Harry’s razors: born in New York, engineered in Germany, finally available in the UK

In the same way that a handful of supermarkets dominate the food market, the world of shaving has been monopolised by just a handful of big bucks corporate giants with a grip on the market tighter than your grip on their handles whilst shaving. They have had us,  if not by the short and curlies, then certainly by the fluff on our chins, for decades. Thankfully, things have changed in the last few years as increasingly savvy men seek out cheaper  – but equally as effective – brands that challenge the razor monopoly with money-saving subscription services that suit, not only customers’ pockets, but their increasingly time-poor lifestyles too.

The latest company to fill this need in the UK is New-York based Harry’s. Already well established Stateside, where they’ve been part of the shaving scene since 2013, the company perfectly chimes with the times and with the changing way in which we shop for our grooming gear. Harry’s mission is very simple: to offer high quality razors, delivered to your door and at a fair price. According to the founders, their leading competitors offer products with an average blade price of £3 whereas theirs come in at just £1.75 – a pretty hefty saving, not just for anyone on a budget but for all of us who’d rather spend our hard-earned dosh on other stuff (beer, holidays, generally having a good time).

I’ve been lucky enough to have met one of the brains behind Harry’s, the affable Jeff Raider (the one with the specs in the pic to the right), on several occasions and his enthusiasm for the brand is genuinely infectious, not least because the germ of the idea for Harry’s came about from genuine outrage about how men are taken advantage of by behemoth razor companies.

In an attempt to tackle this ‘injustice’, he joined forces with pal Andy Katz-Mayfied to create a flexible razor subscription service that offers a great shave at a fraction of the cost and removes the hassle of having to navigate a supermarket or chemist in the process. As well as some cool looking, ergonomically designed, handles featuring top-notch blades (they’re made in Germany in a factory owned by Harry’s) there’s also a superb ancillary range, featuring everything from Shave Cream and Face Wash to Face Lotion and an extremely good aloe-rich Post Shave Balm which, keeping with the value-for-money theme, ranges in price from just £4-£7.

If you fancy giving Harry’s a go you can try their free trial set which includes a razor, shave gel and travel for the price of delivery (just £2.95). You can then subscribe to one of their Shave Plans so new blades pop through your letterbox just when you need them.  As well as the economic advantage this subscription service is totally flexible, allowing you to modify or pause your plan depending on your needs,which makes it great for guys who occasionally like to mix things up by rocking some stubble or sporting a beard.

The big question, of course, is ‘are they   any cop?’ Well, even though I have a beard (or an approximation thereof) I still use a razor on a regular basis to give it definition and to shave my cheeks (no jokes please) and the Harry’s razor is as good as anything I’ve ever used. Plus, they come in a range of fab designs and cool colours so, at that price, what’s not to love?

For more info check out harrys.com

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

Acqua di Parma add Beard Serum to Collezione Barbiere range

NEW Collezione Barbiere Beard Serum & pack (1)If there are any doubters out there who still cling to the misguided notion that the beard is dead the plethora of new beard products to have emerged in the last six months is proof that facial hair is very much alive and prickling. Latest brand to hop onto the bearded bandwagon is Acqua di Parma, who have just added a brand new Beard Serum to their premium Collezione Barbiere range. Formulated with pomegranate, sweet almond and grapeseed oils it’s conditioning without being overly greasy and is the perfect way to ensure your facial hair is always in fine fettle.

Available from uk.acquadiparma.com priced £30 for 30ml

Murdock to open in London’s Soho

MURDOCKThe latest salvo in the glass-fronted hipsterisation of London’s once characterful Soho is coming this autumn in the shape of a new flagship sore from grooming brand Murdock. Opening in Brewer Street, the new store will be the largest of the company’s seven emporiums in the city.

Great news for guys looking for a beard trim, haircut or for an opportunity to stock up on some grooming gear this may be but as someone who has lived in London for over a quarter of a century and who’s witnessed the wholesale evisceration of Soho in the last few years I can’t help but feel a little ambivalent about the news.

“Brewer Street has a fantastic place in the history of London,” says Murdock’s CEO  Brendan Murdock of the new opening. “Home once to breweries, gin palaces and even a hunting ground, it has always been a men’s haunt.” Now, I know I work in the grooming industry – and I like the Murdock brand a lot – but I can’t help but think that in referencing Soho’s rich and notorious past he’s drawn attention to all that’s wrong with the area now. Mind you, I suppose we should at least be grateful for the fact that it’s not another flat white coffee shop or Byron Burger…

For more information on the changes taking place in Soho click here.

Grooming Guru Essentials: the August edit.

GROOMING GURU ESSENTIALS-1Since it’s nearly the end of the month I thought I’d round-up some of the best products to have landed on my desk in the past few weeks. After all, when it comes to stocking your bathroom cabinet it’s all about the edit. So here are my picks from August…

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream For Men, £55 from elemis.com

Elemis’ award-winning Pro-Collagen Marine Cream is a legendary beauty product and it always puzzled me why there hadn’t been a version in their men’s range. Well, now there is. Resisting the urge to simply repackage the original formula this men’s version includes an extra ingredient called Abyssine which is a soothing oil that helps calm the skin and reduces the irritation caused by shaving. The cream itself is intensely hydrating and silky but, crucially for me, doesn’t leave a shiny residue on the skin.

Oliver Sweeney Argento Eau De Parfum, £95 from oliversweeney.com

Regular readers will know how disappointed I am with a lot of new men’s fragrances but here’s one I love (I know, hang out the bunting!). The first fragrance from luxury shoe and accessories designer Oliver Sweeney, Argento is a delightfully woody, slightly leathery fragrance that smells reassuringly traditional without being boring. What’s more, unlike most of today’s new men’s launches it doesn’t smell like a cake shop and for this reason alone it’s currently my favourite new fragrance.

Philips Bodygroom Series 1000, £20 from amazon.co.uk

Remarkably, it’s been 10 years now since the launch of the first Philips Bodygroom – a tool that changed how men manscaped and one which pretty much created a brand new category in male grooming. This latest version is slimmer, sleeker and has a new ‘skin protector’ not found on previous models, allowing a nick-free trim, particularly if you’re using it ‘down below’. It doesn’t go as close as the other models (it’s a trimmer rather than a down-to-skin-level shaver) but is much easier – and safer –  to use. The price point is excellent too.

Rose of No Man’s Land, £88 from Liberty, from 10th September

I’m a big fan of rose fragrances and whilst they do scare a lot of men they don’t all leave you smelling like  a hanky-brandishing dowager aunt. This one, from Swedish fragrance house Byredo, is a perfect example of a rose fragrance a man can rock since the overly floral aspects are tempered by a lovely warm woodiness and a slight spiciness. Be brave and give it a try.

Root Vanish By Kazumi, £30 from Boots.

Though essentially a hair product some enterprising PR realised this temporary tinting brush by Japanese company Kazumi actually works wonders on facial hair too. Available in different shades (I’ve been using the light brown) it’s brilliant at disguising any little grey bits  you have and is useful where you have patches too. It stays on throughout the day but washes of when you shower, too, giving you total control over the effect. I don’t leave the house without touching up now!

What will make the edit next month? Watch this space to find out.

Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards, oh my!

MOUSTACHES, WHISKERS & BEARDS bookThese days November and December no longer simply mean Bonfire Night and Christmas they mean ‘Movember’ and ‘Decembeard’  – two whole months where facial rules in the name of charitable causes. And if you want some inspiration on that front you might want to check out the new book Moustaches, Whiskers and Beards by Lucinda Hawksley.

A thoroughly entertaining history of facial hair, it’s packed with interesting historical information; my personal favourite being that a publication in 1880 warned that the absence of a beard was usually a sign of “physical and moral weakness”. The book is lavishly illustrated with images from The National Portrait Gallery’s wonderful collection and is great whether you’re an art lover, a style warrior or simply an unashamed pogonophile. Would make a great stocking filler too.

Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards by Lucinda Hawksley is available from The National Portrait Gallery, priced £10. 

Movember Spawned a Monster…

Movember may well be almost upon us but this year the trend for moustaches appears to have started without it. So popular is the ‘tache these days that it’s more ‘must-have’ than much-maligned. I’ll be posting about Movember regularly in the coming weeks but to kick things off here’s a piece I wrote for The Telegraph about why ‘taches are back on trend. Just click on the image below to have a gander.

moustache