Sometimes I get sent things to review.
And then sometimes, I sort of accidentally win things.
Generally this will happen when I spot something on Twitter, think ‘ohh one of my followers might fancy this’ and automatically press the retweet button.
Cue a few days later, receiving a message that I’ve won! Which is a lovely and unexpected surprise – but not always appropriate.
And whilst I’ve spoken of my love of beard (I’ve just managed to persuade Mr GFB to grow one after 9 years – it took me 3 to persuade him to grow a goatee), I don’t actually have one of my own.
Luckily, I know a lovely chap with a very handsome one. Chris, it’s all yours.
Those who know me will know i’ve been denying being a hipster for years. I mean, I wear socks, I’m not covered in tattoos up to my fucking neck (welcome to a career working in the service industry, all those 20 year olds with barely a square inch of bare skin), I’ll never fit in a pair of skinny jeans, nor would I want to, I don’t ride a fixie, i really don’t care about the provenance of my coffee, I have no real passion for ‘craft’ ale, and my music tastes would be considered rather pedestrian by most hipsters.
The evidence for? I live not far from Manchester’s Northern Quarter, I have a growing collection of vinyl records (although whilst not quite mainstream, still popular enough), I work in a creative industry (the kind of place that employs social media experts), I do have tattoos, but the most condemning fact is I have a beard. A medium-large beard. I’ve had various beards for the past 20 years though. I proudly sported a goatee in the 90s, during my late teens/early 20s grunge era. I had near mutton chop-esque sideburns for most of the nonfull bearded past 25 years, and until the past few years, I was avoided in the street due to my face fuzz. I’m not slating the current vogue for Canadian lumberjack style beards, it’s given me the excuse to grow my own beard to larger proportions. But one of the advantages of the trend is the influx of beard care products on the market, in particular beard oils.
Yeah, it all sounds a bit metrosexual, and I’ve never been one for extensive grooming, or skin care (in fact, one of the many reasons I stopped shaving and grew a beard was a combination of thick hair meant regular shaving cut me to shreds, no matter what I tried). But there’s a fine line between hero and hobo when it comes to grand hirsute pursuits, and some care and attention is required. A good beard oil softens, and conditions. And a very good one smells fucking lovely. I’ve tried quite a few over the last couple of years.
Chater Vane oil (so it says on the bottle) is a ‘Grooming Tonic’, it’s a facial moisturiser, a shaving
serum, and a beard oil. ‘Soothing, cleansing, nourishing’, and I can’t help but hear *Tom Waits’ ‘Step
“That’s right, it filets, it chops, it dices, slices,
Never stops, lasts a lifetime, mows your lawn
And it mows your lawn and it picks up the kids from school
It gets rid of unwanted facial hair, it gets rid of embarrassing age spots,
It delivers a pizza, and it lengthens, and it strengthens
And it finds that slipper that’s been at large
under the chaise lounge for several weeks
And it plays a mean Rhythm Master,
It makes excuses for unwanted lipstick on your collar
And it’s only a dollar, step right up, it’s only a dollar, step right up”
Ok, it doesn’t do all of those things, and it’s not a dollar. It’s got an eye dropper lid, which gives it something some of the other oils I’m familiar with don’t have, and that’s really a good idea. It’s subtly perfumed, I like a bit of fragrance, but I’ve never really wanted to smell like a tart’s handkerchief to be honest, so more bonus points. I can only review it on it’s effectiveness as a beard oil, of course, I don’t shave. And it performs very well. A few drops daily, fresh from out the shower, and my fur is soft and friendly, knot free, and brushes well. My special lady friend** complemented me on its fragrance and it’s feel to the touch. Ok, love, that’s enough, I’ve got to get to work, get your fingers out of my beard.
There is a whole twitter hashtag campaign on the @Chatervane account, #youlooklikeshit and #youlookgreat, which I don’t really quite understand, maybe it’s a hipster thing. The actual hashtags that is, not the concept of hashtagging, obviously. And for you pogonophiles, an account of follower submitted beard photos. I can’t fault Chatervane’s beard oil at all. I can’t say it was the best I’ve ever tried, but that is down to fragrance and personal opinion – we all have our own favourite perfumes and colognes, that’s a personal choice. Would I buy it? Yes. Would I exclusively buy it, forsaking all other beard oils? No. There’s a lot of choice out there, but it is amongst some of my favourites – I would say it’s a day-to-day oil, rather than a special occasion oil. If that makes sense.
Now excuse me, whilst I find some vintage brogues, a mismatch of ironic vintage clothing, an go see a foreign film, or some beat-poet performance, or a band that you won’t have heard about, whilst drinking vegan craft ale.***
*Ok, Tom Waits – that might be a little bit hipster…
**Big Lebowski quotes? Oh dear, that could be quite hipster.
*** I’m going to watch NCIS, in my dressing gown whilst drinking Jim Beam. Cos 3 it’s nice, and it’s really cheap at Aldi.
With thanks to Chris and Chater Vane for the images.