The Grooming Guru Awards 2012. Best Grooming Gadget: The Clarisonic Plus

CLARISONICggawrd12lAlthough there are plenty of great grooming gadgets out there most of them are focussed on shaving. This one, however, is a bit different, improving skin before you actually shave. The Clarisonic Plus uses an exfoliating brush and a sonic frequency of 300 oscillations a second to remove up to twice as much grease and grime as manual cleansing. And though originally a device aimed at women its popularity with men has rocketed, prompting the launch of this new grey version (presumably for those men scared of brandishing the pink version).

Not only is the Clarisonic a fantastic device for giving skin a deep-down cleanse it’s actually a great one for prepping skin in readiness for your daily shave, ridding skin of razor-clogging dead cells and helping prevent ingrown hairs. What tips the balance for me as a bearded guy, however, is how useful it is for getting to the skin beneath facial hair, keeping it clean and free of beard dandruff. My Clarisonic has been, by far, my favourite piece of kit of 2012, hence the Best Grooming Gadget gong. It (quite literally) is the perfect way to brush up on your skincare.

The Clarisonic Plus Grey, which includes a head for the body too, is available from Harrods.

Coming tomorrow… The Grooming Guru’s Dud of The Year Award 

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

Shaving a pain the neck? Then check out my shaving guide in Beauty Magazine’s ‘Man Up!’ supplement


It has to be men’s biggest grooming concern. It’s certainly the one fraught with the most danger. And still we shave. So if you’re having trouble with razor burn, want to know how to maximise razor glide or are struggling with ingrown hairs, check out my shaving guide in Beauty Magazine‘s special Man Up! supplement. You can read it online by clicking here.

Insider Interview: Andy Rouillard, the UK’s leading expert in male waxing

Britain’s top male waxing specialist Andy Rouillard knows just about everything there is to know about hair removal for men. Not only does he spend his days ensuring men’s backs, shoulders and other bits are free of unwanted hair he also teaches others how to deliver perfect treatments too.  So who better to provide a glimpse into the world of the super-smooth male?

GG: More and more men seem to be waxing these days. Why do you think that is? And what are the benefits of waxing?

AR: Guys have been shaving, creaming, plucking and trimming unwanted hair for years, we just haven’t talked about it quite as openly until now.  We do it because it feels cleaner, cooler and more comfortable to be hair free; because we prefer the way it looks; or because our partners have told us to get it done (I stopped counting a long time ago the number of chaps that are booked in for their first ever salon wax by a wife or girlfriend).

GG: Why the sudden boom though?

AR: As much as I hate to use the ‘media influence’ argument, there’s no denying the impact that our media’s fascination with fuzz-free celebrities has had on bringing waxing out of the closet.

Need I even mention the Golden Balls Armani ad from a few years back that whipped the media up into such a frenzy of speculation over Mr Beckham’s personal hair removal habits?

The reality is, many guys saw the fuss generated by this one story and thought to themselves: “well if it’s good enough for Becks, it’s good enough for me.”

GG: What’s the most common part of the body that men want waxing?

AR: Backs and shoulders are still the most popular areas chosen for deforestation, but an increasing number of guys are now opting for more extreme manscaping in the form of Brazilian waxing.  Perhaps better known as the infamous ‘back, sac and crack’ or ‘Boyzilian’, this involves the removal of unwanted hair from the crown jewels and bum.

GG: Ouch! I always wince when I think of Boyzilains!

AR: Surprisingly, it hurts a lot less than the image it conjures would suggest, and is quickly becoming one of the most requested male waxing services at salons up and down the country (although whoever came up with the name ‘Boyzilian’ needs to be shot at dawn).

Nostril and ear waxing is also very popular, which I consider less of a job and more of a public service.  Seriously, there’s no excuse for nose tendrils. There are times when I have to be physically restrained from yanking hair out of the snouts of strangers in the street.  I could probably get arrested for that, right?

GG: I saw a great annotated pic on your twitter feed (@Wax_Daddy) showing the direction of hair growth that you were showing students. Why is it important to know about the direction?

AR: Generally speaking, wax needs to be applied in the direction of hair growth and removed in the opposite direction.  Failing to follow the patterns that Mother Nature blessed you with means that the hair simply won’t come out; wax gets stuck, the skin tugs, and you end up with all manner of heartache from bruising, broken hairs and toffee-like clumps of cold wax that won’t shift for love nor money.

GG: Are there any new developments in waxing techniques or any new treatments for men?

AR: Fortunately, waxing has come a long way since the old ‘strip’em and rip’em’ style of hair removal made (in)famous by The 40 Year Old Virgin.  A new generation of low temperature peelable waxes has made hair removal a much more pleasant experience in the salon.  It works by ‘shrinkwrapping’ around the hair as it dries on the skin, and is then whipped off by hand instead of being removed with a cloth strip.  Also, many salons are now using oil under their wax instead of powder, which stops the product from sticking to the skin and makes things a lot more comfortable.

Check what your salon uses before making a booking.  For intimate waxing in particular, if a therapist comes at your boys with anything other than a bottle of oil and peelable wax, run screaming for the hills.

GG: What advice would you give to a man that is trying waxing at home?

AR: I’m undoubtedly a little biased but I am firmly of the opinion that some things are best left to the professionals – if nothing else, it’s quicker and it hurts less.  However, if you really must try this at home, the secret to success lies in your prep and aftercare.

For a few days beforehand, gently exfoliate the area you plan on pruning with a body brush or scrub.  This helps to slough off any excess dead skin cells and lifts the hair for better results.

Your skin needs to be clean and dry for the wax to stick.  If it’s a hot day or the thought of merrily ripping your own hair out by the root brings on a nervous sweat, dust yourself lightly with talc to absorb any excess moisture.

Trim the hair down with clippers or scissors before you start: you’ll be able to see the patterns of growth a lot easier, which prevents longer tufts from becoming tangled in the wax and will altogether hurt a lot less.  About 1cm (grade 3 on electric clippers) is about right; any shorter and the hair won’t be long enough for the wax to grip.

Work in small sections, applying wax thinly in the direction of hair growth and stretching the skin as you go.  Lay a fabric strip down and give it a few firm rubs with the whole of your hand to get a good bond between wax and hair.  Stretch the skin as taut as you can, then pull the strip off in the opposite direction to your wax application.  Keep your hand parallel to the body during removal and pull quickly and in one smooth motion (don’t hesitate or pull the strip up into the air, as this will hurt like a bitch and can cause bruising).  Apply pressure with a cold flannel immediately afterwards, which will cool and calm those jangled nerve endings.

Once you’ve finished, rub a generous squirt of baby oil into the area to shift any lingering sticky bits, then take a cool shower (not hot, unless you happen to like the smell of burning flesh).  Smother your freshly denuded body in tea tree body lotion or aloe vera gel to soothe and protect the skin.

You’ll look like a freshly plucked chicken and will feel a little sunburnt for a few days afterwards, so you need to treat things with a little extra TLC: avoid heat and friction (no hot showers, tanning, vigorous exercise, tight clothing, etc.), keep applying the tea tree body lotion, and the job’s a good’un.

GG: Why do you prefer waxing over other hair removal methods? 

AR: Shaving and hair removal creams are great for short term results or a last minute top-up at home before a big event, but they can be time consuming and only provide smoothness for a few days before the dreaded itch of re-growth sets in.  Sure, waxing has an initial ‘ouch factor’ (anyone who tells you otherwise is quite clearly a liar), but it’s relatively quick, affordable, and the results last a lot longer because hair is removed at the root, rather than being simply shorn off at skin level – this also means there’s no prickly stubble as your pelt grows back.  And it gets easier with every visit, I promise!

GG: And finally, what’s your best waxing tip?

AR: Ingrown hairs are the bane of waxers worldwide and can be a blot on the smoothest of landscapes.  A daily slick of moisturizer and a quick buff in the shower with an exfoliating mitt or body scrub twice a week will help keep the little blighters at bay.

Zap really stubborn spots with a product such as PFB Vanish or Anthony Logistics Ingrown Hair Treatment.  The key ingredient in these is salicylic acid, which acts as a chemical exfoliant to free trapped hairs and also reduces any associated inflammation.  As an added bonus, these products can be used to treat razor bumps in the beard area too.

Finally, get waxed every 4-6 weeks.  It may seem like a chore to start with, but this timescale encourages the hair into similar cycles of re-growth for longer lasting smoothness.  Don’t shave or tweeze between appointments, and after a few sessions you’ll soon start to see what all the fuss is about!

For more information about Axiom Bodyworks go to www.axiombodyworks.co.uk and for details of Andy’s training service go to www.learnmalewaxing.co.uk

Glossybox launches its men’s box

Glossybox is a fascinating concept. You register, pay your subscription and each month you get a box full of fairly generously sized samples of the latest products and can even write about them to earn a free box. It’s a great way for people to try new stuff, relatively inexpensively, and companies get their products into the hands of potential customers. With plenty of beauty junkies out there you can see why it’s a popular idea and why many of my female pals rave about it

The question is, will men buy into it too? Just launched, Glossybox For Men (there’s a joke there somewhere but I’m too polite to make it) lands on your doorstep four times a year for £15 (plus £2.95 P&P) a pop and contains ‘a selection of products from high-end, on-trend and specialist niche brands’. The first box, above, contains two samples of existing YSL fragrances, an ingrown hair treatment from Shaveworks, a Clarifying Face Mask from Murad, two body products from Vitru and a shampoo and a hair gel from Goldwell.

Clearly, as someone who works in the industry and who gets to sample a lot of products already, the box isn’t aimed at me but the Shaveworks product is one I haven’t come across before so I guess in that sense it hit the spot. The fact that, like a lot of men, I’m folically-challenged didn’t exactly endear me to the styling gel and including two YSL fragrances seems a bit lazy but it contains a fairly interesting range of products and the packaging is superb.

So will Glossybox be a huge hit with men? My instincts (and of course I may be wrong) is that it won’t. And to remove my industry bias I asked a few of my male friends what they thought. They all loved the concept but all said the same thing: why would I pay for samples? One guy, who buys most of his grooming gear online, said he often gets free samples with his purchases anyway and though he was always keen to try new stuff he wasn’t that keen. Another likened it to buying a compilation album – a bit indiscriminate.

The problem is, men are very different consumers than women. I think we tend to be hard nosed and cynical about samples, we’re hard to please and judgemental. There are men out there who like to keep up with the latest trends and discover the coolest niche brands, of course, but comparatively, they’re the snowflake on the tip of the iceberg that is the male grooming market.

Having worked with several online retailers over the years I know how much men do love to try new stuff but also how much they love getting that stuff for free. What’s more, even though I’m a man I can understand a woman getting excited about trying out a Daniel Sandler mascara for free but will men experience the same excitement and anticipation about trying out a hair gel?

Of course, I suspect as it grows and develops it’ll refine and improve its content. In the meantime, if you’re curious, give it a go.

What really irritates men about shaving

This week Gillette revealed the results of a survey exploring how irritable us Brits are (they have a new Gillette Series ‘Irritable Defence’ range out see). It turns out that technology breaking down gets on our nerves, 32% of us hate queueing for things and 57% of us feel irritated every day (me by daft press releases usually).

Funnily enough, I was conducting my own little survey on here last week with a snap poll on men’s biggest shaving concerns. The results are even more illuminating. Nicks and cuts were in fourth place, razor burn in third and the nightmare that is ingrown hairs was second, with just over 29% of the votes. But the thing that annoys men most about shaving? Well, it turns out to be the cost of blades, with just over 36% of votes. Now that really is something to get irritated about.

PS. As a fascinating footnote to this post, it’s interesting to see that shaving products top this year’s list of ‘High Risk Items’ on Checkpoint’s Global Retail Theft Barometer – a global index of what consumers are swiping from shops.

Everything you ever wanted to know about shaving but were too afraid to ask!

Over the years I’ve provided hundreds of male grooming pieces for menshealth.co.uk in my capacity as Online Grooming Editor. What’s emerged is an invaluable online rescource for anyone who cares about looking good. To make things easier for you to access, though, I thought I’d gather a few of the links together, via subject matter. So I’m kicking off this week with probably men’s biggest grooming concern – shaving. Read these and you need never leave the house covered in bits of loo paper ever again!

Foam, cream or gel?  Click here.

How do I use shaving oil? Click here.

Can I slow down the growth of my stubble? Click here.

Why it’s not a good idea to shave against the grain. Click here

How do I use a shaving brush? Click here.

How to prevent ingrown hairs. Click here.

The rules of electric shaving. Click here. 

How can I make my razor last longer?  Click here

How do I treat nicks and cuts after shaving? Click here.

How to pick the right shaving balm for your skin. Click here