Five ways to tame a grizzly beard

They might be stylish. They might be convenient. But like grizzly bears, grizzly beards can be wild, untamed and prickly old things if not taken care of correctly. So here are five ways to tame the beast – with a little help from me and Brisk beard care…

1. Keep in trim.

A neat beard is a sweet beard so ensure you keep your face fungus tidy with the help of a decent, adjustable beard trimmer. Use a brush or comb to straighten the hairs out before trimming and always trim your beard when it’s bone dry: hair expands and relaxes when wet so if you trim it when it’s damp it’ll look shorter once it dries. Remember, too, that your beard doesn’t have to be the same length all over. By cutting it a few millimetres shorter under the chin you’ll create a much softer, more natural transition line. You can do the same if you have a bushy beard and very little hair on your head – by ‘fading’ the sideburns up towards the head you’ll prevent a jarring divide.

2. Comb and condition.

As with relationships, beards tend to be trickiest in their early stages. The first few days of growing one can be uncomfortable and challenging: your new chin accessory may itch, tickle and feel strange to begin with. But there are things you can do to minimise any initial discomfort. Applying a little Brisk Beard Oil throughout the growing process will help keep hair soft, manageable and conditioned. Quickly absorbed and non-greasy, it’s the perfect for  minimising the itch and there are four versions to choose from: Tea Tree; refreshing Citrus; warm and masculine Cedarwood; and Unfragranced if you prefer to smell au naturel. You can apply using your fingertips or use a moustache comb or beard brush to distribute it evenly throughout your beard

3. Give your beard a blow dry.

Yep, you can blow dry the hair on your face just like the hair on your head. Simply use a small brush or comb to ease the hair downwards with the help of a hairdryer on a cool setting. Once dry, apply a little beard oil to finish off.  This a great way to tame unruly beards, fill in small bald patches and to ensure your beard looks neat, tidy and at its fullest.

4. Dodge dandruff.

If you were to run your fingers through you beard right now chances are, you’d trigger a small snowstorm of skin flakes (go on, try it). If you do, don’t feel too bad – beard dandruff is an occupational hazard of having facial hair. It occurs because hair tends to draw moisture away from the face, leaving the skin beneath dry and dehydrated.  On top of that, because you’re not shaving regularly any dead skin cells can build up beneath your beard.

Thankfully, minimising beard dandruff is simple: firstly, cleanse your beard thoroughly with Brisk’s Beard Shampoo, which is designed to cleanse without stripping skin and hair of its protective oils. By massaging in with your fingertips you’ll quickly dislodge any stray dead cells. Choose between the Unfragranced Beard Shampoo or the Tea Tree and Cedarwood version. Tea tree is known for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties so is great for ensuring your beard is clean and fresh. Then apply one of Brisk’s Beard Oils (my own favourite is the Citrus one) to ensure hair is conditioned and the skin beneath it is hydrated. Again, make sure you massage in with your fingers to ensure it reaches the skin beneath.

5. Be patient!

If your face furniture looks patchy and uneven in places be patient. Like raising a child you never quite know how your beard will turn out until it’s fully grown. If it looks patchy don’t panic – as it grows in length some gaps will fill in naturally. Yes, it will look a bit wild for a while but keep it clean and conditioned and show it some love and you’ll soon have a beard that’s tamed and looking top-notch.

About Brisk

Brisk Beard Oils combine nourishing natural almond, avocado, argan and jojoba oils in an ultra-light formula that’s highly conditioning is quickly absorbed. All Brisk Beard Shampoos  are designed to leave  facial hair  clean, soft and manageable and are paraben & sulphate free. Available from Waitrose, Boots, Superdrug and from briskgrooming.co.uk.

A Brisk/Grooming Guru Promotion

How to grow a picture perfect moustache

MovemberPortraits--®ChristianAnderl-1Every year I come across scores of men who don’t just enjoy growing a moustache for Movember but who positively love it. What’s more, many of them go on to keep their Mo once the annual charity event is over, having discovered that their ‘tache looks rather dashing (a bit like the ones in the pics above and below, taken by acclaimed photographer Christian Anderl). Anyway, this year Canon – makers of cameras like the PowerShot G7 X – asked if I had any  moustache tips for guys taking part in Movember, to ensure that their Mos always look picture perfect. Here’s the advice I gave them…

1. Comb and condition
The first few days of growing a Mo can be uncomfortable and challenging and your new lip accessory may itch, tickle and feel strange to begin with. Applying a little hair conditioner to your ‘tache will help reduce itching, while combing your Mo with a moustache comb once it gets going will improve its appearance and help prevent ingrown hairs.

2. Keep in trim
A neat Mo is a sweet Mo so ensure your ‘tache is tidy with the help of a trimmer or facial hair scissors. Use a moustache comb before trimming and aim for just above the lip line – that way you’ll keep it free of food when you come to eat. Oh, and always trim your Mo when dry; hair expands when wet, retracting when it dries, so you may discover you’ve been a little over zealous with your trimming once it does.

3. Moisturise your Mo
Facial hair might protect skin but it also draws moisture away from its surface leaving it dry, tight and flaky. Make sure you moisturise your Mo twice daily – you can use special facial hair oil for this but regular moisturiser will work just as well. Simply apply a little to your fingertips and massage into your Mo, using gentle circular movements to help reach the skin beneath.

MovemberPortraits--®ChristianAnderl-24. Wax lyrical
Moustache waxes aren’t just the preserve of dastardly ‘tache twizzlers – they’re perfect for adding definition and shape to your facial fuzz too. Simply warm a small amount between your fingers and work into your moustache, shaping it with your fingertips, or rub into your fingers, apply over your Mo and distribute evenly with a moustache comb.

5. Be patient
Like raising a child you never quite know how your ’tache will turn out until it’s fully grown. If you’re not convinced that the style suits you, experiment with the shape until you find a style that does work. Bottom line – there’s a moustache out there for every man – you just need to find the one that works best for you!

PS. For those of you taking part in Movember this year I salute you (and your ‘taches)! For more info on what it’s all about click here.

Don’t let sunburn be a pain in the neck!

sunburn

Okay, since summer is here (sort of) I thought I may as well issue my annual sunburn warning. British men’s attitude to sun protection has improved immeasurably in recent times, which is just as well given that malignant melanoma is the sixth most common cancer in men and death rates from it are 70% higher in us than in women.

dermalogica spfWith all the will in the world, though, it’s all too easy to end up with a nasty dose of sunburn, especially as our unpredictable British weather means that you can leave the house in fog, lunch in sunshine and return home in pouring rain. And as you can see from the picture above it’s easy for people to get caught out unexpectedly. They guy in the pic is actually a friend of mine who slathered on the sunscreen for a one hour walk to work but forgot to protect one crucial bit – the back of his neck. It’s a part of the body that catches the sun easily so make sure that when you protect your face you always take your sunscreen around the back of your neck, into the nape and over the ears (another prime place for burning).

If you always want to be prepared, do as I do and carry a product like dermalogica’s Super Sensitive Shield SPF30, which is compact enough to fit in a bag or pocket, and  ensure you go under the line of your shirt or T-shirt so you’re still protected even if your clothing moves. Nivea’s Sun Kids Pocket Sized SPF 30 is handy to have at hand too. Bottom line is: always be prepared if you don’t want sunburn to be a  – literal – pain in the neck.

Exclusive: Remington aim to Hoover up competition with new Vacuum Beard & Grooming Kit

Remington_Vacuum Beard and Grooming Kit TrimmerHaving sported a beard for over a decade now I like to think I know a thing or two about facial hair. In that time I have also tried just about every beard and stubble trimmer on the market with, it must be said, varying degrees of success.

One of the major problems with trimmers, of course, is that they have a nasty habit of creating an almighty mess in your bathroom or bedroom (on numerous occasions I’ve had to root out a sink plunger to unblock my bathroom washbasin after a quick trim).

Thankfully, Remington have solved this rather annoying problem with their brand new Vacuum Beard & Grooming Kit.  What I like about it is that as well as allowing you to shape your beard to a range of different lengths it also has a detailing trimmer for creating clean, crisp lines and a special foil shaving head which allows you to shave areas like the cheeks and neck where you might not want any beardage.

What elevates it above many other trimmers, however, is its built-in vacuum chamber. This allows those pesky beard clippings to be Hoovered up and stored away as you trim so they don’t litter your bathroom sink or bedroom floor. It also takes them away from your face, removing the need to wash immediately after trimming. What’s more, the chamber’s easy to empty and there’s no loss of suction as it fills either.

If one of things that’s currently putting you off growing a beard is the mess, the The Remington Vacuum Beard & Grooming Kit may well be a real game changer.

Available exclusively at Boots and on boots.com priced £54.99.

Exclusive: King of Shaves makes shaving even smoother with their new Hyperglide razor

HYPERGLIDEIt’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.

Hyperglide-Handle-Holder-v1Other 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.

Hyperglide-Handle-Front-v1The King of Shaves Hypergilde launches on 16th January. For more info go to shave.com

Ask The Guru: What is fragrance layering?

ARAMISLayering is useful way to build up a long-lasting fragrance ‘impression’ by using products from your favourite scent’s body range and is the perfect way to smell great all day long, without having to reapply your fragrance.

To layer, simply use the fragranced shower gel, soap, deodorant and aftershave balm in tandem, finishing off with some eau de toilette. Using body products from the same range as your fragrance also helps you avoid nasty antiperspirant/shower gel clashes and, if your favourite range includes a fragranced body moisturiser, will help the scent last a little longer on the skin. Layering’s also great for achieving a subtler effect too, however. If you’re going for an interview or just want to smell good for work, for example, apply everything but the eau de toilette.

Looking for the perfect pressie? How about Mr Porter’s new paperback?

MR PORTER PAPERBACKCurrently accompanying me to bed at night is this little number from online retail behemoth Mr Porter. The second paperback compendium of style and grooming tips, essential man skills, insider advice about where to eat, hang out and  – in typical Mr Porter style – how to pick the perfect desk lamp, it makes perfect bedtime reading.

What’s more everything is presented in an easily digestible format (the Bryan Ferry interview is just four dinky pages long but more insightful than some entire books on him I’ve read). Look out, too, for the article entitled Art-Deco Drives which is the nearest thing to car porn you’ll ever find.

The Mr Porter Paperback Volume Two is published by Thames & Hudson and is available from mrporter.com, priced £20.

Insider Interview: Andy Rouillard, the UK’s leading expert in male waxing

Britain’s top male waxing specialist Andy Rouillard knows just about everything there is to know about hair removal for men. Not only does he spend his days ensuring men’s backs, shoulders and other bits are free of unwanted hair he also teaches others how to deliver perfect treatments too.  So who better to provide a glimpse into the world of the super-smooth male?

GG: More and more men seem to be waxing these days. Why do you think that is? And what are the benefits of waxing?

AR: Guys have been shaving, creaming, plucking and trimming unwanted hair for years, we just haven’t talked about it quite as openly until now.  We do it because it feels cleaner, cooler and more comfortable to be hair free; because we prefer the way it looks; or because our partners have told us to get it done (I stopped counting a long time ago the number of chaps that are booked in for their first ever salon wax by a wife or girlfriend).

GG: Why the sudden boom though?

AR: As much as I hate to use the ‘media influence’ argument, there’s no denying the impact that our media’s fascination with fuzz-free celebrities has had on bringing waxing out of the closet.

Need I even mention the Golden Balls Armani ad from a few years back that whipped the media up into such a frenzy of speculation over Mr Beckham’s personal hair removal habits?

The reality is, many guys saw the fuss generated by this one story and thought to themselves: “well if it’s good enough for Becks, it’s good enough for me.”

GG: What’s the most common part of the body that men want waxing?

AR: Backs and shoulders are still the most popular areas chosen for deforestation, but an increasing number of guys are now opting for more extreme manscaping in the form of Brazilian waxing.  Perhaps better known as the infamous ‘back, sac and crack’ or ‘Boyzilian’, this involves the removal of unwanted hair from the crown jewels and bum.

GG: Ouch! I always wince when I think of Boyzilains!

AR: Surprisingly, it hurts a lot less than the image it conjures would suggest, and is quickly becoming one of the most requested male waxing services at salons up and down the country (although whoever came up with the name ‘Boyzilian’ needs to be shot at dawn).

Nostril and ear waxing is also very popular, which I consider less of a job and more of a public service.  Seriously, there’s no excuse for nose tendrils. There are times when I have to be physically restrained from yanking hair out of the snouts of strangers in the street.  I could probably get arrested for that, right?

GG: I saw a great annotated pic on your twitter feed (@Wax_Daddy) showing the direction of hair growth that you were showing students. Why is it important to know about the direction?

AR: Generally speaking, wax needs to be applied in the direction of hair growth and removed in the opposite direction.  Failing to follow the patterns that Mother Nature blessed you with means that the hair simply won’t come out; wax gets stuck, the skin tugs, and you end up with all manner of heartache from bruising, broken hairs and toffee-like clumps of cold wax that won’t shift for love nor money.

GG: Are there any new developments in waxing techniques or any new treatments for men?

AR: Fortunately, waxing has come a long way since the old ‘strip’em and rip’em’ style of hair removal made (in)famous by The 40 Year Old Virgin.  A new generation of low temperature peelable waxes has made hair removal a much more pleasant experience in the salon.  It works by ‘shrinkwrapping’ around the hair as it dries on the skin, and is then whipped off by hand instead of being removed with a cloth strip.  Also, many salons are now using oil under their wax instead of powder, which stops the product from sticking to the skin and makes things a lot more comfortable.

Check what your salon uses before making a booking.  For intimate waxing in particular, if a therapist comes at your boys with anything other than a bottle of oil and peelable wax, run screaming for the hills.

GG: What advice would you give to a man that is trying waxing at home?

AR: I’m undoubtedly a little biased but I am firmly of the opinion that some things are best left to the professionals – if nothing else, it’s quicker and it hurts less.  However, if you really must try this at home, the secret to success lies in your prep and aftercare.

For a few days beforehand, gently exfoliate the area you plan on pruning with a body brush or scrub.  This helps to slough off any excess dead skin cells and lifts the hair for better results.

Your skin needs to be clean and dry for the wax to stick.  If it’s a hot day or the thought of merrily ripping your own hair out by the root brings on a nervous sweat, dust yourself lightly with talc to absorb any excess moisture.

Trim the hair down with clippers or scissors before you start: you’ll be able to see the patterns of growth a lot easier, which prevents longer tufts from becoming tangled in the wax and will altogether hurt a lot less.  About 1cm (grade 3 on electric clippers) is about right; any shorter and the hair won’t be long enough for the wax to grip.

Work in small sections, applying wax thinly in the direction of hair growth and stretching the skin as you go.  Lay a fabric strip down and give it a few firm rubs with the whole of your hand to get a good bond between wax and hair.  Stretch the skin as taut as you can, then pull the strip off in the opposite direction to your wax application.  Keep your hand parallel to the body during removal and pull quickly and in one smooth motion (don’t hesitate or pull the strip up into the air, as this will hurt like a bitch and can cause bruising).  Apply pressure with a cold flannel immediately afterwards, which will cool and calm those jangled nerve endings.

Once you’ve finished, rub a generous squirt of baby oil into the area to shift any lingering sticky bits, then take a cool shower (not hot, unless you happen to like the smell of burning flesh).  Smother your freshly denuded body in tea tree body lotion or aloe vera gel to soothe and protect the skin.

You’ll look like a freshly plucked chicken and will feel a little sunburnt for a few days afterwards, so you need to treat things with a little extra TLC: avoid heat and friction (no hot showers, tanning, vigorous exercise, tight clothing, etc.), keep applying the tea tree body lotion, and the job’s a good’un.

GG: Why do you prefer waxing over other hair removal methods? 

AR: Shaving and hair removal creams are great for short term results or a last minute top-up at home before a big event, but they can be time consuming and only provide smoothness for a few days before the dreaded itch of re-growth sets in.  Sure, waxing has an initial ‘ouch factor’ (anyone who tells you otherwise is quite clearly a liar), but it’s relatively quick, affordable, and the results last a lot longer because hair is removed at the root, rather than being simply shorn off at skin level – this also means there’s no prickly stubble as your pelt grows back.  And it gets easier with every visit, I promise!

GG: And finally, what’s your best waxing tip?

AR: Ingrown hairs are the bane of waxers worldwide and can be a blot on the smoothest of landscapes.  A daily slick of moisturizer and a quick buff in the shower with an exfoliating mitt or body scrub twice a week will help keep the little blighters at bay.

Zap really stubborn spots with a product such as PFB Vanish or Anthony Logistics Ingrown Hair Treatment.  The key ingredient in these is salicylic acid, which acts as a chemical exfoliant to free trapped hairs and also reduces any associated inflammation.  As an added bonus, these products can be used to treat razor bumps in the beard area too.

Finally, get waxed every 4-6 weeks.  It may seem like a chore to start with, but this timescale encourages the hair into similar cycles of re-growth for longer lasting smoothness.  Don’t shave or tweeze between appointments, and after a few sessions you’ll soon start to see what all the fuss is about!

For more information about Axiom Bodyworks go to www.axiombodyworks.co.uk and for details of Andy’s training service go to www.learnmalewaxing.co.uk

Daniel Sandler launches bronzer brush for men

When it comes to giving skin a bit of colour I’ve always been a fan of powder bronzers over liquid ones, tinted moisturisers or self-tanners. I think this is for two reasons: growing up in the early Eighties I was never afraid of using a bit of slap and, being a control freak, I like to be able to have total control over the end results.

One of the problems with them, though, is that it’s so easy to overload the applicator brush which can lead to a too-strong effect, patchiness and a shirt dusted in powder. Make-up artist Daniel Sandler has very cleverly tackled this problem, however, with this brand new bronzer brush.

Taking its cues from the silver tipped badger shaving brushes most men are familiar with his ultrafine, supersoft High Speed Bronzer Brush is supersized, made from a mixture of goat and synthetic fibres and features more sparse hairs than regular brushes making it almost impossible to overload. Having given it a go myself I can vouch for its effectiveness and its large surface area means you can get the job done in a matter of seconds.

If you’ve never used a brush (or a bronzer) before don’t worry, I asked Daniel for a few expert tips: “For the best results, gently sweep the tip of the brush hairs over your bronzer powder to pick up colour, tap off any excess then gently sweep over face making sure you apply beyond the jaw line so your tan looks natural,” he says.

“To get the best out of the brush itself, always apply without pressing the brush tip too hard on skin and use quick light, circular motions for a speedy, even-finish.” If you’re applying over moisturiser he recommends waiting for it to be fully absorbed before using  the bronzer – that way you’ll avoid streaks. Easy, no?

You can use the brush in conjunction with your own bronzer (I’ve just tried it out with the Jean Paul Gautlier one I regularly use) or why not try it with Daniel’s Mineral Bronzer Powder? Go on! Don’t be a scaredy-cat – give it a whirl!

Daniel Sandler’s High Speed Bronzer Brush is available from 1st Feb and costs £26. For stockists, or to buy online go to www.danielsandler.com.

Ask The Guru: How do I prevent ingrown toenails?

Ingrowing nails occur when a piece of the nail curves downward and grows into the skin piercing the flesh of the toe. Usually affecting the big toe, they can feel like a splinter, can be extremely painful and in more severe cases, can cause pus and bleeding.

Active, sporty people are particularly prone as are people who cut their nails too low.  Preventing them is simple enough though – for starters, make sure your shoes aren’t too snug and learn how to trim your nails properly. Always cut them straight across and don’t cut too low at the edge or down the side. The corner of the nail should be visible above the skin. Also, cut them after a bath or shower when they’re soft.

I prefer  to use a pair of spring toenail clippers and you get more leverage and they cut quickly and neatly and don’t tear at the nails as some inferior clippers can. The ones above are available from simplyfeet.co.uk. If you do get an annoying ingrown, though, visit your local podiatrist. One visit may be all that’s needed to get it sorted.