As a grooming writer I’m used to providing answers to men’s questions about haircare, skincare and fragrance but the subject they’re most curious about is manscaping. Since it became ‘a thing’ roughly ten years ago I’ve written countless pieces on the subject but nothing quite as comprehensive as the guide that is my first major piece for leading men’s fashion and lifestyle blog Ape To Gentleman. A top-to-toe guide to removing hair, wherever it may sprout, it’s an ideal resource for any man wanting to pluck, prune or depilate. So grab your wax strips/razor/hair removal cream and have a read of it here.
Like most people I have an uneasy relationship with awards. I profess not to be bothered about them but then feel bereft when I lose out on one and nearly wet myself when I do win one. In the very first year I entered the prestigious Jasmine Awards (given out for writing about fragrance) I was shortlisted in three separate categories and still managed to come out of the ceremony empty handed – a crushing defeat that almost scarred me for life. And then, in the year I did actually win one I couldn’t collect the thing because I was simultaneously appearing in court (as a witness I hasten to add). A video message didn’t seem appropriate, or legal.
Thankfully, I was able to make last night’s inaugural Fashion Monitor Journalism Awards, though, and am glad I could because as you can see from the pic above (also featuring host Laura Whitmore and nail guru Leighton Denny) I actually managed to scoop a gong for Beauty/Grooming Blogger of The Year. This particular award means a lot to me partly because, whilst I get paid for my journalism, blogging is essentially a labour of love. I’ve been blogging for about four and a half of the 23 years I’ve been a journalist and as all bloggers know, it’s something you really have to want to do because the rewards are few and far between!
It also means a lot because the shortlist – created by members of the fashion and beauty industry itself – included amazing bloggers like The Beauty Shortlist, A Model Recommends, Vivianna Does Makeup and my good pal British Beauty Blogger – someone I look up to myself.
But anyway, it was a fantastic evening (I suspect the Fashion Monitor Awards will become the Oscars of the Beauty & Grooming world) and now that my wine-induced headache is finally subsiding I’m actually beginning to appreciate it!
PS. Don’t you just love the fact that I look like I’m missing a finger in the photo?
PPS. When I refer to “The Grooming Guru” in the title I mean the blog not me personally. The day I start referring to myself in the third person is the day I call it a day! Or the day they carry me off.
I get the distinct impression that if authenticity were a fragrance note, like jasmine, lavender or amber, it’d be slap bang at the very heart of Jonathan Ward’s increasingly popular fragranced candles. In fact, it permeates everything he does – from the formulation of the candles themselves to the inspiration behind them (often very personal), right down to his frank and open blog (a must-read for industry types and anyone thinking of starting a business as well as fans of the brand itself).
Given that my own blog is aimed at men, though, and I’m always banging on about the benefits of room fragrance to men, I wanted to quiz him specifically about men and candles, a subject I sometimes think counts as The Last Taboo!
JW: I believe it’s the idea or association that candles are women’s area of expertise and sometimes I think that women can be quite protective of their territory. I often spend time in the trenches, as it were, meeting my customers in stores and at events. Quite often I’ll see couples and if the man notices my products first and tries to steer his wife over to the display, quite often the woman doesn’t like to be “told” by their partner that this might be a good product for them. I definitely feel that they feel this is an infringement! So come one, ladies, let your men develop the confidence to choose their own scents. Of course, some men will never get their heads around the concept of scenting their environments unless it’s with odors other than essential oils!
GG: Presumably, you’d like more men to get into the candle-buying habit then? JW: Men are so cosmopolitan now and the idea of men as shut-down, emotionally-stunted, neanderthal caveman is so dated. Men’s tastes are highly developed and scent is an area that they are embracing without too much prompting. I do believe there is a market for masculine candles but PLEASE, if I see one that has the word ‘sport’ on it, I may retire. My products have a strong masculine handwriting throughout the scent choices and are not overtly floral or feminine.
GG: What are the benefits of having scented candles in your home if you’re a man?
JW: Lighting a candle awakens one of your primary senses and like a magic wand can wash over you uplifting your mood. For men who lead busy or demanding lives, candles can play a part in helping to relax and soothe. Also, the very nature of candlelight as opposed to electric lighting encourages relaxation.
GG: Which of your candles would you specifically recommend to men and why?
JW: The “Kartushya” from my Russian Collection has a striking heart of birch leaf and rich herbaceous notes complimented with pepper and amber. It’s the perfect male (but not overtly so) candle. “Citrine Ivy” is also a good choice since it’s a fresh tart clean citrus blend of lime flower, grapefruit and tangerine oil with uplifting verbena. Perfect for the study and for the kitchen, offering clean positive masculine notes.
GG: Since men are not quite so savvy about fragranced candles what tips can you give them about how to get the most out of them?
JW: For the first burn commit to 3-4 hours. You need to ensure that the wax completely turns to liquid (anyway this is where all your fragrance is released from). When extinguishing don’t blow it out otherwise you’ll just spoil all the aroma you have just built up. Use a small candle dish or coaster and drop it onto the top of the candle so that it suffocates. Once dried, trim the wick to a 1/4″ and relight.
GG: Why is it important to you to use paraffin-free organic soy and beeswax in your candles?
JW: There are lots of natural wax blends, this one just happens to be the blend that we designed for our fragrances.. Its the one that works best with my aromas and I find its perfectly balanced. I don’t think that there is one natural wax blend that is better, they’re just different. I choose a paraffin free wax base because I find that it eliminates soot and smoke from the room and gives a cleaner burn. I try not to get all political about it but I do say to people if you care about your personal space and air quality, choose cleaner products to preserve your air quality.
GG: Is there a best place to place a candle in a room/house?
JW: I consider mine to be statement candles so they look great on the coffee table or fireplace. You really want to position it so that it is in a place with good airflow so that the scent can circulate. Never put candles next to a window or under a fan. Its a huge no no as the charge of wind or oxygen will only force the candle to burn faster, hence wasting precious wax.
GG: Of all the ingredients you use which has your favourite smell and why?
JW: I love amber – its in 40-50% of my candles and enhances that masculine handwriting I mentioned earlier.
GG: If you were to create a Jonathan Ward candle (i.e. one that was just for you) which ingredients/notes would it contain to reflect your personality?
JW: I’m not trying to get out of answering this one but my creations are so personal and are referential to my life, travels and journey that they are all reflective of my personality already. Everything I create is so personal it has me all over it (and in it!)
GG: What’s your favourite men’s fragrance and why?
JW: The original Comme des Garcons fragrance because it is so intense and so unique and reminds me of when I was a struggling student. If I’m not wrong, I spent half my grant at the Comme des Garcons store without a care for what I might eat at the end of term!
GG: Candle making is a dangerous business. Any tips for dealing with wax burns? lol
JW: I embrace them! After all, I’ve always said I hate vanilla……
The thing I love about about blogging (and Tweeting too actually) is that it makes me feel part of a community in away that working in magazines never did. It’s generally less competitive, less territorial and there’s a fluid exchange of thoughts, opinions and ideas. In that spirit I’m pleased to say I will we taking part in the Handpicked Media Gets Social event at RIBA in London on November 21st.
A day-long interactive blogging event, it’s a place for bloggers to meet, mingle and discover how to develop and enhance their blogs, build on their successes and pick up a few tips on how to interact with (and occasionally fend off!) PRs, drive traffic to their sites and deal with the ever-changing blogging landscape. There’ll be luxury goody bags on offer too, of course, and there’s the chance to meet some of the biggest brands and bloggers in the business! And me.
I’ll be appearing on the Beauty Panel, along with Fluer de Force, The Beauty Button and A Beauty Junkie in London, and will be providing an insight into the male grooming side of the industry and a male perspective on proceedings. I don’t bite (well, only when excited) so if you fancy giving me a grilling do come a long!
For more info, and to book your place click here.