The beard, once a sign of the most pious of men, is today the trendiest of fashion statements as hipsters the world over have appropriated the humble beard as a symbol of their hipsterdom.

But keeping a well-groomed beard with the facial mane requires a host of products and regular combing.  Faced with the lack of these products for themselves, beard aficionados Sentlo Matlejoane and Thabo Motloung formulated Beard Gang, an oil created specifically for African hair and skin.

“I tried to use plenty of products from amla oil (indian gooseberry oil), and even hair food and nothing worked. Everything seemed to irritate my skin.” said Matlejoane.

 Matlejoane, who has a shop selling clothing in Braamfontein, says he partnered with Motloung, who was studying biochemistry at Wits but dropped out before completing his degree. The duo researched for months before finally settling on the formula they have now which includes hamseed and jojoba oils among other ingredients.

Beard Gang aims to fill a gap in the market.  “Starting the brand was about creating something for people of colour,” Matlejoane said.The brand is also one of the few 100% black-owned cosmetic companies in South Africa. Matlejoane feels that “black brothers” still need to be educated on how to groom their beards and that’s one of their aims, to “instil a culture of beard grooming within the black community“.

Thami, a customer who has used the oil, said that he was happy with the product as it worked for his “unique hair texture”, and really liked that the oil comes in different scents which means it doesn’t smell “normal”.

Matlejoane also hopes that they will expand into other products like hair care treatments specifically for “African hair textures”.