D.I.Y. means Do It YOURSELF…

…Not, Do It Using Somebody Else’s Product

With the popularity of D.I.Y and Beard Care we have seen a huge influx of new beard oil brands coming onto the market. We love seeing that more and more people are taking part to inspire men to take care of their beards. Such a little step to help men see the benefit of personal care and how that promotes Self Care. There are so many great resources on how to make personal care products for you and your family. We exist because not everybody wants to do add that into their already busy lives. We do not see competition as a threat but as inspiration.

On the downside, so many folks are buying pre-formulated beard oils from many Crafter’s supply companies who are looking to profit off the current state of the D.I.Y. personal care industry. A large number of these “Make Your Own” beard oil mixes are expensive and of questionable quality. Often they hype a one good ingredient and use a couple flashy specialty ingredients in very low proportions while they fill the rest with oils (and other items) that are not ideal for beard hair.

We did a lot of groundwork to find the best commonly available oils that do the work we set before them. A huge inspiration for us was how such high quality oils can be obtained easily to make beard oil. That learning the benefits of each ingredient oil and finding the right proportions to achieve the desired results was relatively simple. Yes, the key word is relatively. Relative to one’s understanding of biochemistry or biology and chemistry. It does not require a deep education into the field, but be one that has an understanding of the science at any level. There is science behind doing this, and it is easy to be found out if you don’t get it.

These pre-formulated bases are expensive! They are often lower quality, no matter how they hype it. And they are not always natural oils – with some containing glycerin and other ingredients that counter the moisturizing and conditioning work of the oils.

If you are looking into making your own Beard Oil, we applaud your efforts and wish you success. But please do your homework and put yourself 100% into what you are doing. Don’t take the easy route of taking someone else’s work and putting your name or brand to it. Google is your friend and there are tons of good, easy to read, scientific information out there on how to create any number of personal care items to be of premium quality.

Also, don’t go 100% “Third party”. Don’t have someone else make it, bottle it and label it for you. That’s lazy and you won’t make as much money doing that. This is a huge reason why we are less expensive than many of the larger brands out there – we make it all 100% in house while we use extremely high quality ingredients.

I do not wish to downplay what I do, or make it seem too easy. Honestly, the making of the product is the easiest part of what I do. Marketing, maintain a website, keeping track of the finances is what makes this a challenge. I love what I do, love that others appreciate it and I am very flattered with those that have been inspired by what I do. Whether I become a major player in this industry or remain a specialty boutique brand, I know it was because of all the work I did with help from friends and family; not because I took someone else’s work and put my name to it.

Also, this is important… if you plan to bring any product to the market, make sure whatever name you wish to call your brand, your business and your product are not already in use. This is another way Google is your friend. Search using every word you plan to use, and search with them in relation to each other. If it already exists, or is even close to your intended use, go back to the drawing board and come up with something new to try.

Take the time, develop and make your product and your brand. Put as much of YOU into as you can. Lean on friends for the related parts you can’t do. And if you can’t do it, find a new passion that you uses all that you are to the best of your abilities.

Original Beard Butter formula changes

The decision to change the formula of one of our signature products that we have had since our beginnings was not easy to make. There is always a fear that a change to a much loved and popular product will lead to a negative reaction from it’s admirers. Be assured that we did not take this change lightly and worked to make sure our product was only made better by the change. We felt we had to make these changes due to ethical concerns around two of the ingredients.

From the beginning we have used Palm Oil and Lanolin for their known skin and hair benefits. Both of these ingredients were not in a large abundance in our former formula, but they were powerful at what they did. Although we sourced our Palm Oil from a supplier that assured us that it is ethically sourced from growers that treat their workers fairly. With recent reports that such statements still cannot be trusted as so many workers are being exploited in all growing regions of this widely available fruit oil, we have opted to remove it over trying to obtain definitive assurance we are buying from ethical sources at all times.

Lanolin is an animal sourced component, made from processing sheep’s wool. In essence, lanolin is sheep sweat. When washing the wool, a goo remains that is highly refined to provide lanolin. Prized for it’s skin softening properties since the earliest of times, it is now seen as a byproduct of animal abuse by many advocates. This is an ingredient that is hard to find an equal to offer the same qualities, but we were up for the challenge.

We found 2 popular, commonly available plant based ingredients to be perfect replacements for the ingredients in question. First is Hemp Seed Oil. Hemp is very high in A, B & C vitamins and a great blend of Omega fatty acids that are perfect for hair and skin. We have used Hemp Seed Oil in many other products and have found no real issues with how it performs or affects our formulas. It’s addition, it brings a huge nutrient boost to our product and is the perfect replacement for Palm Oil. Our Hemp Seed Oil is also certified organic.

To replace lanolin we had to dig deep to find something that maintained the texture of the Beard Butter formula along with providing equal or better conditioning. We looked into so many natural fruit butters, but none of them performed at the level we desired when testing. Reading up on natural skin and hair care product components, we learned about Behentrimonium Methosulfate, also known as BTMS. This is a very popular hair conditioning agent that is derived from non-GMO rape seed oil (more commonly known as Canola Oil). It helps detangle hair as well as condition. You can find it in all the best hair conditioners and many salon shampoos. Combined with Cetearyl Alcohol ( a fatty alcohol derived from fruit oils), BTMS becomes a powerful hair conditioning agent as well as an ideal emulsifier – keeping everything mixed with it well blended. This not only became a very sensible choice, but adds benefits to improve the quality of the product.

When you first see this tweaked Original Beard Butter formula, you will notice it is no longer a creamy white-yellow, but in fact has a greenish tint. This is caused by the organic hemp seed oil. It will not color your hair green. The texture is a bit “creamier” and will melt a little quicker making it even easier to apply. It will also re-set quicker if the Beard Butter melted in hot environments.

The first Original Beard Butters you will see with this formula will be our Expanded Assortment scents as these are scented to order from the most recent batch of Beard Butter base. As we sell through our currently produced Original Beard Butter, the new formula will enter into our regular inventory.

If you receive one of these, please give us feedback to let is know what you think.

Thank you, John

The package changed, the product improved.

Since we first introduced J&L Apothecary Brand back in 2017, we relied upon packaging materials we were already using for J&L Pogonotrophics. Partly because the first items were merely a new label applied to the same product we were already making. Other items, we were not all that sure how well they would be received upon hitting the market. And then, we were not sure how to best differentiate the brand yet ensure people knew it was an extension of who we already made ourselves out to be.

Customer feedback was an important factor in how we recreated J&L Apothecary’s look from the start. The biggest factor was the necessity to make it appeal to as many folks as possible by removing any gender profile. Through use, customers also told us what they liked and did not like about our bottles or jars used.

Most of our product photographs were done before we fully implemented all the packaging changes. Some packages saw a complete overhaul while others just had a color change. We are still in the process of revamping our presentation. Soon, we will work through all Cobalt packaging for the majority of products as we transition to white or clear bottles and jars. We are moving through all unique packaging at this time, which means some products may not match their photographs. Once we have completed more of this transition, we will have our photographer work on creating all new photos for all J&L Apothecary Brand products.

Another benefit has been the refinement of production methods and an increase in new ingredients in our raw materials cabinet. This has allowed us to tweak ingredients for some products to bring in better ingredients than what was being used previously. Our move to more Certified Organic Ingredients is also a factor. We rather provide a high quality organic ingredient over a less expensive non organic ingredient if how that change improves quality if there is a change at all.

These changes have not been limited to J&L Apothecary Brand. Our Beard Care line has seen upgrades as well. When we first acquired the “tottle” bottles for our lotions, it was a perfect fit for our After Shave Cream as well. And when we decided to make changes to our Beard Wash and introduce the All New Beard Shampoo and companion Beard Conditioner, the “tottle” bottle was an ideal package to help ensure users dispense the right amount, easily and with less mess. Unfortunately it migrated away from our “signature” blue bottles.

Due to supply and pricing issues we had to change our Original Beard Butter TM package to an amber jar with black lid. Nobody really noticed, but we were sad to see the blue with aluminum lids gone. Another change that is soon to come is our move from the aluminum caps for beard oils. We loved using metal as it was easily recycled as well as looked great with the blue bottles. Quality issues from our suppliers had led to us having to recycle near a third of the caps we were attempting to use. There were even cases where the caps were popping off the bottles due to temperature changes caused the caps to warp and loosen. This increase in scrap of packaging materials made the caps too costly to continue to use. Before the end of the year you wills start to see our beard oils transition to black plastic caps. We analyzed the concept of moving to droppers for our closure and felt it was still a messier mean to apply beard oil. Our reducer “shaker” insert will still be in place to ensure dosing without spilling, and less mess if you knock the bottle over.

Behind the scenes we are working on a new Original Beard Butter formula that will be vegan friendly while still performing as awesome as it already does. There may also be the addition of an all natural plant-based emulsifier to avert a repeat of our past performance issue. We pride ourselves of always providing a high quality product at a fair price, we will always work to make our products better in formula and packaging.

Product details updating

Over this summer we will be auditing our product details and revising information as we add a new tabbed feature layout to all our own branded products.

As we have grown, it is time to convert all ingredient details to the FDA INCI standards. These are the approved botanical or scientific names larger cosmetic makers are required to use to establish uniformity and consistency to ingredient listings. Because of our size of business we are not required to use this system, using the common accepted names for all ingredients it its place. The intent was to be able to convey to consumers our ingredients in a manner that is very easily understood. We could legally still use our current system but as we wish to expand our marketplace it is sensible for us to make this change now. As always, we wish to be upfront and honest about our ingredients as well as our processes.

New Product Information Tabs

Our mission is to make our main product page easier to read and for you to get to the information that is most important or relevant to your search first. Our format always had a structured tab system, but it was one that was not editable in a manner that we felt was beneficial. We have added a back end feature that will allow us to fully customize our product information tabs.

For most products you will see 3 key tabs: Description, More Details & Use, and Ingredients. Description is the first tab all will see when viewing a product. It will contain the general purpose of the item along with basic details and call-outs for benefits and key ingredients.

Next tab will be More Details & Use. A place where we will describe the best or more common use or application of the item and dig into product details such as suggested storage, additional uses and added benefits. Our instructions on how to use a product are based upon the designed purpose of the product. Many of our products have multiple uses and it is good to know what else you can use it for. NOTE: We will alert safety concerns that relate to proper uses, if any. If an item is used outside of the noted methods of use, it is outside our Terms & Conditions and we can not guarantee its performance or safety.

Ingredients is our last custom tab. This is where all base ingredients are listed. For scented items, we keep the details concerning scent on our SCENTS page as they are shared among many products and would be far too lengthy to add into each product listing. Scents are covered under INCI as “fragrance” and are not required to be detailed. We will also call out packaging details and suggest recycling for commonly recyclable packaging components.

The Reviews tab will remain and is moved to last. Reviews are very important for sharing your experience with others. The more reviews a product receives, the more trustworthy it can become to a new customer who is uncertain about the experience they may encounter using our products.

We hope to provide comprehensive information about all our products to help shoppers get the information they want as well as set the right expectations. We do not have an in-house team of content writers, nor have we contracted a 3rd party to do this task. Like everything we do, it is by our small team of people that work behind the scenes to keep us running. By small, I mean pretty much one person. This process will take time and may have some hiccups along the way. Please pardon our “dust” as we make these changes. If there is information or details you would like to see, put it in a product review and we will address it right away.

Our take on “Utility Oils”

We get it; men like it simple when it comes to their grooming regimen. Preferring one product that can be tasked with more than one duty. We embrace this with many of our products where it makes sense; where each task is performed well and you get the best results for everything it does.

It seems there is trend out there of a grooming product collectively referred to as Utility Oils. Utility oils perform the duties of beard oil, shaving oil and skin moisturizing oil. Sounds great, right? Well, when it comes to soaps, shampoo, many creams and lotions such multitasking is sensible. A good body wash can work well as a shampoo. Even our shampoo bars can be awesome body bars. But when it comes to beard oil and shaving oil there are very distinct properties that you should be looking for in each that are at opposing ends of the spectrum.

The best beard oils are light and thin. They will spread easily and evenly through your beard and absorb more quickly into the skin as well. On the other hand, an ideal shaving oil will be thick and viscous. It should become a barrier between the razor and the skin, creating a slick surface for the razor to glide upon. Although it being an oil, it will still absorb into the skin and moisturize; but it will also feel greasy if used as a lotion.

A utility oil is either a beard oil tasked with being a shaving oil, a shaving oil you can use on your beard or a blend of the two. One may think a blend would do the trick but when you think it through you are actually getting a thinned down shaving oil that works as a thickened beard oil. Tasking one to work as the other means it is only doing one job well. Why pay for a product that only does one job well in place of buy 2 products that do their respective jobs very well independently?

An answer may be that it is less expensive while keeping down the clutter in your bathroom. And here is the GOTCHA! – these utility oils are often more expensive than buying an oil for each task. A 2 ounce bottle of a “premium” utility oil can run $40 to $80 anywhere you go. The average 1 ounce bottle of beard oil is about $20, most shaving oils are about the same for a 2 ounce bottle. In our case, each will run about $16 each and come in the same sizes.

Quality of the oils is also important. Castor oil is the ideal oil to use for a shaving oil. It is also one of the cheapest oils used in grooming products. That is why a shaving oil can be twice the size for the same price as a beard oil. A premium beard oil will use mostly argan, almond, apricot and avocado oils to give the performance punch. By the way, if your beard oil does not have at least 2 of those in greater proportion, you should find a better beard oil.

The biggest factor into pricing of any of these products is marketing and pricing to match a desired image. If we get down to the core, with all parts being equal, you are paying more for less with a utility oil. The only thing you are saving is space on your bathroom counter, or wherever you would store your grooming wares.

J&L Pogonotrophics’ Shaving Oil [2 scents, 2oz. $16] and Beard Oil [3 formulas, 17 scents, 1oz. $16]

We provide 3 great formulas of beard oils that vary in viscosity to target the best conditioning you may need. Separately we offer an amazing Shaving Oil that stays slick as a foundation to a great close shave. For skin conditioning we offer Junk Oil as an wholly different beast as well as varying skin lotion formulas. Save the money, give up a little space and do yourself a favor and buy your beard and shaving oils separately. You are likely not needed them both on a daily basis anyway.

Why keep it a secret?

We have good amount of loyal fans of our products and our values. People really seem to love that you can get high quality bath & body products without spending a small fortune. Although I personally don’t see our prices as being inexpensive when compared to your national available mass produced products. It was never our intentions to be on the same price level and there is no way at this point in time for us to even come close. When you look at luxury, salon and boutique brands that are often only sold in limited stores or online, our prices are often shockingly lower for comparable ingredients in a product.

J&L has very loyal fans and followers. Our list of customers who keep coming back for more continues to grow. They often tell us how much they love our products and our prices; and we hope they are telling their friends and family as well. But we have a favor to ask of all of you that do love our products. Please, tell strangers what you think of our products. The best and easiest way to do such is to review the items you have tried on our website and with Google.

Strangers will trust another stranger’s opinion far more than anything we can say about our products. While browsing our site they can see what other users have to say to help them decide if they wish to buy a product from a brand they may have never heard of before. On Google, it not only helps potential customers evaluate our products but helps us spread the word through our own listings. The more and better reviews we get through Google the higher they place us on searches for our products for others to find.

In a way, we like being that little secret brand that maybe folks aren’t sharing too much for fear that we may grow too big and become more expensive and lower quality. We truly wish for that to be the reason. The fact is, you don’t need to keep us a secret. We have the means to easily scale up production to provide more product. As we do so, we are able to buy our supplies and ingredients at even lower prices which will offset the increased manufacturing costs. It may even be possible to lower prices or offer more premiums, discounts and sales.

But, honestly we know you are busy people and may not have time to go back online to give a review for products they just bought. Maybe it was a gift and you hate to ask how much the recipient likes it. Maybe you’re scared that giving us any rating than 5 stars will upset us. (Actually, it will drive us to make it better).

To review us on Google, just search for us (J&L Pogonotrophics) and you should see a box to the upper right in your browser window with company details. There should then be a place where you can enter a review. For any of our products, next time you shop you can easily give a review as you browse for each item.

We thank you for this assistance and hopes this will help other shoppers to give us a try.

Advanced Skin Care is here!

We listened to what you were saying. Over the past few months we have worked on developing formulas for very specific skin care products that truly bring depth to our catalog of products. Current trends are pointing to simple and natural means to bring spa quality products to the home that are affordable. This speaks to us loud and clear. We are always trying to find ways to make higher grade, premium or even luxury level goods to more people. Simplicity and being natural is our style as well!

In mid June we introduced the first 6 products of this new branch of our skin care line. Designed to work together to be a complete face and skin care cleansing regimen. We look for this line to expand over the next year.

  • SERUM H.A. – 2% Hyaluronic Acid serum that penetrates and restores. A tiny bit of this alpha-hydroxy goes a long way to work with your skin to deeply moisturize and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
  • TONER – a simple oil-free toner to remove dirt and oil that soap leaves behind. Water based formula that is very light on the alcohol. Contains Witch Hazel, Cucumber Extract, Green Tea Extract (still to come)
  • TONER with 2% Salicylic Acid – the same as our basic toner but with added acne fighting power.
  • FACE MIST – a great way to refresh the skin and prepare it for your care regimen. Ideal for those who have dry skin to prevent a dry feel from other products.
  • CHARCOAL FACE WASH – a specialized version of our FOAMING FACE WASH where we added the cleansing trio of Activated Charcoal, Tea Tree Oil & Lemongrass Oil. Each works to ensure as much dirt, oil and residue is removed before you go forward with your daily face regimen.
  • FACE WASH – a liquid face wash built upon our organic liquid soap base. It’s light, lathers very well and rinses away super clean.
  • FACE WASH with 2% Salicylic Acid. Our new face wash with acne fighting power of beta-hydroxy Salicylic Acid.

All of these products are free of added fragrances. The formulas are kept to the fewest ingredients possible and are designed to be a total daily facial regimen.

We are very excited to introduce these new items to our Skin Care line. With our Clay Mask System, Lotions and Scrubs we offer a very comprehensive collection of total skin care all priced attractively while offering equal or better quality than most known luxury brands. Produce in small batches to ensure you get a fresher product.

New Product News for May

We have quietly been evaluating the skin care marketplace to see what the current trends are as well as what is genuinely GREAT for your skin. Some of what we have learned has already go into our existing lotions. Formulas have been tweaked to improve their benefits. We have started to add PANTHENOL to our products, a Pro-V B5 vitamin that binds with and penetrates skin and hair more easily to boost lubrication and hydration.

Our Foaming Face Scrub will have a couple new variations that will include 2% SALICYLIC ACID, a key BETA HYDROXY which aids in managing acne. Our original formula will go unchanged, but you will see at least 1 new formula by June in our shop.

There will also be a new cleansing scrub for the J&L Pogonotrophics line. This scrub is geared for men who are bald or who shave their heads. It will help remove excess oil and dirt and to prevent acne and other scalp irritations. As a bald man I have found that I needed something that will tackle these issues that are more common because of the lack of hair that protects the skin. The scrub will be awesome for all skin, so while you have it you can also get great skin anywhere you wish.

Recently we asked our customers what other products they would like to see from us. A common response was a desire to get more specialized skin care. Especially something to treat dry or aged skin. Our research brought us to ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS like GLYCOLIC and HYALURONIC. Both of these acids help with adding elasticity and moisture to the skin and more easily breaks the bonds that hold on to dead skin cells. They are a part of those “chemical peels” you hear about. In a much lower percentage they still do a great job of reducing fine lines, wrinkles and redness that occurs. We currently have SERUM H A in testing. This all natural formula that uses plant sourced ingredients is a simple serum that can easily be applied to the skin in a fine layer under a moisturizer or sunscreen. Dermatologists recommend using such a serum twice daily. SERUM H A also includes vitamins B5 and C, along with Aloe Vera to aid in its effectiveness. Serums like this can run as high as $300, although most are under $20Our plan is to introduce this serum soon at a price point that is competitive to value brands while offering a higher grade pure product.

SERUM H A is part of a new branch of our Skin Care line that will carry a slightly new look to reflect their more specialized mission and ingredients. We plan to add a face moisturizing spray and a face wash to this group for launch. Look for details to come.

We are excited about this new additions. These new products will further differentiate us from the rest by providing more options, higher quality and value-minded pricing. Choice has been the foundation we built ourselves upon and we don’t see that changing.

Product Development: Conditioner Bar Part 2

We have been analyzing recipes to see what we can do to perfect the shelf consistency of the product to remain firm, even when it when the environment is warm or humid; along with being easy to use where it will create the “just right” creamy consistency of a conditioner when being used. We are sure there is the perfect ratio of thickeners/hardeners while still being something that will melt in your hands. So far we are not having any luck.

It seems the issue for us is that we wish to consist of 100% natural/plant based ingredients. We looking at recipes we are seeing agents being used that are not derived from plants. Currently we are working with Cetearyl Alcohol and Behentrimonium methosulfate – working together as BTMS-50. The names may be scary but there are genuinely plant based products, and not synthesized versions. Cetearyl Alcohol is a thickener for fats and oils. Don’t let the alcohol part scare you as it is a “fatty alcohol”, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be exceptionally beneficial for skin and hair. It is heavily used for lotions and conditioners throughout the cosmetic industry. Behentrimonium methosulfate is made from rape seed (canola) oil, and is a very popular conditioning agent along with being a great emulsifier. Together they work as a base for creating lotions and conditioners. Designed to be mixed with all your other butters and oils to bind them with water to get the right consistency. By adding higher ratios of Cetearyl alcohol you get a thicker to even solid product.

For now we are scrapping our Solid Conditioner plans until summer. The coming weeks we are busy building up inventory for the summer. Hopes are that we can piece together the right formula and have a product ready for Autumn. This project is important to us and we know it is something many are waiting for but we do not want to rush this and produce a mediocre product.


New Beard Shampoo & Conditioner

We are really excited to bring 2 very new products to our J&L Pogonotrophics line; our all new Beard Conditioner and our improved Beard Shampoo which replaces Quotidian Beard Wash. These are all new formulations designed from the bottom up to meet the very specific demands of beard hair.

While others will take a simple shampoo formula, natural or other, and bottle it as a beard shampoo. We dug deep into the needs of the average beardsman and paired the right ingredients, in the right amounts to address those needs. We began with our organic wash base, which in itself is an awesome liquid soap and as good as any other premium wash, and added key moisturizing oils that can penetrate the cuticle of the hair and nourish it from the inside out. We also added Pro-V B5 (aka Panthenol), which is found in many quality hair care products. Panthenol works by improving effects of hair elasticity, moisture retention and flexibility; and can improve damaged hair. Beard hair often takes a lot of abuse from the environment and from grooming habits.

This new Beard Shampoo is an example of the leading edge we take when it comes to quality premium beard care products and is priced very competitively. Compare to Bluebeard Shampoo’s ingredients and right away you will see the difference. You won’t see Hemp, Avocado and Macadamia Nut Oils – all proven to be amazing hair moisturizers! Nor will you see the number of organic ingredients like we offer. You also see they use Propylene Glycol, which can irritate the skin.

A sensible pairing for our Beard Shampoo is our all new Beard Conditioner. A super luxurious and THICK conditioner that is packed with all the best moisturizing agents you can find for nourishing hair. It took months to work out the idea conditioner that can penetrate the beard hair and leave it soft and manageable. This conditioner is so amazing that you may not need to use a beard oil as often. We bring over many of the same conditioners you find in our Shampoo, but kick them up with Jojoba Oil, Mango Butter, Shea Butter and Coconut Oil. You will also find a more Pro-V B5 to help ensure those moisturizers get to do their best work. There is no serious comparison to the quality of this conditioner!

Both of these new items are in stock in our store today! Each are only $10 for 120ml – 4 fl oz bottles. While the Beard Conditioner is unscented, the Beard Shampoo comes in our 8 core fragrances.

Again, we are setting the bar high for what beard care can be!