We create our respective environments through the appropriation of rituals and routines that elevate our experiences to the comforting and pervasive notion that we are not simply living day-to-day; but instead, we are living LIVES.
Taking an object and filtering it through your own circumstances makes it even more your own, maybe even an extension of your very self-expression. For instance, devoted Brooklyn Groomer* Jayne (@Janewithawhy) tweeted us recently, having shined her shoes with our Mustache Wax.
Jayne's idea is ingenious. And not only because her shoes looked good-as-new after her stroke of #poorpeoplecreativity, but also because her mustache wax (purchased, presumably, for reasons other than to shape a 'stache) is now uniquely her own. Thanks, Jayne, for sharing your revelation.
Dual Functionality. It's all around us.
As we discussed way back in July, "Dual functionality is a masterpiece of a verbal construction used to describe an object’s ability to serve (useful) purposes beyond its original intent."
A matchbook under a wobbly table leg, the safety pins holding together a favorite backpack, the opened envelope you wrote your last grocery list on: these are all simple, unnoticed symbols of the human condition. We take what we are given, and we weave it into the fabric of our lives.
I found a "hanging jewelry organizer" recently for $5.99 at Lot Less, and though I am not a collector of jewelry, at least not the kind I'd want to hang in a closet, I found the most indispensable use for that tacky thing.
After a little re-purposing, $5.99 became priceless. Imagine the chaos that was my night-stand before my "jewelry organizer" became the Grooming Expert's Best Friend.
So I say to you my friends, let not labels and directions rule your life. Approach situations as opportunities and objects as potential tools. As for Brooklyn Grooming's multi-functional products, I have some ideas for you:
Besides Jayne's clever employment of Brooklyn Grooming Mustache Wax as an impromptu shoe polish, lately I have been using the wax to give myself a faux beard-trim when I don't have time to clip it and line it up. You know how sometimes you wake up and your beard has gotten out-of-control seemingly overnight? You don't need a trim every time! I glue my beard down with the sticky, adhesive wax and---presto---the appearance of a trim!
Soon to hit Brooklyn Grooming shelves (spoiler alert) is a new product called Pilgrim's Hair Tonic, a fabulous moisturizer and leave-in conditioner that aids in the application of pomades and other styling products. But ever since I picked up swimming for fitness at my gym, I've been using it as the perfect seal of protection against the damaging effects of prolonged chlorine exposure. My hair is better than ever since I started applying Pilgrim's before & after my swims.
I absolutely swear by Brooklyn Grooming's Gentlemen's Facial Serum. I use it after I shower, after washing my face, after "Treatment Tuesday" facial festivities with my aesthetician friend and colleague. You remember, Aiyani, don't you? Anyway, aside from its intended use as champion and balancer of the facial skin, it works great for dry, cracked cuticles and those winter-weather-weary knuckles. Come on men, I'm not telling you to go for mani-pedis, but it's time to pay attention to your hands.
Stay tuned to the blog for more ideas on how Brooklyn Grooming's products can make your life exponentially better. And if you've discovered any dual functions with your own BG items, please let us know in the comments section below!
Or send us a tweet to @BKGrooming
Till next week...
Recently I met an ambitious artist-curator who is hard at work planning an exhibition to coincide with International Women's Day next spring. The show is called She Views Herself: Emerging Women Artists and the Self-Portrait, and explores themes of gender politics, women's roles in societies and globally variant standards of beauty. I'm talking heavy stuff. Instagram selfies these ain't!
Being a card-carrying phylogynist, and a member of the more privileged sex, it is sometimes easy for me to ignore the uphill climb toward equality and identity that women have had to negotiate since antiquity. Men have had no societal marginalization to rebel against, no systematic disenfranchisement to suffer through and there's no record I can find of any widespread cultural misandry.
So I got to thinking, what sort of themes would an exhibition comprised of exclusively male self-portraits explore?
Egotism? Vice? Sexual Conquest?
And then it hit me: A Chronicle of Men's Grooming Practices Throughout Western History. So join me on a tour of our virtual Brooklyn Grooming Gallery...
Dear Sloan,I've had a beard for as long as I can remember. I'm at just about 6 months with no trimming of any kind. Quite frankly, I don't even remember what my chin looks like. What I have a problem in is, the area just below my bottom lip, the 'Chin & Soul Patch' area if you will, is pretty scarce of hair. How can I get the vellus hairs to become terminal? Because there are plenty of follicles there, just not developed yet.
Would you say that the beard balm would help boost the process of growing the beard hair? And if so, what would you recommend, the Classic Beard Balm, or the Vegan Beard Balm?
I'd like to take a moment to thank you for letting that thing run wild and free for SIX MONTHS. Six months, ladies and gentlemen, Six Months! That's almost as good as returning to the wild and swinging by vine through the treetops a la Tarzan. I love it when men let nature take its course!
(Incidentally, has it occurred to anyone else how bizarre it was that Tarzan didn't even have stubble?)
Santino, my friend, in this case, too, you must let nature take its course.
I dealt with the same issue when my beard was young. I had lush fullness albeit in strap form from sideburn to sideburn. I had a reasonably full mustache. However it wasn't until my late twenties that they finally saw occasion to join forces and form the Pangaea of facial hair that would go on to get me this job. As I have mentioned before, patience is key when growing a beard.
But let's talk about vellus and terminal hair. I'm glad you brought these up. These are two of the three types of human hair (the third is lanugo and only grows on fetuses, sometimes remaining unshed up to 3 or 4 months after birth...gross!).
Terminal Hair (body hair) is the course, pigmented, deeply rooted hair that grows on our heads, faces, abdomens, arms, etc.
Vellus hair is the soft, translucent peach fuzz that grows everywhere else. We've all seen (and some of us have been) those adolescent boys with soft fuzzstaches they wear with pride, right? That's vellus hair. It is a key player in the body's thermoregulation and helps with sweat evaporation.
The age-old question is whether these vellus hairs can be transformed into terminal hairs as a means of ending baldness or growing beards. From the image above, it would seem that the vellus is simply the baby version of the terminal. In reality, vellus hairs, unlike their pigmented counterparts, are not connected to sebaceous glands, and are structured and rooted in completely different ways.
Some vellus hairs can mature into terminal hairs, but this transformation usually happens on its own, often during puberty or in the years following.
These changes have been attributed to testosterone production in the body. That is, after all, the hormone that kicks puberty into overdrive. So to coax out the production of man-hair, I recommend activities that will increase testosterone production:
Sounds pretty fun right? For the most part, anyway. Do NOT use products like minoxidil on the face (I have read some real horror stories, even though hair growth sometimes did result).
One of the things I love about my beard is that it is in constant flux. It is a thing that still surprises me sometimes (wait a minute...I have hair all over my face!?). So, Santino, appreciate your beard for what it IS, what it means to you, and remember those poor fellows who can't even grow one at all.
I'm now in my early thirties and Pangaea is in full swing. I look more like Tarzan than Tarzan. One day, you will too. Patience, my friend, is a virtue.
And as for our Classic Beard Balm, I recommend it wholeheartedly. We have long established that a moisture-rich environment is the most welcoming launching pad for baby hair. The difference between the Vegan Beard Balm and the Classic Beard Balm is beeswax versus candelilla wax. Both balms are formulated to cling to the beard providing protection and all-day moisture.
Keep us posted on the progress of your budding beardlet!
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In this business, nothing inspires me more than a conscientious consumer. It is people like you who make the marketplace go 'round. Never buy something simply because a magazine tells you to. Research. Ask. Find out how you will best benefit from the spending of your own money.
In my observation, pomade is used to serve one of two major purposes:
1. To Texturize.
In order to achieve a look that incorporates body and movement into the overall aesthetic, pomade can help to shape the hair without shellacking it. I'm thinking this might be what you mean when you say are looking for a product that "gives the hair separation." Texture, or separation (of locks), adds clarity to your 'do and brings a measure of order to a deconstructed, casual or informal look that could otherwise appear slovenly.
When shooting simply for "texture," it's important to remember that you want a natural appearance. I like to rub pomade between the fingers*** and then softly run my fingers through my hair two or three times to let it "separate" itself. No combs! Fingers only!
***By "between the fingers" I mean between the index & the middle finger, between the middle finger & the ring finger, and between the ring finger & the pinky: if you have pomade all over your palms you're going to over-do it. Go easy.
2. To Varnish.
Some fellows (and women, too, of course) appreciate the confidence afforded by knowing that the hair tonight will look exactly as it did this morning; that is, the less movement the better. This look takes a little more product (enough to literally coat every lock of hair) and the masterful use of a simple comb. If it's the Clark-Kent-Danny-Zuko hair that you're after, there's a lovely example of pomade's varnish effect in the slideshow on our new redesigned homepage), then palming the pomade is A-OK. Never mind relegating it to the fingers. Be liberal. Then it's High-Shine here we come!
Our pomade replaces the traditional use of animal fats and the modern reliance on pore-clogging petrolatum with the slick, silky sheen proffered by unrefined beeswax, shea butter and moisture-rich argon oil. And as for washing out easily, I expect what you're after, Mike, is a product that won't build up on your scalp.
Well, that is the beauty of using Brooklyn Grooming's Old School Pomade: it's all-natural, oil-base simply absorbs into the hair and scalp. It will never clog the pores of the scalp and it will never build up. You'll never have to worry about chemical reactions happening, like when you introduce some synthetic spackle to your hair: this stuff is organic, and so are you.
As I've often said here on the blog, I only shampoo about once a month, but I keep my hair healthy and beautiful with our pomade, which, for me, also functions as a leave-in conditioner to seal in moisture and stave off the negative effects of the environment.
Try it out. I know you'll like it!
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I have two questions please.What is the difference between Red Hook and Fort Greene, and how are they applied to the beard? (Recommended by Men's Health magazine).
I love your questions because they bring me back to basics. I've been using, experimenting with, touting and in love with these products for so long that I sometimes forget they are still new to some people. So I'll get down off my esoteric high-horse for just one minute and say this: Welcome to the Brooklyn Grooming Collective.
A little background:
Red Hook and Fort Greene are but two of many neighborhoods in the sprawling and populous Kings County, New York. Brooklyn---as it's more commonly known---is the crown prince in the New York City Borough Dynasty. Since gentrification and the skyrocketing cost of living in Manhattan has pushed many young artists, creatives and fringe forward-thinkers from the Downtown scene into Brooklyn, over the last two decades or so the borough has taken on an identity of its own. No longer simply a "suburb," it is sanctuary, harbor and refuge to a burgeoning enclave of Nouvelle New Yorkers who seem to embrace a sense of community, history, simplicity and truth.
Don't get us wrong, we LOVE Manhattan and its denizens: there's nothing like the thrill of the Rat Race and the bright-lights-big-city-bustle. I once heard it phrased this way:
In Manhattan people ask "What do you do?" / In Brooklyn people want to know who you are.
So now onto our SIGNATURE SCENTS:
Red Hook is the historic home to factories, warehouses, a naval yard and a cruise terminal. In one word I would call its namesake fragrance SWASHBUCKLING. As you apply it you may notice its scent is sweet and reminiscent of cinnamon, but as the fragrance settles its earthier base of cardamom and spicy Bay Rum are what lingers.
Fort Greene has a varied musical history with clubs, recording studios and musicians long calling the neighborhood home. The fragrance is a deep earthen spice grounded in rosemary and juniper and rounded out by bergamot and lavender. It's my favorite of our three signature scents,
(and don't forget Williamsburg)
As for how to apply them to the beard, there are two products we make that are specifically for beards, the Whiskers Beard Oil and the Classic Beard Balm.
Have a look HERE for a short video in which i demonstrate the simple application of Red Hook Beard Oil.
And HERE for directions for the Classic Beard Balm.
Last week I visited a barber shop in Tribeca on Church St (I wont get any more specific) and received the worst haircut of my life. I wanted a loose, shock of hair to wave about the top of my head in the cool autumn breeze. I love it when a gust of wind separates one of my luscious locks and encourages the pega-rapaz effect, knowwhatimsayin? I wanted this long hair on top to fade down to sides and back buzzed on a #2. Not too difficult, right? Well, i ended up looking like a mushroom.
So I dug deep for the answer...
Way back in October of 1987 Men's Guide to Fashion (MGF) published this lovely issue featuring an article entitled "13 Grooming Disasters & Fast Ways to Beat Them."
My oh my, how things have changed! (And some have stayed the same)
"Grooming Disaster" number one talks about ways to fix a "hair massacre" at the salon. The article quotes a still-active stylist in NYC (thanks, Facebook) as saying this:
"After you break all the furniture in your apartment, sit down and try to relax. Then, get in the shower and shampoo your hair all over again. Towel dry and let your hair dry naturally. Start off by adding a little mousse, then blow dry it. If it still looks bad, try a little gel for a wet look and slick it all back."
Listen, Children, DON'T YOU DARE! I have to remember the 80s was a time of gels and products and horribly tailored tweeds over chambrays and with satin ties. So I won't say this stylist was wrong, per se. But by today's standards of beauty, and given the modern tendency toward natural looks and products, I gotta tell you: Do not fight product with product (mousse, then gel?!). And never---but NEVER---shampoo twice in one day. And then blow dry? Really!
This solution to a hair massacre seems to me like hair murder. (But then we know how I feel about over-shampooing, and over-grooming on the whole.)
But on the other hand, the article goes on to mention some timeless wisdom about haircare:
"Hair follicles are nourished by blood, so hair is healthiest when a well-balanced diet is supplying proper nourishment to the blood stream. Make sure your hair is getting the nutrients it needs."
And after my "hair massacre" last week, my dear friend Elisa, Executive Manager of the Arrojo Cosmetology School, wisely told me:
"The difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut is two weeks."
So it's about being patient. You can't look perfect everyday, God knows. And if you do, then you're just not human. Or you're Mary Hart.
Have you had any hair massacres? Did you ever just shave and start all over? Sound off in the comments section below...and have a look, just for kicks, at some more grooming advice from MGF, October 1987! (shaving your under-eye skin! Gross!)
P.S. Can l tell you how fun it is reading a fashion magazine heralding the "newest looks" from a quarter-century ago? (Lowered buttons on double-breasted suits to show off NEW wider ties!)
Dear Sloan,Was wondering if you could help me out. The guy I am with has a fantastic beard, but for the love it is razor sharp! The length has been changed up to accommodate, but no luck. He is a picky guy when it comes to smells and products. I am curious if there is a local place where I reside that sells your products. If not I am very interested in what you might recommend for a mild smelling beard softening product. I really like the ingredients in red hook, are they overpowering or linger for long time? Thanks so much for your help.---Face on FireDear Face on Fire,I love that you recognize the beard as "fantastic" even though it has rendered you a burn victim. You're obviously a good girl. And as all good girls know, Beauty Before Comfort, Honey.But there is hope.I wonder how the length was affecting the texture of the hair? When you had him change the length was there a difference in the burn factor? By what means was the length changed?Clipping, shaving or otherwise cutting the hair leaves each fiber with a blunt edge that, when spread across the face in numbers great enough to comprise a "fantastic" (read: thick, dense) beard, probably creates a grizzly garden of needles rather than the tufts of luxuriant fur today's beards should and can be.I can't tell you the number of men I talk to who say to me how much they'd love to have a beard, "But, you know, my woman..."FoF, you give me renewed hope. But, as the accommodating and understanding lover of a bearded fellow, you deserve to have him meet you halfway. All he needs to do is moisturize that thing regularly with the right products and change a few of his habits...As we all know, the most effective time to moisturize is just after a shower since pores are open and cuticles of the hair are relaxed and receptive. What we forget though is this is also a time when hair and skin are most vulnerable.I'll bet his thick, heavy beard holds lots of water; probably it's the last thing to dry post-shower. This tendency may have led him to take his (possibly overused-between-washings and therefore less-than-clean) towel and scrub the beard dry as though it were a wet pot at the scullery.Well, it isn't a cast iron Dutch oven we're talking about here: it's a delicate and vulnerable symbol of his masculinity to be handled with the TLC not unlike that which I'm sure he applies to his scrotum.He must pat the beard dry, preferably with a clean tee-shirt or cloth napkin as terry cloth is so ultra-absorbent it may suck away what natural oils manage to remain after showers that are probably both too hot and too frequent.By the same token, he should replace his current pillow cases with silk ones. Silk lacks the absorbent qualities of cotton and linen that silently strip his beard of its precious moisture all through the night. (I always say we as a society have a lot to learn from black women, most of whom wrap their hair in silk nightly without fail.)There's also face-washing. Many of us shower once daily but wash our faces twice or more. Cleansers designed for the skin should not be applied to the hair. Would you ever shampoo with a bar of Dial? I don't think so. So when washing the face, have him avoid the beard. When we wash our faces, we are rinsing away both the particulate of the day and the face's oily reaction to it. Remember the beard is a filter and a mask, so the skin underneath it is protected from the elements and therefore won't require as much cleansing.And finally: reintroducing moisture to the burly Brillo boyfriend's barba will be my final prescription. Brooklyn Grooming's Whiskers Beard Oils and Classic Beard Balms incorporate the antioxidant sesame oil and miracle cure-all hempseed along with moisture-enhancing jojoba and argon oils. If he's picky about fragrances, he could try our COMMANDO line which is unscented. Or try the just-released Beard Oil Sampler Kit with all 4 of our fragrances for just $29.00. That way he can decide for himself which scent is his before committing to an entire bottle of any of them.For a list of stores featuring our products, check the RETAILERS link at brooklyngrooming.comIf he follows these simple suggestions, in a couple weeks you'll see improvement, in a month you'll be wallowing in the lush forest that is his face, and finally you'll be free from the masochistic joys and practical terrors of Beard Burn.Thanks!Sloan***UPDATE: Face on Fire informed us that her fellow was trimming about every other day to maintain his "relatively short...full beard." To this I say: LET IT GROW. What I enjoy most about my beard is that it is in constant flux. FoF: if he's trimming that often, he never allows the hair fibers' edges to dull from the electric clipper. If he MUST trim that often (incidentally I recommend twice a month) may I recommend he use scissors instead, AT LEAST for the sections that come in contact with your face et cetera, presumably the mustache and areas surrounding the mouth.But his best bet is to trim LESS OFTEN: if the hair is long enough to LIE DOWN, they may still be sharp from trimming, but at least they won't be pointing right at you!FoF has promised to update us again in a few weeks about the progress of her Bearded Beau and his hazardous kisses.FoF: PLEASE DO. And send pics. Why not?~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~Do YOU have something to #AskSloan? Contact him via twitter @GawkyHeartthrob or send an email to email@example.com.