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Eric Bandholz, 31, a graphic artist in Spokane, Wash., who writes about beards on his blog (beardbrand.com) uses Woodsman mustache wax and beard oil, and American Crew shampoo and conditioner, to maintain his distinctive red beard. Mr. Bandholz, a former financial adviser, said he coined the term “urban beardsman” for himself and his brethren of bearded renaissance men. “We are into music, design, culture, and into being unique,” he said.

Call it the "Brad Pitt effect." No longer reserved for hipsters and lumberjacks, the beard has gone mainstream. For men who can't copy Pitt's luscious facial locks due to patchiness and slow growth, some are taking extreme measures to mold their mustaches into masterpieces. Beard transplants (the surgery takes donor hairs from the head and plants into thinning areas) are on the rise. The Farjo Hair Institute performed 4,500 hair transplants last year, up 13 percent compared to the previous 12 months. Products like beard sprays and color fillers have also hit the market.

Eric Bandholz, founder of Beardbrand, says, "I think it’s a little ridiculous. Your beard is your beard. I don't endorse it." Instead, he suggests taking the au naturel route to boost your beard to maximum levels.

"If you're a guy who lives in a cold or dry climate, or if you have hard water, you should without a doubt be using a beard oil," says Eric Bandholz, owner and founder of online beard shop beardbrand.com. Those conditions wick the moisture right out of your facial hair and can make your bristles, well, brittle. The result is that they tend to break, making your beard feel sharp and coarse – and also grow in misbegotten shapes.

If anyone were qualified to launch a business like Beardbrand, it would be Eric Bandholz.

An entrepreneur and former Merrill Lynch analyst, Bandholz has a business degree from the University of South Carolina and a well-groomed, 6-inch red beard paired with a mustache that covers his mouth as he talks. His startup, Beardbrand, formed with partners Lindsey Reinders, 28, and Jeremy McGee, 31, launched early this year.

The trio are marketing their own all-natural beard oils, formulated on Bandholz’s kitchen table, while also selling other grooming products and accessories on their website, www.beardbrand.com.