Yankee Candle’s new barbershop collection – the perfect gift for the well-groomed man

YANKEE CANDLE BARBERSHOPFew names in the scented candle business are as recognisable as Yankee Candle.  I personally can’t pass a stockist without spending at least ten minutes having a sniff at what’s new to their burgeoning range. Some scents I’m enthralled by; others totally repel me. A couple have had me running for the door. Which, in a way, is the secret to Yankee Candle’s success because when a brand polarises people (take Marmite for example) it is at least avoiding indifference.

Anyway, Yankee now have a whole range based around male grooming and five familiar smells associated with it: Barbershop (above), Aftershave, Hot Towel, Chrome and Hair Tonic. Squarely aimed at men – and as gifts for men – the candles come in sleek black tumbler jars with brushed metal lids. Barbershop, burning away in my living room as I write this, is a delightfully clean-smelling blend of eucalyptus, lavender and amber and smells fresh and powdery without being overpowering.

Yankee Candles have been almost as long as I have (no mean feat for both) and are famous for the excellent diffusion of their scents so if you’re looking for a sure-fire way to fragrance your pad this particular range might be right up your street.

Yankee Candle’s Barbershop glass tumbler candle costs £12.99

The Renewal Oil from Crème De La Mer: good for beards too.

CDLMOil_LPNext month sees the launch of The Renewal Oil by Crème de la Mer – a luxury facial oil containing the company’s famous Miracle Broth  – a combination of nutrients obtained from sea kelp along with other skin-beneficial ingredients. Designed to plump up skin and improve its natural protective barrier it’s activated by shaking and is being touted as a multi-functional must-have. It certainly does have many uses – from being an additional insurance policy for skin, slotted into your regime before moisturising, to  being a conditioner for hair and an in-flight essential to guard against dry skin.

Quickly absorbed and only slightly fragranced it also makes an excellent beard oil – an expensive one, to be sure, but an effective one nontheless. For those of you worried about it being greasy it’s anything but – in fact, if it has a fault it’s that it’s one of the driest facial oils I’ve come across. Ironically, this is what makes it great for facial hair but it might not please those with very dry skin who like to feel the results. The shake-to-active bit is fun though.

The Renewal Oil from Crème de La Mer is available from cremdelamer.co.uk from October priced £155.

Invest in your future with Lab Series’ new Repair Serum

LAB SERIES RESCUEIn terms of skincare serums are a hard sell to men. Most of the guys I know have absolutely no idea what they’re for, how to use them or why they should add yet another step into their existing grooming routine.

In short, used morning and night, after cleansing but before moisturising, they’re a handy way to turbo-charge your regular skincare regime. Lab Series’ brand new Future Rescue Repair Serum – in its TARDIS blue bottle – is designed to “fortify” the skin’s natural protective barrier as well as improve its overall appearance, making it the perfect way to go time travelling with your skincare and, hopefully, discover a slightly younger-looking you in the process.

It works by delivering a potent antioxidant boost to promote the skin’s natural repair process and support the production of collagen – the stuff that keeps skin looking young and firm. It also contains ingredients to shift dead skin cells and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier thus protecting it from future damage. It’s ultra-light, quickly absorbed and leaves a matt finish and if you can be bothered to add it to your grooming regime (hey, it only takes about three seconds to apply)  it’s well worth a look.

If I could go back in time and tell my younger self to do just one thing (apart from not to drink Snakebite) it would be to do anything – and everything – to look after my skin for the future. Unfortunately, until there’s real time travel, this skin saviour in a bottle will have to do.

Lab Series Future Rescue Repair Serum is available from October from labseries.co.uk priced  £48 for 50ml. 

Paul Smith Essential puts affordability at its heart

paul smith essentialThe history of Paul Smith fragrances is a bit of a chequered one and I must confess, I have a nasty habit of liking the less succesful ones like Story (a fragrance that was ahead of its time in terms of its bookish, geek chic imagery) and Portrait which, alas, was more of a critical success than a commercial one.

PAUL-01Coming two years after Portrait and a year after Extreme Sport, Essential is an altogether safer fragrance that leaves nothing to chance by covering all the commercial bases: it’s woody, it’s spicy and it’s aromatic, making it familiar, inoffensive and versatile. Slightly reminiscent of Gucci’s Guilty Pour Homme, with which it shares several key notes, it’s probably not going to set the world alight in terms of originality, but with its low price point (under £30 for 50ml) and wearability I suspect it will do pretty well commercially.

Paul Smith Essential is available now from boots.com

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.

Dior’s Sauvage: an opportunity missed?

Sauvage-Dior-Fragrance-Art-e1440003132406-800x805Given the size of this launch (it has A-lister Johnny Depp attached to the ad campaign) and the amount of secrecy that surrounded it (it was subject to an exceptionally strict embargo) I was expecting great things from Sauvage – Dior’s latest fragrance and their biggest launch in a decade. I mean, Dior’s portfolio contains fragrances  –  like Eau Sauvage, Fahrenheit and Dior Homme – which pretty much set the standard when it comes to ‘classics’. And I’m sure the hope was that Sauvage would join this illustrious list. But (you sensed there was a ‘but’ coming right?) in truth, it’s not a patch on its predecessors.

Johnny-Depp-Sauvage-Dior-Fragrance-Campaign-800x519Given Dior’s past boldness (Fahrenheit shouldn’t have worked but is amazing and Eau Sauvage was genuinely groundbreaking when it launched in 1966) I very much hoped they’d pull something original, maybe even something left-field, out of the bag for this major launch but alas, Sauvage is just another generic modern men’s fragrance – all citrus, lavender, wood and amber and blah-blah-blah. I’m not saying it’s bad – it’s not – just that it’s safer, more pedestrian and certainly more ‘familiar’ than I would have imagined. Like so many contemporary fragrances it tries terribly hard not to offend or polarise which is a great way to shift units (it worked for Chanel Bleu after all) but not necessarily a great way to create a classic in the same league as, say, Eau Sauvage.

For those of you wondering whether it’s a variant of that particular fragrance, it’s not; it merely trades on the name, presumably hoping for a bit of that classic fragrance’s gold dust to rub off on it. Look, the last thing I wanted to do was savage Sauvage but, hey, it’s just my opinion and there’s still the possibility that Dior’s next big launch will be an absolute stonker.

Dior Sauvage is available nationwide from 2nd September, priced £50 for 60ml eau de toilette. 

Bluebeards Revenge beard oils are the biz

beard-oil-combo-glossI’m very fussy about what I put on my beard, especially as so many beard oils eventually end up smelling like something you’d fry chips in. So I’ve grown rather cautious about what I blindly slap on my facial fuzz. Luckily the new beard oils by The Bluebeards Revenge cause no such attack of the nerves. Conditioning without being annoyingly greasy, generously sized (you get 50ml for just £9.99) and lightly scented (my favourite is the Cuban Blend which is a simple combo of vetiver and cedarwood) they’re perfect for ensuring your facial hair always looks fantastic. Simply apply with your fingers or, better still, distribute through your facial hair with a beard or moustache comb. Recommended.

The Bluebeards revenge Beard Oils are available here