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!

Everything you always wanted to know about facial hair but were too afraid to ask

With Movember finally upon us I thought it’d be a good time to pull together a trio of columns I wrote for the Men’s Health website on the subject of facial hair. So if you’re giving a Mo a go, then check out this sound advice…

How to look after a moustache. Click here.

How do I look after my beard? Click here.

How to prevent beard dandruff. Click here.

PS. If you think Mo’s can’t look cool take a quick look at this post.

Ask the Guru: Can I dye my moustache?

One of the main excuses for not growing facial hair is that men don’t like the colour of it. For some, it’s the fact that flecks of grey give the game away about their age. For others it’s simply that their facial hair is ginger (personally I don’t get why this is a problem but then I do have a touch of the copper in my own facial fuzz). Anyway, if this is the only thing putting you off growing a moustache this Movember then there is an answer – just dye it!

What you need, however, is a dye that’s specially formulated for facial hair which tends to be courser than the stuff on your bonce. I like Trevor Sorbie MG Beard, Moustache & Sideburn Colours (£7.45 from trevorsorbie.com) which are a cinch to use, work in just five minutes and give great results. You simply mix the contents of the two tubes to activate the dye, apply with the small brush provided and rinse off.  If you’re just dying your ‘tache you’ll probably get three or more applications from it too so it’s pretty good value. They appear to work well on body hair as well, should ever you ever feel the need to disguise the grey chest hair. Etc.

So that’s one excuse dealt with for not growing that Mo! Next!

The Grooming Guru’s Top 5 Autumnal Fragrances

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!

Grooming Guru Essentials: Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Patchouli Essential Oil

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.

Grill the guru at the Handpicked Media Gets Social conference!

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.

Aramis: back to the future with ‘all a man is’ campaign

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.