Trevor Williamson is no slouch when it comes to chemistry. Prior to founding Northern Fir Beard Co., Williamson was working on his PhD in material science and engineering at The University of Texas at Austin with experience in the lab focusing on developing high-performing materials with minimal environmental impacts. It’s easy to see how this background and training carried through to his newly-honed apothecary skills, leading to his amazing first product: Northern Fir Quality Beard Oil ($25).
Billed as an all-natural, great smelling beard oil that will have you feeling and smelling like a forester from the Northeast, Northern Fir beard oil really does lives up to its reputation. As Williamson says himself, “I have a background in chemistry and spent months perfecting the formulation, incorporating feedback from friends and family. My goal was to create a complex yet subtle scent while also optimizing the ingredients to hydrate the hair and soothe the skin It’s not a simple feat.” As a chemist and engineer, Williamson is refreshing in the way he describes his product from a research and manufacturing standpoint and the breadth and scope of his knowledge of natural oils is not easily overlooked.
How It’s Made
According to Williamson, the essential oils are all steam distilled and he offers a detailed look at how that process works: “Steam distillation involves placing the part of the plant that has been harvested (seed, kernel, leaf, flower, fruit, etc.) in a chamber through which steam is passed. The steam exits the top of the chamber along with the extracted oil, and the resulting mixture is cooled and condensed, leaving a mixture of oil and water in a collection chamber. The oil, which is lighter than water, floats to the top of the chamber, where it is collected.”
The raw ingredients for most of Northern Fir’s essential oils are harvested in countries where the plants are native, including India, Indonesia, and Australia. Once the the component oils arrive in Austin from Northern Fir’s supplier, “the correct proportions of each oil are measured and then blended in a particular order in a large mixing vessel. Once the oils are fully blended/homogenized, the final blend is dispensed into bottles one by one, and then the caps, seals, and labels are applied,” describes Williamson. “All of this is done by hand by the Northern Fir team. Throughout the bottling and finishing process, bottles undergo quality control to make sure each one is defect-free and meets our high standards of presentation. Finally, the bottles are packed and distributed. We’re proud to say that we do all of the manufacturing ourselves in Austin, Texas.”
Made from a blend of jojoba oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil, and a combination of essential oils, Northern Fir sets itself apart from other beard oils by using the unrefined forms of jojoba and argan. According to Williamson, most beard oils dilute their natural oil blends with cheaper carrier oils, which reduces their hydrating and conditioning strength–not so with Northern Fir. Williamson also gave The Manual a rundown of all the essential oils within Northern Fir Quality Beard Oil and what exactly each oil is doing to your skin and facial hair.
Essential Oils and Benefits
Sandalwood Oil: Great for skin. It soothes that oh-so-common itch that develops when a man first starts his journey to beard town and helps prevent dry skin and flaking–making it a perfect oil for either a starter or winter beard.
Black Pepper Oil: Stimulates blood flow which improves the health of hair follicles and can also promote beard growth.
Cedarwood Oil: Provides a great woodsy smell in addition to having a high concentration of sesquiterpenes — compounds that help naturally release toxins from the body and increase circulation.
Patchouli Oil: An astringent (tightens the skin) and an antiseptic, which can help fight acne and prevent other blemishes from forming.
Lavender Oil: Soothing and great smelling. It also calms the skin and prevents acne–just make sure you’re not allergic to it.
Juniper Berry Oil: The oil from the berries that flavor your gin is an antiseptic, which reduces acne and harmful bacteria.
With attractive, masculine packaging and a solid amber-glass bottle with metal screw-cap, Northern Fir’s outside is just as good as what it contains on the inside. And that’s really all that matters. When we tried out the product, we realized that the tiniest amount goes a long, long way. So, what appears to be a rather expensive beard oil, suddenly seems like a great bargain when you realize how little of the oil you actually need to hydrate and condition your beard.
Beyond that, the scent of the beard oil is woodsy and warm, but also very strong–which is another reason we recommend you go light on the application. And a head’s up to all you anti-patchouli people out there: this does have an ever-so slight patchouli scent to it. If you or your significant other have an aversion to this particular scent, you might want to go with another product.
Overall, though, this is a great beard oil that we’ll soon be adding to our Best of Beard Oils list and which we definitely recommend you try, no matter how short and stubbly or long and luxurious your beard may be.
For more information on Northen Fir Beard Co., Trevor Williamson, or to purchase his Quality Beard oil, check out northerfirbeard.com.