I was going to compile my Top 5 fragrances for Autumn for a blogpost on here but since Men’s Health pipped me to the post and asked me to compile a list for them I thought I may as well simply share the link with you. So to discover why I think Dsqared’s Potion is magical and Roja Dove’s Danger Pour Homme is positively pornographic simply click here!
Call me an old hippy but I am utterly in love with the smell of patchouli oil. When I was a teenager is was the the preserve of festival goers, bikers and those with a penchant for gypsy skirts and gong therapy. In truthfulness, it still is. And yet, it’s also wonderful addition to any man’s bathroom cabinet.
One of the signature basenotes of many men’s fragrances – not least two of my all-time favourites, Givenchy Gentleman and Le Labo Patchouli 24 – it has a delightfully earthy, musty, masculine aroma that’s long lasting and (to me at least) fantastically sexy.
I often use a few drops as an alternative to traditional fragrance (as with most essential oils you should dilute it with a little carrier oil though I seem to be able to use it neat on my skin without problems).
It also has the advantage of being very portable so is great for travel too. I’ve also found that a few drops on your ankles and wrists in the summer seems to guard against mosquito bites! The biggest advantage, though, is the price. At less than £7 a bottle this one is a brilliant recession-busting alternative to those £40 eau de toilettes.
Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Patchouli Essential Oil costs £6.75 from Neal’s Yard Remedies
Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.
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.
I’ve said on many occasions that Aramis is one of my favourite fragrances ever. Launched in the mid-sixties (only a few years before I myself was ‘launched’) it’s a truly iconic fragrance – warm, sexy and ferocioulsy masculine. The fact that it’s still around all these years later is a testament to its enduring appeal and how fundamentally right it is as a fragrance. As a brand, I’ve always thought it rather stood apart from the crass commercialism of some of the other large fragrance brands too, eschewing D-list actors and flavour-of-the-moment pop stars.
So it was with mixed feelings that I watched the launch of it’s new TV and ad campaign featuring Brit model Paul Sculfor last week. I might not wholly approve but I can hardly blame Aramis for wanting to get a ‘face’ to front the brand in the run-up to the lucrative Christmas market. It’s completely ‘of the moment’ to do so and in an increasingly-competitive marketplace one of the easiest – cynics might say laziest – ways to catch a customer’s eye.
What’s fascinating, though, is the absence of women from the majority of male fragrance print ads thesedays (a woman is nowhere to be seen in the Aramis print ad and she’s barely there in the TV one). Is it a sign, perhaps, that men no longer want to buy fragrances simply to get the girl but to be attractive and desirable for themselves? In today’s ads the man is the object. You want to be him, have a meaningful bromance with him, rather than have his power over women.
Or is it simply because a huge percentage of men’s fragrances are still bought by women? I mean, what better way to attract a female buyer than with an ad featuring an attractive man but no competing female? Answers on a postcard please – or in the comments section on here if it’s easier.
What also struck me about this campaign – from the moment the ad and slogan were unveiled at the swanky W Hotel – is how seventies it is. It so reminds me of those ads I grew up with as a child – you know the ones with slogans like ‘the scent of a man’, which is why I called this post ‘back to the future’. Whether the ad’s retro feel is intentional or not I don’t know, though I certainly hope it is or some poor soul in the ad agency is stuck in a Gene Hunt-style timewarp.
I must confess I have absolutely no idea what ‘all a man is’ means and frankly, don’t have the energy or inclination to figure it out either. Actually, I suspect that, like so many catchy slogans it simply sounds good without meaning anything at all, in the same way that some works of art are compelling but intentionally impenetrable to prevent mere mortals from picking them to pieces and exposing their faults. Still, the reassuring thing is that Aramis the fragrance is good enough to rise above such fluff and ephemeral marketing to retain its place in the pantheon of truly great men’s fragrances.
For anyone who missed my piece in the Telegraph Style Supplement, you can read it by clicking on the image below.
Oh, and here’s a little paragraph that ended up on the paper’s cutting room floor but which I think gives you an insight into why I fear anything to do with hair restoration!
“This is certainly a far cry from the days when men either reluctantly accepted baldness or threw caution, along with self-respect, to the wind and donned a toupée – an accessory guaranteed to elicit derision and terrify small children. I myself am psychologically scarred after seeing corner shop owner Arthur Moore’s syrup tumble into a crate of apples when I was a seven year old (I thought the top of his head had fallen off).”
Harrods has to be one of the most famous department stores in the world and also happens to be a great destination for all your grooming gear too. And next time you there why not pick up a copy of Harrods Magazine? Yours truly has just started a monthly column for it, featuring some of the very best male grooming products the store has to offer. To see the kind of thing I’ll be doing simply click on the image above.
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!
There are few products I elevate to true Must Have status but this pocket-sized mattifing gel by Givenchy is one of them. Though I generally have skin comparable in texture to your average rice cracker I do occassionally suffer from what I call ‘chip shop chops’ (look, I’m Northerner ok? It’s how we talk). This most often manifests itself in a nose so greasy you could probably cook a full english on it.
This genius little mattifying primer from Givenchy, however, is the perfect antidote, absorbing excess oil and generally leaving skin looking much-improved – kind of like Photoshop in a tube.
Several of the products in the Mister range were marketed directly at men last year (the matt black packinging and ‘Mister’ moniker helps) but having the words ‘Matte-finish make up gel’ kind of gives the game away that it’s essentially for women. Still, why should the girls have all the best products?
Worth trying too, by the way, is the new Mister Radiant – a product containing tiny microbeads of pigment along with ones containing vitamin E to improve the appearance of the skin and give it some subtle colour.
Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.
Admittedly, I expected smelling worse than a Ginsters pasty on a Tube train to be high up on the list but I also expected dandruff (up until now considered to be a contraceptive as effective as Durex) to garner a higher percentage of the score. But no, of the 512 people who voted the second worst grooming crime was dirty fingernails, with hairy backs a distant fourth and not quite the ‘scary backs’ I would have thought. Anyway, here’s how the votes stacked up, along with a few tips on how to ensure you don’t end up another nasty statistic.
The worst grooming male grooming crimes
Bad body odour 45% Apart from the obvious advice of using a good anti-perspirant (I like Sanex For Men which offers great protection but is gentle on the skin) a really good tip is to trim your pit hair. Less hair means less surface area for the bacteria that cause BO to live on. Since you’re not a prima ballerina there’s no need to shave it – a neat trim is fine.
Dirty fingernails 27% Every women I’ve ever talked to hates a man with dirty fingernails but sorting them out is so simple. Keep them neatly trimmed (it’ll minimise the risk of dirt collecting under them) and invest in a good quality manicure set. I like the Japonesque Manicure set (£19 from www.japonesque.com) . Honestly, it’s not rocket science is it?
Dandruff 13% Treat the flakes with an anti-dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders For Men and read my ‘How to deal with dandruff’ post here.
Hairy Back 9% Avoid shaving (it’s itchy and if you try yourself you’ll probably dislocate your shoulder) and rope in a willing accomplice to remove it with Veet For Men Wax strips. Spraying the area with an anticeptic spray like Elemis’ Tea Tree SOS Spray can help soothe and protect skin afterwards.
Dirty Neck 5% Oh please. Just wash it you mucky bugger. With that stuff called water. And a bit of soap.
A little while back I gave a quick interview for James Read’s excellent site The Tantalist, which is the insider’s guide to all things self-tanning. To read the interview in full click here.