The Grooming Journal

#AskSloan: Stinky from Cologne?

Dear Sloan,

I've been using one of your oils a few times and I have a weird issue with it.

I've bought the Williamsburg oil and at the first sign I was absolutely satisfied. My beard got really soft - that's what the oil should do ;)

I'm applying it before work in the morning, and in my home everything's fine. But after I get out of my house my beard and especially my hands start to smell really weird. I can say it really stinks.

At first I thought this is a general beard oil issue, so I tried other brands like 'Apothecary 87' which works really fine and smells good all day.Have you heard about it before? Is this a common issue? Do you have other oil products where this issue doesn't show up?


Daniel from Cologne, Germany


Dear Daniel,

I'm sorry the fragrance in our Williamsburg Beard Oil hasn't met your expectations. At first I thought the oil had gone rancid, perhaps from a long shipping period of being exposed to poor conditions. Over time, or when exposed to inordinate heat, fragrant essential oils can certainly "turn," a process that changes their inherent aromas.

But since you've noted that it smells fine at the time of application, that can't be the issue. Let's talk about how fragrances work.

Take a bottle of cologne, for instance. (By the way, the irony of your writing from Cologne, Germany, has not been lost on me.) When you spritz a fragrance onto a paper strip in a store to test the smell, what you immediately smell are its top notes. A few minutes later the smell evolves into a more distinct middle note. Finally, the scent will "settle" into its base note which is the scent that remains the longest before fading away completely.

The same process happens when fragrance is applied to the skin and hair. The difference, however, is that unlike the blank paper strip, your body's own chemical composition (acidity, pH balance, hormone levels, sweat, pheromones, etc.) begins interacting with the chemicals within the fragrance. Often the result is a new fragrance altogether.

Have you ever noticed that a fragrance or cologne can smell totally different depending on who's wearing it?

The Apothecary 87 beard oil works for you probably because it is more complementary (and complimentary) to your own individual enzymatic structure. Their oil has musky, balsamic top notes which fade to an earthy, wooden base note of patchouli. 

Williamsburg happens to work in a totally different way: it has wooden top notes of cedar which then relax into a mildly floral ylang ylang base note.

My advice is to gift the Williamsburg to ein bärtiger Freund whose body chemistry will allow him to appreciate it fully. (Or try it again in a few months: our bodies are always changing.)

And since you loved the softness that our oil gave you, try our Commando Beard Oil: there's no fragrance at all!

Thank you for your question.




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