The Grooming Guru picks up Best Blogger award at the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards 2014

P&G AWARDI was very excited the other day to discover that I’d won the Best Blogger Award at the 2014 P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards (now in its tenth year) for this blog and that I was shortlisted for the Best Words Award for a piece called ‘Well-Groomed or Over-Preened? When Good Grooming Goes Bad’ that appeared on The Telegraph website.

Blogging is very much a labour of love so any recognition is always much appreciated. Anyway, congrats to all the other nominees and winners (see below) and now I’m off to celebrate with my drinkable trophy!

The other winners this year were:

The Design: Sophie Beresiner at ELLE Beauty for ‘Get the Best Hair of Your Life’

The Image: Samantha Flowers at Stylist magazine for ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’

The Word: Kelly Gilbert at British Vogue for ‘Fine Lines’

The Vlogger: Sali Hughes for

The Website: Get The Gloss

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”.

Zirh: the rebirth of a grooming icon

When I first started writing about male grooming full time, over a decade ago now, American brand Zirh was one of those ranges that was a gift to journalists like myself. Not only was it from the US (and hence exotic), cult (which made you look cool if you mentioned it) and had great packaging (which kept notoriosuly fussy art editors happy) it actually had some really great products in its line up too.

It also led the way with its no-fuss, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin product names (eg. Hydrate, Clean, Correct, Protect etc). Even today, I think brands could learn from it – especially those with products called Hydra Energetic Anti-Dull Tanning Moisturiser – intake of breath – Natural Looking Tan.

Founded back in 1995 Zirh became so desirable that Procter & Gamble looked upon it with covetous eyes, eventually acquiring the brand and…doing absolutely nothing with it. They then sought to divest themselves of it and with its future in doubt it kind of disappeared from the radar and from the shelves of many UK stockists.

But then, at the back end of 2011 is was reacquired by a New York investment company,  and lo and behold it’s back and available on these shores again at online grooming emporium Niven & Joshua (collective Hurrah! please).

So if you were a longtime fan or are a new one who heard great things about it back in the day, crack open the piggy bank. Especially good is the ‘Soothe‘ Post Shave Healer.

Adidas Body Care secure Tom Daley as their ambassador in Olympic year

While a raft of largely unknown Olympic hopefuls are being roped in to promote everything from toothpaste to fragrance (with varying degrees of brand synergy) Coty’s Adidas Body Care brand pulled a blinder today by announcing that Britain’s youngest ever diving champion and budgie-smuggling eye-candy Tom Daley would be their ambassador.

It’s a beautiful fit – both brands are youthful, energetic and performance-driven, and a rather daring attempt to steal some of the official Olympic partner P&G’s thunder in this most special of years.

Loving the patriotic packaging for the Limited Edition Ice Dive range too.

Grooming Guru Essentials: Gucci Guilty Pour Homme Body Massage Oil

Generally speaking the body ranges of fragrances are pretty dull – you know the kind of thing: deodorant, body wash, body scrub if you’re lucky – so here’s one that actually genuinely excited me. In typically sexy fashion, the Gucci Guilty Pour Homme range includes a Body Massage Oil.

This is a cute idea (and it does make a good massage oil) but it’s actually a brilliantly practical product too. In fact, it’s the perfect way to wear the fragrance (a warm, sweet blend of orange blosson, cedre, patchouli and lavender) in a more subtle context.  Slather on a little in the morning after your shower and you’ve got a perfect way to smell great (but not too great) for work. The oil gives it staying power too. Of course, if you can find a willing pair of hands to apply it it’s even more fun. In fact, you may not even make it to work…

To get your hands on some click here.

Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.

FiFi UK Fragrance Foundation Awards 2011 – the winners for men

My table setting with one of the winning fragrances (and plenty of vino!)

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the biggest event in the UK fragrance world’s dairy – the Fragrance Foundation’s FiFi Awards. Kind of like the Oscars for Eau de Toilettes, receiving a FiFi is just about the highest accolade a fragrance can get. More than that,  though, since they’re voted for by an army of industry experts (myself included) and members of the public too, they’re an excellent barometer of what’s hot.

Blue take to the stage to present an award

Last night’s awards took place at the beautiful  Banqueting House in Whitehall, was hosted by TV presenter George Lamb (a man everyone, male and female, seemed to want to kiss, hug or – in some cases – grope) and had the likes of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Beverley Knight and  Eurovision hopefuls Blue providing the glamour.

The awards themselves are a crucial barometer to what’s hot in the fragrance industry, from the ads we like best to the fragrances we all buy. Winners this year included Chanel’s Bleu de Chanel (voted Best New Prestige Fragrance for Men, best commercial and picking up a Perfume Shop People’s Award for Best Male Fragrance) and Tom Ford Private Blend Azure Lime which won for Best New Men’s Fragrance in Limited Distribution. Voyage d’Hermes by Hermes deservedly won Best New Male Fragrance Packaging and Boss Bottled Night walked away with the coveted (and always fiercely fought) Men’s Health Readers Award for Best Fragrance. So if you’re a guy looking for a new fragrance these esteemed winners are the very best place to start.