For People with Beards, and Those Who Love Them

For the first time in I don’t know how many years, I’m still wearing my winter beard half-way into April. It is usually so beat up, brittle and tired by the time spring arrives that I just hack it off and hang it in a tree so birds can use it in their nests, but not this year.

My feathered friends will have to wait a while (maybe longer) until I am done with my beard. Yes, it’s kind of grown on me and no, I didn’t lose my clam shell, but my beard is near the top of  the list of things that get me through winter and now I’ve found a way to get my beard through winter, too, thanks to Feared Beard VT.

Frosted Woods Beard Balm

Before anyone goes off the rails and starts in about doing a product review or questions my qualifications to write about grooming, I’ve done reviews here before (a list of them, and a disclaimer for this one can be found below) and this is me after all, so the term “grooming,” is used rather loosely. In addition, there is nothing ironic about my boots, my flannel, or my beard so don’t be thinking I’ve gone all hipster or something.

Frosted Beard

A trip around the lake on snowshoes (or six trips up and down the driveway behind the snowblower) can leave my beard full of ice, frost and frozen who-knows-what. I have yet to find any source recommending that sort of thing for any kind of hair. No silly scarves for me to keep my face warm, no sir, but all that freezing does take a toll.

Then, after the worst of winter is done and it looks like spring might be right around the corner, it’s time to make syrup so I spend hours and hours tending the arch, opening hot cast-iron doors and putting my face close to a roaring, searing fire — something else you won’t find on a hair care “do” list. You won’t find it specifically on a hair care “don’t” list, either, but not just because sugar house stokers are an under-served demographic.

Face to the Fire

The smell of burnt hair is thankfully rare but going to the edge of combustion on a regular basis is as bad for it as being frozen. All that extreme heat and serious cold, along with the naturally unruly behavior of long whiskers, adds up to a beard in need of serious help and I think you can understand why I am sometimes anxious to whip out the old clam shell as soon as spring arrives.

I’ve used different shampoos and conditioners, with varying results. I’ve tried oils for beards and oils intended for salads and didn’t like them one bit. Fly-aways, split ends and breaks were just a price to pay for having a hairy face when the nights turn hoary — until I saw a display at the Vermont Country Store last December, featuring beard balm from Feared Beard VT.

Beard balm sounds funny to say, at least to these modern ears, but the tradition goes back thousands of years and after a few days its charm and benefits were apparent. As a fan of patchouli, I’d gone home with a tin of Burlington Burnout and not only did it remind me “of that time I can’t remember,” — just like the copy on the web site says — but my beard stayed the way I put it when combed and developed a shine.

After a good, hot shower and shampoo, Feared Beard balm really soaks in and doesn’t feel heavy or greasy. The scent didn’t scare the cats and it made Mrs. Gordon smile so I went down the hill again the next week, to pick up a tin of their Frosted Woods. “Chock full of pine and spearmint,” it made my beard smell minty-fresh, making it a good alternative for occasions when one might be around others not so fond of patchouli or likely to question the motives of those who wear it.

Melts in your hand, not in your mouth. Seriously, don’t put it in your mouth.

Remember, these are scents, not flavors, and Feared Beard’s Natural beard balm doesn’t smell like much of anything. It is their base formula, with no fragrant oils. Some people may experience mild skin irritation with some fragrant oils and this is a good choice for them. Or, maybe you don’t want anything to interfere with other scents you like to wear. Of course, sometimes the best choice is no scent at all.

Made from shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, and the seed oils of jojoba, grape, moringa, baobab and hemp, as well as other ingredients, depending on product, Feared Beard VT‘s beard balms use organic raw materials whenever possible and are 100% natural. More about their ingredients can be found here.

Two other scents are available, Lifted Lavender (with rosemary and juniper!) and Citrus Orchard (“you’ll feel as though your beard is living the life of luxury”), both of which I intend to add to my repertoire, if only for myself. After all, if they’re going to cover half my face and hang out below my nose, those whiskers ought to smell nice, too.

A little bit goes a long way. Feared Beard VT beard balms come in 1 oz. tins ($16, from their web site) and are available in such far-flung locales as Jamaica, VT, Silver Lake, CA, and Canmore, Alberta. A full list of shops carrying Feared Beard VT can be found on their site.

Feared Beard VT also produces beard oils in the same scents as their balms, as well as hand made soaps — saponified, cured, packed and shipped in-house — featuring detoxifying clay with cedarwood or exfoliating coffee and oatmeal with vetiver and bergamot. In addition, boxed gift sets are available, with your choice of balm and oil along with a spiffy “Fear the Beard” wooden comb for even distribution.

My beard has been repeatedly frozen and has come close to bursting into flames several times over the last six months but it smells nice and remains soft and shiny, even after all that abuse. Feared Beard VT got my beard through a Vermont winter so I reckon it can get yours (or that of a loved one) through whatever it is you/they do, whether working at an office, in a circus, or even mom’s basement (get it together, man).

Smelling Good (We’ll see how the black flies like it in a few weeks)

Go ahead, grow that beard and wear it with pride. Fret not; Feared Beard VT will help keep it in good shape and smelling nice, too.

That link, one more time, in case you missed it the first seven times: Feared Beard VT

Disclaimer: Feared Beard VT did not approach me to do this review. It was completely my idea. I’ve had a couple of email exchanges with Kyle Donovan, the mad scientist behind the curtain and, other than a rather nebulous and non-committal mention of a possible cedarwood-scented balm, there is nothing in it for me. We’re supposed to write about what we know and I know beards. So does Feared Beard VT.


Other reviews that have appeared on this blog:

Book Review — “By a Thread, a Retrospective on Women and Fly Tying” by Erin Block

Food — Sugar Bob’s Finest Kind Smoked Maple Syrup in “A Visit to Sugar Bob’s”

Bamboo Fly Rod — “Bamboopalooza, Part I: Fall River Rods ‘South Fork’ is Not Your Grandfather’s Rod”

A Box of Miscellaneous Stuff from Joe Wolf — “Outdoor Blogger Network Gear Review: A Box of Stuff from Joe”

Flies — “Owl Jones Flies (But Don’t His Arms Get Tired?)”

Shappell Jet Sled — “Shappell Jet Sled — Review”

Who’s next? I can wreck boots and rip pants with the best of them and am equally at home putting rain suits and fly rods alike through their paces.

And, because this year’s “Flashback Friday Shaving Edition” will be delayed indefinitely, here’s a link to the one from 2014; sort of a flashback flashback:

Flashback Friday Shaving Edition: Chuck Heard a Scream

Happy spring, everyone!



Categories: Product and Gear Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “For People with Beards, and Those Who Love Them

  1. kengortowski441

    There are people that don’t like the smell of patchouli?

    I don’t question the motives of those that wear it, but after reading the ingredient lists of some of these, I do question what they might have been partaking in to come up with these combinations.

    Sounds like munchies recipes that got a bit out of hand.

    • Well, they don’t taste very good, I can tell you that. Smell is supposed to be an important part of taste but, in the case of beard balms, it doesn’t help at all.

      I’m agitating for a cedarwood-scented balm but starting to think maple syrup would be nice, too.

      I don’t know the details of the brainstorming sessions these came from but, considering they took place in Burlington, VT, I’d say someone has exercised a great deal of restraint.

  2. Idaho Steel

    Hmmm… I guess I’m on the fence about this one. I haven’t bothered to shave since shortly after I haired over. In that time, the ‘ol hedge has occasionally developed some character, but I never actually considered putting anything in it on purpose…

    I do have some ideas on how to expand the customer base beyond the extremely secure and/or chai latte crowd: “Wood chips -n- bar oil” might be a good one, as well as the ever popular “6013 electrode smoke” (and you wonder how I developed that patchwork look???) Not too sure about “transmission fluid and dirt”, but I gotta put a new clutch in the truck tomorrow, so I’ll run that one past the missus. We’ll get back to ya.

    • There is certainly something to be said for a more natural approach to what we loosely refer to as grooming but not everyone enjoys such freedom, the poor schmucks.

      “Wood chips-n-bar oil” has an allure to it but you and I both know that proper application requires more noise and work (gasp) than most would be willing to tolerate, even if provided with (optional) safety gear. Some of the new vegetable-based bar oils might satisfy some of the greener crowd and two-stroke exhaust beats the heck out of some of those bathroom scents that come in cans, so you might just be onto something here.

      I look forward to hearing what your transmission fluid focus group has to say, especially with dirt as the secret ingredient.

  3. Idaho Steel

    Unfortunately, when I presented to the focus group, she just shook her head and pointed towards the bathroom… I guess we can scratch that one off.

    On the positive side, as I was lying under the truck expanding my (already extensive) lexicon of helpful adjectives, I came up with a brilliant idea to present to a focus group consisting of Ford Motor Co. engineers. However, as it consists of the improper application of a torque wrench and a quart of DOT-3 brake fluid , it probably aint suitable for public discussion…

    By the way, the focus group claims grooming is a lost cause in certain quarters, and we’re now to shoot for “maintenance hygiene.”

    • I myself have been directed by my focus group to the outside spigot and garden hose when something seemed like a good idea at the time.

      A mechanic friend, looking at my New Holland tractor, once said, “There’s your problem right there; it’s a Ford.” I’d be willing to improperly apply a torque wrench to a group of their engineers, too, since mine usually serves only to let me know when I’ve over-applied said torque. Snapping the head off a bolt is my other way to know, no special tools needed. Improper application of brake fluid is another thing all together, although I’ve heard it’s a little more tangy than No. 2 fuel oil.

      Sometimes maintenance is the best one can hope for, or at least no net loss. Good luck with that.

  4. I love my beard and would love to grow a gandalf beard. Really good blog.

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