Paul Smith enters the sports arena with Extreme Sport

SPORT5After the bravery of Paul Smith’s last fragrance launch Portrait For Men – a quirky fragrance built around a fresh green tea note – the iconic British designer’s latest fragrance, Extreme Sport, plays it safe (and keeps things a little more commercial) with a juice built around a raft of notes familiar to contemporary men’s fragrances.

SPORT2As is the case with many sport fragrances that don’t go down the super-fresh route it aims – a bit like Issey Miyake’s L’eau D’issey Pour Homme Sport –  to pack a mighty old punch instead. Citrusy, woody and spicy it’s a big, ballsy number that’s vibrant and energetic enough for daytime but warm and spicy enough to be worn for a night out too. If you’re a fan of Paul Smith Extreme – his most successful men’s fragrance – you’ll certainly like this version as it takes most of its cues (visual and olfactory) from that fragrance.

SPORT3What it has over many other sport fragrances (Miyake’s included) is a genuine reason for being. Whereas you’d struggle long and hard to find an authentic connection between Miyake and sport, Paul Smith’s is genuine and well known. Not only did he start out wanting to be a champion cyclist (until an accident made him change dreams) he’s still very much involved in sport, especially cycling, designing jerseys for the Giro d’Italia and lending his signature style to a range of sportswear, sporting equipment and sports watches (one of which is featured on the box and bottle). For sure, that little touch of authenticity isn’t mentioned on the list of notes but it’s definitely tucked away at the heart of the fragrance – just spray and you’ll find it.

Notes:

Top: Orange Essence, Bergamot, Moroccan Nana Mint

Middle: Egyptian Geranium, Lavender, Madagascan Black Pepper

Base: Incense, Cedarwood, Tonka bean.

Paul Smith Extreme Sport launches exclusively in Boots on 2nd April and will be available elsewhere a month later. 

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.

Milk Scrub + Cleanse Wipes. Genius!

One of the drawbacks of our hectic, straight-out-clubbing-from-work existence is that there’s rarely time to refresh properly. And what about when you’re at a festival, your boiler packs in and there’s no hot water or you’re backpacking across Tasmania and need to freshen up? Well, these wipes might be the answer.

Part of the Milk range, created by medal-winning Aussie swimmer Michael Klim, they rather cleverly have a soft side and a rough exfoliating one so your can cleanse and polish skin and they can be used pretty much anywhere on the body as well as the face. They ‘re smell great thanks to rosemary and mint and contain soothing chamomile and aloe vera extract too.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating becoming a total soap-dodger but for those times when you need to groom-on-the-go they’re an absolute godsend.

£9.95 for a pack of 25 from Boots.

Unilever shake up men’s face care market with their new Dove Men+Care range

The mass-market men’s face care market has been pretty quiet of late but that’s all about to change with the launch of an entire face care range from Dove Men+Care.

I’ve been giving the products a go for a couple of weeks now and rate them really highly. Unlike many of their competitors they steer clear of strong, pungent fragrances and leave the skin feeling clean, without feeling dry, and hydrated without feeling greasy.

Especially good are the rich, creamy face washes (there are three variants, the exfoliating Deep Clean+ , Sensitive+ and Revitalise+) and the three moisturisers, with the Hydrate+ version also offering sun protection in the shape of an SPF15 moisturiser.

They’re certainly going to give brands like Gillette and L’Oreal one hell of a run for their money. And, given their quality and efficacy, rightfully so too.

The Dove Men+Care range is available now from Boots.

Ask the Guru: How do I beat bad breath?

It’s one of the most common grooming nightmares so here are five simple ways to halt the halitosis…

Gargle Using a mouthwash doesn’t just freshen breath it dislodges trapped particles of food. What’s more, if you use a product like Dentyl Active Ultra Cleanse (£4.38 for 500ml from boots.com) which contains an antibacterial ingredient, it’ll stop bacteria going to work afterwards too. Opt for an alcohol-free one. “Not only has alcohol been linked to mouth cancer, it dries out the mouth too making you more likely to get bad breath,” says Dr Uchenna Okoye, Clinical Director of the London Smiling Dental Group.

Go interdental Brushing’s all very well and good but it can leave up to 40% of your tooth surfaces uncleaned and it’s often the gaps between teeth that harbour odour-causing bacteria and decaying food. Yet according to a Listerine survey over 18 million never floss. If you find flossing  fiddly Okoye recommends using a pre-loaded picks like Crest Glide Floss Picks (£3.99 for 20 from amazon.co.uk) which spare you having to wrap the stuff around your fingers.

Kiss. Or chew According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry a bit of tonsil tennis may be able to prevent tooth decay and minimise bad breath by stimulating saliva production – saliva being a natural source of bacteria-busting enzymes. If you’ve nobody to snog try chewing some sugar free gum like Wrigley’s Orbit Complete with xylitol, 69p from tesco.com. “Ones containing Xylitol are especially good as it actually slows down growth of bacteria,” says Okoye. It’s not as much fun as kissing, obviously, but works just as well.

Go for tongues In most cases 85% of cases bad breath actually originates from the tongue not the teeth or gums. “The tongue has lots of grooves and crevices for bacteria to lurk on so clean it regularly,” say Okoye. You can use your toothbrush but the best way to remove bacteria is with a tongue scraper like Oolitt Excel Tongue Cleanser, £3.56 from amazon.co.uk

Spray don’t pray Lots of things can help you prevent bad breath when you’re on-the-go (Okoye recommends chewing on cardamon pods or fennels seeds) but if you’re looking for an effective pocket breath freshening spray try Retardex Oral Spray, £2.65 for 8.3ml from chemistdirect.co.uk. “It’s designed to eliminate and not just mask odours and is the only thing I have found that immediately cures garlic breath,” she says.

Why Boots Opticians have made me see red

If a blog is not a place to vent then I don’t know what it is so indulge me, if you will,while I have  good moan about my experience with Boots Opticians.

Back in mid-December during a visit to Bath I popped into Boots to see if they could repair my reading glasses (the screw had popped out in the street) and they very kindly popped another one in free of charge. Alas (and I say this with hindsight) whilst I was there I stumbled upon a pair of frames I really loved.

I’d actually spent the best part of four months trying to find new ones, going from designer pair to designer pair and finding nothing I really liked. To my astonishment the ones I loved (a translucent pale grey pair) were a mere £79. For two pairs! With lenses! An absolute bargain, even with the additional cost of reflective, scratchproof lenses. I couldn’t believe my luck. As a person I’m not remotely snobby about such things – if I like something then I don’t care whether it comes from Prada or Poundland – so I was thrilled.

So when I returned to London I popped into Boots, found the frames, handed over my prescription and duly waited my five days for them to be ready for collection. Oh they were ready alright. Ready and dark brown. Since I was desperate for new specs (my old ones were falling apart at this point) you can imagine my disappointment.

And so after kicking up a fuss (and being told the code on the display specs was the same as the ones that arrived and that it must be a supplier problem or “perhaps the ones I wanted were discontinued”) I was told they’d sort it. Five days later my new specs were ready collection. “Sorry about the mix up – your glasses are back and they’re grey!” said the man at the store gleefully.

Today I picked them up. The good news: he was correct, they are grey. The bad news: they’re a grey about three shades darker the ones I actually chose. When I pointed this out (by grabbing the display ones off the shelf) I was given that old get out clause  ‘colours may vary’. Given the fact that grey initially came back as brown I should, perhaps, have expected this from the beginning.

It’s a shame nobody actually pointed this out at the time of purchase, however, because if they had I certainly would have had second thoughts. I mean, if you order a pillarbox red Mini and when you pick it up it’s vermillion you’d be pissed off right? Subtleties do matter. They matter even more when the item in question is something you plonk on your face every day.

So, did I kick up a fuss again? Well, no, partly because I desperately need the glasses  and party because I honestly haven’t got the time or energy to keep on going back until they provide me with the frames I saw on the display rack.

You might be thinking “well, what do you expect from such cheap frames?” but I don’t buy that for a minute. Whether something is £79 or £279 a customer has the right to get exactly what they paid for, not some variation thereof. Some of my followers on Twitter (bless them) have had to live this sorry saga in real time and I’ve lost count of how many times people have written “should have gone to….” And do you know what? I think they’re probably right.

Ahhhh, no more Omega 3 ‘fish breath’!

You gotta laugh. One day I’m writing about casual celebrity encounters in restaurants and the next I’m reviewing fish oil but there you go, that’s the beauty of blogging. And of not being remotely snobby about what I write about.

So anyway. If, like me, you regularly take omega oil supplements you’ll be all too aware of the unwanted ‘fish burps’ they can illicit (a real pain when you’re at a product launch trust me). So it’s with considerable relief that I’ve come across this Omega 3,6 and 9 supplement from Paradox.

The fact that this particular supplement is blended with pure olive oil, along with lemon oil, means they don’t have that fishy repeat. Since omega oils are thought to be good for skin and hair (some studies have shown that a deficiency can lead to dry skin) that’s good news for my looks – and even better news for my friends.

Paradox is available online and in store at Boots, Holland and Barrett as well as other independent health food stores and pharmacies.

Black & White Pomade celebrates 90 yrs of immaculate hairdressing

Given the fact that I’m ‘thin of thatch’ reviewing hair stying products is always a challenge for me so thesedays I tend to have an army of men (well one) who I rope in to test them for me. I think of it as hairdressing by proxy.

Anyway, Black & White’s near legendary pomade needs no introduction (it graced the quiffs of Elvis and James Dean) and this year it celebrates its 90th birthday which is why one ended up on my doorstep the other week. My tester reckons it’s his favourite styling product ever (in fairness he was already a huge fan) but given the fact that it’s still here after all these years who cares? Time has been the true test of its efficacy.

It’s pliable, remouldable and perfect for styles where you want a glossy finish. What’s more, the Limited Edition 90th Anniversary version is a gorgeous thing to have, featuring, as it does, the original 1920s label design. Slick. Literally.

Available from Boots and Superdrug, priced £7.95 for 200ml. For more info go to www.blackandwhitewax.com

Ask the Guru: How do I get rid of my monobrow?

I know a lot about the dreaded monobrow. Though I don’t quite look like the lovely Bert here, I do have brows that like to meet and hold hands occasionally. Part of me is rather proud of the little touch of Werewolf in me but since I don’t really like frightening old ladies and children (not unless it’s intentional anyway) I do tend to keep things in check.

Certainly one of the simplest ways to do this is with a product like Parissa’s new Brow Groomer. Designed for men’s eyebrows they’re little wax strips you warm in your palms, apply to the fuzz between your brows and yank off while gritting your teeth. It’s a process not without a little pain but it doesn’t quite requite a peg in the mouth and it does keep you hair-free for weeks.

My only criticism is that though the pack contains 8 wax strips it only contains one after-care wipe and the wipes are important for soothing skin afterwards and preventing post-wax spots. But anyway, I’ve used them and they’re a good way to meet the challenges of the monobrow. If you want to know how to use them, the company have produced the handy little vid below. A pack costs £8.69 and they’re available from Boots.

Nanoblur, FreezeFrame & Frown Fix. Can any of them really rid me of my wrinkles?

This week I’ve be testing out three anti-ageing products each promising, in their own unique way, to tun back the clock without you having to resort to Botox – something I’ve tried but am no fan of (see this old post for my views on that).

I’ve got to be honest, it hasn’t been a trial that’s over-impressed me. To be fair, the products I tried have certainly got their work cut out with my craggy, 40-something mush, especially as my face is testament to my general theatricality (I’m very much a stranger to the natural wrinkle-buster known as ‘Behavioural Botox’). But anyway, here’s how I got on with them. I’m not saying they will or won’t work for you, just how they performed on me. 

FreezeFrame, £49 for 50ml from Boots.  Seemingly this became the No 1 selling anti-ageing product in Australia in its first week. This does nothing to make me think well of our Australian pals, who I can only assume have much lower expectations than us Brits when it comes to wrinkle-busters.

In a similar way to products like Eyesential, it’s great for temporarily erasing wrinkles and would be brilliant just before having a family photo taken perhaps but not so great if you actually want to engage your facial muscles because all the wrinkles simply re-appear the moment you do. It contains a litany of muscle relaxants, face-freezers and wrinkle-relaxing octapeptides ( pentapeptides being terribly old hat) but alas, it still couldn’t cope with my fine lines and furrows. Don’t, whatever you do, use too much of the stuff either – it dries on your face like, well, I won’t say – but let’s just say you’ll look like The Singing Detective if you overdo it.

IP+ FAB FROWN FIXm £10.25 for 4ml from Boots I can’t tell you how excited I was about trying this. Looking back at old photos of myself recently I realised that I’ve been scowling almost since I left the womb. I don’t quite know what I was expecting, given the depth of my frown lines, but whatever it was I didn’t get it from this filler. Apparently celebrity fans include Sarah Harding, Victoria Beckham and the girl from last year’s X-Factor who did that thing with her hand. I can only assume these people have even lower expectation than the Australians.

Nanoblur, £19.99 for 30ml from Boots. The last of the trio of products I’ve been trying, this is also by far the best. Unlike the others it doesn’t relax muscles or fill out wrinkles – it simply cheats the eye into thinking your skin looks better than it actually is. Based on advanced optics technology (it contains millions of light reflecting particles) it evens out skin tone, minimises fine lines and gives skin a nice matt finish. Light diffusing technology isn’t anything new but this product seems to take things to a new level. And guess what? It actually works.

So I did actually find something to wrestle with the wrinkles in the end. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m ready for High Definition yet but, hey, it’s a start.