Lab Series prove they’re the pros of men’s skincare again

LAB PRO LS WITH BOX LOW RES

Soothsayer that I am I remember reporting a couple of years ago that male skincare was moving inexorably towards multifunctionalism. And Lab Series‘ new PRO LS All-In-One Face Treatment is yet more proof that my crystal ball still works occasionally.

Essentially a four-in-one face treatment it can be used as an aftershave balm to sooth irritated skin but also as an all-over-the-face anti-ageing and mattifying moisturiser, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, hydrating skin and absorbing excess oil.

Not only is it the perfect introduction to Lab Series as a brand it’s ideal for travel  – when space is at a premium –  too. One day all male grooming products will be this simple.

Lab Series PRO LS ALL-IN-ONE FACE TREATMENT is available from March, priced £22 for 50ml. For more information see www.labseries.co.uk

Disclosure Notice: I received a free sample of this product for review purposes

Zirh: the rebirth of a grooming icon

When I first started writing about male grooming full time, over a decade ago now, American brand Zirh was one of those ranges that was a gift to journalists like myself. Not only was it from the US (and hence exotic), cult (which made you look cool if you mentioned it) and had great packaging (which kept notoriosuly fussy art editors happy) it actually had some really great products in its line up too.

It also led the way with its no-fuss, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin product names (eg. Hydrate, Clean, Correct, Protect etc). Even today, I think brands could learn from it – especially those with products called Hydra Energetic Anti-Dull Tanning Moisturiser – intake of breath – Natural Looking Tan.

Founded back in 1995 Zirh became so desirable that Procter & Gamble looked upon it with covetous eyes, eventually acquiring the brand and…doing absolutely nothing with it. They then sought to divest themselves of it and with its future in doubt it kind of disappeared from the radar and from the shelves of many UK stockists.

But then, at the back end of 2011 is was reacquired by a New York investment company,  and lo and behold it’s back and available on these shores again at online grooming emporium Niven & Joshua (collective Hurrah! please).

So if you were a longtime fan or are a new one who heard great things about it back in the day, crack open the piggy bank. Especially good is the ‘Soothe‘ Post Shave Healer.

The Grooming Guru Awards 2011

There are so many grooming awards these days that I thought, what the hell, why not have my own, with a few unique Grooming Guru categories thrown in for good measure? In fairness, I don’t think this year has been a stellar one in terms of new launches and innovative products but amongst the assorted lowlights there have been a few genuine highlights. The great thing is I don’t have advertisers to answer too so can reward who the hell I like and for what I like. So here are my awards, the ‘Gee Gees’ if you will. Who gets the gongs this year? Well, here goes…

MEN’S SKINCARE LAUNCH OF THE YEAR – Him by John Barrowman.

We may sneer at celebrity-endorsed ranges and fragrances but John Barrowman’s Him range for men, launched exclusively on QVC earlier this year, is a genuinely good- quality, well thought out and nicely-formualted range of skincare essentials for blokes. Sure, I suspect the people who are buying it are JB fans wanting to improve their men (or make them look like their idol) but that’s fine right? As John himself said at the launch the more well-groomed men out there the better. For more of my thoughts on the range read this.

BEST AD CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR – Braun Oral B Pro-Expert Toothpaste


This advert has made me laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. I simply never tire of watching it. It doesn’t just cross the line where bad becomes good it actually pole-vaults right over it into uncharted territory. As comedy goes, it’s certainly miles funnier than Come Fly With Me, making me think the Beeb should have just shown this instead and saved license payers a fortune in the process. A friend of mine is convinced that, like the cringeworthy Jenson Button Head & Shoulders ad and the laughable Just For Men Luis Figo one, it’s intentionally this awful so that people remember it. If so, it deserves the most fulsome praise I can give it.

NB: Alas Oral B have pulled this ad from YouTube now. They might be known for saving teeth but it looks like in this case they wanted to save face too!

BEST NEW GROOMING GADGET – Panasonic ES-LV61-K Wet/Dry Foil Shaver

Back in the summer, Panasonic launched this, the first wet/dry foil shaver, transforming the lives of guys who prefer foil shavers to rotary ones but who wanted the convenience of shaving with a traditional shaving prep or even in the shower. Losing my beard for a week to give it a whirl I was hugely impressed by the closeness of the shave and how beautiful it felt in the hand. Which is what matters most to us men right? The last bit I mean.

THE “I DON’T THINK SO” AWARD OF THE YEAR – Guylashes

Guylashes. Please. A couple of years ago the big story was men and makeup. I bigged it up myself. Did men buy it? Did they buggery. In fact, many companies launched cosmetic products for men only to quietly ‘retire’ them within a matter of months.  And if men aren’t going to use concealer (a genuinely useful product and one I heartedly recommend) do you really think they’re going to be fluttering fake eyelashes? Eylure, kindly collect your gong! If I was being cynical I’d give you another one for ‘Best way to generate publicity for your company by grabbing a headline in The Daily Mail award’ too. If I was being cynical.

BEST NEW FRAGRANCE – Potion by DSquared2

I have been to so many fragrance launches this year you’d think it would be hard for me to pick my favourite. Not so. Most left me decidedly cold with their tiresome top notes  bland basenotes. This one, woody and sexy with notes of amber and a host of ingredients actually used in magic, like angelica and gentian, is one I wear regularly. It’s not as long-lasting as I might like but that’s a minor flaw. Being the only fragrance that really cast a spell on me this year (sorry!) I’m proud to give it a ‘Gee Gee’ for Best New Fragrance.

BEST BUDGET GROOMING BUY – Montagne Jeunesse’s face packs for men

Sure I like a bit of luxury but like all good working-class lads I can do cheap-as-chips grooming products too and my favourites this year were these face masks for men. Costing just over a pound each (except for the eye one which is wallet-busting £1.99) they’re practical, effective and (best of all) great fun to use. I challenge any man not to enjoy using the peel off one.

BEST INDUSTRY BLOG – British Beauty Blogger

Okay, I’m slightly biased because British Beauty Blogger is what you might call my ‘Twitterwife’ but even if I didn’t happen to know the person behind it I would still give it my vote as Best Industry Blog. I read it religiously –  and I have absolutely no interest in make-up or the beauty side of the industry whatsoever. And yet, it’s still utterly compelling.

In terms of providing an honest insight into the (sometimes ludicrous) workings of the industry it’s unrivaled and as a window onto the turbulent and much-maligned art of blogging it’s an absolute must-read. If you’re a blogger, journalist, PR or just a beauty junkie who wants to know what shade of blusher is hot this season it should be your very first port of call. Best of all it’s a BS-free zone. To check it out click here.

MOST GOBSMACKINGLY DESIRABLE THING  – Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino Collection

When I first clapped eyes on Tom Ford’s Neroil Portofino Collection in its entirety I had a glimpse into how Howard Carter must have felt when he first peered into Tutankhamun’s tomb. Revealed to me in Claridges by the PR, the range, when seen in its entirely, is gobsmackingly lovely.  It costs over £500 – well out of the reach of most of us – but thankfully we can all buy into a small piece of its delicious luxury. Oh and it smells bloody fantastic too.

BEST NEW MASS MARKET SKINCARE PRODUCT FOR MEN WITH BEARDS OR STUBBLE – Nivea For Men Sensitive Hydro Gel

Okay, so it’s quite a specialised award buy hey, it’s my blog so I can do what I like. This inexpensive non-stick moisturiser (for want of a better description) is just brilliant for beards. Why? Because it’s lightweight and hydrating but doesn’t make your facial fur all sticky like some things can. It’s also great for preventing beard dandruff so for that reason alone I am giving it a much-deserved award.

Best Home Fragrance – Jonathan Ward Russia Collection

I’ve been on something of a mission this year to get men to invest in scented candles for their homes. There’s nothing girly about it. Scented candles rock. As does having a house or flat that doesn’t smell of last night’s curry. Jonathan Ward’s Russia Collection, launched late this year, impressed me for being decidedly man-friendly, delightfully complex, beautifully conceived and reasonably priced to boot. Besides, two wicks are always better than one in my book.

Beauty Magazine unveils its Grooming Gongs for 2011

One of my favourite events in the beauty & grooming calendar is the annual Beauty Magazine Awards. As one of the panel of judges it’s my job to whittle down a huge selection of possible nominees to put forward to a public vote (think of me as the Len Goodman of Grooming) and as such I’m lucky enough to attend the swanky annual awards do. This year it was held at Vinopolis and The Saturdays (well, four of them) were in attendance.

There were a stack of awards presented on the night but the ones that interested me, of course, were the grooming gongs. Gillette’s Fusion Proglide razor picked up the Grooming Launch of The Year Award, Lynx Excite walked away with the Best Ad Campaign of The Year and Best Tie-Up for securing Kelly Brook for Excite and Boss Bottled won Best Classic fragrance. Classic Grooming Product of the Year, meanwhile, was won by Philips for their Sensotouch 3D Electric Shaver.

Finally, the Haircare Launch of The Year award was won by Regaine for their innovative Extra Strength Scalp Foam. More importantly, though, I got to dress up and drink wine. Well, judging’s hard work you know…

That was the year that was

Apologies for the lack of posts of late but The Grooming Guru was taking a break, enjoying the snow and finalising a few big plans for 2010. But I’m back and blogging now, so before I start my usual musings on the world of male grooming I thought I’d quickly name and shame my favourite and least favourite products of 2009.

Personally, I found last year a bit uninspiring when it came to new launches. Maybe the recession pushed everyone away from spectacular innovations, interesting NPD or  – God forbid! –  maybe the market is finally running out of steam?

Anyway, my favourite fragrance launch of the year was Tom Ford’s excellent Grey Vetiver which was head and shoulders above anything else that emerged in 2009. The man is so bloody talented at everything he touches (fashion, film-making, acting, fragrances) it’s infuriating but boy, does he deliver. Grey Vetiver is everything a men’s fragrance should be – complex, sensual, dynamic and ferociously masculine.

My favourie skincare product of the year was Givenchy Mister Mat Mattifying Foundation Primer. Shocking name, for sure,  but fantastic product that’s like Photoshop in a tube, instantly improving the look of your skin by smoothing out imperfections, closing pores and absorbing excess oil. It’s a pocket-sized must-have no man should be without.

My final choice of the good stuff is the RazorPit, a little gadget from Denmark which must annoy the hell out of blade manufacturers across the globe since its premise is simply to increase the life of your razor. I must say, I was skeptical at first but trust me, it does actually work. In fact, it promises to stretch the average blade to 150 shaves. And in these penny-pinching times, that’s a sound investment for any man.

And what products have left me cold this year? Well, top of the list was Lacoste Challenge (a fragrance where the only challenge was finding something nice to say about it) and Kylie’s ladyboy extravaganza, Inverse For Men.  And then there was Natural Skincare range Osmium where some of the products were so malodorous they made me want to bathe in pure sodium lauryl sulphate. But I’m getting bitchy now so must sign off.  Next up, this year’s big trend….

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