Brisk! Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe you haven’t. They’re not as popular as some of the “bigger” brands—and that would be Grave Before Shave, or Bossman Beard, and/or Honest Amish—and that’s a shame! They’re an interesting company, and their
In the post below, we’ll talk about what we like about it, and what we find less-than-perfect.
We’ll also ramble on a bit about jojoba oil and the proud history of English barbershops, but eventually we’ll get to the point—and here’s a quick summary, if you’re in a rush:
While its scent range is very limited—it’s currently manufactured in only two scents, which would be citrus and tea tree—Brisk is onto something great with their Brisk Beard Oil. The ingredient list is well-balanced and includes our favorite
Alright, now to the details on what we like, and are less-than-moved by:
It’s Got a Long List of Great Ingredients
While most people overlook that
Brisk has a number of great ingredients in its mixture, including:
Avocado Oil. It seems like one of the overriding qualities of beard hair, regardless of your age, genetic background, or skin type, is frizzy, fly-away beard hair. It’s not the hair on your head, which can be easily tamed—it’s a little wild. Avocado oil is a great mix of monounsaturated fat, vitamins E and D, and oleic acid that can condition beard hair and make it healthy-looking.
Sweet Almond Oil. You hear a lot about vitamins in beard oils—and Vitamin E tends to be a popular one, because it’s great for skin—but sweet almond oil is no slouch either, and contains some fantastic minerals, most notably magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Those three can fortify individuals strands so that your beard can appear full and healthy. They’re not magical—you’ll still need to take care of your body, groom yourself, and create a physical environment where your beard can thrive—but they can definitely help.
Argan Oil. This is the last of the three ingredients that are great for your hair—it provides a great deal of moisturizing capability, and can reduce strand breakage and split ends. If you’ve ever seen a scratchy, straw-like beard, it’s usually one that needs some hydration. Argan oil is used in a LOT of beard oils, because moisturizing—well, that’s an important aspect of a
There’s one ingredient, however, that outshines (ha) the rest, and that is…
Jojoba Oil for the Win!
Beard oils really aren’t that complicated, when you get down to it, and many of them have the same ingredients. Usually it’s an essential oil or two, a carrier oil or two, a scent or two, and some vitamins for skin care. Most of the ingredients you’ll see in a
That’s not to say beard oils are easy to concoct—it can be tricky to choose ingredients, and then to find a balance—but many beard oils use the same ingredients. If you look at the ingredient list on any ten beard oils, you’ll probably see a lot sweet almond, a lot of argan oil, and a lot of Vitamin E. Those are all great ingredients, but they’re not rare in a
We’re not sure why that is—perhaps it costs more than other ingredients; we’re not sure—but we do get very excited when we see it, because it’s got some incredible characteristics that are both good for your beard hair AND the skin beneath it. For your whiskers and facial hair, it:
> Is chock full of nutrients that give hair body. It’s got, in no particular order, Vitamins A, E, and F; it has anti-proliferative, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties; and it features antioxidants that can protect against damage from free radicals that can cause skin to prematurely age. All of that, in a single ingredient—that’s lovely, and
> It can condition facial hair to make it more flexible and less stiff, and also prevent oxidative damage to hair—something that beards (especially ones that haven’t been managed) can be prone to.
So it’s widely believed to be fantastic for hair. But we tend to forget that beard isn’t just about hair—in fact, one of the main aims of a
To that end, jojoba oil is a stand-out because….
> It moisturizes your skin, because it’s not technically an oil. As we mentioned, beard oils—well, they’re oily! They’re mostly made of oils, and they can feel greasy on your skin. Jojoba oil is technically a wax ester (“oil is not a triglyceride but a mixture of long chain esters”—see here). That, among other reasons, makes it feel a little less “heavy” on your face, and it’s less prone to simply sit on your skin—it can be incorporated into it, providing it with moisture and hydration. And that’s actually another reason jojoba oil is a great ingredient for a
> It’s very similar to the oil that skin naturally produces. Remember a moment ago when we said that jojoba oil is a wax ester? Well, it turns out that wax esters are a main component of “sebum,” which is the oil that your skin creates. Sebum is pretty neat, because it makes the skin supple and pliant and flexible. Because jojoba oil can act like the sebum that’s already in your skin, it can provide balance to your skin, rather than simply adding oil to it (like essential oils and carrier oils do).
Listen: all those other ingredients—the essential oils, the vitamins, etc.—they’re often fantastic. But jojoba oil is the real star of the show, and we’re very happy to see it here.
It’s Designed to Be Lightweight and Non-Greasy
To continue on our rant about jojoba oil…
The concoction is balanced to be non-greasy. That’s fantastic, because it’s a goal that not all beard oils meet. Some oils tend to sit on top of the beard, and while that may keep the beard moisturized… it’s kind of gross! If you’ve ever used an oil that simply makes your beard slick and brushed up your hand against it—only to pull your hand away and feel it covered in cold oil—that’s wildly unpleasant. It’s not something you want to touch or cuddle into (and many of us are concerned about such things).
So, while “lightweight and non-greasy” doesn’t sound like a big deal, it is. Beard hairs seem to absorb the oils quickly, and whatever oil makes it to your skin may be absorbed (because of that jojoba oil) into your skin. Win!
(And, listen: there are some negative aspects to Brisk
Next in our Brisk
The Oil Has a Respectable Pedigree
As we usually do, we’ll now discuss the product’s decor. In another life, we were marketers and artists, and we can’t help but take a very close look at the emblems and logos on beard brands.
Brisk is an interesting case: they’re a British company, and while that may not seem all that remarkable, it’s actually relevant for a few reasons:
> The United Kingdom has a great cultural history of beards. From kings and dukes, to Victorian ideas of manliness, to the idea of the traditional barbershop (and the idea of barbershops represented presented in penny dreadful series like Sweeney Todd), the English have a long relationship with facial hair grooming, and many of the shaving products we love—Taylor of Old Bond Street, Truefitt & Hill, etc.—are anchored in English history. Some of those companies are more than a century old, and that’s fascinating. Brisk, as a company, is wise to lean into that tradition, but there’s something kind of fascinating about the lean-in:
The Marketing is Hyper-Targeted to Its Audience. Brisk seems very aware that Americans like products that embrace stereotypical “British-ness,” and they go strong with it in the marketing artwork: the Brisk Bear is clad in a plaid jacket, a yellow shirt and a red tie, and reading glasses. Very cozy-looking, and intellectual, and proper—and, well, English! It’s almost surprising they didn’t include a tea kettle or a dragon or something. The Brisk Bear doesn’t have a beard—and that’s an odd choice—but the rest of it is pretty English.
However, if you look at the bottom of the page, you’ll see a link to their UK site, and you may notice that their brand logos—well, they’re not that English anymore! They’re bold red colors in a sleek, capitalized font, and without any cozy bears or English decor. As it turns out, that Britishness is solely for the American audience. We find that sort of thing fascinating.
More About Their English-ness: They’re Not Overdoing It
As Americans, we can be prone to… overdoing things, let’s say. Going big, just for the sake of going big. And that’s a wonderful thing—it’s part of what makes us us—but it can also be nice to have a measured, temperate approach to things as well.
Here’s what we’re getting at: there are plenty of American beard companies that have dozens and dozens of products. Grave Before Shave, for example, has at least twelve (TWELVE) scents in their
And that’s all fantastic—it’s nice to have options—but it can be a little overwhelming. Brisk has kept it simple, and gone with two main scents for their
If you’re going to choose two scents, those are two very good options. Both are “bright” scents, which is interesting—it’s actually surprising they didn’t include a sandalwood scent, which tends to be a more “traditional” English scent (so, Brisk, if you’re listening…!)—but those lively scents usually make for a more interesting product.
“Not Overdoing It,” Of Course, is Also a Negative
We’re going to flip that last section on its head, and reframe that positive—that they’re not overdoing it—as a negative. After all, if you do fall in love with the product, there’s not much to explore! That may change in time—as companies gain steam, they tend to expand their product lines—but for now, their
While we’re here and finally discussing the less-than-perfect aspects of the oil, we should mention…
The Scent is Mild and You May Need to Re-Apply
If you’re a scent-junkie—that is, you like overwhelmingly strong scents, and you like to be reminded every time you inhale that you’re wearing a scented
That tends to be true with beard oils that absorb well—they fade a little more quickly than other beard oils. That makes sense, if you think about it—an oil that can’t be integrated into your facial hair and skin will smell more strongly, for a longer period of time—so, as with all things, you take the good with the bad.
Also, it’s worth mentioning—we consider the stronger of the two to be the tea tree—neither are particularly strong, but of the two, the tea tree seems a little more aggressive.
There You Have It, Lads
Thanks for reading! We hope something here helps you form an opinion on the product. We like it a great deal, and while it’s not perfect—we really would like to see more scents—what they offer smells wonderful (to us, of course—we can’t smell it for you), and it feels nice on the skin.
Good luck, have fun, and happy beard!
Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.