Kurkdjian’s Christmas candle magic

MFK-Ligne Noël Bougies PArfumées-LDWhen it comes to Christmas few gifts are as nice as scented candles and few scented candles are as nice as this trio of bougies from perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Presented as a boxed set containing three mini candles (with a burn time of 20 hours each), they look fantastic and smell of gingerbread and iris so have a festive twist but not one so Christmassy they can’t be used beyond December.

Available from Selfridges, Liberty, Harvey Nichols, John Lewis and Les Senteurs.

Lab Series’ ‘Try It’ Kit is perfect for Christmas

LAB try it kitOne of the things I love most about Lab Series is their no-bull approach to skincare. Never over-complicated for the sake of it, their products always do what they say on the tin and rarely over-promise but often over-deliver. So it’s rather appropriate that their kit for Christmas has a very upfront ‘go on, try us’ message.

The Try It Kit (£16.50 from Boots and labseries.co.uk) features three hero products from the range – the Multi Action Face Wash (one of my all-time favourite grooming products), a 3-in-1 Post Shave and a Daily Moisture Defense Lotion. It’s a perfect introduction to the brand, is a good price and makes a fab Christmas gift. Great for travel too.

Let’s stop moaning about Mos – and get on with the job of helping men beat cancer

merch(1)It’s strange, but criticising Movember now seems to be a national sport in my industry. Every year at least one of my colleagues breaks ranks and has a pop at the fact that Movember has become too commercialised, has too many official partners, or that success has ruined it and that – like an indie band who come up with a multi-platinum album –  it has somehow ‘sold out’. Others complain it has become a joke (wasn’t it always meant to be fun?) whilst some funsters suggest that it would simply be better to forgo the whole moustache growing part and just hand over some money charity.

It is, of course, easy to criticise a cause for not being perfect. It makes good copy and it has the allure of being controversial. It’s also fantastically mean-spittited and rather symptomatic of an industry that sees anything to do with women’s charities as worthy of praise and anything to do with men’s as either daft or cynical.

MOVEMBERWAXThe male grooming industry has a quite pitiful record when it comes to giving anything back to the men who buy its products. Come to think of it men have a pretty pitiful track record when it comes to giving anything back to men. And this is why I’m an ardent defender of Movember. Sure, it’s not perfect – and there are brands that rub up against it for a little of its feel-good sparkle –  but at the end of the day it’s one time of year when men actually get of their sorry asses and do something that helps other men. For this alone it should be celebrated rather than knocked.

So what if companies like Penhaligons, Gillette* and Kent get on board with their products? Who cares if Byron are getting bums on seats with their (rather tasty) Mo’Shroom burgers? Yes, they’re getting publicity. They may be even making a profit for themselves whilst raising funds for others (to be shocked by this is to not fully understand the mechanics of modern charity) but, hey, they’re supporting a great cause and their contribution generates a huge amount of press and publicity – and we all know that charities rely on the oxygen of publicity. On a more basic level, for me, our industry is proactively helping men, in a way that the beauty industry has been helping women for years. Whether the companies involved are doing it selflessly or selfishly, who cares? They’re doing it.

ELC 2013 BCA Campaign PR Visual with RibbonsThe cynicism about Movember comes into sharpest focus when compared with the industry’s attitude to Breast Cancer Awareness. Whilst sitting in the lobby of Estee Lauder’s London HQ a few weeks ago I was struck, not just by the effort that they go to in supporting that particular cause (even re-painting their front doors pink) but by their “We’re stronger together” call to arms. One of the beauty industry’s real successes is how it has united to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer charities (and by industry I mean cosmetic houses, beauty journalists, magazines etc working together to shine a light on the cause). Certainly, my industry could take a leaf out of the beauty world’s book and get behind men’s charities but it won’t if, every time it tries, scorn is instantly poured over its efforts. Just as women are ‘stronger together’ when united to combat cancer so are men. But we’re also weaker when we’re torn apart.

For more information on Movember click here.

*Last year Gillette donated over £100,000 to Movember via on pack promotions.

Mossentials – three must-have pieces of kit for moustache maintenance

A Moustache is a beautiful thing, especially if you’re growing one for charity as part of this year’s Movember, but they do need a little TLC if they’re to look their best. Which is where these three useful pieces of grooming kit come in…

Kent Movember Moustache Comb, £4.50 from kentbrushes.com

With £2 from every sale going directly to Movember this dinky comb is the perfect way to keep your ‘tache neat and tidy and free of food. It makes trimming easier too. But apart from all that combing a moustache is fun and therapeutic. Fact.

KENT

Penhaligons Moustache Wax, £5 from penhaligons.com

Lightly scented with Penhaligon’s Satorial fragrance this moustache wax is the perfect way to keep your Mo looking and smelling great and is great for creating definition and taming unruly hairs. What’s more, Penhaligons will give £2 to Movember for each one you buy.

MOVEMBERWAXGillette Fusion ProGlide Styler, £20. For stockists call 0800 44 55 38 83  

A razor and a facial hair trimmer combined this cool tool is great for mo maintenance and features three detachable combs to help you trim hair to just the right length and a precision edging blade to ensure your ‘tache always looks tip top.

Fusion_ProGlide_Styler_2For more information about Movember click here.

In the red: the new Ralph Lauren Polo fragrance

POLO REDThere are some amazing fragrances in the Ralph Lauren portfolio. Safari is one of them, as is the original Polo For Men. And I loved the bold modernity of the Big Pony Collection. Alas, Polo Red, the latest fragrance from the iconic American fashion house, has shifted things out of the black for me. Sweet, cakey and derivative (it reminds me of a host of fragrances currently riding atop of a particularly crowded gourmandy bandwagon) it’s perfectly okay but just…disappointingly lacklustre. If you like smelling like Mary Berry’s kitchen on baking day I suppose you’ll love it but it doesn’t do it for me. The opaque red bottle is fabulous mind.

The notes

Top:  red grapefruit, Italian cedrat, red cranberry

Heart: red saffron, lavandin, red sage

Base: red wood, amber, coffee berry (or Mary Berry?)