As a grooming writer I’m used to providing answers to men’s questions about haircare, skincare and fragrance but the subject they’re most curious about is manscaping. Since it became ‘a thing’ roughly ten years ago I’ve written countless pieces on the subject but nothing quite as comprehensive as the guide that is my first major piece for leading men’s fashion and lifestyle blog Ape To Gentleman. A top-to-toe guide to removing hair, wherever it may sprout, it’s an ideal resource for any man wanting to pluck, prune or depilate. So grab your wax strips/razor/hair removal cream and have a read of it here.
It’s the hottest delivery system for male grooming products at the moment, with everything from self tanners to post-shave balms appearing in spray form, so here’s my pick of the very best mists for men.
1. Harry’s Post-Shave Mist, £11 for 100ml, harrys.com
Harry’s entry into the UK shaving market last year didn’t just offer punters a cost-effective shave – there are some great skincare ancillaries on offer too. Their Post-Shave Balm is one of the best on the market and at £7 is as good as ones four times the price, but it’s their brand new Post-Shave Mist that’s my go-to product at the moment. Since I have a beard I only have to use this on the few areas that I do shave but since it calms, refreshes and hydrates, I also keep it on my desk and use it as a face mist whenever I’m feeling tired or my skin feels dry and tight. A trio of refreshing essential oils (mint, eucalyptus and tea tree) make it the perfect pick-me-up. A cool product. Literally.
2. James Read For Men Hydra Tan Mist, £20 for 100ml, jamesreadtan.com
Nobody in the world self-tanning of is as innovative as James Read. Repeat, nobody. His approach to tanning products is to always go beyond basics to deliver products that do so much more than simply leave you with a natural looking glow. This great-smelling mist is designed to build up your tan gradually with each application, ensuring you don’t rock up to work on a Monday morning looking all mahogany, but also features cooling agents and skin-soothing aloe vera so can be used immediately after shaving, soothing skin while tanning it. With a colourless formula that won’t ruin your shirts or pillowcases, it’s quite possibly the best tanning product for men I’ve come across.
3. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fresh Mist SPF 50, £14 for 75ml, feelunique.com
One of the main reasons people fail to protect their skin from the sun is because so many of the products on offer fail the basic likeability test: they’re messy, greasy and smell horrible (one spray I used last year actually smelt of curry). This SPF50 mist addresses those problems by providing sun protection in the shape of a light-as-anything mist that’s a cinch to use, has a dry, invisible finish and smells great too. It’s also good for protecting the scalp if your thatch isn’t quite as thick as it used to be. And it’s not just me who rates it – last October it was voted ‘Best New Suncream’ at GQ magazine’s annual Grooming Awards.
4. L’Occitane Aqua Réotier Fresh Moisturising Mist, £14 for 50ml, uk.loccitane.com
New for 2018 this light but intensely moisturising mist for the face fuses fresh spring water from Réotier in southeastern France with hyaluronic acid and glycerin – naturally occurring ingredients that help draw moisture to towards the skin – to instantly hydrate and energise. It’s a brilliant product to have in your office drawer – especially if that office is air-conditioned – but it’s good for travel too and I can imagine it’d be perfect for freshening up on long summer drives.
5. Kiehl’s Oil Eliminator Refreshing Shine Control Toner For Men, £16.50 for 125ml, kiehls.com
With men’s skin oiler than women’s and fiddling with skin a known trigger for oil production this needs-no-fingers-to-apply oil eliminating facial mist is perfect if you’re prone to spots or a shiny schnoz. Designed to cool skin (that’ll be the menthol in contains) and neutralise oil so skin is left with a matt finish, you can literally just spray and go without having to massage it in. Like all the mists mentioned here it’s incredibly simple to use and allows you to tackle your skincare concerns in seconds – and single-handedly at that. What’s not to love?
Of all the mainstream premium grooming brands, Lab Series is possibly my favourite. Innovative, trend-setting and cutting-edge, its products are as interesting as they are effective – as is the case with their brand new offering: The Grooming Oil. The latest salvo in the battle to make grooming routines less complicated and bathroom shelves less cluttered, it’s a multi-functional little wonder that serves, not only as a shave oil, but as a beard and stubble oil too. It can even be used as a pre-shave cushion beneath your regular shave cream or gel to give you enhanced razor glide.
Lightweight and non-greasy, with a barely-there fragrance, it features a trio of nourishing oils (Sea Buckthorn, Jojoba and Sweet Almond) blended with skin-protecting vitamins and moisturising hydrators to ensure skin as well as facial hair always feels its best. I’ve tried hundreds of beard and shaves oils in the past and this is certainly one of the best. What’s more, since you have to shake it to mix everything before use it’s great fun to use.
Is that last feature a gimmick? Possibly, but then in an increasingly competitive market, this kind of interactivity is everything if you want that all important edge. I must admit I hate the way some companies insist on putting the word ‘The’ in front of product names (fellow Estée Lauder brand La Mer are the other main culprit) because it ensures the name never quite slips off the tongue and it never looks right written down in the middle of a sentence but otherwise it’s great. And, hey, just look how purdy it looks.
Like many trends in male grooming, manscaping (the removal of body hair) was a bit of a slow burner to begin with, but also like many trends in male grooming – think facial hair for example – once it took hold it rapidly became the norm. So much so, in fact, that according to one survey 64% of men are now removing hair from somewhere on their bodies. And it’s clearly a trend that will be sticking around for a while yet. For proof of this you only have to look at Nivea Men’s brand new Body Shaving range. Featuring a trio of products (a Body Shaving Gel, a Body Shaving Stick and an After Shave Lotion) it’s as much a recognition that manscaping is now part and parcel of the modern man’s grooming routine as it is an opportunity to exploit a niche few mass market skincare brands have, as yet, fully explored.
Of the three new products the most interesting is the Shaving Stick. Shaped like a solid deodorant and around the same size, you apply it to wet skin before shaving. As well as having and anti-irritation formula, it’s transparent (so you can see where you’re shaving) and, cleverest of all, it’s been designed so it won’t wash off mid-shave if you’re using it in the shower. Nivea are pioneers when it comes to ‘in-shower’ technology, owning the space with products like their In-Shower Body Moisturiser, so I guess it’s no surprise that they should extend this concept to these manscaping products. The Shaving Gel performs the same neat trick but it’s the Stick that wins my vote, partly because it’s more fun to use and you don’t get gunk all over your hands when applying, but also because its ideal for travel and for gym bags. Recommended.
Nivea Men’s Body Shaving range is available now priced £4.50 – £6.
Like me, you’ve probably popped the odd bag of pasta, box of cornflakes or tin of soup into one of the food bank collection boxes located in your local supermarket. Items like these help put food on the table for the estimated half a million people who now use food banks on a regular basis in the UK. But it’s all too easy to forget that toiletries are essentials too and that looking good and feeling clean are inexorably linked to feelings of confidence and self-worth – two things that can be in short supply when you’re strapped for cash and dinner, for the third night running, is beans on toast.
Understanding this, a couple of weeks ago journalist Sali Hughes and PR exec Jo Jones launched Beauty Banks – a not-for-profit charitable initiative aimed at providing those in need with basic bathroom and hygiene essentials like shampoo, shower gel and tampons, in much the same way that food banks aim to provide kitchen cupboard essentials.
With the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimating that 14 million people in the UK are living in poverty and with an estimated 37% of people going without basic toiletries as a result, it’s a much-needed initiative and one that’s already received huge support from the beauty industry. It’s been great to see so many women’s mags and beauty bloggers throw their weight behind it but, hey, let’s not forget that men have needs too – and that things like razor blades aren’t exactly inexpensive (there’s a reason they’re often security protected in supermarkets along with booze and some cuts of meat).
Big name grooming brands are already getting involved (shaving experts Harry’s were one of the first to volunteer product) but everyone can boost the men’s side of things by donating some much-needed grooming gear. Once Beauty Banks have received your donation their volunteers will distribute it food banks, homeless shelters and refuges across the country.
So what are they after? Well, when it comes to men’s stuff, basics like razors, shave gels, face washes, shower gels, antiperspirants, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes are all useful. But not-so-basic stuff like moisturiser and face scrub is welcome too. You can even send those complimentary products you get in hotels – the ones you can’t resist pocketing at the end of your stay (relax, I pocket them too). Just make sure all the products you donate are sealed or unused (well, would you like to receive a third of a bottle of shower gel?). The only thing you can’t donate are products containing solvents so don’t send aftershaves, eau de toilettes or electric pre-shave fluids. Post-shave balms are fine though.
Once you’ve decided what items to send parcel up your contribution and send to: Beauty Banks, c/o Jo Jones, The Communications Store, 2 Kensington Square, London, W8 5EP.
Alternatively, you can purchase toiletries direct from Beauty Banks’ Amazon wishlist and have them sent directly to their HQ. To see the wishlist just click here. I guess you could do the same if you buy toiletries from other online stores too – simply have them sent direct to Beauty Banks.
There is, as we all know, a huge debate about poverty in the UK – about its causes and how best to tackle it – but regardless of your politics or your thoughts on the matter the fact is that right now there are people in desperate need of help. And what better way to help than to make someone feel a little better about themselves?
A note to fellow industry bods
As much as I’m writing this for my readers, I’m also aiming this post at fellow grooming editors, journalists, influencers and bloggers too. We’re exceptionally privileged in our industry in that we often get sent products to test as part of our jobs. Please consider donating any you don’t get to try (I’m currently in the process of getting a parcel together myself) and please use the platform you have to spread the word and promote this great cause. And if you’re a PR who works with male grooming brands please think about getting your clients involved. Likewise, if you’re the actual client consider donating some product or, better still, think about an ongoing arrangement with Beauty Banks.
Having worked in the beauty industry for more that 17 years now I’m acutely aware of how shallow and vacuous it can sometimes appear (and believe me, at times it’s exactly how it appears) but even though it’s fundamentally an industry which deals with superficial appearance, it does have a big heart. With your support, Beauty Banks will hopefully be able to show just how big that heart actually is.
You can find Beauty Banks on Instagram @The_Beauty_Banks
To contact Beauty Banks directly email email@example.com
After making a cameo appearance in Star Trek: Discovery, where they’re used by spacefaring same-sex couple Lt. Paul Stamets and Dr. Hugh Colber, it seems only right that beauty-tech brand Foreo’s Issa 2 silicone sonic toothbrushes should find their way to planet Earth as a deluxe His and His gift set.
If other brands had done this shameless gay market grab I’d have arched an eyebrow, Spock-like with cynicism, but given their appearance in the show it somehow seems perfectly natural. What’s more, it’s good value too since by buying the set you save 25% off the price of buying the brushes individually. Watch out, though, because the pairing, rather like that of Staments and Colber, is strictly limited, so use your Spore Drive, transporter or just your old-fashioned cash ensure that a set finds its way into your bathroom before they vanish forever.
Available globally from 22nd February. For more info go to foreo.com
The beginning of a new year always sees a raft of new grooming products come to market. Here are four that have grabbed my attention this year…
Lab Series MAX LS Power V Instant Eye Lift, £43 for 15ml.
A decent eye cream should be a staple of every man’s bathroom cabinet, especially since the skin around the eyes is so delicate and so susceptible to premature ageing. Any eye product will help keep fine lines at bay by keeping the skin moisturised but this one – the latest addition to Lab Series’ age-defying MAX LS range – not only hydrates skin and reduces under eye puffiness, it also tightens skin slightly too. It’s a perfect product for oldies like me but also younger guys looking for selfie-ready perfection or who simply want a long-term insurance policy against crow’s feet. I keep mine in the fridge since anything cold is great for tightening eye bags.
ClarinsMen Hydra-Sculpt, £45 for 50ml.
Sculpting products – ones that tighten contours and redefine the jaw line slightly – are a major growth area in male grooming at the moment as more and more brands seek to appeal to older guys whose main concerns are wrinkles and sagging skin. This one, which has a super-lightweight texture more akin to a serum, acts as a regular moisturiser, hydrating skin, but also helps firm it up a little. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to suddenly go from bloodhound to greyhound using it but every little helps right? The fact that it also contains lemon extract and salicylic acid to help dislodge dead skin cells, making skin look brighter and helping prevent ingrown hairs, is a useful bonus too. Those who find the fragrance of ClarinsMen products a bit overpowering – and I must confess I’m one of them – will also be glad to know that this particular one is more-or-less fragrance free.
Clarinsmen UV Plus Men, £42 for 50ml.
I know it’s hard to think about sun protection at this time of year (well, except for those of you in the southern hemisphere) but skin needs broad spectrum protection all year round, especially since it’s the sun’s constant UVB rays that age skin. This light-as-a-feather, oil-free sunscreen leaves absolutely no residue, or shine, and also features a raft of ingredients designed to protect skin from pollution, making it one of the best urban defenders on the market. I have a feeling I won’t be leaving the house without this skin saviour on me.
Shiseido Men Total Revitalizer Cream, £70 for 50ml.
For me, Shiseido Men is the unsung hero of men’s premium skincare. Unsung only because it’s not isn’t nearly as known as it should be. Some of its products rank as my own all-time favourites (their Cleansing Foam is amazing, as is their Moisturizing Emulsion) and this new Total Revitalizer Cream shows promise too. Taking the brand’s existing Total Revitalizer as a starting point it ups the ante by adding a couple of new anti-ageing complexes designed to boost the skin’s power to defend itself and to keep it toned. Like an increasing number of skincare products today it’s multifunctional, helping calm the inflammation caused by shaving too. It’s super-hydrating without leaving shine and, as is the case with all Shisedio products, the packing is superb – an important point if you’re one of those guys who likes to display his statement-piece skincare.