If all you’re doing in the shower is replacing dirt and sweat with chemicals, you aren’t actually getting clean. A real scrubbing requires products that aren’t made of substances you wouldn’t otherwise want on your body and don’t leave behind potentially harmful residues. Fortunately, the rise of organic grooming products has provided men with a diversity of chemical-free choices they didn’t have a decade ago. Here are our favorites.
There are four solid reasons for any guy to consider adding an individually wrapped face wipe to his arsenal of good-to-have-around personal grooming items.
First, as face-reset button at work, especially in these grimy, humidity-filled dog days of summer. Having a few stashed in your desk gives you a quick 1-2-3 out from sweaty, greasy, oily, shiny, and possibly crusty midday veneer, much better than splashing bathroom sink water on your face (and tie and shirt and pants).
Second, as a part of your carry-on bag’s airplane survival kit; you should intuitively understand the joy of wiping your neighbor’s coughs, sneezes, and farts off your face.
On a similar note, when you’re rushing out of the gym to important meetings, you’ll find that a healthy swipe of this face wipe is the next best thing to a shower.
Last, the fibers of one single face wipe have the ability to completely transform your overall comfort level on camping trips, especially when water is not readily available.
And now, the denouement of our story on Ursa Major Men’s Essential Face Wipes. The brand, known for its well-made line of all-natural men’s skin-care products, has just gambled that you’ll shell out some dough for its box of 20 individually wrapped face wipes, and we think it has made a good call. They’re made from bamboo fiber and infused with Ursa Major’s popular 4-in-1 Essential Face Tonic; and they contain ingredients like aloe-leaf juice, witch hazel, willow bark, rosemary, lemon extract, and green-tea leaf. The mixture works to clean without stripping, remove dead skin cells, shrink pores, and hydrate, all while leaving you with a nicely put-together, matte complexion. The natural formula makes it safe for sensitive skin and, well, the “face” wipe can’t read, so if you really need to go there, it can deal with all kinds of stink. [$24 for 20 wipes; ursamajormen.com]
Yüli Mr. Incredible Shave Oil
Cold-pressed juice has become the new gold standard in quality among those who enjoy drinking their nutrition, but the process of cold-pressing, whereby no heat is used to extract juice from fruits, could also help improve your shaving or beard-owning experience. It’s something being championed by a new all-natural, luxury skin-care line called Yüli, which includes a multiuse shave oil-serum hybrid called Mr. Incredible.
Yüli is unisex, but don’t let that scare you off. The line’s first strictly men’s product, Mr. Incredible, is an elixir crafted using the same methods as cold-pressing juice or oil. The same principles apply to both; chopping ingredients adds heat, which subsequently decreases the nutritional value. By cold-pressing, Yüli has created a shave oil made with the most intact form of the active molecules possible.
No one can say with scientific accuracy that this method of extraction is any better than traditional blending, especially in skin care, though cold-pressing has, indeed, been found to boost the nutritional and active content of juices. What we can say is that the mixture bottled up inside Mr. Incredible has plenty to make both men and women smile.
As a beard oil, it goes on dry, thanks to the fast absorbing blend of jojoba and grape seed oil, and it will moisturize your steel-wool beard and the skin beneath it without being too heavy. The same ingredients make it just light enough to work as a pre-shave oil that passes through cartridge blades with ease, as a before-bed moisturizing treatment for your whole face, and as a leave-in conditioning agent for your hair. The scent can stand in for any cologne and is musky but with an office-friendly mix of sandalwood, chompaka (yellow orchid), and black calla lily.
All of the ingredients are either cultivated on the company’s farm in upstate New York, wild-crafted from the surrounding areas, or obtained the feel-good way: though Fair Trade farms. Finally, the product is essentially made-to-order, mixed, and poured on Yüli’s farm just as it gets your order. In other words, this is one of the most luxurious, all-natural, and possibly most nutritional items a man can buy for his face. [$29 for 1 ounce; yuliskincare.com]
Precision Barbers Burly 3N1
There’s no shortage of products that promise to tame unruly beard hair, but a recent find has earned a place in our medicine cabinet. As devotees of low-maintenance solutions – that’s one reason we grew a beard, after all – we were instantly drawn to Burly 3N1, an all-natural beard softener that’s also a top-notch face wash and shave gel (thus, 3 in 1).
Created by Precision Barbers, a small, Miami-based barber shop, Burly 3N1 was tailor-made for grooming-averse men. “We created Burly 3N1 because men hate products,” says Precision Barbers’s Pandwe Gibson. The result is a multiuse product that takes some of the tedium from our daily regimen.
3N1 contains a small amount of rose seed oil-infused keratin, which adds a healthy luster to your facial hair and softens bristles over time. Rose seed oil is also a natural astringent and so does double duty, keeping the skin under your scruff clean. Finally, moisturizing agents such as seaweed extract, vegetable glycerin, and olive oil castile soap help soften the skin and your beard hair to make trimming and shaving smoother.
Unlike traditional beard softeners, Burly 3N1 should be used like a wash, meaning lather it on with some water and then rinse off after about 30 seconds to a minute. And when grooming your pride and joy (or perhaps your loved one is growing tired of it), use 3N1 just as you would a regular shave gel: Lather it up, shave, rinse, and stow it away until you grow your beard again (next week). [$38 for 4 oz; precisionbarberclub.com]
Bay Rum Oil
Bay Rum Oil holds a special place in the pantheon of traditional men’s scents. Originating in the West Indies, Bay Rum Oil, which was originally made by soaking bay leaves in rum, became a favorite of early 16th century sailors looking to cover up the stench that comes from months at sea. Later it became a go-to for 19th century cowboys to do the same for the trail. In the modern era, it became a staple ingredient in aftershaves, since Bay Rum Oil was found to be effective in fighting acne and soothing irritated skin.
The clean, sweet, spicy scent is back in a new, all-natural, dual face and shave soap from an Ohio-based Cliff Original. This might smell like your great-great-grandfather’s Bay Rum, but it is not made like it: The soap starts in a base of organic coconut, olive, palm, and food grade soybean oil that together create a moisturizing lather for shaving. Colloidal oatmeal and clay are added as natural cleansing agents known for not drying out the skin, and essential oil of bay rum keeps the skin free of bumps and burns.
If anything, L-Arginine is known as supplement taken by body builders to increase blood flow, in turn beefing up the size of muscles. It can be bought in pill or powdered form at your local Vitamin Shoppe or GNC, but this amino acid, found naturally occurring in red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy also has some benefits when infused in soaps. And this is just the program being pioneered in a new line of men’s personal care products called ManCave, which is using L-Arginine in its just launched all-natural line containing a body wash, face wash, and shampoo.
“L-Arginine can be used in anti-aging face and body products to balance out moisture levels, enhance the production of collagen, and can help transport ingredients beneath the surface of the skin through increased blood flow,” says David E. Bank, Director, The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery and Board Certified Dermatologist. Because it helps collagen to grow, using L-Arginine in a soap can help expedite the healing of wounds and can help keep your skin hydrated in the sapping winds of winter. Its strong moisturizing ingredients mean it slows the onset of wrinkles.
These sorts of claims can be difficult to test. We’ve had our hands on the soap, which became available earlier this month, for a few weeks. While we can’t promise this soap will make your bruises heal faster, we did find the product to offer a well-priced and chemical-free cleansing experience.
ManCave has also infused the soap with Tea Tree oil, which naturalists use to diminish skin blemishes, as well as a light amount of pore cleansing black pepper oil that’s scented with the pleasing aromatic essential oil of cedarwood. [$12 for 6.76 oz; mancaveinc.com]
Jack Black All-Over Wash
What we like about this all-in-one wash isn’t what’s in it – it’s what’s not. Indeed, Jack Black’s 3-in-1 soap is made without parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, petro-chemicals, phthalates, GMOs, or triclosans. What’s left is a thick, rich, gentle soap that washes clean and smells subtly masculine. [$15; getjackblack.com]
Hanz de Fuko Conditioner
This plant blend is best for the scalp. The lemon, seaweed, and acai berry inside give it a floral, earthy scent. [$17; hanzdefuko.com]
Jason Thin to Thick Extra Volume Shampoo
Jason has a soft, rich lather and is full of moisturizers that are great for the scalp. Plant-based proteins nourish scalp and hair, biotin strengthens strands, and aloe vera gives extra moisture. A little bit goes a long way. [$11; jason-personalcare.com]
Aubrey Glycogen Protein Balancing Conditioner
Lavender supplies a not-too-perfumey aroma in this protein-packed product, best for damaged hair. [$11; aubrey-organics.com]
Giovanni Wellness System Conditioner
This conditioner smells like tea and tingles the scalp, thanks to Chinese herbs. It’s also antioxidant-packed, with green tea and grapeseed oils. [$9; giovannicosmetics.com]
Burt's Bees More Moisture Baobab shampoo.
Tropical baobab oil and butter from the cupuaçu (a South American tree) offer a moisture bomb in this slightly sweet-smelling shampoo. The Burt’s Bees left our hair noticeably soft and a bit shiny. [$8; burtsbees.com]
365 Everyday Value Herbal Mint Shampoo
Available only at Whole Foods (in-store), this no-frills formula offers the best bang for your buck. It doesn’t make a lot of suds, but the clear gel spreads through hair easily for a deep clean and rinse. Spearmint and peppermint oils give off a pleasant, masculine aroma. [$4; wholefoodsmarket.com]
Acure Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell
The Acure gives off a subtle lemongrass scent, and the avocado oil supplies moisture. A medley of sugar- and coconut-based surfactants (which thicken the shampoo and help condition hair) clean deep without drying out your scalp. [$11; acureorganics.com]
Every Man Jack Deodorant
It used to be that the only way to deal with underarm rashes was to buy expensive or artisanal deodorants. This was because all the regularly priced drugstore brands were made using chemicals or alcohol, both of which are culprits in causing said area to become inflamed. For a while, all-natural crystal deodorants made of mineral salts tried to stop the problem, but while they didn't cause rashes, they also didn't stop you from smelling.
The trend is finally shifting in favor of guys who don't want to smell like a sandwich, get rashes, or clog their pores with questionable chemicals. The latest to the game is Every Man Jack, an upstart men's personal grooming brand that makes all-natural products at prices that won't make your eyes pop an unnatural distance away from your face. It's been selling at mass market outlets like Target and Walgreens, but the company has also just teamed up for an exclusive line of products at Whole Foods, including a new sensitive-skin deodorant that kills odors.
That matters because Whole Foods applies strict standards, using third-party testers to ensure that the creams and lotions it sells are, indeed, as natural and organic as the makers claim. None of the products on its shelves are allowed to use synthetic or even harsh natural preservatives, not to mention chemical foaming agents like sodium laurel sulfate. They also cannot have fake fragrances.
Every Man Jack has been a mostly all-natural brand from the get-go, but the company wanted to take its commitment to the next level. "We wanted our customers to know we really care about the quality of our product, so we released this Sandalwood line, which meets the latest Whole Foods 'premium standards,' using more natural and organic ingredients than ever before," Rich Viola, founder of Every Man Jack, tells Men's Journal. To absorb the stink in the new deodorant, Every Man Jack has employed cottonseed extract, a natural and nonirritating absorbent, as well as lichen extract, an all-natural antiseptic to destroy bacteria-causing odor.
We've found it to work well at being gentle and keeping strange smells at bay, with the added bonus of a pleasant sandalwood scent. It's a bold move because products priced at this level usually go cheap and use a chemically formulated scent. Not so here, Every Man Jack makes its deodorants naturally, with an essential oil. [$7.49 for 3 ounces at Whole Foods; for a list of stores selling the rest of the Every Man Jack line, go to everymanjack.com]
Jasön Fragrance-Free Deodorant Stick
This stick deodorant is free of fragrance for those who want absolutely no scent whatsoever. Despite the lack of smell, it did a solid job of keeping any stenches at bay. This is made for the most sensitive skin. The label brags that it has no aluminum, parabens, phthalates, or propylene gycol (a skin irritant). [$7; jason-personalcare.com]
Nature's Gate Tea Tree & Blue Cypress Deodorant Stick
The tea tree and blue cypress in this stick deodorant give a bit of a pine woods smell that we found pleasurable. If you’re a recovering lumberjack, though, you might want to find a stick with a more neutral smell. This is the deodorant for those who want to bring the forest with them wherever they go. [$6; natures-gate.com]
Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus
This clear roller has the best application of the bunch with its transparent, wet roller. It smells a bit like a spa – pleasant, but not for everyone – and does the least for sweat stoppage, given the thin substance. Still, we loved our gook-free underarms, and it kept us smelling fresh for a full day. [$18; malinandgoetz.com]