If you’ve been social distancing from your razor, you probably have a full crop of facial hair. In fact, these so-called “quarantine beards” are enough of a style trend that even the New York Times has covered them.
But with restrictions beginning to loosen, especially here in Manitoba and in Canada, you might find that it is time to tame that beard.
Dr. Christopher Schneider, a sociology professor at Brandon University who initially started studying beards when he grew his own out, says that many first-time beard owners sometimes don’t realize how much maintenance facial hair requires to look good.
“There’s a very encouraging and supportive community of beard-growers online, which is fascinating and rewarding to research. They are welcoming and generous with their tips on growing, grooming and styling,” Dr. Schneider says. “There’s a whole panoply of beard-specific tools and product, including beard oil, which keeps your whiskers soft, manageable, and smelling great. For first-timers, I also suggest getting a professional trim to help shape your beard, and to make sure that your mask fits well.”
Now, Dr. Schneider is collaborating with one online beard business on a beard oil that was inspired by the fall feeling of the start of the academic year.
“My hope was to capture that crisp sweet autumn back-to-campus fragrance, with a rumpled tweed kind of feel,” he said. “Even though we are going to be online this fall, there is something special about the season. And we all know how smells can trigger strong memories. I hope it will evoke great fall memories for all beard-bearers.”
The beard oil is a blend, featuring a cedarwood overtone with vanilla and tobacco leaf undertones. Called “The Professor,” the scent is the result of a non-commercial partnership with Nickel City Beard Blends.
“I reached out to the incredibly talented Dr. Schneider after stumbling upon his interesting beard research and his other scholarly books — not to mention photos of his majestic white beard,” says Steph Paquin of Nickel City. “What better person to partner up with and collaborate on a new beard oil scent!”
“Nickel City first contacted me just prior to the pandemic to see if I was interested in reviewing some of their beard oils and balms. What stuck out about Nickel City Beard Blends, for me, was that they donated a portion of every sale to charity,” Dr. Schneider says. “During the initial pandemic quarantine, they sent me some of their products to sample and provide some feedback in the form of a blog. In the spirit of their generosity, I donated the full retail value of these products to local charities.”
That’s when inspiration struck to create a custom, academic-inspired beard oil.
“The mechanics of actually creating a beard oil were completely new to me,” Dr. Schneider says, adding that due to travel restrictions it was largely done by mail, with Paquin sending samples for Dr. Schneider to assess. “Having a hand in the creation process was not only a fun project, it also gave me some additional insight into my developing beard research.”
That research will be on display for anyone who pre-orders the scent: Dr. Schneider is preparing a Zoom lecture on his beard research that he’ll present to purchasers.
In some ways, the hardest piece of the puzzle was the name.
“‘The Amateur Pogonotropher’ was floated since it was part of the name of my published research paper on beards, but thank goodness that was quickly vetoed!” Dr. Schneider laughs. “We also discussed the possibility of naming it after another sociologist who sported a big bushy white beard, Karl Marx, or some other famed sociologist.”
Ultimately, he says, “it was suggested that since I had chosen the scents and the final concoction that the beard oil be named just ‘The Professor.’”
While he is not making any money from the new product, Dr. Schneider said it is another unexpected, but welcome, outgrowth from his original beard-growing decision. And it can be used on your hair as well as your beard (as he does).
“As a sociologist, you are presented with opportunities for research just about anywhere you find people, and researching beards and the bearded community has been a fascinating experience to learn and connect with interesting people,” he says. “But it’s somewhat rare in sociology that your research leads to a creative outlet, and so I am doubly fortunate here.”
‘The Professor’ is available for pre-order at NickelCityBeardBlends.com with the tag line “Smell Smarter.”
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