Notes on...

How to blend your own beard oil

6 August 2022

9:00 AM

6 August 2022

9:00 AM

Every few months I take out a box of essential oils and carefully lay them out on my kitchen table, organising them in order from sweet-smelling to musty. On the left will be scents like juniper berry, lime, frankincense and bergamot; in the middle, woodish fragrances such as sandalwood and cedarwood; on the right, the darker stuff of patchouli and pine needle – and occasionally, when I’m feeling brave in my endeavour to make the perfect beard oil, lavender.

Next I fill several large vials with a mixture of carrier oils, usually almond, jojoba and argan (and normally with almond making up the bulk as it’s the cheapest). I then begin mixing in various essential oils: a dash here, a dash there. There’s no science to my method, just free-pouring and nose work, as I bob around like some sort of Willy Wonka-style perfumier.

I make some vials sweeter and others darker, even broodier. My mood in the morning – and often the weather – will dictate which vial gets used. Virtually all contain cedarwood and lime: two ingredients I consider vital.

I’ve had a large beard for a decade now – ever since I could grow one properly when I was about 20. My fiancée hasn’t seen me beardless in the eight years we’ve been together. (That’s probably no bad thing – a beard is a convenient way of covering up a double chin.) And I’m not alone: an increasing number of Brits sport facial hair. The most recent research shows 18 per cent of men with full beards, up seven percentage points in five years.

But the trouble with beards is that they get itchy. Two colleagues in the Spectatoroffices have recently grown them (no doubt largely inspired by me) and both have complained of itchiness. The only solution is oil: after showering you need to pour a healthy amount in the palms of your hands, rub them together and run the oil through your facial hair. And thanks to the recent heatwaves, it’s never been more important to use the stuff; hot weather makes beards itchier than usual.

With so many men now wearing beards, it’s little surprise that beard-grooming is big business. The data-analysis firm IRI estimates that the UK market is worth at least £5 million, and it’s still growing rapidly. Beard oil forms a significant chunk of this industry, and it’s not cheap. You don’t get much change from £50 for 60ml of a premium brand like Le Labo. Less fancy brands cost around £20. With a big beard like mine, a lot of oil is required, so it becomes an expensive pastime.

Which is why I came to create my own. When I was in my early twenties and skint, I was complaining about the cost of oil to my barber, who told me it was easy enough to make yourself. Some essential oils cost just a few pounds (others like frankincense are pricier) and carrier oils are pretty cheap too. In the years since, I’ve never looked back, often stealing ideas for combinations from the bottles on sale in the shops.

I’ve never sold any of my mixtures. Yet I’m probably missing a trick. Perhaps my two colleagues could become my first clients.

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