Help For Heroes XTREME The Fragrance: a good scent for a good cause

help for heroesWith fragrance one of the top gift ideas at this time of year it’s often all to easy to reach for a big brand name or the latest concoction from a huge fashion house. Which is all very well if you’re ok with lining the pockets of Chanel, Dior or Hugo Boss but if you want to do some good with your gift giving then maybe you should think about XTREME The Fragrance by Help For Heroes – the charity which offers support to servicemen and women injured in the line of duty.

A creamy, spicy and gourmandy fragrance, with lemon, black pepper, basil, amber and vanilla, it easily holds its own against this year’s biggest designer launches and a minimum of £3 from every sale goes direct to the charity. Five ex-servicemen worked alongside perfumer and lecturer Marianne Martin to come up with the fragrance and their stories are truly inspirational (you can read about the guys  involved here). So if you’re looking for a fragrance that helps people, as well as your chances, you might want to put XTREME on your wish list.

Help For Heroes XTREME The Fragrance is available from Debenhams and www.helpforheroesfragrance.com priced £30.

Look good (and do some good) with Nik Thakkar’s new grooming box

nk_11199The problem I have with many grooming boxes is that they don’t represent good value for money, the product sizes are stingy and the brands uninspiring. Thankfully, none of those things can be said of the new ‘Grooming Adventurer’ box from All Boxed Up and artist/designer Nik Thakkar (above).

212-heroIt features eight, full-sized products, worth £150, for the bargain price of just £39.99 (+ p&p). There are some superb brands in there, too, like Cowshed, The Refinery, Recipe For Men and, one of my personal favourites, Polaar. What’s more, 10% of the profits go to The Albert Kennedy Trust, a great organisation that helps support young LGBT  people who find themselves homeless, so by buying a box you won’t just look good you’ll be doing some good too. There are only 500 boxes available, though, so be quick!

The Nik Thakkar Men’s Grooming Adventurer box is available here.

Perfume: A Century of Scents

LIZZIE OSTROMI love books. It’s why I ended up doing an English Literature degree way back in the Stone Age. Problem is, I don’t get nearly as much time as I’d like to actually read them – which explains this embarrassingly tardy review of Lizzie Ostrom’s new book, Perfume: A Century of Scents.  Lizzie, aka Odette Toilette, is one of the perfume industry’s top notes, fizzing with a passion for (and a knowledge of) perfume that’s made her an established voice in the fragrance firmament. Her true talent, however, is in bringing the subject of fragrance alive with character, interesting stories and a writing style that’s knowledgable but fun and accessible too.

The book itself – clearly a labour of love – is a pacy, hugely readable walk through all the key fragrances of the last hundred years or so, starting in 1900 and ending at the end of the Nineties, with a final chapter looking at where fragrance is now and where it might be heading. The bulk of it is about female fragrances (what are traditionally classed as female fragrances, anyway, since perfume is pretty much gender fluid) but there’s plenty of discussion about men’s fragrances  too – from classics like Old Spice and Eau Sauvage to Guerlain’s Vetiver and Joop! Homme.

Unlike the bulk of books written about perfume  – and I’ve read a lot  – it’s delightfully unstuffy and unpretentious (she describes Tabac, one of my personal favourites,  as being “the string vest of aftershaves” for example), making it as good a read for people with just a passing interest in fragrance as it is for perfumistas or  those who write about fragrance for a living. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable read and a fantastic gift for Christmas too. Recommended.

Perfume A Century of Scents by Lizzie Ostrom is available now from odettetoilette.com

Missed out on the Mr Porter Grooming Kit?

mr porterGrooming Boxes – specially curated sets of grooming products that give a chance to sample brands at a discount price – are, at the best of times, somewhat hit and miss. Trust Mr Porter to come up with probably the best one that’s appeared though. It’s luxurious Grooming Kit features a raft of full-sized and sample-sized products including brands like Escentric Molecules, Penhaligon’s, REN, Perricone MD and some of my personal favorites like Czech & Speake and Malin + Goetz. Beautifully edited and costing £50 it’s also that rarest of things  –  a true bargain (the Escentric Molecules Body Wash and Bamford Grooming Department’s Exfoliating Face Wash alone cost more than that). Which may explain why the kit sold out within a week of its launch at the end of October. I am reliably informed, however, that new stock will be available next week so keep an eye out for it here!

Isn’t it time your face got FIT?

fir skincare manI’m exceptionally lucky in my job as a grooming writer in that I get try out virtually every skincare product that hits the market. What this privilege provides me with is an excellent overview of what’s hot (and what’s not) and what’s worth spending your money on. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years it’s that, sometimes, it’s worth checking out lesser known premium skincare brands rather than just opting for the usual department store names. One such brand is FIT Skincare for Men.

Formulated and manufactured here in the UK (always a big bonus in my book) and offering “a workout for your skin” FIT offer a ten-piece, performance-driven grooming range that includes everything a man needs to keep his hair, face and body looking, as the name aptly suggests, ‘fit’.

FIT_30ml_Moisturiser_Bottle_SQUARE_72dpi_V1The hero product for me is the FIT Moisturising Ultra Serum. A lightweight, rapidly-absorbed and non-greasy serum this high-tech skin saviour features a raft of natural active ingredients which penetrate the skin to deliver superior skincare.

swatchAmino acids tone skin and stimulate collagen production; antioxidants offer protection from harmful free radicals and environmental damage; botanical extracts reduce irritation and minimise fine lines, whilst caffeine reduces puffiness. The serum also features Hyaluronic Acid – an ingredient often lauded by grooming writers like myself because of its ability to keep skin soft, supple and hydrated. Finally, FIT’s very own OXY-FIT-10 oxygen delivery system helps power skin cell regeneration – something that’s handy, whatever your age.

The result is the ultimate multi-functional skincare product for men – one that hydrates, repairs, protects and reduces irritation. Easily slotted into you existing grooming routine you simply apply sparingly to the face after cleansing, morning and night. I’ve been using it for three weeks now and must say my skin, which often suffers from random dry patches, feels great. What’s more, unlike some products, it only has the merest hint of fragrance (in this case a refreshing hint of ginger).

FIT SKINCARE SERUMA couple of other products from the range worth checking out are the cleverly named FIT EYEDRATE+, an energizing and refreshing eye serum which tackles those unwanted signs of fatigue like puffiness and dark circles, and FIT’s Pec & Ab Sculpt which has received a mention in Shortlist’s prestigious Men’s Grooming Awards. With products as targeted and results-driven as these, I suspect that nod of recognition  may not be the last.

FIT Moisturising Ultra Serum is available from fitkincare.co.uk priced £50 for 30ml. To check out the full range click here.

 

A FIT Skincare/Grooming Guru Sponsored Post

New Burberry fragrance coming in April

Burberry Fragrance - Mr. BurberryApril 2016 will see the launch of a brand new Burberry fragrance, Mr Burberry, inspired, apparently, by the iconic Burberry heritage trench coat. Described as a woody/herbal fragrance it features notes of grapefruit, tarragon, cardamom, cedar, nutmeg, birch leaf, vetiver, sandalwood and guaiac wood and the campaign will feature Brit actor Josh Whitehouse, directed by Turner Prize winning director Steve McQueen. To add to the list of big guns involved (Burberry never do anything by halves) the fragrance itself has been created by acclaimed nose Francis Kurkdjian. I must say, I love the simplicity of the bottle and the Mr Porter-esque name (check out the italicised font) and can’t wait to smell the fragrance itself.

Bond is back! So here are a few style & grooming tips from the woman who dresses him…

bond style

The other day I had the pleasure of speaking to Jany Temime  –  award-winning costume designer for the new Bond film SPECTRE  –  about what men can learn from the way 007  dresses. We didn’t talk about the labels he wears in the movie – you can read about those elsewhere – but about what men can learn from Bond’s general style. If you want to read more (and discover how many pair of gloves Daniel had to be fitted with before the right ones were found) simply click on the pic above. This message will self destruct in 15 seconds.