What's That Smell?

One of Damn Yankee Beard Company’s founding tenets is “100% Bullshit Free.” To that end, I’m starting a series of blog posts to shed some light on beard care, beard care products, and Damn Yankee Beard care products, specifically. So, let’s kick things off with the first thing you probably notice about a beard oil or balm – the fragrance.

First and foremost, fragrance is a subjective, personal thing. What smells amazing to me might induce projectile vomiting for you. Case in point – patchouli. I like it in moderation. My wife, however, can’t stand the smell of it. Her chief complaint is that patchouli smells like something you spray to cover up the fact that you were just out in the garage firing one up. Fair enough. It does remind me a bit of my college dorm, but that’s another story. Also, the amount of fragrance is a personal choice. For the good of my colleagues, I try not to go to the office smelling like I’ve just stepped away from a roaring house fire. So, while I prefer a lighter scent, some guys like to be face punched by their beard oil. I get it – everybody’s different.

The scent in a beard care product comes either from essential oils or fragrance oils. The difference may or may not be important to you, but it is good at least to know the difference. Essential oils are the result of extracting the oil from a natural material. This is usually done through steam distillation. Basically, this is steaming a bunch of plant material until the essential oil and hydrosol separate from the plant and can be collected. Here’s the thing – it takes a shitload of plant material to extract a relatively small amount of essential oil. That’s why legitimate essential oils are super expensive. That fact also created a huge market online for fake or adulterated essential oils. How can you tell if an essential oil is fake? Well, without paying for gas chromatography, you can’t, but there are some telltale clues. Look at the price. If you find a 10ml bottle of “essential oil” on Amazon for $6.00, you can rest assured all is not as it appears. Though there may be a small amount of actual essential oil in the bottle, it most likely has been adulterated with other substances, which allows the manufacturer to produce a more cost-effective product. That’s great for your wallet, but you’re not getting the real deal. Most legitimate essential oils cost at least $20-30 per 10ml bottle, depending on the source and the manufacturer. Again, this may or may not be important to you, but I do think it’s important for you to have as much information as possible about what you’re putting on your skin.

The other type of scent is a fragrance oil. Rather than coming from a natural source, fragrance oils are man-made compounds, usually created for household products. A lot of people hear the word “synthetic” and freak out. After all, who wants a bunch of chemicals on their skin, right? Relax. First, you probably encounter synthetic fragrances every day of your life, but never pay much attention. Ask yourself this question: Did I use any of the following products today? Soap, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, fabric softener, deodorant, cologne, perfume…the list goes on. What do they all have in common? Synthetic fragrances. Like them or not, it’s difficult to live modern life without regular exposure to synthetic fragrances. On the plus side, there is an entire industry devoted to creating these fragrances and making sure they are safe to use. Most manufacturers of synthetic fragrances have Material Safety Data Sheets available for their products, which detail the components of a product.

So, here’s the bottom line – there’s good and bad to both fragrance types. Essentials oils are all natural, but they are expensive, and many are adulterated with synthetic compounds to make them more cost-effective. Essential oils also tend to hold their bottom note longer, so you’ll still smell many essential oils hours after you put them on. But, there are only so many essential oils you can use to create beard care products. That’s why you tend to see companies putting out similar scents to their products. On the other hand, synthetic fragrance oils offer me, as a manufacturer, a lot more options to create products for the marketplace. For example, my signature tobacco leather scent (Pawpaw’s Chair) would not be possible with essential oils.

Using both essential and fragrance oils gives me the ability to offer you a lot more options for your beard. Rest assured, though, that whichever you choose, every effort has been made to be clear about the ingredients. Each product on the Damn Yankee website clearly states whether that product is made using essential oils, fragrance oils, or both. And if you ever have questions, I am always available to help. That’s what 100% Bullshit Free is all about.


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