Check out The Grooming Guru’s new column in Harrods Magazine

 

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.

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!

Why those finishing touches always matter when it comes to male grooming

A while ago I was asked to edit a little digital magazine on the importance of male grooming (and those finishing touches that make all the difference) on behalf of ClarinsMen, in association with Men’s Health where I’m Online Grooming Ed. In a world where we’re constantly being scrutinised – by potential employers or potential partners – attention to detail has never been more important.  So if you fancy having a read of the booklet yourself simply click on the image below.

Grooming Guru poll reveals top five male grooming crimes

A while back a ran a poll on here to discover what readers of The Grooming Guru considered their worst male grooming crimes to be. Actually, the results surprised me somewhat.

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.

Grooming Guru Guides – get your feet ready for sandal weather

Anyone who follows me on Twitter (if you don’t look me up @grooming_guru) will know that my real bete noire is men in flip flops. Not men in flip flops on beaches – that’s fine. Not men wearing flip flops at home either. I can even excuse men who pop to the local shop for a pint of milk in them. But men wearing flip flops around town instead of shoes is a mortal fashion crime as far as I’m concerned.

Australians doing this I can forgive, because the flip-flop (or ‘thong’ as they say down under) is practically national costume but English men, with their flithy, sooty soles and gnarly trotters? No.  

So my fashion advice is to buy some decent summer footwear (Birkenstocks will do) and attend to those terrible trotters! And just in case you need a little help, here’s how to get yourself a pair of ‘plates’ you can be proud of…

Step 1: Exfoliate

Most men neglect their feet something rotten (and I chose my words carefully) during the winter and that plays havoc with their appearance come the strip-off season. Ill-fitting shoes, poor maintenance and general wear-and-tear cause calluses to build up on the heels and skin becomes dry, rough and unsightly.

To remedy this start by removing dead skin and calluses with a pumice stone or a foot file like the Margaret Dabbs Abrasive Foot File . Not only will removing this dead skin make your feet look better it’ll make them healthier too since, if left, dead skin can become soggy, making it the perfect home for bacteria and fungal spores. If you’re on a beach, by the way, try gently exfoliating feet with some wet sand – it’s a great way to remove any dead skin.

Step 2: Moisturise

Just as your mush needs moisturising, so do your feet. In fact, our extremities often have some of the driest skin on our bodies. But since the skin on your feet can be up to four times thicker than the stuff on your face you need a specially formulated foot moisturiser. I like Australian Bodycare Hand & Foot Cream  which is particularly good because it also contains anti-bacterial Tea Tree Oil to keep feet fresh and healthy.

Step 3: Trim

Toenails, like fingernails, tend to act as advertisments for your grooming routine. Neglect them and it says you don’t care about the finer details – or (worse still) the bits of you that aren’t on display. So keep your tonenails looking tip-top by investing in good quality pair of toenail clippers like Mekur’s Toe Nail Clippers. Start by soaking your feet in warm water for a while to soften the nails – this will make them much easier to cut.

Then cut each nail straight across the top, from edge to edge and avoid cutting down the side of the nails as this will only encourage the nail to grow inwards. If you’re a perfectionist, it’s worth spending a couple of minutes gently softening the edges with Boots’ 4 Way Buffer Block.

STEP 4: Protect.

Unlike hands our feet barely see the light of day for most of the year making them especially vulnerable to sunburn. What’s more, studies have shown that the survival rate of patients with malignant melanoma of the foot is significantly lower than if the melanoma is elsewhere on the body – partly because we simply don’t spot them in time. So check your feet regularly for any unusual moles and if you’re heading for the beach, or are just heading out in the sun wearing sandals don’t forget to protect feet with a sun cream.

STEP 4:  Finishing touches.

If feet are particularly palid on their first unveiling you can try giving them some temporary colour with a tinted moisturiser like Botanics Instant Glow Tinted Moisturiser. Because it’s not a fake tan you won’t get streaks but it will give you some subtle colour – and you can easily wash it off at the end of each day. And finally (and I know this is a subject that scares a lot of women) there’s the question of hair toes. In reality hairy toes are actually healthy toes, indicating there’s good circulation down there, but if you do want to remove the fur whatever you do don’t shave – it’ll leave stubble. Instead use small amount of Veet Hair Removal Cream or a Wax Strip.

And with that you’re done. Fantastic feet ready for anything. Except flip flops, obviously.

Note: If you suffer from diabetes, haemophilia or circulatory problems consult your doctor before using pedicure tools.


Grooming Guru Essentials: Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene

Probably the most common question I’m asked as a grooming writer is what fragrance I wear. Like most people I wear a few but my all-time favourite is Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel.

Geoffrey  himself (and I’ve put so much money into his estate’s pocket I feel entitled to dispense with surnames) was an American designer, big in the States but less well known over here, whose clients included President’s wives to A-list celebrities.  Grey Flannel, lunched back in 1976, was his first and most successful male fragrance. I initially came across it back in 1985, following an advertising blitz in some of the UK’s earliest male style mags. The ad itself, featuring a naked James Dean lookalike, was remarkably  bold for its time , though very ‘Athena’, and though I’ve searched high and low to find it for this post I’ve failed so if anyone has a pic let me know.

Anyway, Grey Flannel rapidly became my own signature scent, so much so that I’m still wearing it today, more than 25 years later. Sure, I flirt with other fragrances but I always come back to Grey Flannel, which like the fabric itself, is a trusty, reliable and hard-wearing. And when I say hard-wearing I mean it in both senses because as I’ve discovered, Grey Flannel can be a difficult fragrance to wear.

With an sweet note of violet, along with citrussy orange and neroil,  oakmoss and a warm, masculine sandalwood base it’s distinctly floral (think parma violets and you’re halfway there) which means it isn’t the kind of thing every man’s going to love. In fact when I wrote about it for a grooming retail site a while back a customer shot back with a review so at odds with my own it had me in stitches: “Grey Flannel,” he wrote, “is by far the worst scent I have ever come across and believe me, I’ve come across some stinkers in my time!  It bears a remarkable resemblance to ‘Raid’ pest killer.”

Of course, I’m totally unfazed by this damning indictment. For me, the test of a great fragrance is not how it unites people in praise but how much it polarises them. So go on, give Grey Flannel a go. I dare you.

Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.