Just when we think we’ve reached peak beard, the trend is showing no signs of slowing down.
Alongside the revival of facial hair is a growth in the demand for natural products driven by the rise in veganism and increased environmental awareness.
The global skincare market will be worth an estimated €116bn by 2021,according to Datamonitor. About one-third of this spend is projected to be on natural products.
Meanwhile, in the UK, sales of beard care products have risen by over 200% in the last three years.
Irish startup Machado Men’s Grooming aims to meet this demand with its range of natural skincare products which includes beard balms and oils.
Founder Síle Headen recognised a gap in the market during a visit to a beauty and well-being trade show in Hamburg a few years ago. She said 95% of the stands exhibited products aimed at women, with very few catering for men.
Ms Headen, who has a background in natural science and has worked with natural skincare startups, said: “It was in the back of my mind that there’s so much out there in natural products for women and nothing for men.”
While the natural skincare startup industry is thriving here, their main ranges are for women only with a sideline aimed at men.
“What makes us stand out is we are focusing on the men’s market,” Ms Headen says.
The Laois-based startup began selling its products last year, seeing huge success at Gifted, the craft and design fair held at Dublin’s RDS in December.
Ms Headen’s partner Joao Machado is the company’s eponymous creative director.
While looking for ingredients that were “readily available, sustainable and simple”, and realising olive oil was underused in skincare, she began to use organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil sourced from Mr Machado’s family’s olive grove in the Alentejo region of Portugal.
The Machado Men’s Grooming range, which also includes shaving soaps and beard care gift sets uses natural, ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients including shea butter,beeswax, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, cocoa butter and bog myrtle essential oil. The shaving soap contains Irish rapeseed oil.
A favourite is its rescue balm. Ms Headen said the product is versatile and suitable for dry skin and offers protection against the elements forcyclists and other outdoors enthusiasts.
In keeping with the company’s ethical and sustainable ethos, Ms Headen says it knows where all ingredients originate — the shea butter is sourced from women’s co-operatives in Africa, for example.
Each ingredient has beneficial properties and a specific purpose, she said.
“We want to give value for money in the products. Every ingredient we use is there for a reason.”
She describes myrtle’s antibacterial and anti fungal properties and says that the Vikings used the plant to treat depression.
Ms Headen said beard care is a growing industry. While some men have returned to the clean-shaven look after a brief flirtation with designer stubble, “real beardies are taking care of their facial hair”.
As part of the company’s commitment to sustainability, Machado has signed up to Biodiversity Ireland’s bee-friendly pollinator plan.
Having recently won an award for innovative business from Laois Enterprise Office, Machado Men’s Grooming was selected by eBay as one of up to 50 Irish SMEs to take part in its Retail Expansion Programme.
The pilot scheme launched last month by the e-commerce giant in association with Enterprise Ireland, and the Design and Crafts Council helps small indigenous companies to promote their products to a global market.
The project includes brand visibility in the UK, Germany and US markets, as well as technical support.
Currently, the team located in Clonminam Business Park in Portlaoise consists of Mr Machado and Ms Headen, and part-time seasonal staff.
The couple received a micro-grant from their Local Enterprise Office to attend trade show Barber UK last year.
Ms Headen has also taken part in Acorns, the programme for rural early-stage female entrepreneurs.
Machado Men’s Grooming products are available from the company’s website, on eBay, and a selection of local retail stockists.
The company’s focus over the next six months will be on building awareness of the brand and developing new products including moisturisers and shower gels.