Insider Interview: Amanda Watson, Category Manager for Neal’s Yard Remedies

I’m a huge fan of Neal’s Yard Products so I was honoured to be interviewed for their Organic Life site recently (you can read the interview here). Talking about some of my favourite NYR products got me thinking about men’s attitudes to organic products, though, so I thought I’d turn the tables on NYR and ask them a few questions.

So here NYR Organic Category Manager Amanda Watson, who is responsible for new product development, answers my questions about organic skincare.

GG: Men are often sceptical about organic skincare. What can you say to convince them it’s worth giving a go?

AW: By using organic ingredients on your body, you are reducing the amount of chemical residues that are absorbed by your skin.  We firmly believe that it’s just not necessary to use such synthetic materials.

The body benefits hugely from simple, natural ingredients as they are similar in content to the skins own sebum. Rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids, they are easily and safely absorbed, assisting the skin’s natural functions and helping improve its condition, leaving it soft, supple and nourished.  Some synthetic ingredients cannot be synthesised by the skin so they block pores and diminish the skin’s ability to function, and they may also irritate the skin.

Our NYR Men range has been specifically developed for men using natural ingredients and plant extracts to create effective products that care for male skin which may have been stressed by shaving and exposure to the environment.  The products are designed to nourish and soothe the skin and contain regenerative ingredients to promote a healthy complexion.

GG: There’s often a perception that natural or organic skincare products somehow aren’t as good, or long-lasting as other ones? What would you say to this accusation?

AW: This may have been the perception many years ago but now organic beauty products have become much more efficacy based and with a lot more scientific research and claims behind them.

GG: What ingredients in the NYR men’s range are the most beneficial to men?

AW: Lavender, witch hazel and calendula are very useful herbs for inflamed skin conditions as they have soothing properties which calm and refresh tired skin.  This is why we have used these herbs in the Calming After Shave Balm.

GG: Are there any essential oils you’d say were specifically good or useful for men? If so, which ones and why?

AW: We have included a unique blend of 13 essential oils and resins in the NYR Men range, which not only smell amazing, but they are also great for men’s skin and mood.  For example energising grapefruit is cooling on the skin, aromatic eucalyptus is balancing while uplifting clary sage is toning.  Together with our active plan extracts, they’re just what men’s skin needs to stay in perfect shape.

GG: What three NYR men’s products would you say are bathroom-cabinet must-haves and why?

AW: For a basic skincare routine, men should cleanse, shave and protect so I would recommend the following:

Gently foaming, Purifying Face Wash thoroughly cleanses, energises and refreshes the skin, lifting away impurities to prepare it for shaving.  It contains anti-oxidant rooibos herbal infusion to strengthen the skin, combined with restorative calendula, renowned for its regenerative properties.

Close Shave Cream creates a thick, creamy lather to deep cleanse and soften the skin and bristles, for a closer, smoother shave, with purifying red clay, astringent apple and softening olive oil.

Calming Aftershave Balm is fantastic for calming down that just-shaved skin with soothing lavender, calendula and witch hazel, leaving skin soft and comfortable.

GG: Finally, what’s your personal favourite essential oil and why?

AW: Grapefruit is one of my favourite essential oils as its zesty, zingy fragrance really uplifts me particularly in the morning when I need an energy boost to face the day!

Neal’s Yard Remedies products are available from Niven & Joshua

Insider Interview: Australian beauty and grooming expert Will Fennell

Will Fennell is one of Australia’s leading beauty and male grooming experts. As well as being a writer and consultant he’s also an accomplished TV Presenter, having appeared on programmes like 10 Years Younger in 10 Days, Queer Eye For The Straight Guy and Seven’s The Morning Show where he is the resident beauty and grooming expert. Fascinated to learn more about Aussie men’s attitudes to male grooming and a little more about Will’s own favourite products I thought I’d fire a few probing questions at him. And here are the results…

GG: So Will, what sparked your interest in male grooming?

WF: I woke at age twelve with a huge pimple on my chin. My Grandmother with all the best intentions articulated to me that methylated spirits would clear it up in no time. Over the next 48 hours I applied metho continuously. Suffice to say mother rushed me to the doctor with a first-degree burn. That pimple changed my life (and the idea that my gran was sane). Within weeks I was cleansing, toning and moisturising daily.

GG: What are your favourite men’s fragrances and why? 

WF: I prefer light, fresh and fruity. But this is a tough one because I don’t really wear fragrance (especially when it is hot and humid in Sydney), but yet I need to review and test-drive them for my blog and DNA magazine. Last year I started to get my readers to review the fragrances instead of me, which was fun. At the moment I have a soft spot for A&F Fierce, but that might be because of the particular man wearing it. If I ever do wear anything, I love Honore’s Trip. It is 100% organic, with natural tangerine oil. The first spritz it’s like walking out into a citrus farm – delicious.

GG: Desert Island grooming product? 

WF: It is a joke (OK, they make fun of me continuously) amongst my friends that I never leave the house without lip balm (OK, lip gloss), so I cant see me jumping from the ship before it sinks without grabbing my Christian Dior Lip Maximiser.

GG: Best grooming tip? 

WF: When you start out keep things simple. I believe the biggest mistake men make (with all the best intentions in the world) is making their skin care routine too complex to stick to. Begin with two steps in the morning and two steps in the evening.

AM;  2 in 1 Cleanser Scrub (perfect as a pre-shave)

Daily Mosturiser (with a 15 or 30 SPF)

PM; Foaming Cleanser (to remove the SPF)

Repairing Moisturiser (containing any of the proven anti-aging ingredients like lactic acid, glycolic acid, antioxidants, peptides, copper)

GG: What are your favourite Aussie skincare brands and why?  

WF: There are several excellent Aussie skin care companies, but my favourite is Ultraceuticals. Dr. Heber who formulates the well-respected cosmeceutical range is second to none when it comes to using proven ingredients that rely on scientific research and not anecdotal evidence. In the past I was critical of this range (like many cosmeceutical lines) as whilst it did the job, it didn’t feel good on the skin. His latest generation of skin care feels good and makes you look younger – bingo!

GG: Is there anything British men can learn from Australian men in terms of male grooming?  

WG: We have grown up wearing sunscreen in Australia because of the fear we have of skin cancer; this has in turn saved Aussie men from aging as well. There is no other country in the world that takes sun protection as seriously as we do and the SPF rating here in Oz is heavily regulated. It has taken me years, but I am proud of the men I educate; nearly all of them wear sunscreen daily. It is quite simple – using a sunscreen moisturiser (an SPF of 15 will be adequate for daily use whilst inside working and much lighter in texture than a 30) will prevent you from incidental sun-induced aging. Remember it is easier to prevent aging than to reverse it!

GG: There’s often a stereotype of the typical Australian man: rough, rugged, positively ‘retrosexual’ if you will. Has this changed in recent years? And if so, what’s caused the change do you think? 

WF: Hollywood and celebrity men looking good have had a huge effect on how Aussie men groom and dress. David Beckham may sound like Minnie Mouse but I admire him for helping men appreciate you could look good, retain your masculinity and still be good at playing with balls.


GG: On a scale of 1 – 10, how well groomed would you say you are?  

WF: Today I have bed hair and weeks worth of grey beard re-growth, so I give myself a 2…. Normally however I am about a 7 or 8. I used to be far more concerned (one could say high maintenance) with my hair etc. but as I have gotten older I have (thankfully) become more relaxed. My skin however is another matter – my healthy skin is the best advertisement for my clinic – I give my skin a 9.5!

GG: Finally, have you seen the latest pics of newly uber-groomed Shane Warne? What do you think? 

WF: Best of luck to him, but I am sure Liz still turns the lights out before they root (Aussie slang for shag)!

For more info about Will go to www.willfennell.com.au You can also follow him on Twitter @WillFennell

Insider Interview: author, journalist and ‘motherfather’ of the metrosexual Mark Simpson

Few people know more about the rise of the well-groomed man than Mark Simpson. Described as ‘the world’s most perceptive writer about masculinity’ and the person credited with coining the term ‘metrosexuality’ (something that’s gained him praise and opprobrium in almost equal amounts), like me he’s lived through what amounts to a revolution in how men relate to their appearance. His lastest book Metrosexy: A 21st Century Love Story has just been released, providing me with the perfect opportunity to speak to him about how men’s interest in grooming (or beautyas ardent Simpsonistas would have it) has burgeoned over the last twenty years as well as to take a more intimate peek into his own personal regime…

GG: You and I are pretty much contemporaries and we both saw the beginnings of the grooming boom in this country. Having written my first article on male grooming back in 1985 I feel a bit like I was there at the birth and the graduation! Can you isolate one pivotal moment when taking care of their appearance suddenly became a totally acceptable pursuit for men?

MS: Well of course the youth cults of 70s Glam Rock and early 80s New Romanticism – which I believe you were pretty part of, Mr Kynaston: I’ve seen the kabuki photographic evidence – played a big role in telling men it was OK to be Prince Charming. That ridicule, in the immortal words of Adam Ant was ‘nothing to be scared of.’

But much more globally important was… Top Gun. The Tom Cruise cold-war fly-boy movie directed by Tony Scott in the style of a pop promo which came out in 1985, the year you started writing about male grooming.

After all, it’s a block-buster movie about male hair gel. Pretty much all the men in that film look fabulous, darling – even when they take their helmets off after a long, hot, sweaty dogfight. The famous volleyball sequence and long, lingering locker-room scenes also introduced a generation of young men to the delights of working out.

Despite being quite possibly The Gayest Movie Ever, Top Gun, an all-boys’ action movie, gave a generation of young straight men permission to take care over their appearance. It presented male narcissism as traditional, Republican, and patriotic. The young Tom Cruise as an All-American glamour boy.

GG: Is the rise of male grooming/beauty simply a reflection of men’s desire to be desired? Or is the availability and acceptance of grooming/beauty products driving narcissism?

MS: There’s a feedback loop between the two. On the one hand consumerism wants men to buy product – it effectively doubles the potential market for cosmetics. On the other hand… it turns out that men don’t need much persuading. Or much permission. Their desire to be desired, especially in an increasingly visual, Facebooked, webcam culture like ours, turns out to be pretty insatiable when given half a chance. So we’ve seen a kind of exponential growth in men’s interest in products that get them noticed. I mean, just a few years ago the working class orange male poseurs of ‘Geordie Shore’ would have been unthinkable, except perhaps as gay stereotypes….

GG: What’s your favourite men’s fragrance and why?

MS: To be honest, I don’t like men’s fragrances. At least on me. I like them all for about five minutes but then I get sick of them. On other men I like old stalwarts like Acqua di Gio. Even Aramis. And Jean-Paul Gaultier. Stuff like Brut or Old Spice was crap when I was a kid and is still crap, despite big recent marketing pushes. Irony doesn’t smell so good.

GG: What’s the one male grooming/beauty product you wouldn’t be without?

MS: My Phillips SensoTouch electric razor. I’m terrified of growing, even accidentally, one of those fashionable Soho beards. Wet shaving brings me out in a rash. The SensoTouch, in addition to looking like something you’d find in Darth Vader’s bathroom cabinet, is the next closest thing to a wet-shave – but with zero irritation.

GG: Ball-shaving, hair transplants, guyliner. All were once considered rather exotic but aren’t any more. Are there any taboos left in terms of male grooming/beauty?

MS: I remember that when women started having Botox injections it was said that men would never have them. And then when men started having them it was said they’ll never have them on the forehead. And now men are having them on their forehead.

It’s pretty clear that pretty much everything – with the possible exception of vajazzling – that women have used to enhance their attractiveness will eventually be taken up by men. (There is such a thing as a Pejazzle, of course, with Vajazzle.me.uk claiming 40% of customers are men. GG)

In the meantime however you see cosmetics manufacturers going to frankly camp extremes in trying to reassure the few (mostly middle aged) men who are holding out against metrosexuality that using moisturiser or deodorant is a really, really masculine, utterly butch thing to do. And not at all gay. Which is very good news for Gerard Butler and Eric Cantona’s agents.

GG: Describe your own morning grooming/beauty routine.

MS: It’s less a grooming routine these days – more damage limitation exercise. I rise and stumble into the shower. Where I remain for as long as I possibly can. I use Nizoral shampoo because I’m balding and studies suggest it can help slow that process. I use a buff-puff even though it makes me feel vaguely ridiculous because I’ve found it best for getting rid of dead skin, which I have a lot of, and unclogging pores, which I also have a lot of. Then I shave with my electric razor. I don’t use moisturiser, because I have rosacea, which gives you a big red face unless you use a prescription gel which I apply after my shave.

GG: How manscaped are you on a scale of 1 – 10?

MS: Probably a 9-10. I’m very Graeco-Roman in regard to body hair. Shave it off, I say. Show off the musculature – and add an inch where it counts. But also, in the words of the ‘YMCA’ song, get yourself clean. Which I don’t think you can do too easily if you’re hairy. In fact, I think they should bring back strigils, the curved metal scrapers Romans had their slaves use on them in their bath-houses.

GG: Make up for men has pretty much been a flop in commercial terms with many companies who launched products having since discontinued them. Why do you think this is when things like manscaping and even eyebrow shaping have taken off?

MS: Oh, I suspect male make-up will make a comeback in the near future. I hear it’s already been a success in the Asian market. After all, make-up is just another, more ‘in-yer-face’ form of cosmetics – and even good old Gillette shaving gel is choc full of cosmetics these days.

The problem though for men’s make-up and the reason why most men in the West are still holding out against it is that it isn’t something you can deny. Most other male cosmetics come with the alibi that no, you haven’t fake-baked you’ve just been working in the garden a lot….

The problem for men is that while they are increasingly expected to and indeed want to look good, unlike women they often feel they have to go about it semi-secretly. They need to be beautiful but they should also feel slightly ashamed about it. There’s a double standard about male beauty now. Men are expected to look fabulous, but pretend that they haven’t tried ‘too hard’. Make-up is currently defined as ‘trying too hard’.

On the other hand, Russell Brand gets away with it all the time.

GG: Many commentators complain that men are ‘becoming more like women’ with their grooming/beauty regimes. What would you say to this?

MS: I think it’s more a case of men no longer tying one hand behind their backs when it comes to the increasingly important business – both in private and public life – of looking good. Happily married Lord Sugar, for example, sometimes seems to display a weakness for an attractive, nicely turned-out male candidate. And of course, more and more bosses are female.

Instead of men becoming ‘more like women’ what we’re seeing is men being less inhibited in their behaviour by worries about what’s ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, ‘gay’ and ‘straight’. In much the same way that women have been since the feminist revolution of the 1970s. Likewise, ‘male beauty’ is no longer a completely verboten conjugation that has to always be euphemised with ‘male grooming’.

Basically it’s the end of the Victorian division of bedroom and bathroom labour that persisted for most of the 20th Century. Men want to be beautiful and sensual too now. And no one, even bitchy commentators, is going to stop them.

GG: Finally, who are your top three best-groomed men?

MS: David Beckham (now that he has dropped that Das Boot beard). Andrej Pejic. And my dad.

metrosexy is out now on Kindle. For more info click here.

For more information on Mark go to www.marksimpson.com. You can follow Mark  on Twitter @marksimpsonist

* Note: I don’t have a problem with the term ‘male beauty’ at all but do believe that had ‘male grooming’ been called ‘male beauty’ all these years the uptake would have been much, much slower. I’ve spent a decade at the coal face of the industry, encouraging men – in a very practical way – to take an interest in their appearance and whilst I know male ‘grooming’ is an artificial construct to give beauty a butch face I also know it has allowed metrosexuality to flourish in a way male ‘beauty’ never would have. It may be beauty by the back door but that’s fine by me. As long as men’s interest in their appearance continues I don’t care!  GG

insider interview: chris beastall, co-founder Niven & Joshua

As well as being one of  the nicest guys in the industry Chris Beastall has managed to make online grooming retailer Niven & Joshua, which he co-founded back in 2008, one of the coolest destinations for men seeking cutting-edge skincare, cult, quirky brands and a first-class service.

Catering for a discerning skincare customer it stocks cult brands like Anthony Logistics, Korres and Cowshed alongside exclusive ones like Japanese brand retaW. With a progressive nod to the future of male grooming you can also find acclaimed Australian brand Eyre, which focusses on organic ingredients, and (one of my fave brands) Bulldog Natural Grooming – one the the best ‘natural’ skincare brands out there.

I caught up with Chris recently to discover his views on male grooming, where the industry is heading and also get a glimpse into his own grooming routine…

GG: What do you think is the attraction to men of buying their grooming gear online?

CB: Prior to Niven & Joshua’s birth we considered opening male grooming salons in a selection of the UK’s most cosmopolitan cities. However, after much research from many sources, we learned that online was the way to go. The primary reason was anonymity, all the data pointed to the majority of men preferring to buy online and not have to face the intimidating, ill-informed sales assistants of department stores with their ailments and concerns.

The emergence of great blogs like The Grooming Guru and grooming guides such as those on Niven & Joshua means men can sit comfortably at their computer, learn, make an informed decision and then buy with the benefit of quick delivery from most e-retailers.

GG: Based on sales, what’s men’s biggest skincare issue would you say?

CB: The biggest skincare issue we see in terms of sales patterns are shaving related. Brands such as Taylor of Old Bond Street are extremely popular. Nearly every man shaves at some point in their life and most are shaving daily. The harsh effects of literally gliding a blade over your skin can easily be countered if you prepare with the right products.

GG: Favourite product you stock and why?

CB: My favourite product(s) would have to be any of the retaW Body Shampoos (shower gels). retaW is a Japanese brand we were absolutely blown away by when sampling it. The ingredients are all organic, highly concentrated and the scents, well, they must be tried to be truly appreciated.

GG: Best skincare tip you’ve come across?

CB: My best skincare tip would be to self-educate. Don’t fall for clever marketing, educate yourself in terms of your skin type and from there learn which products will work for you. We only take on brands we have tested, know work and would be happy to use ourselves.

GG: Desert Island grooming product?

CB: My recommended desert island grooming product would have to be a good quality moisturiser with SPF. It’s important to keep skin hydrated for many reasons and the added SPF is a bonus for warding of premature ageing of the skin and skin cancer.

GG: Who do you think is the ultimate grooming role model for men and why?

CB: I would have to say every man’s father. His toiletry selection was probably limited when you were growing up but he set the ball rolling in terms of intrigue and trial. It’s a cliche but I remember my father showing me how to shave for the first time, and sneaking in to his bathroom to spray on his green and gold bottled Ralph Lauren Polo fragrance.

GG: What are your favourite fragrances and why?

CB: There’s a small perfumery in Belgravia, London called Les Senteurs who offer a niche collection of the finest fragrances the world has to offer. In particular I am a big fan of Editions de Parfums by Frédéric Malle. The pick of the bunch would have to be Carnal Flower or Noir Epices, they are seemingly expensive for the size but one spray is all you need and the lasting scent is magnificent.

GG: How do you think the internet changed male grooming in the last few years?

CB: The internet has been a genuine blessing for the male grooming industry. Previously there was only a limited offering of basic male grooming products in supermarkets and chemists, agreeably there was more on offer at larger, higher-end stores but these being located in major cities made them inaccessible to most. Global accessibility is a major plus point of the internet, as well as anonymity when buying but also the plethora of information available on male grooming e-retailing sites and blogs means men can make informed decision before buying. Ultimately the aim is to look good to feel good, it’s not about vanity just taking care of yourself, being healthy and feeling confident within yourself – every man deserves that.

To check out Niven & Joshua go to www.nivenandjoshua.com

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Insider Interview: Richard Sawyer, Global spokesman for Lab Series

When it comes to male grooming Richard Sawyer is, without doubt, one of the most knowledgeable people I know. As Global Spokesman for Lab Series (you know you’ve made it when you’re a ‘global’ something) he jets around the world, spreading the word about the brand’s extensive range of skin savers for men. Right now he’s expounding the benefits of Lab Series’ brand new anti-ageing product, Max LS Age-Less Face Cream.

So impressed by this new wrinkle buster (and believe me I’m hard to impress) I grabbed him for an insider interview. So here’s what he has to say about the latest addition to the Lab Series family, along with some handy grooming tips and a few thoughts on why hairy shoulders are scary shoulders.

GG: So, Richard, what makes MAX-LS different from other anti-ageing creams?

RS: What is unique is the revolutionary formulation. Using a highly precise hot/cold method creates the unique transformational texture.A first of its kind in men’s skincare, this special processing method creates a smooth, rich cream with micro droplets of moisture throughout that applies with a cool burst of hydration.

In use, what at first glance appears to be a rich cream, simply disappears into the skin leaving nothing buts a sensation of cool moisture and comfort for a mans skin. It’s also the first time we have used Sirtuin-inspired research in a product specifically for men. This technology helps keep skin looking younger, longer. In addition the formula contains skin rejuvenation ingredients such as Whey Protein and Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 to help keep skin looking firmer, smoother and more lifted.

GG: Men’s biggest grooming mistake?

RS: Not washing before wet shaving. This might sound simple, bit the single most important step in getting a close and comfortable wet shave is cleaning the skin.  Washing the face before shaving removed the build of oil, dead skin and dirt, which can clog up your razor and cause excess friction.

GG: Best skincare tip for men?

RS: However late it is, no matter how tired you are, try your best to but on a moisturiser before you go to bed. In the morning you may feel rough, tired and a little hung-over from last night, but at least you will look half-human. You really will have to try and work miracles to get yourself looking good after a heavy night if you forget to do something with your face before you sleep.

GG: What are your favourite fragrances?

RS: From being a teenager I have genuinely always loved fragrance. Back then there was far less choice but it also seemed there was great originality and the compositions available had real personality.

I have recently being on a voyage of rediscovery from the scents of my youth.

Pride of place in my bathroom right now are three classic Aramis fragrances. Yes I do work for Aramis, however I absolutely will never wear any fragrance unless I truly love it and have an emotional connection with it.

The first rediscovery was JHL. Back in the 1980’s I didn’t really understand it but as you grow form your teenage years into adulthood your tastes change, develop and mature.  I totally “get it” now and delighted that now it has been reissued, it is available for discovery once more. I love Aramis 900 too. It was my scent when I was 18 and I spent every spare penny I had on getting the range. I had very little money back then; however I knew that it was better to have just a few high quality products than loads of ineffective or cheaper alternatives.

I’m now wearing Aramis Devin, which has a lovely fresh green note. I work in an office surrounded by scent but whenever I wear this the reaction from everyone is always amazing. (A dickybird tells me he loves Guerlain’s Jicky too)

GG: Desert Island grooming product?

RS: Sunscreen every time.  Everyone should apply some sun protection to any exposed parts of their body after any skincare system. SPF 15 is fine for everyday exposure for people who work mostly indoors and just pop out at lunchtime for a sandwich. Higher factors are a must for anyone who loves the great outdoors even if you don’t plan on sun bathing.

My biggest regret is not knowing about the potential damage over exposure to the sun can do to the skin. I’m not alone in this respect as it’s only more recently that everyone is more away that we should use sun protection. I truly love the sun and getting a tan, however a couple of years ago I made a conscious decision to avoid prolonged sun exposure. It may be too late to reverse all of the sun damage I know I have suffered, but at least I can help to stop it getting worse.

GG: Body hair: to shave or not to shave?

RS: Maybe a bit of both! It’s really down to personal preference. I personally don’t like hairy backs and shoulders so for me on these areas, the hair has to go. A little trim on the chest now and again doesn’t go a miss. If you have been working out at the gym, shaving can show off your definition and hard work. Tattoos also look better if you can actually see them.


GG: How has the internet changed male grooming?

RS: I think its empowered men to be able to research and discover what’s out there without feeling uncomfortable.  You can compare and choose at your leisure and get really get the SP on something. The internet has dramatically changed how people shop and retailers have needed to evolve.  I research new skin care products and technologies on an almost daily basis. Like other men I can then visit a store and touch, and try a product, have an understanding of what it is and what it can do. Personally I still like to see new product in “the flesh” first.  However as with many men I’m more than comfortable buying online when I want a repeat purchase.

GG: Fantasy grooming product?

RS: It seems with each season that the perfect moisturiser is getting closer and closer.  I want a product that does it all. It has to be day and night, for lines and wrinkles and be protective and repairing.  An all singing all dancing product used to be like searching for the Holy Grail.  I’m convinced that with the convergence of idea’s and research form the west and Asia, we are closer than ever to the ideal skincare product. Something that addresses chronological and photo ageing.

MAX LS answers my needs right now. However as time and technology march on, I’ll be waiting for the next big thing.

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Insider interview: ‘Mr Azor’, King of Shaves head honcho Will King

King of Shaves Supremo Will King is a man on a mission – he wants to shake up the razor market forever. And to a degree the launch of the bendy Azor razor has done that – triggering, if not quite the tectonic shift in the market promised, then debate about the cost of shaving and how razors are marketed at least.

And he truly loves his products. In fact, he’s so good at bigging them up that I truly believe that had he been our Prime Minister he’d have talked the country out of recession about eight months  ago.

And today he has something new to talk about: the brand new Azor M razor –  a weightier, deluxe, hybrid metal alloy version of the Azor and Azor S. I caught up with him to find out a little more about the Azor M, his views on the shaving market and the impact of social media on male grooming.  Oh, and just for fun, what fragrances he likes to wear too.

GG: The original Azor launched 2008. What so you think is the single biggest change it’s made to the wet razor market in the UK?

WK: I introduced genuine competition in a monopoly (sorry, cosy duopoly) to the consumer’s advantage.

GG: Best shaving tip?

WK: Shave in the shower.

GG: What are your favourite three men’s fragrances and why?
WK: Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme. Directional, classic, cool – makes me feel good. Thierry Mugler A*Men. Sexy, original, sensual. Ted Baker Skinwear. Fresh, uplifting & I headed up its design!

GG: What effect has the internet had on male grooming in the last few years?

WK: It’s been absolutely huge. Men’s magazines were big enough in the 90’s, but now you can pretty much get any knowledge you need about ‘shaving great, smelling great, styling great, looking great’ online. Word of mouth has become word of mouse; ‘hard to get hold of’ brands can be delivered to your home, and with all the forums/blog posts/bulletin boards, you’re spoilt for choice for knowledge, information and advice.

GG: You’re a prolific blogger and user of user of social media. How important is that to you personally and to the King of Shaves brand as a whole?

WK: It’s critical. We’ve shifted from an era of ‘brand broadcast’ (via TV advertising) to ‘digital dialogue’ (consumers interacting and being interacted with). I’ve blogged since 2001, watched twitter grow from 2006, been on facebook for years. I don’t use the social media much personally (ie i’m actually quite private) from from a brandcomms perspective, I’m able to imbue KoS with a genuine personality, and serve up content I hope people enjoy reading and acting on, responding to.

GG: I once called you ‘The Simon Cowell of Social Media’ in one of my blogs. What do you say to that accusation?
WK: Flattered. OMG! LOL.

GG: The new Azor M is quite different from it’s predecessors. Describe it in one word.

WK: Future.

GG: If you could have any celebrity ambassador for Azor M who would it be?
WK: Obama

GG: Desert island grooming product?
WK: SPF30 Lancaster sun tan cream…

GG: Finally, what kind of technology will we be using to shave with in 20 years time? Or will we still be using blades?
WK: Watch out for the NanoRazor. Not 4 blades, but 4,000,000 individual stubble slicers working away and self sharpening in between shaves. Don’t laugh.

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Exclusive! Tomasz Schafernaker interview

BBC weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker is to meterology what Becks is to ball games. When he appeared on the cover of Attitude’s fitness supplement clad only  in a pair of Aussiebums earlier this month the internet exploded in a frenzy of Tweets, blogs and appreciative Facebook exchanges. Suddenly weather reporting was…sexy.

Not since the revelation that Angela Rippon had a fantastic pair of pins back in the 70s has a TV presenter caused such a stir with the exposure of a little flesh. In fact, such was the interest in ‘The Schaf’ that my own initial blog post about the Attitude cover instantly eclipsed a similar (and you’d have thought bigger) news story I wrote about Ronaldo becoming the new face of Armani.

All of a sudden I  people were specifically tuning in to his weather updates just to catch a glimpse of him! He was in people’s consciousness before, of course, but only in relation to squally showers. Now, he’s a bona fide sex symbol. So, with this in mind, I thought I’d find out how he maintains the looks that have created such a…storm.

GG: So Tomasz, how important is proper grooming to you and how much care and attention do you pay to your appearance?

TS: Clearly it’s important for me to look presentable due to the nature of my job. I need to make sure I put in about as much effort at 4am as I would at any time of the day if I’m due on shift. More men these days are paying attention to grooming so regardless of whether it’s a work day or not I still make at least some effort.

GG: What are your  favourite male fragrances and why?

TS: Boss by Hugo Boss – my dad has always bought me Hugo, probably ever since I was a teenager. I also wear 212 MEN by Carolina Herrera – another gift but now I buy it myself. I’m also a fan of Hollister Deodorants – I think they’re just fresh, funky and different.

GG: As someone who works in TV you’ll be used to wearing make-up when on screen. There are a huge number of male cosmetic products available now and it’s a growing industry. How do you feel about men using things like concealer?

TS: Yes, I’m required to wear make-up for TV. It’s amazing how much you shine and how awful you can look without it on screen. Remember that the lightning is at ‘unnatural levels’ in the studio compared to the real world.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with wearing a little ‘invisible male make-up’. It’s all down to what you’re comfortable with. I personally don’t actually wear make-up outside of work as I’ve always had pretty good skin.

GG: So you’re obviously doing something right! What’s your basic daily routine and what are your favourite skincare products?

I don’t have a regular routine as my day and night shifts are all over the place. I try to wash my face after work as soon as I can. There’s always some blot powder and studio fix left over. It’s a pain sometimes because I often have thick stubble.

I very rarely wet shave, almost never. I tend to have sensitive skin on the neck and using a clipper just happens to be better for me. Any basic moisturiser will do plus an anti-shine product which I can also use at work. A moisturiser with a light-tanning agent is good, I then don’t have put on as much make at work.

GG: A touch of stubble has almost become your trademark. How do you maintain it?

TS: I use clippers on the lowest grade setting, 2 or 3mm. I get the feeling that thick and uniform stubble is easier to maintain than thinner stubble. I have to use the clipper every other day as the stubble grows very quickly. Fortunately I’m quite fair so sometimes I can get away with it if I forget to trim. TV make-up can ‘soften’ the look of stubble as well.

GG: I’m assuming for the Attitude pics you removed any body hair – a procedure more men than ever are having done. Would you recommend it to other guys?

TS: Actually, because I’m fair, and maybe it’s something to do with my east european genes (Tomasz was born in Gdańsk, Poland), I’m not especially hairy. I didn’t remove any hair for the shoot. It was probably just unnoticeable and I’m guessing a little light airbrushing. Whatever takes your fancy on that one!

GG: Best grooming tip?

TS: It’s so much easier to style short hair after you’ve used narrow straightening irons for men. If you’ve tried it once there’s no going back! The style can keep even after a night’s sleep which means I don’t have to worry about bed hair when I’m on TV. It’s great.

GG: And finally…what’s your desert island grooming product?

TS: Hmm, difficult one. I guess I’d have to take UV protection so I don’t toast my nose..or the rest!

Tomasz recently launched his own website. To check it out click here.

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