating), I’ll never go back. My hair is much healthier, now, and I don’t feel the obsession to wash it, daily. Little did I know that my compulsion to shampoo and condition, every day, was precisely because I never felt clean with all of the residue the shampoos and conditioners left. Also, my back acne completely cleared, once I stopped using them (TMI?) So I am gratefully yours!
I’m close to 50 years old, and shampoo and conditioner were just something we always unquestioningly used. As though they were as necessary as a toothbrush. Once I started using the Castile soap (the baby formula for the additional oils) and the Sugar Soaps instead (with a vinegar rinse and an oil treatment, every so often), I began wondering what else I might simplify that I had just assumed I needed. It led to an entire restructuring of my ideas about hygiene and cleanliness. How much cleaner and fresher I am with just the basics rather than all of the fragrance and chemical-filled products that used to clutter my sink.
I keep a small castille soap bottle in my medicine cabinet for makeup removal, and a larger one in the shower for soap (straight) and one for shampoo (diluted).
All the best to you and thank you, again, for the informative posts! They’re wonderful!
HI Carola – Thank you for all your encouraging stories! I’m so glad to hear that our products have helped “clean your routine”. Not TMI on the back acne – it’s a valid indicator that there is something wrong in our hair products when they cause such irritation to our skin. The SLES and other such detergents common in shampoos are known skin irritants. Glad to have helped! I apologize for my delay in responding here!