The Grooming Guru on Instagram

grooming guruAs a writer by profession, visual media isn’t entirely my forte. I tend to see in words rather  images, so it’s no surprise that Twitter was my natural Social Media home for many years (I joined in 2009 as @grooming_guru). In contrast, I only joined Instagram a few years ago and only recently have I started posting with any regularity, which means I’m not so much late to the party as arriving just when everyone’s taking out the empties and mopping up the vomit.

Still, I’m enjoying sharing news of a new grooming products and recommending existing ones in a much more immediate way. I’m not an influencer in the way my industry understands the concept (I’ve long thought as myself as an educator more than an arm-twister) and I’m afraid you won’t find pics of me flashing my heavage whilst gazing at myself lovingly in a bathroom mirror – which, for your sake, is probably just as well – but you’re more than welcome to join me on Instagram for grooming-related news and the occasional pic of me when I’ve had one too many.

Find me @groomingguru.

Men’s wellness brand hims launches in UK

The men’s wellness market has certainly come on in leaps and bounds in the past few years. Back in the early noughties, when I was Deputy Editor of Men’s Health, I wrote about hairloss and erectile dysfunction treatments as if they were exotic, last resort options for a select number of men who had the money and wherewithal to obtain them. Frankly, back then, seeking out treatments for these everyday issues felt less like tackling a common problem and more like scoring drugs.

Thankfully, things have changed considerably in the 19 years that have passed since then; not only in terms of the level of stigma attached to these common male problems (men are now far more likely to ‘fess up to being concerned about hair loss than before) but in how easy it is to access effective remedies. Sales of Viagra rocketed to £4.3 millon in the U.K. in the three months after it finally became available over the counter here so to say that there’s a market out there for wellbeing products aimed at men is an understatement.

Which is where hims comes in. Already well-established in the USA, the online personal wellness experts provide a one-stop-shop for men’s wellness and personal care needs, offering access to both Sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) and Finasteride (a proven-to-work hairloss treatments) without you having to rock up at your local pharmacist and tell the counter assistant (along with the entire queue of people behind you) that you’re worried about your hairline or the angle of your chopper. There’s a small initial one-off medical consultation fee, which is there for regulatory reasons and because it’s important to have your order signed of by a medical expert, but after that you’re good to go as long as your eligible to use the products.

The company’s arrival in the UK kicks off with them tackling hair loss and erectile dysfunction but they’ll soon be offering a raft of reasonably priced personal care products too (think everything from shampoo and acne treatments to useful daily supplements). I’ve tried some of these and love the no-frills-but-cool-as-f**k packaging and the quality of the products. The antioxidant-packed Immunity gummies are great (though could be improved by not using animal-sourced gelatin which renders them inappropriate for veggies and vegans) and the Vitamin C-rich Morning Glow Serum provides the perfect pep talk for tired skin and has instantly become part of my daily routine. (It’s especially good when you have a hangover.) To find out more about what hims has to offer you head over to forhims.co.uk

 

Gifted review samples of selected Hims products were sent to me for consideration. 

Terre d’Hermès 2019 Limited Edition: showing that bottles can be beautiful

It’s a conundrum all successful fragrance brands have to contend with these days: how do you maintain interest in your product, especially if that product has been around for a while and hasn’t actually changed for yonks?

Thirty years ago this wasn’t a consideration in the same way it is today. For one thing, there weren’t as many brands competing for the same shelf space as there are now. There certainly weren’t as many launches and there were far fewer ‘flankers’ (variations on particularly successful fragrances) too. Most significantly, though, people didn’t have such short attention spans back then. We didn’t crave newness in quite the same way as we do now but, hey, that’s marketing and the mind-altering effects of social media for you.

Anyway, given that keeping interest going in your brand is so essential today you can see why many fragrance houses look to special limited editions to keep things fresh and dynamic and to grab a few column inches or, given the industry’s current obsession, Instagram stories. A few brands are masters of this (Gaultier and Dunhill to name two) but this year’s Limited Edition bottle of Terre d’Hermès is a masterclass in how to make an old bottle look both irresistible and collectible with just a few simple tweaks.

The work of English designer and illustrator Liubov Edwards, the bottle design features a raft of small metallic squares and diamonds positioned on transparent glass. Only half of the bottle is printed on each side giving a clever three-dimensional aspect to the design and, if you look carefully, forming a letter H. It’s brilliantly thought out and executed (the  fragrance is all about the elements and the diamonds are meant to represent squares distorted by the wind) and, for me at least, is reminiscent of the early work of iconic graphic designer Peter Saville, particularly his work on early OMD record sleeves.

The fragrance itself, of course, is amazing (it’s one of the few contemporary fragrances worthy of the label ‘classic’) so the limited edition bottle is really just the icing on the cake, making it the perfect purchase for existing Terre fans whose current bottle is running a little low, or for those with slightly shorter attention spans just looking for something eye-catching to grace their bedroom dressing table. Influencers will be pleased to know it’s a dream to photograph too.

 

The 2019 Limited Edition version of Terre d’Hermès is available from February as both an eau de toilette and eau de parfum. 

Note: all products are sent to me as review samples from brands and PR agencies unless otherwise stated.

 

5 New Year’s Grooming Resolutions every man can stick to


I know we haven’t even celebrated Christmas yet but it always pays to think ahead when it coms to improving your appearance. And to help ensure you end 2019 looking even better than you ended this year, here’s a little grooming guide I put together for Lab Series Skin Care For Men. To read just click here or on the image above. Lab Series have also put together an exclusive offer for you that lasts until midnight on the 22nd December. Just enter the code GROOMINGGURU at checkout when you spend £50 or more and you’ll receive one of my favourite Lab Series products – a Multi Action Face Wash – for free! So now you’ve really no excuse not to look fantastic. See you in 2019!

 

A Lab Series/Grooming Guru Promotion

Estée Lauder launch ‘Grooming Constellation’ box

I’ve reviewed plenty of grooming boxes over the years but few have impressed me quite like the new Grooming Constellation box from Estée Lauder. I say Estée Lauder because it essentially brings together a selection of products from some of the cosmetic giant’s best known brands, including Lab Series, Clinique For Men, Aveda, Bumble and Bumble and Glamglow.

The set itself features a mix of 12 full and sample-sized products with an estimated value of over £114. And you get the lot for £39, which represents great value for money in anyone’s book. What’s more, everything comes in a constellation design box, making it ideal for gifting.

I’m not quite sure why there’s nothing included from Origins (another Lauder-owned company who have some excellent products aimed at men) and I would have loved to have seen a little something from Tom Ford in there, but all in all it provides an excellent introduction to what Lauder as a company has to offer men serious about their  skin and haircare.

Only a few years ago these brands wouldn’t have deigned to be seen together in this kind of way (such was the internal competition between them within the company) so it’s nice to see Lauder finally realise the ‘star potential’ of such a great ensemble cast.

The Grooming Constellation box is available while stocks last from clinique.co.uk. labseries.co.uk, bumbleandbumble.co.uk and glamglow.co.uk

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s just Jean Paul Gaultier’s new Superman edition of Le Male Eaux Fraîche

gaultier-superman-1

The arrival of a new Limited Edition bottle of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male Eaux Fraîche each spring is one I always eagerly anticipate – mainly because you never quite know what they’re going to do with the bottle next. This year, they’ve teamed up with DC Comics for a superhero theme, with Superman adorning the men’s fragrance and Wonder Woman emblazoned on Le Male’s female counterpart, Classique. As ever, it’s eye-catching, collectible and huge fun and is guaranteed to fly off the shelves:  Superman style.

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male Eaux Fraiche will be available from March 27th priced £58 for 125ml Eau Fraîche Natural Spray.

GT Shopping: a one-stop destination for all your style and grooming gear

gt-shoppingWhen it comes to looking good and dressing well we all know that it’s all about the edit: about choosing just the right products for your skin, a fragrance that reflects your personality and clothes that suit your very personal sense of style. But with so much out there to choose from it’s sometimes difficult to know where to begin when picking out the perfect moisturiser, fragrance or new winter jacket. Which is where GT Shopping comes in handy. A new site in partnership with Gay Times Magazine, it helpfully points you in the direction of the very best fragrances, skincare products and grooming gadgets on the market (along with some of the most stylish menswear picks and a whole lot more)  so you don’t have to go trawling  the internet to find just the product you’re after.

gt-page-1A lot of the products I mention in my monthly male grooming column in GT can be found there but that’s just the tip of the iceberg and you don’t have to be a reader to use the site, though there is an option on there to subscribe to the mag and get regular (very useful) style updates if you wish.

So whether you’re looking the perfect new fragrance for yourself  (bottle of Tom Ford  For Men anyone?), something to wear for an upcoming party or are looking for the perfect gift for a loved one GT Shopping is the place to head. To see what’s on offer go to shopping.gaytimes.co.uk.

 

A Grooming Guru/Octer Sponsored Post

Take a voyage into darkness with Beaufort London’s Fathom V

fathom-v-1If there’s one thing that’s predictable about new launches from British fragrance house Beaufort London it’s their unpredictability. So, although the name of their latest creation, Fathom V, suggests something aquatic what’s delivered is far more unexpected  and intriguing.

Fathom V’s cleverness lies in its ability to take the concept of an aquatic fragrance and turn it on its head. Instead of following the bright and breezy, surf’s up approach that so many marine scents take, it plots an entirely different course, taking the wearer on a dark, foggy, Gothic adventure that conjures up images of dark, 17th century sea ports full of smugglers, ships with moss-covered hulls and illegally obtained barrels of spice. Sure, there’s a bitter sea saltiness to it but as a fragrance its predominantly earthy, mossy, green and aromatic in nature, with hints of crude oil, lilies and petrichor – the unique smell that rises off bone dry earthy soaked by rain. All in all it’s a delightfully complex, contradictory fragrance and one that I can imagine someone like Nick Cave wearing. For that reason alone I absolutely love it.

Fathom V is available now, priced £95 for 50ml eau de parfum, from beaufortlondon.com

 

NeoStrata Smooth Surface Daily Peel Pads: like time travel in a jar.

FullSizeRenderI’ve used scores of skincare products in the 16 years I’ve been writing about male grooming but in truth there are few that bring about quick, noticeable changes in skin texture and feel. So I’m always delighted when something – like these NeoStrata Smooth Surface Daily Peel Pads  – does. As well as featuring 10% glycolic acid, which helps remove dead skin cells and speeds up cell renewal, they also contain the patented ‘wrinkle-filling’ Aminofil which is essentially a combo of amino acids meant to support the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid – two other things which can help improve the overall look of skin. The pot itself comes with 36 dry pads which you drench with the glycolic solution they come with and then you simply wipe over your face (avoiding the delicate lip and eye area) each night after cleansing. For guys, unfamiliar with using cleansing pads to remove make-up as we are, this might initially seem an alien way to apply a product but you soon get used to it and it’s surprisingly satisfying.

In the past I’ve found that physical face scrubs – even the finest, most gentle ones – can irritate my skin so I’ve become a fan of chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid but it’s fair to say that not all have agreed with my skin. No such problems with this product though. Although the instructions point out that you may experience a brief tingling sensation on application (something that’s common when using Alpha Hydroxy Acid products, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin) I’ve yet to have any problems with these pads. Unlike some glycolic resurfacing products you don’t need to wash the face 20 minutes after using the neutralise it either which is a big plus. And although formulated for daily use I’ve found that two-three times a week is enough for me.

With cell turnover slowing down as we age anything that helps speed up the renewal process is a boon in my book and I’m happy to report that my skin hasn’t looked or felt this smooth since I was, oh, about 8 months old! Recommended.