Ethical beard care by Mike Thompson, owner of Manmane
I asked Mike owner and creator of Manmane who are based in Wales to write a guest post about Vegan beard care as his brand is vegan friendly.
I have reviewed several Manmane products and I awarded the Manmane ‘Jardin Du Monde’ Beard Oil the ‘Golden Beard Award‘. The products are high quality, blended beautifully and I think that they don’t do more business because guys see vegan and think it is not for them. However vegan friendly doesn’t mean you us meat munchers can’t use the products!
Ethical beard care.
When Zec asked me to write a post to contribute to the knowledge base of his website my first thoughts were to appreciate his desire to have knowledge of every aspect of the beard care phenomenon .
My back story is simple. Back in 2013 I became more aware of ethical living and for many reasons that were personal and important to me I took it a stage further and made a major change to my life in 2015. Shock, horror I decided to live a Vegan lifestyle.
Now, just like deciding to start jogging or going to the gym the upside both in terms of health are very obvious and all to see but you have to be determined , focused , know your subject and decide your level of commitment. Like the more physical activities described there are also the changes to your life in terms of time, discipline and sacrifice e.g with jogging the time it takes, going to the gym …the occasional injury and diet disciplines.
For Ethically driven changes like Veganism or environmental “eco” lifestyle purchasing, it’s giving up products you have felt comfortable with for years. What I have learned is that this is not only possible but in most cases artisans around the world are making the transition easier than it has every been by creating products that are as good as the ones you have enjoyed and in some cases superior.
For me it was a ” no brainer ” , I am strictly Vegan for health and well-being purpose and also I am at peace knowing that I am not contributing to some of the industries that don’t share my values on animal welfare and the environment .
I am not a strict Vegan in terms of other people’s choices, after all my partner in life enjoys an omnivorous lifestyle and it means more to me to see her happy and what works for her is her business. She is an individual and unlike some ethically minded people I respect that, knowing what I know in an ideal world I wish it would be different but her happiness and all my friends and family members contentment is more important to me.
I am very happy to share though that many of the previous mentioned people have adopted some of my vegan “lifestyle”choices eg cleaning products, soaps , cosmetics etc. That is the most important point to remember Veganism is not just about diet it’s about living in a way that impacts less on the earth and all that walk upon it. If you can change to a Vegan ethically driven product that does the same job or better, let’s say lip balm or toilet cleaner, you are contributing to the effort to help this planet and the animal kingdom and that is to be applauded and encouraged. You never know you may change your diet at a later date……you may not…..but your helping in your way and contributing to the shift in thinking that is very real and growing. Vegan friendly products are not just for Vegans, they will work and benefit individuals of any dietary persuasion.
So what’s this got to do with beard care?. Sorry I am aware the first part of this blog may have bored you a little (or a lot) but it was necessary to give you an idea of what motivated this bearded Artisan to create the brand Manmane, you can see what we do here www.manmane.co.
Back in 2013 the beard trend started growing in momentum. I have never been a fashionista and had a beard way before that but now I was faced with a dilemma. After educating myself I realised I could no longer use the beard products I used to for reasons I will go in to. Worse than that there was nothing obviously available to cater for my new requirements unless you paid to ship it from the States which has its issues in terms of cost and in terms of “green” thinking. So I thought I will make it myself and Manmane was born!
Beard oil was a relatively easy product to make ethically friendly.
The mission was simple , make it 100% plant-based and environmentally sound. In this case it was easier to work out would I could not add first.
Clearly any mineral oil wouldn’t do or any petrochemical derivative both of which have been slaughtered by the press recently for various reasons including harm to the end-user. I could not use Palm oil, even though cheap to buy and very effective, This product impacts on animal lives e.g. The Orangutan .
I also wished to create a vitamin rich blend staying away from cheaper “filler” oils with no nutritional benefit.
There is a blog on our website that explains why we chose the oils that went into our blend. As a Vegan I have to be more aware of nutritional values as the “omni” diet caters for that by creating balanced meals for you so in a sense I had a head start on this.
Zec has produced a video to explain what you should look for in a beard oil and I would heavily recommend you view it.
The second main element of a beard oil is the scent.
A lot of beard oils at the time we’re using Fragrance oils coming up with various designer or even culinary scents. The thinking behind it from a commercial point of view was not flawed, I mean who wouldn’t want to smell of Strawberry cheesecake ( let me think about that).
In all seriousness in terms of health you can’t be sure what chemicals have gone into it and where and how were they sourced and created. This is your face, a very sensitive part of your body, why would you play Russian roulette with chemicals . In terms of ethics , vegan or otherwise, certain countries where these fragrances originate test on animals routinely, pollute waterways etc etc.
As a manufacturer in the EU you are governed by the EU Cosmetic safety directive so no such issue should occur as the EU has also banned animal testing for the purpose of cosmetic production for some time. This unfortunately doesn’t stop large EU players in the industry outsourcing animal testing to a country prepared to do it. That’s why you should purchase from small batch Artisan brands.
To be sure I had to create blends of essential oils that are plant-based. Again I was careful to pick a supplier that could show me the country of origin of each essential oil and proof of purity. You should also check that your beard oil has been tested for safety as some of the essential oils are very powerful and can have side effects. Your beard product manufacturer has to legally have all their products tested using approved laboratory services before they can be sold with the EU. – Has your beard care product been safety assessed?
Having studied the market and purchased in the past I realised there was issues here. Two ingredients sprung to mind that would cause an issue here, they were Beeswax and Lanolin. Beeswax, although a great product and cheap to buy ( win win for a manufacturer) was an issue for us.
Beeswax is essential housing for bees. The production of honey by bees is done within the hive made up of wall upon wall of wax. From an ethical point of view there are several issue that spring to mind when harvesting the honey and the beeswax.
If you would indulge me I would like to give you two analogies here.
You have created a beautiful collection of homemade breads and stored them away to feed your family . Then without permission or any care of the consequences someone takes the bread and replaces is it with own brand “basics” bread to tie you over. That’s what happens when we harvest honey in this country. The honey is harvested killing some within the hive but for the vast majority that survive they are given a sugar based alternative to take them through winter having worked all summer. In other countries after the beeswax and honey are extracted the hives, what’s left of them , are burnt in the winter . Some bees die then others die because of the freezing weather.
You come home and find that your home has been devastated by a wrecking ball and cleared away and now you can not locate your family members . Sorry to be dramatic but the extraction of beeswax from a hive when the bees are still in residence or still in need of it causes confusion in the colony, sadly some die due to it extraction and those left will become exhausted having to create their home all over again.
In the case of Lanolin , lesser used these days, this is comes from sheep wool. Produced by the sheep’s skin it is their form of waterproofing and coats the wool so that they can cope with the elements. I would argue that the sheep produces it for its own purposes and not for ours, therefore it’s not something I would use on my facial hair and not just because of my ethical choices….yuck. Again to balance things out the farmers shear sheep in the Summer for commercial reasons but I guess the sheep love and benefit from the breeze when it’s done but again the shearteering process can cause injury and fear.
Now I don’t want to go into any more detail but anyone can see that’s all wrong. Some will care and some won’t that’s human nature but my mission was to create a Beard balm and Moustache wax that was well thought out , good for your beard and skin and didn’t impact on nature in the same way. We tried several waxes and finally came up with a blend if Jojoba Wax and Carnauba wax. Both waxes as raw ingredients were far more expensive to use as compared to beeswax but we felt a viable alternative was needed whatever it cost.
As a bonus we discovered that Jojoba oil or wax closely matches your sebum , your hair and skin oil, which creates a synergy that works with your skins natural responses to external product application. It creates a balance in your skin and prevents over or under production of sebum which can cause breakouts. Beeswax can not do this but to show balance it is vitamin rich and a good emollient, however, it can can’t win that sebum balancing act previously described Jojoba Wax can.
Carnauba wax is harvested from Brazilian palm leaves. It is contained in many polishing products perhaps most famously in premium Car wax products. It gives a glow and a shine to anything it is applied to so your beards colour comes to life. When combined in the correct proportions you get a blend that is far superior in our humble opinion than the beeswax products having used both. All of this and the use of these plant based waxes doesn’t cause the ethical issues that I have previously mentioned.
But I’m not a vegan!
The frustration is that anyone can use this product , it’s better for them, better for the environment and doesn’t involve dietary changes but people have a view that (although changing slowly) that Vegan friendly products only work for Vegans. The term Vegan friendly just means that Vegans can use it, but not only Vegans, it’s just like a pub that is Child friendly but will welcome adults also. I hope that makes sense, and that it encourages you to consider trying an ethical alternative instead.
The last point I would like to share is what I personally use to wash my beard 2/3 times a week. There are many talented soap makers out there that make beautiful natural bar soap . If you research it yourself find ones where all the “lye” has been used up in the process and the glycerine, which is a by-product of the soap industry normally, remains in large part within the bar. It is also easy to apply and lasts a long time but perhaps more importantly doesn’t contain the harsh chemicals that are present in mass-produced soap/shampoo products that can damage your pride and joy.
I hope you have found this an informative post and not too boring.
I would like to thank Zec for the opportunity to share these thoughts.