I was very deliberate with the title for this post.
I've done a video on this; we've written about it in our newsletter. Now I get heavy into the details of why High Desert Man calls their method of using oil and balm a "best practice".
Summary on Oil
When I started HDM, I knew that I had to have a decent feel for the "lay-of-the-land" with regards to other offerings out there. The only way to do so is to get product - lots of product - from different companies out there; I've done this regularly. What you will typically notice are a lot of the same carrier oils. The main difference you will usually see between companies is the number of carriers they use.
Point #1: There is no added benefit from a higher number of oils – you're only going to get so much hydration, conditioning, moisturizing, etc. And it is preferred to stick with companies that offer the best carriers (Jojoba, Argan, a few others) and in particular, Jojoba oil. Why? Because it has been known and well documented to be the closest thing in nature to our natural body oil, sebum.
Point #2: Marketing hides facts – jojoba and argan are not only two of the best oils for your skin, they also happen to be among the most expensive oils, which brings us to why companies "market" 8, 10, even up to 15 or 20 carrier oils. They are hiding the fact that they are probably using very little of the expensive oils, because… well, they're expensive.
High Desert Man stick with four carriers, because our oil is as light, as absorbent and beneficial as anything else you will find, and likely more so. And we use a lot of both of those more expensive oils. It means our product has a higher cost to produce, but also that you are getting a higher quality product.
Summary of Balms
Balms are where we really start to get into differences, but still typically having one of two main properties (in my experience); either very soft (what I refer to as a hard or solid oil) or more on the hard / very solid end. Now typically, this property is primarily influenced by the amount of beeswax used (first) and / or the type of beeswax used. In my opinion, the only "benefit" one might get from a commercial beeswax a truer white color.
The wax is typically the ingredient that is going to give you hold and act as a binder of sorts for the tactile nature of the balm. More wax will likely give you more hold and a couple indicators of this will be how hard the product is in the tin and how hard it is to melt in your hands when you emulsify it.
Now, some balms use more of a lanolin base. Lanolin is an interesting ingredient because it is naturally sticky, so it will offer some hold as well. But in my experience, most of the lanolin based products out there seem to be aiming for something that is much softer. I like lanolin based products, not necessarily for hold, but just for the softness in my beard.
HogPhat is aimed specifically had providing the following qualities (in order):
Supreme Conditioning – ultimate softness in your beard
Moisturizing – Several customers of ours have specifically mentioned that their beard itch completely disappeared after using HogPhat, when other products didn't seem to help that particular issue. Dryness is what causes the itch (more on this in a bit)
Emulsification (is that a word?…) - the texture quality of HogPhat was very deliberate. In fact, I spent a couple months and several failed attempts to get this characteristic exactly where I wanted it.
Hold – HogPhat, because of the amount of beeswax we use and the combination with a huge amount of Shea butter offers some very decent hold
Finally, many balms will typically use that manufacturers base oil blend as well, but to very different amounts. But typically it is safe to assume that the beard oil that company Y produces, is also used in company Y's balm as one (collectively) of the ingredients.
So, one thing that all companies seem to agree on is when to apply product. After a shower, with a slightly damp beard. The reasons for this are:
- Your pores are opened up and your face is ready to absorb
- You've washed away sweat, oil build up and dirt that will naturally attract to your beard
- The fresh scent of oil or balm will perk you up and give you a brief little mental break
The High Desert Man difference
So here is where High Desert Man draws a line as to how and when to use Oil vs HogPhat (balm).
- Do NOT use oil and balm together!
- Use oil at night, or during the day, without a balm, if you want a lighter, more natural feel to your beard.
Being a night time shower person, I like going to bed fresh – it helps me sleep better. So I apply oil at night, a couple hours before bed and after I have showered. Using oil at night will hydrate your face and beard through the night and you will not wake up with the "crunchy beard" syndrome. In the morning, your beard will still feel soft and your face will feel good – not dry.
- Use a dropper applicator – Pay attention; you will thank me after exercising this just a few times.
How does your body / face hydrate your beard? With Sebum. And where does that Sebum come from? From the pores / follicles in your skin. Your body heat and gravity cause your natural oils to hydrate your face and work down the hair shaft to moisturize the beard. This is why many men get an itchy face when their beard gets beyond a certain length; your body isn't able to keep up with the production needed and your face dries out!
So where better to apply the oil, than to the point of origin? A dropper allows you to push in past the hair, right up against your face and you have complete control over how much goes where. After you apply several drops on different areas of your face, work it in – massage it in – to your face with your finger tips. This gets the oil into your pores and it will naturally spread through the beard as well. If you do this a couple hours before you hit the sack, your body head will cause that oil to work down the hair shaft, re-hydrating your beard.
- Use balm during the day and re-wet your face in the morning, before you apply.
- Remember what I said previously about most companies using their base oil blend in their balm products as well? Whatever benefits that oil is providing, you're already getting it by applying the balm, so why double-down? Plus, this will leave your beard feeling heavy and as soon as someone strokes your beard (there's always someone, isn't there?), they come away with a handful of stuff.
Now, at this point I will switch gears and speak only with regards to High Desert Man balms, because I know exactly how and why I formulated them the way I did.
HogPhat was tailored for producing a soft beard, healing and conditioning for your skin (the beeswax we use and Shea butter have incredible healing / antibacterial qualities) and a medium amount of hold. It will do just that! Other benefits of HogPhat are:
- Locally sourced, hand processed beeswax – our wax contains a lot of what is filtered out of commercial beeswax, typically to make the wax more pleasing to the eye. But with all this filtering they do, they pull out qualities that are extremely beneficial to your skin. Honey, propolis, and a natural pliancy that makes it supreme to commercial waxes
- High Desert Man base oil blend – we use a significant amount of our base oil blend – the same base that goes into our beard oils. This means that you are getting a great deal of hydration in HogPhat as well
I hope this information helps someone out there. It was a bit long-winded, for sure, but I have been wanting to get this information out for a while. I don't mean any disrespect to other companies out there – I use several other products every week. Mostly the ones that I like – I have purchased a number of others that I just don't care for and find them hard to wear.
If you give this method a try – with High Desert Man product, or with another brand, you will most likely notice a difference within a week. This is my personal, exclusive method now; the only other thing I do often is not wear anything at all, because I live and work on my farm and often my beard is going to be in the dirt at some point in the day anyway.