Keep calm and look good with Murdock’s new mental health collab

With Mental Health Awareness Week running from 13th – 19th May, grooming brand Murdock’s new collab with mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is perfectly timed. Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and it’s estimated that CALM have prevented over a thousand male suicides in the last two years via their helpline and web chat service.

Providing such life-changing (and life-saving) support costs money, though, with it costing the charity £8 to offer support via each call. This is why Murdock will be donating £8 from the sale of each of their new CALM Kits to the charity.

Each kit features a Black Tea Body Soap, a handy pocket sized 10ml Black Tea Cologne and a Travel Sized Black Tea Candle and would make a perfect gift (Father’s Day is just around the corner remember) or a great grooming treat for yourself. Besides, buy one and you won’t just end up feeling good and smelling good you may well be helping to save another man’s life too – and how many other grooming kits offer that as a bonus?

The Murdock Calm Kit is available from murdocklondon.com priced £35.

 

For more information about CALM click here

 

 

Beauty Banks – for the boys too.

Like me, you’ve probably popped the odd bag of pasta, box of cornflakes or tin of soup into one of the food bank collection boxes located in your local supermarket. Items like these help put food on the table for the estimated half a million people who now use food banks on a regular basis in the UK. But it’s all too easy to forget that toiletries are essentials too and that looking good and feeling clean are inexorably linked to feelings of confidence and self-worth – two things that can be in short supply when you’re strapped for cash and dinner, for the third night running, is beans on toast.

Understanding this, a couple of weeks ago journalist Sali Hughes and PR exec Jo Jones launched Beauty Banks – a not-for-profit charitable initiative aimed at providing those in need with basic bathroom and hygiene essentials like shampoo, shower gel and tampons, in much the same way that food banks aim to provide kitchen cupboard essentials.

With the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimating that 14 million people in the UK are living in poverty and with an estimated 37% of people going without basic toiletries as a result, it’s a much-needed initiative and one that’s already received huge support from the beauty industry. It’s been great to see so many women’s mags and beauty bloggers throw their weight behind it but, hey, let’s not forget that men have needs too – and that things like razor blades aren’t exactly inexpensive (there’s a reason they’re often security protected in supermarkets along with booze and some cuts of meat).

Big name grooming brands are already getting involved (shaving experts Harry’s were one of the first to volunteer product) but everyone can boost the men’s side of things by donating some much-needed grooming gear. Once Beauty Banks have received your donation their volunteers will distribute it food banks, homeless shelters and refuges across the country.

So what are they after? Well, when it comes to men’s stuff, basics like razors, shave gels, face washes, shower gels, antiperspirants, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes are all useful. But not-so-basic stuff like moisturiser and face scrub is welcome too. You can even send those complimentary products you get in hotels – the ones you can’t resist pocketing at the end of your stay (relax, I pocket them too). Just make sure all the products you donate are sealed or unused (well, would you like to receive a third of a bottle of shower gel?). The only thing you can’t donate are products containing solvents so don’t send aftershaves, eau de toilettes or electric pre-shave fluids. Post-shave balms are fine though.

Once you’ve decided what items to send parcel up your contribution and send to: Beauty Banks, c/o Jo Jones, The Communications Store, 2 Kensington Square, London, W8 5EP.

Alternatively, you can purchase toiletries direct from Beauty Banks’ Amazon wishlist and have them sent directly to their HQ. To see the wishlist just click here. I guess you could do the same if you buy toiletries from other online stores too – simply have them sent direct to Beauty Banks.

There is, as we all know, a huge debate about poverty in the UK –  about its causes and how best to tackle it – but regardless of your politics or your thoughts on the matter the fact is that right now there are people in desperate need of help. And what better way to help than to make someone feel a little better about themselves?

 

 

A note to fellow industry bods

As much as I’m writing this for my readers, I’m also aiming this post at fellow grooming editors, journalists, influencers and bloggers too. We’re exceptionally privileged in our industry in that we often get sent products to test as part of our jobs. Please consider donating any you don’t get to try (I’m currently in the process of getting a parcel together myself) and please use the platform you have to spread the word and promote this great cause. And if you’re a PR who works with male grooming brands please think about getting your clients involved. Likewise, if you’re the actual client consider donating some product or, better still, think about an ongoing arrangement with Beauty Banks.

Having worked in the beauty industry for more that 17 years now I’m acutely aware of how shallow and vacuous it can sometimes appear (and believe me, at times it’s exactly how it appears) but even though it’s fundamentally an industry which deals with superficial appearance, it does have a big heart. With your support, Beauty Banks will hopefully be able to show just how big that heart actually is.

 

You can find Beauty Banks on Instagram @The_Beauty_Banks 

To contact Beauty Banks directly email beautybanks@tcs-uk.net

 

Help For Heroes XTREME The Fragrance: a good scent for a good cause

help for heroesWith fragrance one of the top gift ideas at this time of year it’s often all to easy to reach for a big brand name or the latest concoction from a huge fashion house. Which is all very well if you’re ok with lining the pockets of Chanel, Dior or Hugo Boss but if you want to do some good with your gift giving then maybe you should think about XTREME The Fragrance by Help For Heroes – the charity which offers support to servicemen and women injured in the line of duty.

A creamy, spicy and gourmandy fragrance, with lemon, black pepper, basil, amber and vanilla, it easily holds its own against this year’s biggest designer launches and a minimum of £3 from every sale goes direct to the charity. Five ex-servicemen worked alongside perfumer and lecturer Marianne Martin to come up with the fragrance and their stories are truly inspirational (you can read about the guys  involved here). So if you’re looking for a fragrance that helps people, as well as your chances, you might want to put XTREME on your wish list.

Help For Heroes XTREME The Fragrance is available from Debenhams and www.helpforheroesfragrance.com priced £30.

Green People’s new Men’s Collection: good for you, good for our woodland.

GREEN PEOPLE MEN'S COLLECTIONIf you’re one of those people who likes to do their Christmas shopping early or are simply looking for a great birthday/anniversary/thanks-for-cutting-the-hedge gift for someone you might want to have a look at one Green People’s limited edition skincare sets in aid of one my favourite charities, The Woodland Trust. There are four individual collections: Facial Care, Body Care, Hand Care and this handsome-looking Men’s Collection which features two 100ml body washes: a Peppermint & Eucalyptus one that’s perfect for gym bags and an Orange Peel and Clove wash that’s delightfully festive. They’re free of chemical nasties, made with certified organic ingredients and the packaging, featuring a noble stag, is absolutely lovely. What’s more,  30p from each sale of a men’s collection goes to The Woodland Trust to help with its preservation of our beautiful forests. As an animal lover and a nature lover I can’t think of a nicer gift.

The set costs £19.95 and is available from September from www.greenpeople.co.uk and via Ocado.

Aveda light the way for Earth Month

AVEDA Light the Way CandleBeing a cynical and decidedly curmudgeonly old fogey I’m always rather suspicious of brands’ charity initiatives – especially brands who say they’re giving an undisclosed percentage of their profits to a good cause. Aveda, however, are one brand that have always had their heart firmly in the right place when it comes to giving and in an admirable act of transparency (not to mention generosity) they’re donating 100% (yes, all) of the £16 RRP of their new limited edition Light The Way scented candle to the Global Greengrants Fund –  a non-profit organisation that funds groups working to solve pressing environmental problems.

Aveda have been working with the fund since 2007 so you can safely say they’re not bandwagoning either. The initiative comes as part of Aveda’s support of Earth Month this April and the candle –  a mix of warm, sweet Madagascan spice –  smells lovely so check out the Aveda site from April to grab one and to do a whole lot of good in the process.

How to grow the perfect Decembeard

DecembeardIf you’ve always fancied growing a beard or just enjoyed Movember so much you fancy continuing with the facial hair then December is the perfect time to grow one – and raise some cash for charity in the process.

Decembeard is the annual fundraising initiative organised by Beating Bowel Cancer and this year I’ve been helping them out by providing some beard-growing tips.  And below is a slightly extended version of them. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now and grow one!

1. Get growing! The great thing about growing a beard is that you don’t have to do any prep – in fact the opposite is true. All you need to do is down tools and let the fuzz flourish.

Every man’s beard grows at its own rate, though, so don’t be put off or disheartened if progress seems slow at first – some of the best looking beards were late developers!

2. Keep it clean. Keeping facial hair fresh is no more hassle than keeping your face clean – you simply need to spend a few extra seconds massaging in your regular face wash. Pay extra attention to rinsing to ensure no soapy residues are left and then gently pat dry with a towel. Don’t rub your beard aggressively to dry it as this can cause irritation.

3. Invest in a good trimmer. Like privet hedges beards need regular pruning if they’re to look their best. To keep your Decembeard looking tip-top whiz over it occasionally with a beard trimmer. Opt for one with a good range of cutting lengths and a removable safety guard or pop-up definer so you can tidy the hair around the lips.

Always trim when the hair is completely dry, though, as hair relaxes and expands when wet, contracting again as it dries, so if you cut it when it’s still damp you may find you’ve trimmed too much off.KING OF SHAVES BEARD TRIMMER

4.  Switch to oil. If you want to shave around the edges of your beard to keep it defined use a shave oil – because they’re transparent you’ll be able to see exactly where you’re shaving and will get better accuracy.

5. Draw the line. For a smart, defined beard trim it so the outer edge lies at the top of the adam’s apple, moving towards the corners of the jaw diagonally. For a softer, more natural-looking beard line, use a beard trimmer and gradually decrease the length towards the outer edge so you get a blended effect.

6. Moisturise. Facial hair ‘wicks’ moisture away from the surface of the skin making the stuff beneath your beard especially prone to flakiness. To avoid dryness and beard dandruff spend a minute or so massaging a specialist beard balm like The Happy Bear’s Superior Beard Balm into the skin beneath your burgeoning face fungus.

GGBB7.  Ditch the itch. Using a moisturiser or beard balm twice daily (see above) will help keep skin and hair soft and supple but applying a hair conditioner to the beard can help keep it soft and reduce itching too.

It’s also worth giving your beard a light brush with a stiff bristle beard or hairbrush or moustache comb to minimize curl, even out the growth and minimize the risk of ingrown hairs.

8. Dye right. If you’re worried about grey whiskers disguise them with a specialist beard and moustache dye, available from most large chemists. Specially formulated for facial l hair, which is tougher than the stuff on your head, they’re easy to apply, cover greys in less than five minutes and deliver great, natural-looking results.

9. Be patient if you’re patchy. Beards are a lot like lawns – sometimes they’re cursed by annoying bald patches. But don’t give up if your beard’s a bit uneven at first – gaps often fill out after a few weeks once the hair gets to a decent length.

10. Have fun! Remember, facial hair fun to experiment with. You won’t know what you’re getting until you’re a few weeks in but that’s part of the fun. And when you’re growing it for Decembeard you’re doing it for a great cause (or something incredi-beard as the charity like to put it). You never know you may even decide to keep it!

For more information about Decembeard go to beatingbowelcancer.org