“Women always complain about beards,” says Victoria Clayton. “A lot of women like the look of a beard, but they don’t necessarily like the feel of a beard.”
So, from her home in Mullumbimby in northern New South Wales, Clayton began tinkering with scents, unguents and oils.
After success selling an olive-oil soap named the Man Bar at local markets, Clayton branched out into face and body wash, shaving foam, and “beard balms”. Called Valor Organics, all of the products are organic, sustainable, paraben, sulphate and preservative free.
While there’s a lot of controversy around the long-term effects of using chemicals on your skin (and flushing them into the waterways), the fact is that most soap is made using detergents such as sodium laurel sulphate, bleaches and synthesised deodorants.
As anyone with sensitive skin will attest, the effects of detergent-based soaps are immediately apparent. “My husband had psoriasis and I really needed to make things for him,” says Clayton. “People with psoriasis tend to be aggravated by synthetic fragrances and chemicals. Essential oils can also aggravate people, I should add, but I’m careful with which ones I use.”
So, instead of the pre-mixed soap kits that generally provide the base for what pass as “handmade soaps”, Clayton went back to basics. Using Australian olive oil and cold-pressed coconut oil, she combines her ingredients with Fairtrade cocoa butter, shea butter, rice bran oil and avocado oil. Her range of beard balms, which are designed to be rubbed into the follicles, are mixed from organic, locally grown macadamia oil, organic argan oil, hemp oil, coconut and borage. “All of those are as close as possible to natural sebum that the skin produces,” says Clayton.
Beyond their ethics, Valor Organics products do exactly what they’re supposed to do: smell good. While the shaving foam and olive oil soaps are subtly scented, the beard balms have an aftershave quality. The Original recipe has a sweeter inflection, with cedarwood, neroli, lime and a hint of patchouli; the Firewood is sharper and smokier, with bergamot, ginger, Australian sandalwood, cedar wood, Madagascan vanilla and cade.
To apply, the balm is simply rolled on and massaged into the face. “It’s a good opportunity to give yourself a bit of a massage,” explains Clayton. “It gets absorbed very quickly into the skin and into the hair shaft – because the molecular structure of those oils is very absorbent. It lingers very nicely.”
Along with her existing range of products, Clayton is working on a frankincense-based men’s moisturiser and the elusive natural deodorant. “That’s the thing everyone asks me for,” she says.
Buy Valor Organics products online at shavewithvalor.com.