The Grooming Guru wins a Fashion Monitor Journalism Award!

The Fashion Monitor Journalism Awards 2013Like 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.

FM AWARD 2Thankfully, 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.

Niven & Joshua named Best Grooming Website at the annual P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards

Although I’m famously sceptical about awards I’m with actor Peter Ustinov when it comes to accepting them. “To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal,” he once said. So with that in mind, I’ll simply say how nice it is to be part of the amazing team that helped Niven & Joshua win the Best Grooming Website Award at the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards 2013 yesterday. There, acceptance speech done. And not a tear in sight. They didn’t even play the music over me.

P&G copy

The Grooming Guru links up with Spa InterContinental at The InterContinental Hotel, Park Lane

A few months ago I began talking to the people at The InterContinental Hotel in London’s exclusive Park Lane about working with them to devise some specially-tailored spa treatments for men.

The epitome of modern elegance, it’s a hotel that manages to combine luxury with uncluttered, airy fuctionaility – qualities I personally love in a hotel. It also happens to have one of the best (and least intimidating) spas in London with state-of-the art facilities, some beautifully designed treatment rooms and a fantastic VIP treatment suite for couples. And then there’s the dry flotation bed. But more about that anon.

The project was quite an interesting one for me for one simple reason: I’m actually no fan of spa treatments. You may think this a disadvantage, given the nature of the link up. To me, though, it was the very reason I wanted to get involved. The challenge, as I saw it, wasn’t just to help devise treatments that InterContinental customers would like, but ones that I would too. No mean feat, given how fussy I am, trust me.

My starting point was to contextualise the treatments so that guys would actually know why they were having them. I’m fantastically practical and don’t do “pampering” per se. If I have a treatment I want it to be results-driven and for a reason. I also want it to fit into whatever I happen to be doing at the time. If I’m jetlagged but have a meeting or a function to attend, for example, I want something to perk me up. Equally, if I had a presentation to give or a job interview to attend I’d want a treatment that would ensure I looked my absolute best by leaving no stone unturned!

So as well as featuring traditional male favouries such as a Deep Tissue Massage and an Invigorating Back Scrub the spa now offers a series of special ‘Pit-Stop’ treatments to prepare you for the day ahead, whether that’s for business or pleasure (or both!). The Pre-Business Pit-Stop treatment, for example, focuses on detail and is designed to ensure men with important meetings or presentations look their absolute best (it even attends to stray ear, nose and eyebrow hairs). There’s even a Post-Business Pit-Stop that helps you unwind after you’ve sealed the deal.

The Pre-Date Perfection treatment, meanwhile, is a one-stop, top-to-toe treatment including a perfection facial, lip treatment, manicure, pedicure, full body scrub, spot wax for unwanted hair and an ear, nose and brow tidy.

There are also two special treatments for travellers – The Instant Energizer (the ultimate wake-up call if you’re jet lagged but need to get on with things) and The Instant Relaxer. Both include specially-tailored facials but also utilize the spa’s unmissable dry floation bed. Providing the ultimate power nap, lying in it for 20 minutes feels like getting a full two hours hours sleep and the moment I tried it I wanted to have one installed in my own home.

One of the main attractions about working with the InterContinental and Spa Manager Radhika has been the fact that all the treatments use Elemis skincare products. One of my all-time favourite brands it’s a total joy to have had the chance to incorporate their high-performance products into the ‘Pit-Stops’ and travel treatments.

The treatments launch officially on 15th August and range in price between £65 and £180 but you can give any of them a whirl right now, whether you’re a hotel guest or not. For more information click here.

The Great Groom Off: The Grooming Guru v Will Fennell

I’ve given lots of interviews in the ten years or so I’ve been writing about male grooming but the one conducted by Australian Beauty & Grooming Expert Will Fennell for DNA magazine has definitely been the most fun.

More a playful game of tag than an interview I found it hugely entertaining to take part in (and as a journalist I don’t say that often) and though being pictured next to Will was always going to leave me looking decidedly like ‘the ugly friend’ I thought I’d share it with you anyway. So if you fancy reading it click DNA INTERVIEW 147. And no, that’s not my quote about the flashlight by the way!

Grooming Guru makes PinkNews.co.uk’s most influential LGBT Twitter users of 2011 list

Hello and welcome to the first of my posts for 2012. It’s been a while since I posted last (I was taking a few weeks off to consume Maltesers and Licorice Allsorts) but the year certainly ended on a high with news that Grooming_Guru (my Twitter alias) made PinkNews.co.uk‘s most influential LGBT Twitter users of 2011 list.

Nestling at No. 31 I’m extremely flattered and honoured to be included. Mind you, not everyone is as impressed. One critic of the list publically describes those of us on it as as nothing more than a bunch of ‘mouthy twats’. This clearly cannot be true. I know this for a fact because if it was I would most definitely have cracked the Top 10.

To follow me on Twitter click here

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.

The Grooming Guru joins Niven & Joshua

I’m very please to announce that I have now joined leading online men’s grooming retailer Niven & Joshua as Lifestyle & Grooming Editor. Not only will I be reviewing some of my favourite products for them, I’ll also be providing ‘how to’ guides, explaining the the ins and outs of skin, hair and bodycare and will be on-hand to answer those niggling grooming questions too.

I’ll still be carrying on with all my other stuff, of course, but with online business booming  I can’t think of a better time to be joining such a cool grooming website. So if you’re interested in looking good make sure you check it out!