When It Comes To Your Face And Beard: Safety First

by Nicholas Karnaze

When I first started making beard & skincare products I never intended to sell them. Originally they were just for me…to help soften my beard, reduce itch, and hydrate my skin. I would stand in my kitchen mixing ingredients in my modified “lab” while watching Walt and Jesse cook meth on AMC’s Breaking Bad. It was awesome.

When it comes to my skin and beard I am very particular. I will not use just any product. This is why I started stubble & ‘stache in the first place.

Handcrafted/homemade products are wonderful. Websites like etsy.com have created amazing opportunities for small business and entrepreneurs to get their creations to the masses. Stubble & ‘Stache itself is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business. You might call us a micro business given how small we actually are. But, our products are not handcrafted. Here’s why:

Working in my kitchen, I started thinking about contamination. I identified three key areas where unintended “ingredients” could enter the mix:

  1. The raw materials themselves
  1. Manufacturing
  1. Filling the containers

What do I mean by this? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the cosmetic/skincare market like they do the pharmaceutical and food industries. Without well-controlled facilities and established standards, contaminants can easily enter the system. Standing in my kitchen, I started asking myself these questions regarding homemade/handcrafted products:

  1. Raw materials: Upon arrival, how do I know they do not contain harmful bacteria? Sure they were purchased from a reputable dealer, but how can I be sure? After all, people get food poisoning all the time at “reputable” establishments. Recently the deadly E. coli bacterium was responsible for a recall of organic spinach.
  1. Manufacturing: As the product is made, how do I know pathogens don’t enter the mix? Was the person making the product sick? Did they cough into the mixture? Are their tools and equipment clean?
  1. Filling: Assuming the mixture is uncontaminated, how do I know it doesn’t become contaminated during the fill? How do I know the person making it wasn’t just handling peanuts or other allergens? What is the overall cleanliness of their workspace?

With these serious concerns in mind, we decided to forgo the “handcrafted” route and instead work in a professional, controlled manufacturing environment. Granted this is more expensive, but you can’t put a price on your beard’s safety.

Here is how we address the concerns listed above:

First and foremost, our manufacturing facility complies with the Good Manufacturing Practices set forth by the FDA.

  1. Raw materials: When the raw materials arrive, they are kept in quarantine. We pull a sample for quality and microbiology testing. Once the raw materials pass the Quality Control (QC) process, they are released from quarantine and enter the manufacturing process.
  1. When we manufacture the product, we receive a sample of the finished product and test for color, odor, pH and viscosity. We also run microbiology testing. Once QC and Microbiology approve the product, it is released for filling.
  1. Filling: We take two samples during filling. One at the beginning of the run and one from the end of the run. We run microbiology tests on the samples to ensure no contamination occurred during filling.

We use three types of media for microbiology testing. One is general-purpose media that will help detect most types of microorganisms. We also have media to detect yeast and mold and another to detect pathogens.

When it comes to products placed on the skin, you cannot be too safe. Our goal is to make the best, most innovative men’s beard and skincare products on the market while helping veterans in need. As the holiday gift buying season ramps up, ensure your gifts only spread health, happiness and joy.




stubble & 'stache was founded by a former Marine Corps Special Operations Combat Veteran in memory of his fallen comrade. We donate a percentage of profits to organizations supporting those men and women suffering from the mental wounds sustained in combat.



Nicholas Karnaze
Nicholas Karnaze


Warfighter turned entrepreneur. Founder, stubble & 'stache. Grooming expert. Skincare nerd. Marine Corps combat veteran.

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