The Grooming Guru Awards 2012. Best Room Fragrance: Byredo Parfums Apocalyptic Scented Candle

Byredo Apocalypticggawrd12lIn the last of my Grooming Guru Awards for 2012 (I know, they do seem to have gone on forever and for that I apologise) I wanted to give an award for my favourite new room fragrance. I’m an absolute scented candle/diffuser/incense stick junkie so it’s always hard for me to pick just one product I really like but this new candle from Byredo I love for several reasons.

For starters, I tend to prefer candles with a warm, earthy, woody and slightly mysterious feel (if they smell anything like a smouldering campfire in a secluded forest all the better). Apocalyptic ticks all these boxes thanks to notes of oakmoss, birch wood and fire iron (think hot, smelting metal). It’s similar in vibe to my favourite ever candle, Diptyque’s Feu de Bois, but is subtler and not quite so overwhelming.

I love it, too, for the deep navy-black wax which reminds me a bit of an ancient obsidian scrying glass when liquid. If indeed, the end of the world is nigh as the Mayans predicted, Apocalyptic will be what’s burning in the background, at my place at least.

Byredo Parfums Apocalyptic Bougie costs £50.00 for 300gr and is available from Liberty 020 7734 1234

The Grooming Guru Awards 2012. Haircare Product of the Year: Davines Detoxifying Scrub Shampoo

davines-setoxggawrd12lReviewing haircare products is always tricky for me on account of the fact that hair is an increasing rare commodity for me. I’m fine with my advancing baldness but it does make road-testing styling products a bit of a challenge. To get around the problem I have a small team of amply-thatched helpers to give me feedback. My favourite haircare product this year, though, is one even follically-challenged guys like me can appreciate.

This Detoxifying Scrub Shampoo from Davines is fantastic for ensuring hair is squeaky clean and for keeping your scalp free of dead skin cells and in tip-top condition. Given that there’s some studies linking blocked follicles with hairloss it’s a good investment regardless of how much hair you have. With cardamon, mint and corriander it smells great too and a bottle is never out of my bathroom.

For more info go to

Coming tomorrow….Best Body Product

The Grooming Guru Awards 2012: Dud of The Year: James Bond 007 (the fragrance)

james-bond-007-a-movie-of-action-style-and-no-L-LE2TUcggawrd12lIn the beauty industry – where, by and large everything is fabulous, wonderful and beautiful  – criticising a product is not an act without consequences. So I thought long and hard (for a full 12 seconds) about whether to give out an award for the product that least lived up to expectations this year.

But, hey, I’m a straight-talking northerner and didn’t start this blog to be afraid of giving my opinion. And that’s all it is – my own personal opinion. So…when it comes to picking out a real stinker of a fragrance his year, for me it has to be the James Bond 007 one.

It’s not that this eagerly-anticipated fragrance from Procter & Gamble is particularly pernicious (it’s terminally bland rather than offensive, suffering the fate of most fragrances that probably came into the world with the assistance of that most cack-handed of midwives – the focus group). No, it’s that it should be so much better. This is the James Bond brand we’re talking about here after all. In its 50th year and smashing box office records with Skyfall – a film regarded by many as the best Bond film ever.

The bottom line  – and I’m not the first to say this – is that James Bond himself would never wear this sharp, rather acrid concoction with its signature apple note (who knew 007 was so fond of a Cox’s Pippin?). He might spray it to repel enemies perhaps but certainly not to bed the girl. As someone on one of my favourite fragrance sites said, though, its main crime is of being a wasted opportunity. Another  simply wrote “it’s the cheaper smell of Burberry For Men” but even I wouldn’t be that scathing.

2978749Having said all this I suspect it’ll initially do ok sales-wise. Not least because, with the 50th anniversary celebrations and release of Skyfall,  it’s riding on the crest of a 007 publicity frenzy. It’s also had the advantage of some very shrewd marketing. There’s a rather fetching limited edition gold flacon version (though that to me is a bit like opening the bonnet of your Aston Martin only to find the engine of a 2CV inside) and GQ heavily promoted it as “the most dangerously sophisticated fragrance in the world” earlier this year – an endorsement which one reviewer called “quite a claim” and which I call “quite bonkers”.

The Grooming Guru Awards 2012. Best Problem Solver: Glamglow Super-Clearing Mud Mask Treatment

glamggawrd12lJust so you know, not all of these awards were planned ages ago (something that can’t be said of all grooming awards) and by way of proof, my choice for Best Problem Solver presented itself just this week when I finally got around to trying the much-hyped Glamglow Super-Clearing Mud Mask Treatment.

A potent blend of six skin-improving acids (don’t worry sulphuric isn’t one of them), it’s one of the best detoxifying masks I’ve come across. Most tend to leave my easily-irritated skin dry and red but miraculously – given its potency – this one doesn’t. In actual fact my skin looked and felt better than it has in a long while after using it.

Designed to help prevent breakouts and blocked pores it’s actually very good for helping prevent ingrown hairs too and you can use a small amount on a specific problem area (like the notorious T-zone) or slap it on all over. The best thing about it, though, is that as it goes to work, vacuuming out grease and grime, it darkens over your pores showing you just how huge and numerous they are.

This special feature, which is both horrifying and compulsive viewing (much like the grooming award ceremonies I mentioned earlier), makes it hugely entertaining. In fact, I’ve not had as much fun using a skincare product since I first discovered Biore Cleansing Pore Strips and the joy of examining what they remove. And problem solving should be fun right?

Glamglow Super-Mud is available from SpaceNK

Coming tomorrow…Best Grooming Gadget of 2012

The Grooming Guru Awards 2012. Best Grooming Brand: Lab Series

Group Shot - Treat LOWggawrd12lIn many ways 2012 has been a disappointing year for male grooming. Certainly, as far as exciting launches and NPD are concerned it’s been one of the least inspiring in the 12+ years I’ve been writing about the subject.

Many brands have added just one or two products to their ranges or have renamed or repackaged them in an attempt to be seen to be doing something. Disappointingly, though, others have simply sat on their hands, presumably wanting to conserve resources and ride out hard times. Lab Series, however, defiantly continued to expand its range in 2012, innovating and shaping the future of the grooming market and leaving other brands playing catch-up in the process.

As well as an expansion of their premium MAX LS anti-ageing range, this year saw the launch of a Power Brightening range, targeting discolouration and uneven pigmentation, an Instant Skin Booster (to tackle fatigue) and their BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF35 – a multi-functional product hinting, no less, at the very future of male skincare. And they’re just a few of this year’s innovations. So my Best Grooming Brand 2012 award goes to Lab Series. Long may it lead the way.

For more information about Lab Series see

Coming tomorrow…the award for Best Problem Solver