Ahh…remember the 80s? You could turn on the TV and see men and women sporting huge hair styles while listening to the latest Def Leppard cassette on their Sony Walkman. What a time… But as great as the 80s may have been, there were some nasty things going on in the grooming world… Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), along with a few other harmful chemicals were running wild in grooming products. How bad were they? These chemicals were largely responsible for the depleting the ozone layer. Yeah, it was that bad…
In fact, leaders around the world gathered and signed the Montreal Protocol that would put measures into place to cease the production of these harmful chemicals. Now, I will be the first to admit, I am not a huge environmentalist nor a conservationist, but I do tend to take a second to think about what is in a product before I click ‘Buy Now’. Sure, the vetting process might not be an hour long, but to see if the company is legitimate and has a relatively clean ingredient label are just a couple of things I look at before handing over a hard-earned dollar. And apparently, I am not alone…
A Focus On Ingredients
You don’t have to look far before you see an article stating that both men and women are starting to care more about what is in a product (Example 1 and Example 2). Whether it is a box of cereal or a beard oil, more and more folks are actually looking at the label a bit more closely to determine what the ingredients do. No longer is it required that you have a four-year degree in chemistry to try and figure out what PEG-40, Propylparaben, or Di-PPG-2 myreth-10 does to your hair or skin.
This seismic shift in behavior has given way to small businesses sprouting up and offering consumers quality products that only rely on a few, but very effective, natural ingredients. And they are leaving the conglomerates struggling to find their bearing. Take for instance this Utility Balm from Beardbrand, it only contains the following ingredients:
- Shea butter
- Mango seed butter
- Cocoa seed butter
- Jojoba seed oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Fragrance (essential oils)
All of these ingredients are naturally derived and can be easily researched to determine what they actually do. Check this out:
- The butters (shea, mango, cocoa): All are based on a nut or seed that acts as a natural emollient for your skin. This will help to keep your skin (and this case your beard) well hydrated throughout the course of the day. These ingredients also help give the Utility Balm some malleability.
- Lanolin (wool wax/grease): Collected from sheep (basically the sebum oil of their hair), this ingredient will help to protect your beard and skin from the natural environment it encounters daily.
- Oils (jojoba, apricot kernel): An additional moisturizing agent for your skin and beard, these oils naturally compliment your sebum oil and will help to both smooth your beard and reduce the occurrence of split ends.
- Fragrance (essential oils): These are the life of the party! They give products like the Utility Balm a terrific scent while also providing some secondary skin benefits.
- Beeswax: Acts as a natural protectant (just like a lip balm) for your skin and facial hair. Also gives light styling abilities.
If you are ever curious what other ingredients may do for your skin or hair, just a simple search on Wikipedia will point you in the right direction. They also have a glossary of ingredients on their website to show you what goes into the different products.
The Beard ‘Trend’ Helped To Accelerate The Growth Of The Natural Product Category
I roll my eyes every time I see a media company make a claim that the beard ‘trend’ is coming to the end. There is no trend per se in beard growth. Men have had facial hair since the hunter/gatherer days. There is absolutely nothing new with growing a beard. If anything, it likely ticked up in recent years due to the increased lax culture that work places are starting to adopt (thank goodness). In fact, just the other day NPD group published a finding that men now use more beard oil than they do aftershave – talk about a change in times!And secondly, with the marked increase of men sporting more facial hair, companies like Beardbrand came along and served up killer offerings of natural concoctions. But instead of just claiming to be natural, these products are also incredibly effective at squashing the pesky problems that many men were facing when growing a beard – namely beard flakes and beard itch.
It demonstrated to men that natural products can be just as effective in getting the job done. Now we are starting to see more natural products pop up in other men’s grooming categories like styling balms, sea salt sprays, soaps, shaving creams, and more. Even men today are starting to incorporate old school tools into their grooming regimen as evident with the renaissance of the safety razor in recent years. Simply put, men are getting back to the basics.
Where Are Natural Grooming Products Headed?
If the last couple of years are any indication, then without a doubt there will likely be a strong continued growth of naturally based products in the men’s grooming world for the foreseeable future. But, the largest shift I believe will be in the form of small(er) companies increasing their market share. With the continued prevalence of social media into our daily lives, founders of these grooming companies, such as Beardbrand, are now more accessible and helpful than ever before.
Just look at the Beardbrand YouTube channel as an example. So with that, I really can’t wait to see what these great companies have in store for us over the next couple of years. If they stick to their roots and develop clean and naturally based products, it will likely pay dividends for both our health and the environment for years to come.
Shawn is the founder of ToolsOfMen.com, a men’s lifestyle site that focuses on grooming, style, gear, and more. When Shawn isn’t writing, you will find him tinkering with new gadgets, hiking in the Hudson Valley, and spending some quality time with his family.