Predictably for a water sign I love being by the sea. But if there’s no sea available I’m more than happy splashing around (or doing some serious lengths if the moods takes me) in a swimming pool. The problem with that, of course, is the chlorine, which not only plays havoc with my skin but which also leaves me reeking like a freshly bleached toilet bowl. So it’s always useful to have a product to hand which allows me to de-Domestos myself. And that’s where Aveda’s Sun Care hair and Body Cleanser comes in. Though it smells a bit like lemon drizzle cake combined with plastic on a hot day (well, it does) it’s great for swimmers as it contains ingredients that help remove the chlorine and there’s also a little coconut oil in there to help maintain moisture balance. For me it’s a swim bag essential – if such a thing as a swim bag exists.
It doesn’t launch until September but since I’m getting old (and may well have forgotten I had a sneak preview of it by then) I thought I might as well give you the heads up on the brand new Aesop fragrance, Marrakech Intense, right now. Created by French perfumer Barnabé Fillion – a man who’s collaborated with the likes of Le Labo and who was the nose behind Paul Smith’s rather underrated Portrait For Men fragrance, it’s a rather clever “reinterpretation” of Aesop’s existing Marrakech fragrance.
Fillion (pictured) was brought in to give it a bit more oomph, reassembling it in the same way a musical track might be remixed in order to breathe new life into it and give it new meaning. Thus, Marrakech Intense is muskier and sexier than its predecessor and Fillion has fiddled with the top and middle of the fragrance, too, adding neroli, bergamot, rose and jasmine.
The distinctive clove, cardamon and sandalwood of the original is still there, but the Frenchman has added complexity and depth to Marrakech – making it much more nuanced – and in doing so he’s taken it from being a quirky apothecary scent and pushed it in the direction of a boutique fragrance with bags of character. Impressive.
Aesop Marrakech Intense will be available from September as a 50ml eau de toilette and a 10ml parfum roll-on.
Aw, am very excited today to have been High Commended in this year’s Fashion Monitor Journalism Awards for my male grooming column on telegraph.co.uk. One of the judges very kindly said it was the first time she’d actually LOL’d at a piece of beauty journalism which is just about the highest compliment I could have been paid because, at the end of the day, I write about deodorant and fake tan for a living. And if that’s not funny what is?
PS. Huge congrats to Joanna McGarry on her well-deserved win and a special mention to my pal Mark Smith who was also shortlisted in the online category. If you love spa treatments I implore you to check out his excellent blog, The Spa Man, which is one of my favourite online destinations.
I would very much like to tell you that Clive Christian‘s superb new fragrance ‘L’ was created just for me (it does bear my initial after all) and in my deluded mind it absolutely was. Alas, it turns out that the ‘L’ in question stands not for Lee but for Love.
Part of the ‘L’ private collection (there’s a female fragrance too) ‘L’ For Men is a sweet, sensual and – above all else – a ferociously woody scent. It features a fairly heady combination of grapefruit, vetiver and rose with a touch of smoky oud wood and a slightly pornographic musky base but the overriding smell is one of intensely woody pencil shavings (courtesy of atlas cedar). It’s sexy without being licentious, complex without being pretentious and, for men who like their fragrances to have stamina, has the kind of tenacity on the skin that means it can easily survive a hot bath or shower. Impressive stuff.
Available exclusively from Harrods from August
For lots of reasons this week as been a trying one. On more than one occasion I’ve been at the end of my tether and as a result my sleep has suffered horribly. Thank heavens, then, for the arrival of these two brand new products from L’Occinane in my postbag. Part of the company’s fantastic new Aromachology range, which launches in August, both the Relaxing Pillow Mist and Relaxing Perfumed Sachet have been essential bedtime companions this week – and a great help they’ve been too. Both smell amazing (thanks to lavender, sweet orange and rosemary) and, coupled with the Valerian tea I’ve been necking (alas, valium wasn’t available), they’ve just about managed to save my sanity. So if you’re craving a decent night’s sleep why not put these near your pillow!
Since my favourite sporting event, Wimbledon, is almost upon us, now seems like the perfect time for me to mention the special limited edition version of Lacoste’s Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Blanc fragrance. Although the fragrances in the ever-expanding L.12.12 range have always referenced the famous Lacoste polo shirt in the packaging this is the first time that the tennis association has really been referenced overtly, with the clean, white packaging brought to life with touches of eye-catching tennis ball yellow. I’ve always loved the understated simplicity of both the bottles and the boxes that house the L.12.12 fragrances and, unlike many limited editions, the changes in this particular edition only serve (if you’ll excuse the pun) to make it look even better.
Ask me which male grooming brand is in the zone right now and I’d have to tell you that it’s Kiehl’s. So hot is it right now that there’s a palpable sense of concern out there from its competitors as it creeps up behind them like the Nosferatu of skincare.
The company’s success, I think, is down to several things, including a great backstory, packaging that beautifully fitted the recent trend for heritage grooming and the fact that they’re great at sampling. They’re also perfect for the kind of consumer who eschews big faceless brands in favour of something a little warmer, quirkier and generally more interesting. In truth, whilst the leading premium brands are great they can come across as a bit characterless and sterile sometimes and, in contrast, Kiehl’s offer a lot more personality for your pound. The other factor, of course, (and one not to be overlooked) is that the products are, by and large, pretty good.
And now their dedicated men’s range is expanding with the addition of three problem-solving oil control products which, used together, form a new ‘Oil Eliminator’ range. Featuring a 24-Hour Anti-Shine Moisturizer, Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Wash and a Refreshing Shine Control Toner the products create a simple, three-step oil-busting regimen that handily addresses one of men’s most pressing skincare needs: a shine-free face.
The wash doesn’t strip skin of natural oils (an act which can itself stimulate oil production), the toner – if toners float your boat – acts as an effective mattifying mist and the Anti-Shine Moisturiser does what it says on the tin/tube, even if its 24-hour promise is qualified in small print by the words ‘with continued use skin looks less shiny’. All in all, the products are great, the distinctive green packaging’s a winner and the range as a whole proves that Kiehl’s aren’t just in the T-zone they’re in the zone full stop.
For more info go to the Kiehl’s website
Okay, since summer is here (sort of) I thought I may as well issue my annual sunburn warning. British men’s attitude to sun protection has improved immeasurably in recent times, which is just as well given that malignant melanoma is the sixth most common cancer in men and death rates from it are 70% higher in us than in women.
With all the will in the world, though, it’s all too easy to end up with a nasty dose of sunburn, especially as our unpredictable British weather means that you can leave the house in fog, lunch in sunshine and return home in pouring rain. And as you can see from the picture above it’s easy for people to get caught out unexpectedly. They guy in the pic is actually a friend of mine who slathered on the sunscreen for a one hour walk to work but forgot to protect one crucial bit – the back of his neck. It’s a part of the body that catches the sun easily so make sure that when you protect your face you always take your sunscreen around the back of your neck, into the nape and over the ears (another prime place for burning).
If you always want to be prepared, do as I do and carry a product like dermalogica’s Super Sensitive Shield SPF30, which is compact enough to fit in a bag or pocket, and ensure you go under the line of your shirt or T-shirt so you’re still protected even if your clothing moves. Nivea’s Sun Kids Pocket Sized SPF 30 is handy to have at hand too. Bottom line is: always be prepared if you don’t want sunburn to be a – literal – pain in the neck.
Grooming Boxes are tricky things to get right. When GlossyBox attempted one I, like many people, was left rather underwhelmed, partly because the size of the samples seemed particularly stingy for the money.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept the Grooming Box, it’s a way of collecting together a range of different grooming products, from a different array of brands, so that you get to sample their wares and they get to win you over. Quite often they feature smaller or travel-sized versions of well-known products (and on occasions really small samples).
So, how does the first Grooming Box from Selfridges rate? Well, actually, it’s one of the best I’ve seen – if not the best. Featuring nine separate products from seven different brands – including personal favouries like Triumph & Disaster, Clarins, Molton Brown, Kiehl’s and Commes des Garcons – it’s generous in terms of products and scope and would be just as good a gift for someone as it is a great way to sample some fine brands for yourself. Sure, it might have been nice for them to have featured one or two more brands rather than featuring a trio of products from Scaramouche & Fandango but other than that small criticism I really can’t fault it, so well done Selfridges and I hope there’s another one in the pipeline for later in the year!
The Selfridges Grooming Box costs £20 and is available exclusively from selfridges.com whilst stocks last!
Think of Acqua di Parma and you tend to think of light, fresh Mediterranean fragrances bursting with energy and packed with more citrus fruits than your average bottle of orange squash. And you’d be right of course. But in the last few years the company have also been exploring a much darker and more sensual side. Their new fragrance Colonia Leather is a perfect example of this and is as warm and sexy as the original Colonia fragrance is light and summery.
The leather accord is true and authentic smelling and there’s a touch of smoky oud in there too but not enough to overpower the fragrance and you detect it most three or four hours after applying. Other notes include orange, lemon, raspberry thyme and rose but as you might expect it’s the leather that dominates here.
The acid test of any fragrance, of course, is whether other people rate it when they smell it on you. So as a test I wore Colonia Leather the other night and a friend I was meeting instantly commented: “Wow! What are you wearing? You smell amazing!” Somehow, I think I’ll be wearing this sexy little number again.