The beard and the Catholic man go together like a canvas and paint. One is the natural compliment to the other, the proper and natural adornment that makes the thing complete. There have been countless saints who spoke of the Christian virtues of the beard. From Saint Augustine’s praise of the beard to Saint Thomas More’s defense of his own, the beard is a most Christian, manly, and proper part of the male visage.
So what could make the beard even better for a Catholic man? Two (exquisitely bearded) men, Michael Marchand and Tony Vasinda have the answer. They are the creators of Catholic Beard Balm, perhaps the greatest thing to happen to the Catholic beard since the Capuchins.
Catholic Beard Balm is an amazing balm, hand made in small batches from an all natural blend of almond oil, shea butter, beeswax, cocoa butter with blends of essential and aroma oils to create signatures scents. According to their website the balm has a myriad of benefits including softening your beard, promoting a fuller appearance, encouraging growth, moisturizing your skin, and help with styling.
Sound great, right? Well here’s where it gets awesome…
Catholic Beard Balm comes in scents that will be familiar to Catholics and evoke an “odour of sanctity”. From scents that recall the Holy Chrism used in anointing to a scent called “Holy Smokes” with frankincense and myrrh, these balms are a beared Catholic’s dream come true.
Being a bearded Catholic myself, I was very excited to interview with them about their awesome products, inspiration, bearded saints, and about a special opportunity for you to win FREE tins of Catholic Beard Balm…
Where did the idea for Catholic Beard balm come from?
Here in Seattle, I serve as the Director of Faith Formation at my parish. I was wanting to get some unblessed chrism to use in some of our parish ministries (RCIA, Confirmation, Baptism, and Kids Ministry), but after doing a little research, I discovered the minimum amount I could order was enough to make 3 gallons of chrism. Way more than the 1oz I needed, but I went ahead and ordered the 3 gallons. Which left me with the question of what to do with the excess chrism.
Since making things and unique hobbies are a kind of survival skill here in Seattle, I had recently started making my own beard balms (just for me and few bearded friends). With a youth ministers’ conference around the corner, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: use up some of the excess chrism I had on hand and help underwrite the cost of us attending the event.
Using the beard balm recipe I had perfected for my own beard, I created a chrism scented beard balm (along with a couple other Catholic-inspired aromas) and had the team over at ParishDesigner create the labels – and Barbatus Catholic Beard Balm was born.
Even though it was a fun, unique and heavenly scented product, I never expected to sell the 98 tins I brought to the event. But in a just a few hours, we sold all of them and people began preordering for the next batch. That’s when we knew we had something, so we created a website and started selling it online. And our fan base continues to expand month after month.
How do you come up with idea for the scents? Which is most popular?
Some of them, like Chrism and Holy Smokes, are direct translations of the actual Catholic aromas we experience regularly in our Church. Others, like Franciscan, Lectio, and Orthodoxy, are a little more abstract and meant to evoke a connection to that idea.
Franciscan is just our simple unscented balm. The name honors the simplicity of the Franciscan way of life, but also the natural ingredients that go into it. Most of the aromas go through 3 or 4 testing batches to get right, and even then we are always working on improving them. Our most popular scent is Chrism. Hands down. We have a lot of people who tell us that when they order it their wives will take it and just rub it on their kids and other places in their house. So we’ve started telling people just to order 2 to start with.
How and where are the products made?
The products are made by hand by me in Edmonds, Washington. When we started, I was making about 6 in each batch. Now I make about 60 in each batch. We have a room set aside in our house that used to be a craft room/office that is now the international headquarters of Catholic Balm Co. My wife ships all the products and handles customer service (and my 4 kids pitch in to help label tins and pack orders).
What kind of people have ordered your products?
Mostly Catholics with beards – or those who love them. Seriously though our customers are a pretty broad range of folks. We have had orders from 6 out of 7 continents (come on Africa). It’s always very exciting to get an order from a new location. China was exciting, so was Dubai, Croatia, Poland, the Vatican, and last week we got an order from Antarctica. Our mailing system didn’t even know what to do with it.
It’s always very exciting to get an order from a new location. China was exciting, so was Dubai, Croatia, Poland, the Vatican, and last week we got an order from Antarctica. Our mailing system didn’t even know what to do with it.Though most of our customers are Catholic, we do have a number of orthodox, protestant, and secular customers. A number of our customers are priests and deacons, but mostly lay people. There’s even a group of nuns that buy our balm and use it as an elbow lotion. There is a huge amount of diversity in who orders the balms.
Though most of our customers are Catholic, we do have a number of orthodox, protestant, and secular customers. A number of our customers are priests and deacons, but mostly lay people. There’s even a group of nuns that buy our balm and use it as an elbow lotion. There is a huge amount of diversity in who orders the balms.
Who are your favorite beaded saints?
Oh man, that’s a tough one. Since an overwhelming percentage of male Saints are bearded it’s hard to pick just one. Right now we are actually doing running a Lenten reflection series at LentenBeards.com that will list out 40 of my favorites.
So far my favorites on that list include Padre Pio, John the Baptist, and John Chrysostom – but really St Augustine’s reflection on the 133 Psalm earns him the top spot for me probably: “The beard signifies the courageous; the beard distinguishes the grown men, the earnest, the active, the vigorous. So that when we describe such, we say, he is a bearded man.”
People should also google St. Wilgefortis. We will talk about her in a couple weeks on LentenBeards.com, but that is one great bearded Saint story.
Tell me more about LentenBeards.com
We realized that the thousands people who have ordered or used our products are a community in themselves. LentenBeards.com was launched to be focused on prayer and the spiritual care of that community.
A lot of people get the impression that our company is just Catholic in name, but for us the work that we do is really an Ora et Labora – a work and prayer. LentenBeards.com is just one of the ways that manifests itself.
Our goal is to provide reflections based on 40 bearded Saints thoughout Lent, and create a venue for daily prayer with the bearded Church Militant and Triumphant. I write the content, and Michael designed the site and does a daily meme so that people can share their reflections with others on social media using the #LentenBeards. We also printed a set of Daily Blessing of the Beard prayer cards to go in all of our order this month that we hope inspires those using it to a daily reflection on their beard. It’s all about marking themselves for Christ and their daily beard anointing should remind them of their Baptismal promises.
Why is it important for Catholic man to have a beard?
I think it’s important to be a man of virtue and distinction, and I think that in this vein the beard works as an excellent sacramental that sets us apart as men who desire these virtues. A sign of our masculinity in the world. I think a man can pursue these graces and virtues without a beard, but I don’t know why you would.
Do you have any products for women?
A lot of women have asked this question and we are always clear that or balm will work on any beard regardless of gender, but after they are done groaning at our weak jokes we tell them that we have a couple of products out and coming out that are more feminine/gender neutral.
Last December we launched our Little Flower Lip Balm line which was inspired by the Little Way of St Therese of Lisieux. These lip balms made from high quality but simple ingredients, and come in three flavors that are all very subtle: Rose, Citrus, and Mint. The response for that has been pretty big, but we are still getting the word out about it.
Next month we have a new line of solid lotion bars coming out called Lumena after St Philomena. We have finalized the formula for that but are working on the last two aromas alongside Chrism and one we are calling Radiance. Lumena has a more feminine appeal, but the aromas are going to be pretty gender neutral, but also amazing.
Lastly, later this year we are hoping to launch a set of soaps themed around the liturgical calendar called Purgato. Soap is a bit more challenging production wise – but we’re excited to take on that challenge.Where can people buy your products?
Where can people buy your products?
Online at CatholicBalm.co. That’s not a spelling error we have a .co, or at Catholic Youth Ministry events that we are speaking, training, or working at. In addition to that there are a few barber shops sprinkled across the US that carry it. We do ship internationally. We also carry our balms along with a number of awesome shirts, books, and other stuff at our main ministry site ProjectYM.com.
What do you do with the proceeds from Catholic Beard Balm?
Most months we try to pick a ministry to donate a portion of our proceeds to. This could be The JPII Medical Research center, Reignite Uganda Ministries, or Catholic Youth Foundation USA. We look at our beard balms and all of our products as an engine for good stewardship. All of the money from Catholic Balm Co. that doesn’t go to someone else help us to underwrite projects and services through ProjectYM.com for communities who don’t have the funds and resources to access them otherwise.