Grooming Guru Essentials: the August edit.

GROOMING GURU ESSENTIALS-1Since it’s nearly the end of the month I thought I’d round-up some of the best products to have landed on my desk in the past few weeks. After all, when it comes to stocking your bathroom cabinet it’s all about the edit. So here are my picks from August…

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream For Men, £55 from elemis.com

Elemis’ award-winning Pro-Collagen Marine Cream is a legendary beauty product and it always puzzled me why there hadn’t been a version in their men’s range. Well, now there is. Resisting the urge to simply repackage the original formula this men’s version includes an extra ingredient called Abyssine which is a soothing oil that helps calm the skin and reduces the irritation caused by shaving. The cream itself is intensely hydrating and silky but, crucially for me, doesn’t leave a shiny residue on the skin.

Oliver Sweeney Argento Eau De Parfum, £95 from oliversweeney.com

Regular readers will know how disappointed I am with a lot of new men’s fragrances but here’s one I love (I know, hang out the bunting!). The first fragrance from luxury shoe and accessories designer Oliver Sweeney, Argento is a delightfully woody, slightly leathery fragrance that smells reassuringly traditional without being boring. What’s more, unlike most of today’s new men’s launches it doesn’t smell like a cake shop and for this reason alone it’s currently my favourite new fragrance.

Philips Bodygroom Series 1000, £20 from amazon.co.uk

Remarkably, it’s been 10 years now since the launch of the first Philips Bodygroom – a tool that changed how men manscaped and one which pretty much created a brand new category in male grooming. This latest version is slimmer, sleeker and has a new ‘skin protector’ not found on previous models, allowing a nick-free trim, particularly if you’re using it ‘down below’. It doesn’t go as close as the other models (it’s a trimmer rather than a down-to-skin-level shaver) but is much easier – and safer –  to use. The price point is excellent too.

Rose of No Man’s Land, £88 from Liberty, from 10th September

I’m a big fan of rose fragrances and whilst they do scare a lot of men they don’t all leave you smelling like  a hanky-brandishing dowager aunt. This one, from Swedish fragrance house Byredo, is a perfect example of a rose fragrance a man can rock since the overly floral aspects are tempered by a lovely warm woodiness and a slight spiciness. Be brave and give it a try.

Root Vanish By Kazumi, £30 from Boots.

Though essentially a hair product some enterprising PR realised this temporary tinting brush by Japanese company Kazumi actually works wonders on facial hair too. Available in different shades (I’ve been using the light brown) it’s brilliant at disguising any little grey bits  you have and is useful where you have patches too. It stays on throughout the day but washes of when you shower, too, giving you total control over the effect. I don’t leave the house without touching up now!

What will make the edit next month? Watch this space to find out.

Rafael Nadal announced as face of Tommy Hilfiger fragrance

NadalWith so many fragrances being launched every year it’s increasingly important for brands to secure celebrities or sporting heroes who can make their products stand out from the crowd – and Tommy Hilfiger has certainly served up an ace in the shape of tennis champ Rafael Nadal. As part of his role as Global Ambassador for the brand (you’ll probably have seen the underwear shots by now) he’s also fronting the campaign for Hilfiger’s  brand new fragrance TH Bold. Good choice huh?

rafael nadal

TH Bold* will be available exclusively from The Fragrance Shop from 15th September.

*Rafa not included with purchase!

Czech & Speake’s Oxford & Cambridge Shower Wash & Body Lotion Duo: ridiculously cute

czech & speake lavenderAt £25 for two 65ml bottles Czech & Speake’s Oxford & Cambridge Shower Wash & Body Lotion Duo isn’t cheap but if you’re a lover of luxury and superb fragrance this delightfully dinky travel set is the ultimate addition to your weekend washbag. The cologne spray itself – a finely balanced blend of French lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary and Bergamot essential oils –  is probably my favourite lavender fragrance (it’s one of the few that doesn’t leave you smelling like your nan’s knicker drawer) and I take a travel-sized bottle with me almost everywhere. If you’re already a fan or, once you’ve tried it, about to become one, these additions to the range will be your new grooming essentials. But probably not your nan’s. Which is a relief.

Czech & Speake’s Oxford & Cambridge Shower Wash & Body Lotion Duo is available here.

New Aramis fragrance keeps brand firmly in the black

ARAMIS BLACK FRAGRANCEIt’ll come as no surprise to anyone who loves and understands the Aramis brand that the latest fragrance in the portfolio, Aramis Black shares many of Aramis Classic‘s ‘core values’ as a fragrance. But although it might be a thoroughly grown up, multi-dimensional and autumnal fragrance Black is a little edgier, darker and spicier than its older brother: think Dynasty‘s Ben Carrington to Blake Carrington or – for the younger folk – Prince Harry living it up in Vegas rather than Prince William politely honouring foreign dignitaries at a state dinner.

Initially oudy and smoky, Black’s core is based around a lively and very noticeable peppery facet, softened and rounded out by smooth and vanillary tonka bean. The Aramis DNA is still very much present, though, in the shape of a lovely underlying leatheriness and a touch of boozy gentleman’s club but Black is altogether more in-your-face and contemporary. The inky juice is a nice touch, too, giving the whole thing a touch of mystery and menace.

I must say, I was a wee bit disappointed by the last Aramis fragrance, Aramis Adventurer, which was a hyperactive and rather brash fragrance in comparison, but Aramis Black puts things firmly back into, well, the black.

Available now from Boots and nationwide from August.

Dior update Eau Sauvage. But is the new Cologne version any good?

DIOR EAU SAUVAGE COLOGNEThere are some things in life – the first Poltergeist movie and Cadbury’s Creme Eggs amongst them – that really shouldn’t be tampered with, if only because the original is about as close to perfection as can be. Dior’s Eau Sauvage – that classic, much-loved fragrance from the Sixties and one of my own all-time favourites  – is one of them.

In a world where it pays big fragrance brands to remind customers of their prized assets, however, it makes sense to throw out a ‘flanker’ – a reworked version on an existing fragrance – every now and again. Not only does it keep the brand fresh and draw in new customers, it reminds everyone just how good the ‘old’ stuff is too. And therein lies the problem because, inevitably, anyone who loves the original will instantly compare it to the newcomer.

dior 2This brand new Cologne version, created by Dior Perfumer François Demachy, still has the characteristic citrusy vibe Eau Sauvage is famous for but some notes have been emphasised while other’s played down. Hedione – a molecule first used in Eau Sauvage and now scientifically proven to trigger a sexual response in women (see my piece here for more on that) – is still very much at the heart of this version and given its newfound reputation why wouldn’t it be? According to Demachy this updated version of hedione has a slightly more floral twist though. Mandarin has been added, as has grapefruit, and there’s a dash of galbanum to give it a ‘green’ edge and there’s a dollop of the now ubiquitous pink pepper in there too.

The result is an Eau Sauvage that’ll be less familiar to fans of the original than you might think and one that’s thoroughly contemporary in feel. It’s fresh, it’s aromatic, it’s spicy and woody but whereas Eau Sauvage is a thoroughly 3D fragrance this Cologne version is thinner and a bit one-dimensional by comparison. Which is not to say it’s bad because it’s not (and you do have to bear in mind that, because of my age, I’m very much the target market for the original fragrance rather than this more youthful incarnation). It’s just…well, different.

The press release points out – correctly – that when Eau Sauvage burst onto the scene in 1966 it shifted everything in its wake. Will this Cologne version do the same? Well no, but if it helps people rediscover the absolute joy of the original then it’s ‘job done’ in my book.