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If you’ve ever wanted to adorn your beard with a distinguished, educated scent, a Brandon University professor’s new collaboration might just be the ticket.
Sociology professor Chris Schneider has joined forces with Sudbury, Ont.-based Nickel City Beard Blends to create a new signature beard oil blend called "The Professor."
Schneider, who has a striking, full beard, has studied beard culture and even given public lectures at the university on the subject before.
He said on Friday that while he’s been approached by beard oil companies before, he decided to partner with Nickel City after they reached out because they donate a portion of every sale to a children’s charity. It also gave him an academic opportunity.
"I was interested in this because of the research aspect," Schneider said. "There are beard oils and beard oil companies that are kind of dime-a-dozen. You’ll find different companies across the province, they’re all throughout the States. Many of the people who are making the beard oils, they’re made at home, they’re mixing them in the basement. I really had no research or insight into the creation of the oils themselves."
Initially, Nickel City owner Steph Paquin wanted to get Schneider’s feedback on his company’s products in February or March after the pandemic started, but it quickly evolved into a partnership.
Schneider said they get along well, as both men are beard aficionados and devotees of heavy metal music.
The professor is a big fan of the scent of cedar and decided to make that the centre of the blend after hearing that Nickel City didn’t have any products containing it or other favourite scents, vanilla and tobacco leaf.
"I was looking for something that was kind of autumn crisp smell, which I think a lot of people really liked," he said. "I was thinking of being on campus in late September, early October and the leaves are changing. I was sort of looking for a smell to evoke that feel."
There are several benefits to beard oil other than the nice scent, according to Schneider. He likes the shine that beard oil gives his beard. It’s also not just for beards and facial hair. Schneider puts some in his hair, too.
"It’s not necessarily gender-specific," he said.
One thing it doesn’t do is increase beard growth, which Schneider said some people believe.
Paquin sent several sample bottles to Schneider to pick out a blend he liked the most. Schneider tried them out and also got feedback from bearded friends and his significant other, who he noted would have to sleep next to the scent.
Every single person who went through the samples ended up having the same preferred bottle, which made choosing a winner easy.
The only thing Schneider is disappointed in is that he can’t make the trip out to Sudbury to personally help make a batch of the oil. He hopes to make the trip out when the world returns to normal.
"I imagine it being very scientific-y, with Bunsen burners and beakers and droppers," he said. "Probably it’s none of those things."
While the product is named after him, he is not making any profit from sales.
It isn’t for sale yet, but customers can pre-order bottles of the oil on Nickel City’s website. As a bonus, everyone who makes a pre-order will get access to a 30-minute video lecture Schneider made on beard culture through online networking platform Zoom.
Given that Schneider was told in his recent student course evaluations that his classes are like a Netflix show, it might just be worth a watch.
He’s taking a sabbatical next year to pursue projects such as writing a book on sexual misconduct in the media and conduct research into female heavy metal fans.
Schneider and his research partner got an $80,000 grant for the heavy metal study earlier this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their plans to attend some music festivals this year.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark
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