I love Acqua di Parma‘s premium Collezione Barbiere shaving and skincare range and this Spring the family of products gets a little bigger thanks to the addition of a brand new Shaving Gel (featuring hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated during your shave and pomegranate oil to soothe irritation) and a Revializing Face Serum (above) which aims to give skin a potent anti-oxidant boost, leaving it revitalised and fortified against the ageing process. Serums are increasingly becoming part of men’s grooming routines and this one is well worthy having in your grooming arsenal.
Both products will be available from March.
Normally, when a ‘new’ and ‘revolutionary’ razor lands on my desk for review, I groan inwardly because, generally speaking, there are few places to go with razor technology these days and most of the new developments trumpeted as huge leaps forward are, at best, minor tweaks made massive by over-enthusiastic marketing.
It’s refreshing, then, that the latest version of Gillette’s best-selling Fusion ProGlide does have feature something rather cute and worth shouting about in the shape of ‘FlexBall’ technology – a feature that enables the head to swivel from side to side slightly to allow the blades even better contact with the contours of the skin. The result is more a lot more manoeuverability and ultimately a much better shave. It’s eye-catching and fun to use and, frankly, anything that makes shaving more fun has got to be worth giving a go, right?
Available nationwide from February 17th.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Pall Mall Barbers‘ rather excellent and deliciously fragrant new grooming range (all the products are scented with a combination of sandalwood and clove). Anyway, whilst demonstrating the products during a ‘live’ wet shave the staff revealed some great little tips. One was about the application of aftershave balm (gently pat it onto the skin until it disappears rather than rub it in if you want to avoid sensitizing the skin) and the other was about blow drying your beard if you want it to look its best.
I must confess, I thought I knew pretty much everything about facial hair care but even I hadn’t heard of this piece of beard wisdom before. Seemingly, the beard blow dry is an increasing part of Pall Mall Barbers’ business and with good reason. According to stylist Michael Beardsley (yep, that’s his real name!) – whose own facial fur is a fine testament to the technique – a blow dry teases out the hairs, making them look fuller and thicker, pretty much in the same way it does with the hairs on your head. To do it yourself simply need a small brush or comb, a hairdryer and the will to gently tease the hair downwards while putting the wind up it at the same time. Not only will your beard dry in a fraction of the time after washing it’ll look miles better. Helpfully, the new grooming range includes a beard oil to keep it in tip-top condition too.
For more information about the range go to pallmallbarbers.com
Although I spend the majority of the year sporting a beard even I’m a sucker for a piece of high-tech shaving equipment. Impressing me at the moment is the Philips Shaver Series 9000 s9111/43 Wet & Dry Shaver (why do shavers never have simple, memorable names?). Anyway, as well as being beautiful to handle this particular shaver has a feature I absolutely love – you can detach the rotary shaving head and add a detail trimmer or (and this is the best bit) the face cleaning brush that comes with it.
This means the the shaver also doubles up as a face polisher and exfoliator, allowing you to remove dead cells, clean your face more throughly than if you were just using soap and water and also boost circulation to the skin. Shavers are always investment purchases – and this one is no exception – but the addition of a cleansing brush definitely softens the blow – not to mention your skin. Clever.
The concept of the new King of Shaves Shave + Shield is simple: it’s a product that you can use as a shave prep but as a moisturiser too. So, technically, you don’t actually need to rinse it off after shaving as you would with a gel, foam or cream. In that respect it dovetails beautifully with King of Shaves’ last big launch, the Hyperglide, which is essentially a razor that can, if necessary, be used without water. So, add the Shave + Shield to the Hyperglide and you pretty much have the ultimate waterless shave.
In practice, not rinsing has a few disadvantages (not least that the odd rogue stubble clipping might still be stuck to your face) but it’s still an excellent time, space and money-saving product to have in your bathroom, gym bag or to pack into your suitcase if you’re heading off on your hols. What’s most impressive about it is that it’s lubricating enough to shave with and yet isn’t remotely greasy or shiny on the skin, leaving a perfectly matt finish. Clever.
Available from shave.com priced £4.99
It’s unusual for me to lose my composure when introduced to a new grooming product. My usual press launch poker face (mastered over the years in order not to offend PRs when I am miserably underwhelmed) rarely fails me. But it did several months back when Will King, founder of King of Shaves, gave me a sneak preview of his new Hypergilde razor.
Dipping the head of the razor into a glass of water he asked me to try it out on my actual face (the bits that aren’t bearded anyway). Usually, I’m reluctant to do this, especially when sitting in a crowded restaurant, but since I was in a good mood I thought I’d comply with his request. Rather embarrassingly, when I placed the cartridge against my face I let out an audible gasp – something Will sorely regrets not capturing on his smartphone. The reason for this involuntary emotional outburst lies in the fact that the Hyperglide feels totally different to any other razor when it makes contact with your skin.
This is because it features a high-tech, ultra-thin polymer that’s chemically-bound to the razor cartridge and which creates a layer of lubrication delivering friction levels even lower than that of ice or Teflon. It’s difficult to describe how this actually feels but imagine an ‘intimate lubricant’ applied to your face and you kind of get the picture.
Other razors have toyed with lubricants, of course, but what makes this one so special is that, because it’s chemically bonded to the razor, it doesn’t leave a residue, peel off or snag. The result is a razor that doesn’t just deliver a great shave but one that feels genuinely pleasant to have against the skin.
What’s more, the coating means that, if you were stuck, you could probably shave without a foam, cream or gel (all you’d need is some water) though obviously using a shave prep is always the best idea. As an extra bonus the razor and blade pack comes with a nifty little transparent holder that you can stick onto your bathroom wall or mirror so your razor’s always at hand.
As you can tell, I was genuinely excited when I fist tried the Hyperglide for myself (and I am notoriously hard to impress) so huge respect to Will for delivering a clever, innovative and fun product, as well as one that delivers a great shave.
The King of Shaves Hypergilde launches on 16th January. For more info go to shave.com
The Bluebeards Revenge is a Great British success story. Founded by former Royal Marine Commando David Hildrew (a man who, as much as anything, is living proof that moustaches can look cool) it’s gone from being a small company based around a high-performance shave cream to one with a whole range of grooming products stocked in the likes of Tesco. Its signature products contain an ingredient designed to slow down stubble growth and as a brand it’s fun, clever and accessible. Here the Bluebeard-in-Chief himself chats to me about blogging, his best shaving tips and yes, that impressive ‘tache.
GG: David, on a scale of 1 – 10, how well groomed would you say you are?
DH: I would award myself a “Len Goodman style” 7! All the essentials are covered (I shave daily of course) but there is room for improvement.
GG: You’re the owner of a fantastic ‘tache I must say. What are your best tips for moustache maintenance?
DH: Yes – mine harks back to the day when any self-respecting Bootneck would sport a growler to grow icicles off as he yomped across the Falkands or Norway! Luckily, I come into fashion once a year now that Movember is all the rage. As for maintenance – sorry to disappoint but mine is a free-spirited beast and is left to its own devices bar the odd trim. That’s not to say that it might not benefit from a dab of Grecian 2000 one of these days.
GG: What’s the biggest mistake men make when it comes to shaving?
DH: Rushing the process, a lack of preparing the skin, and using poor quality shaving products.
DH: The traditional shave has made something of a comeback over the last few years – double-edged razors, shaving brushes and the use of shaving creams have all become popular again. But top billing goes to an unprecedented interest in cut-throat shaving – mainly as a result of the scene in the James Bond Skyfall movie of 2012.
GG: What’s your best skincare tip?
DH: Man up and moisturise – sorry men, we are not immune from the ravages visited upon us by time, the elements and a busy lifestyle. The ladies are right on this one!
GG: Desert island grooming product?
DH: A fine, Damascus steel cut throat razor – so useful in so many ways beyond just the shave.
DH: As a married man with 30 years before the mast I have long since worked out that my favourite fragrance really ought to be what Mrs Bluebeard prefers! Right now she seems to be keen on the classic Alvarez Gomez range.
GG: What’s your best shaving tip?
DH: Take your time (preparing the skin properly before the shave is vital), use good quality products and watch some of the better “How to…” videos on YouTube.
GG: You use the term “The Ultimate Shaving Experience For Real Men!” in your branding. What do you mean by “real men”?
DH: The strap line is meant to be tongue-in-cheek – we make no real judgement as to what we believe a “real man” is – even though in a shaving sense it’s someone who suffers from ultra-tough stubble and has a five o’clock shadow by lunch. In truth though most men are pretty much convinced that they qualify for “Real Man” status and we are just appealing to that belief. Taken in context, most everyone understands that The Bluebeards Revenge is all about a self-deprecating, humorous approach to life in general and grooming in particular. Hopefully we bring a sense of fun and adventure to the daily routine.
GG: As a former Royal Marine Commando what do you say to guys who reckon taking care of their skin isn’t very…butch?
DH: Sorry guys it’s only a matter of time before the penny will drop! Life isn’t a rehearsal and I can give you a rock solid guarantee that you will eventually regret not taking care of your skin from an early stage in life.
DH: Our original Shaving Cream – it is what started the whole thing off! From vanity project to an internationally recognized and respected brand in three years. An amazing product that has taken us on an incredible journey.
GG: How important do you think male grooming blogs are these days are what do they bring to the discussion about male grooming?
DH: I am totally biased on this one as it is has been the support of the online, specialist blogging community that has taken The Bluebeards Revenge from a humble start-up to where it is now. Crucially it is the variety of opinion and expertise made so accessible to all and sundry, on a world-wide basis that makes them so valuable.
GG: Fantasy grooming product?
DH: We are currently working on a creating a new slant on the Double Edged Razor with a view to making it as easy to use as the mass market cassette style razors that dominate the shaving landscape. May not sound too exciting but the engineering and manufacturing challenges we are facing places the project firmly in the land of fantasy at the moment!
For more info on The Bluebeards Revenge visit their site at bluebeards-revenge.co.uk
In grooming terms, 2013 has been all about one thing: the beard. In fact, so huge has the trend for facial hair been that it has prompted Remington to analyse the chins, cheeks and upper lips of 470 infulential men culled from a whole series of independent lists – like Forbes’ Highest Paid Sportsmen one – to create a kind of “Facial Hair Index”. From actors, musicians and sporting heroes to academics, magazine editors and leading businessmen, no man escaped their scrutiny (don’t you just love the fact people actually get paid to do that kind of stuff?) and what they discovered is fascinating…
FACT: More men have a beard than don’t.
For sure, it’s a close call but 54% of the men looked at for the report had a beard or at least some designer stubble. Smoothies, you’re in the minority!
FACT: Beards are favoured by cool, creative types (except magazine editors).
According to the report three quarters of leading actors and 70% of musicians have sported a beard in the last year. The vast majority of magazine editors and authors, however, are clean shaven. In fact, 80% of them are. Mark Twain and Earnest Hemingway must be turning in their graves.
FACT: Sportsmen think facial hair is a winner.
A whopping 80% of our sporting heroes have, er, ‘sported’ stubble or a beard in the last 12 months. Bad news for companies wanting to promote their razor blades with a tennis/football/F1 star huh?
Despite the popularity of facial hair, being clean shaven is still seen as the ‘professional option’ with 76% of CEOs preferring to be clean shaven.
FACT: The richer you are the more likely you are to be clean shaven.
70% of the billionaires or millionaires analysed were clean shaven. They can afford the razors clearly. And probably people to shave them.
FACT: Beards aren’t seen as the intelligent option.
There was a time when no self-respecting professor or corduroy-clad university lecturer would be seen dead without a beard. How times have changed. These days 73% of leading professors are clean shaven. What’s more, 63% of men with the highest IQs also shun the face fungus.
So what does all this mean? Well, I guess it reinforces what many suspect about facial hair: that even though it’s been this year’s most popular fashion accessory it’s still very much the preserve of hispsters, creative types and (though the survey doesn’t mention it it) burly gay ‘bears’.
Much to my dismay, as a facial hair fan, it also shows that beards are still regarded with considerable suspicion. The fact that academia and business shun them re-inforces the idea that men who sport beards aren’t serious or dynamic (though clearly facial hair hasn’t held Sirs Sugar and Branson back). But hey, don’t despair if you have a beard, goatee or ‘tache – one thing the study does highlight is that beards are still fantastically cool.
Apart from David Beckham I can’t think of another Brit that looks as well groomed as model David Gandy. Surprisingly, though, the man himself is remarkably low maintenance, something I discovered when I played a little word association game with him earlier today. Reassuringly, I also discovered that even although he’s as near-perfect a masculine specimen as you’ll ever find, even he’s not 100% there. In fact, there’s one physical attribute many men take for granted that he’s rather jealous of…
DG: “Ok, I’ll give it a go!”
DG: “Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue of course. The fact is, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that iconic ad with the white trunks! It’s where it all started for me and is what led me to where I am today.”
DG: “Yes! Have some! Actually my hair has a life of its own. It’s so thick and curly it can be a real nightmare. Luckily I have a guy called Larry King who looks after it for me. Everyone in America laughs when I say Larry King does my hair. I have to explain to them, no, not that Larry King!”
“I don’t. Well, I don’t wet shave anyway. Haven’t for years. I just maintain a little bit of stubble with a beard trimmer.”
DG: “Hey! That’s my word! It’s one of my favourites. You’ve got to get a bit of manscaping in there I think. Absolutely!” (note David’s always-tidy trunkline).
DG: “Organic Rosehip Oil. I mentioned this a while back in an interview and everyone’s gone wild about it ever since. A make-up artist introduced me to it and it’s absolutely fantasic for hydrating skin – especially if you’ve been on a long flight.”
DG: “Never polish them! I’m all for male grooming – and it’s important to keep your fingernails – and toenails – tidy, but highly polished fingernails on men? Noooooo.”
DG: “Jealous. You know, I really wish I could grow a beard but I can’t. I have a friend who has a great one but if I try to grow one it’s just patchy – like a badly maintained lawn! I wish there was a Miracle-Gro for beards!”
DG: “Paul Newman”
DG: “Fragrance. I think it’s essential to find something you love and that suits your personality. And something women find attractive obviously!”
David Gandy also writes for Telegraph Men.