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

Thinking ahead to Father’s Day? How about this grooming set from The Scottish Fine Soaps Company?

SCOTTISH FINE SOAPSI’m so used to seeing men’s skincare products housed in predictable black, silver or grey packaging that the Thistle & Black Pepper Men’s Grooming range from The Scottish Fine Soaps Company instantly grabbed by attention recently. An eye-catching metallic orange (‘amber’ if you’re being fancy) the range features everything from an Eau de Toilette to a Bath & Muscle Soak.

Also available is the Luxurious Gift Set – an absolute snip at just £11.50 – which features four products (a Body Wash, Facial Wash, Aftershave Balm and a Luxury Soap) all infused with a fragrance that blends black pepper, tonka bean and sea buckthorn with lavender, sandalwood and amber. For good measure (and make it a double) there’s even a dash of whiskey in there too. All in all a great gift for Father’s Day, one that’ll look great in any man’s bathroom and one that won’t break the bank either.

For information go click here.

Nivea goes back to its roots for redesigned men’s range

NFM-81387-100ml-04500-Tube-sRGBLike most brands Nivea Men hasn’t been able to resist the temptation to fiddle with this appearance over the years in an attempt to keep itself fresh and contemporary and  to remain eye-catching in an increasingly busy marketplace.  Like most brands who do this it has also discovered that, in reality, the first thought is actually the best thought.

NIVEA for Men Logo 2007 SPOTSo it should come as no surprise that Nivea Men has returned (after a brief stint as Nivea For Men and some rather non-descript logos) to the fuss-free design of the 1920s blue roundel logo, as seen on the Deep Cleansing Face Wash above.

By way of flagging up the change they’ve had to add the word “originals” (presumably in case some customers thought they’d stumbled  across some dodgy old stock) but other than that I think it looks great. Please Lord, let’s hope this isn’t a faddish nod to The Great Gatsby and current twenties-mania though. Nivea, old sport, do stick with the new look – even if it is your old one.

Back to the future: the Grooming Guru’s first male grooming piece. Circa 1987

The Grooming Guru c.1987! Nice hair, no?

You know how they say ‘the more things change the more they stay the same’? Well, I realised the other day that, although my journalistic career spans over 20 years and takes in working for and editing both women’s and men’s magazines, I’m strangely back where I started when it comes to writing.

Back in 1987, when I was just a student with journalistic ambitions and a fantastic head of hair, I contributed features to my college newspaper, The Sheffield City Press, on a diverse range of subjects  – from Phobias, Gypsy Rights and why I hated Margaret Thatcher to the burgeoning men’s magazine industry and…yes, male grooming (though I’m not sure it even had a name back then).

If memory serves, leading the way product-wise was The Body Shop where I bought most of my skincare products – not that there really were many to buy back then. They certainly allowed the average man on the street to explore skincare at an affordable price. I see from the piece (pictured below) that they had a face wash for all of £1.55.

Clearly, even back then I was an advocate of men taking care of their appearance as the final rally cry of ‘isn’t it about time that men caught up with women and entered the Skintrade?’ shows. Even I could never have dreamt where it would all end up though!

Eucerin’s DermoPurifyer is the dogs

For many years now Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Gel has been one of my favourite face washes. But that may well well have changed now that I’ve found an alternative that’s as good as but less than half the price. The usurper’s name? It’s Eucerin’s DermoPurifyer Cleanser.

Now, Eucerin is Beiersdorf’s decidedly unsexy skincare brand for problem skin but I have been a huge fan for years. It is absolutely the last word in dry skin treatment and is excellent for people with eczema. In my book their Dy Skin Bath and Shower Therapy is an absolute must-have for gym goers who want to avoid dry, tight skin after showering.

Anyway, the DermoPurifying range, launched a while back, is specifically for spot-prone skin but the Cleanser makes an excellent daily face wash. Soap and fragrance free, it’s perfect for getting skin clean but doesn’t leave your skin feeling dry or  tight. Believe  me, when it comes to face washes this is as good as it gets.

£8.99 from http://www.boots.com

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Nivea introduces a new Q10 range for men

nive aof rmenWhen it  comes to mass-market male grooming nobody has made looking after your skin as simple or as affordable as Nivea. Pioneers in terms of  technology, they’ve always identified men’s unique skincare needs and then met them with easy-to-use, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin products. Their Oil Control Moisturiser was always in my gym bag when I went swimming because the chlorine really made my skin greasy and I’ve always really rated their face washes.

Anyhow, they’ve just added four new products to their Revitalising Q10 range – a Face Wash, Shave Gel, Double Action Balm and (my favourite) a dinky Eye Roll-On which I keep in the fridge and use as a hangover tonic!

For anyone not familair with Q10, it’s a naturally-occurring enzyme that helps strengthen the skin’s defences. Around 3,000 of the original Nivea For Men Q10 Revitalising Moisturiser are sold every week so what’s the chance these additions will be snapped up just as  quickly?

Available exclusively  from Boots until Christmas Day and nationwide thereafter.

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Neal’s Yard’s new men’s products are the perfect remedy

prod_2410Back in the mists of time, when I was a mere teenager with hair like Simon Le Bon, Neal’s Yard Remedies were a beacon for male grooming’s early adopters like me. Though they didn’t have any specific men’s products to speak of  back in those days, the neutral packaging, herby, unisex aromas and no-fuss formulations meant there was always something you could find to improve your daily routine. And there’s always been at least one of their products on my bathroom shelf ever since. Their Geranium and Orange Shower Gel is, without doubt, one of the best body products out there and regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, you’re a mug if you don’t try the Frankincense Hydrating Cream. But despite the odd product and gift set aimed at men there was no dedicated real range for men’s skin. Until now.

prod_2412This month sees the launch of a whole array of specially  formulated (and packaged) men’s products under the banner of NYR Men. Of all the products, the Purifying Face Wash, Calming After Shave Balm and Revitalising Face Scrub are probably the must-haves but it all smells good, feels good on the skin and, crucially,  does exactly what it says on the beautiful blue bottle. What’s more, the labels tell you how much of each product is certified organic. Great stuff.

For more info and to get your hands on the gear go to:

www.nealsyardremedies.com

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