We're going to brutally honest for a moment: there are so many beard companies out there, and while we truly do want to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit at every possible opportunity, some of them are... ugh. So bad. Just, so bad. We hate to say it, but it's true.
They're run by two or three very fantastic but totally-overwhelmed people, their products aren't really that great because running a company is truly, ridiculously expensive, and if you have a problem with shipping or something, it's really difficult to correct, because... well, two or three people can't do it all! We honestly hate saying that, but it's the truth. It's REALLY hard to run a successful company, and a lot of beard and shaving companies, despite their best efforts, don't really do it so well.
And that's why it's such a pleasure when you come across a company like Taconic. We've been diving into their products for a few weeks, and everything about them is exceptional: the brand, the product, the service—all absolutely fantastic.
So, here we'll talk about two products we've been obsessed with: the Taconic Shave Cream and the Taconic Shave Soap. We'll dive into the review in a moment, and because we want to maintain some credibility, we'll offer a few minor nits to complain about—but first, because we literally can't help ourselves, allow us to (yet again) go off-topic for a moment:
What Does "Taconic" Mean, Anyway?
As a general term, "Taconic" refers to a range of the Appalachian Mountains that travels north and south along the Eastern border of New York state. It's an almost unbelievably beautiful mountain range, and one of the true New York state treasures, because 1) it provides incredible hiking and natural scenery, all year round and 2) it's only an hour or so from New York City, where "incredible hiking and natural scenery" is a bit sparse.
The name "Taconic" has actually been used in a number of business ventures, that cross a number of different areas. In terms of companies that are named "Taconic," there's...
Taconic Capital, for those of you out there who are doing well for yourselves—Taconic Capital is "a global institutional investment firm that pursues an event-driven, multi-strategy investment approach," and we don't know what that really means, but we wish we did.
Taconic Biosciences, which is a company that (checks notes) genetically engineers lab rats and mice so that they will be better suited for scientific studies, and has more than 4,500 mice and rat models. We didn't even know that was a thing, but... wow. It makes sense, if you think about it, but talk about a small market (ha). Seriously, you have to check that website out—it's a trip.
And, of course, there's...
Taconic Shave, the product of high-end yet very-affordable shave goods, which we'll be discussing. So if you were interested in making investments or experiment on mutant rats, we'd politely point you to the other two Taconics.
What Does Taconic Offer? / Company Profile
Taconic has a pretty standard line of products, and they're most of what we'd expect from a well-run, mature company dedicated to beards and wet shaving—they've got pre-shave oils, shaving creams and soap, a pomade and some shampoo bars, a few well-made shave brushes and safety razors, beard oil and balm, and a mustache wax. They've also got a "For Her" section on their website, which is very smart—there are a lot of women who visit sites like Taconic's looking for gifts for the men in their lives, and getting those female visitors to buy something for themselves too is a great idea.
(So here's our one small complaint: they don't have a beard butter, and that would be nice. There's plenty else to love, and that's actually not uncommon for beard/shaving companies, because beard butters are kind of a "niche" product—within an already niche industry). So we can't really blame them for that, but it would be fun to see what they come up with.)
So—all of the products above are pretty common to beard/shaving companies. The reason why we love these guys so much is—well, there are two reasons:
1) The SCENTS.There are a few things beard/shaving companies can do to stand out from their competitors, and creating a line of unique, enticing fragrances is probably the most powerful. Taconic has a fantastic line of scents, including:
Urban Woods - This is probably our favorite scent—it's a blend of bergamot, cedar, and tobacco, and it's surprisingly refreshing. It has a clean, cool feeling that meets the name—it kind of resembles that "in a quiet wood" scent that you can sometimes experience—perhaps in the Taconic range?
The "urban" part is great, too, because as a whole, beard and shaving companies don't really market anything "city," and that's funny, because a looooooooooooot of guys (including your author) have beards and live in the city.
Lavender - Why don't more shaving companies utilize lavender? We love lavender! It's everything you want a shaving scent to be—sweet, comforting, enticing. It's lovely. Is it because it's a flower, and guys don't flower-y shaving products? If so, that's dumb. Lavender is fantastic.
Bay Rum - This is an interesting take on Bay Rum, which is one of the "classic" barbershop/shaving scents—it's sweet (but not too sweet) and it's a little bit spicy. This has a nice balance—some bay rums are a little too sweet—they can smell like a desert or something—but this is nice.
Eucalyptus Mint - We always hope that a shaving company's scent line has something like this in it—most smells are very comfortable, and that's GREAT when you're wanting to feel calm or relaxed... but sometimes you want something a little "peppier," and a bold scent can be bracing and wakeful. The combo of eucalyptus (which is sharp and maybe even a little medicinal) with mint (which is bracing but sweet) is a really nice pairing, especially if you want something that'll wake you up when you're shaving in the morning.
Lime - We haven't tried this one yet, but we're excited to—lime is a good option, if you're going for a citrus, because the other citrus options can be problematic: lemon can smell too bold and too artificial, whereas bergamot alone doesn't always smell citrus-y enough. Lime has that nice distinct scent, that's bright and colorful without being too obvious, so we hope to try this soon.
So there's a LOT to love here, and, as odd as it is to say this, one of our favorite aspects of their scent line-up is that they didn't overdo it on sandalwood. Every beard and shaving company out there has a "sandalwood" option, and a lot of companies rely on it far too much. It's a bold choice to go without it, but with their other fragrances, it doesn't feel like Taconic is missing anything.
And, as with all well-planned product suites, they've got an unscented option for all their products, and that's their "Excalibur" offering (and we're particularly big fans of the Excalibur Beard Balm—it's got a LOT of great ingredients and it feels fantastic). If you have sensitive skin issues—or if you're just not into fragrances, or have other fragrances you already wear and want to keep things simple—the Excalibur products can be a great option.
2) The TEXTURES.
We feel like this aspect of shaving goods get overlooked, and that's a real bummer, because—it's important! The feel of a shaving cream or beard balm or whatever is a big deal, and if it doesn't feel right, what's the point?
The Taconic products we've used (and more on this in a moment) felt wonderful. The beard balm is thick and not runny or limp, the shave cream was fluffy and smooth without slick or watery, and the shaving soap was SURPRISINGLY fluffy. That's really all we could ask for.
So, to wrap it up, let's close out with...
We're going to focus on two of our favorites, which are:
The Taconic Shave Soap: Pics
We bought the Taconic Lavender Shave soap, and it was really a nice surprise:
Not only did it smell wonderful—and as we've mentioned earlier, we're big fans of the lavender!—the puck itself jumped up into a really strong cream:
We couldn't be happier about that. Very often, you'll buy a shave soap / shave puck and even five or ten minutes of trying to get it to fluff up into a cream, you get nothing—just a soapy, runny, water-y mess. This was a delight, though.
Take another look at the shave brush:
You can really see the layers there, and that's rare for a soap.
That brush, by the way, is gorgeous—it's a Parker Shave Brush, and the color is a deep emerald green. Just beautiful. From what I understand, those are limited, so if you're interested, we'd urge you check it out.
The Taconic Shave Cream: Pics
There were two types we tried—the Bay Rum and the Urban Woods.
The Bay Rum comes in a handsome little tub:
and while we loved the scent—it was scent and inviting—the real feature we loved was the FEEL. You can see here that it's a little bit "pearly"...
and it has almost luster-y sheen to it. It felt FANTASTIC and it whipped up into a very nice lather.
The Urban Woods, too, jumped up into a nice lather, even though the consistency of it was very different. It's much thicker:
and while it took a little more effort to whip up, it was light awful fluffy after a few whisks of the shaving brush.
We're big fans, and we can't wait to work our way through the rest of the products. We've yet to try the lime scent, and we're hoping to try the shave soap and shave cream soon. It would be nice if there were a beard butter available, but that's a pretty small nit to pick. Overall, we really appreciate all the effort that went into these products, and are happy to recommend them. And—certainly to recommend them over the Taconic Biosciences company!