We all know how draining the festive season can be and so it seems do Clarins, who have just released a special skincare survival kit to help men get through the post-Christmas period looking half-decent. Available exclusively from Selfridges and selfridges.com the £65 kit features 12 skincare heroes hidden behind advent calendar doors that start on Christmas Day. If you’re a Clarins fan that represents a saving of £27 compared to the price of buying the products individually, so even if you can’t be bothered with the gimmicky advent calendar aspect (and I can’t say I would be) it’s still a great buy. Since it’s boxed and good-to-go it makes a fantastic gift too.
Whether you’re an active guy who likes to be in the great outdoors or one who has to walk the dog on cold and windy autumnal nights it’s important to protect your skin and hair from the elements. So here’s a little top-to-toe survival guide I wrote for Mr. Porter. To read it and find out what products I recommend click here.
As much as I love Comme des Garçons fragrances their last few offerings (Wonderwood, Amazingreen, Blue Santal) haven’t been ones I’d personally wear. So it’s exciting (not to mention somewhat of a relief) to discover that their latest one, Blackpepper, most definitely is. As a note, black pepper is somewhat ubiquitous in men’s fragrances these days but it’s normally tucked away so its presence rarely hits you like a vigorous twist of a pepper mill. In Blackpepper, however, you get a big old, nostril-tingling hit, tempered eventually by cedarwood (the other big note in this fragrance) which softens it beautifully. A touch of patchouli and a little tonka bean round the whole thing out, making Blackpepper, not just super-spicy, but surprisingly sexy too. One of my favourite launches of 2016.
Available exclusively at Selfridges until October and nationwide thereafter, priced £83 for 100ml eau de parfum.
Creating the story and campaign for a new fragrance is never easy. Having helped create a few of them myself in the past I know this all too well. When they succeed they do so because of clarity of thought and of message and because they tap into the current zeitgeist. So how well the new Versace fragrance Dylan Blue campaign will fare remains to be seen because messages there are aplenty. And none of them are all that great.
Looking at the campaign as a whole (one lovingly shot by Bruce Weber, in a masturbatory style that’s steadfastly Nineties) it’s a bag of contradictions: on one hand we have the ‘modernity’ of a same-sex kiss (the inclusion of which we’re either supposed to shocked by or grateful for, I’m not sure which) and on the other some woefully archaic views about women (“As dad always used to say… you can’t live with women and you can’t live without them”). There are a couple of corkers about men too, including the cringeworthy “I learned at a young age not to show any weakness”. The video meanwhile lacks but one thing: the kitchen sink. It’s hetero yet homo; violent yet tender; old-fashioned yet throughly modern. It has girls, it has boys. It has boxers, it has bikes. It has… oh well, you get the picture.
Personally, I find much of this mind-numbingly naff and I’m at a loss as to why a campaign for a fragrance ever needs to show a woman kicking a man down a flight of stairs or feels the need to use the words “she doesn’t seem to know I exist except when she’s kicking me in the head”. But just in case this woman – called Gigi – has men quaking in their boots/slingbacks the campaign takes pains to reassure them she has her limitations. “She can out kick-box any of the smaller guys,” says the blurb (the bigger ones clearly being too much of a challenge of her). Billie Jean King would not be pleased.
To me, the apparent “kiss and make up” theme of the campaign also has uncomfortable associations with the destructive hit me/kiss me cycle in much domestic violence (the boxer kisses his opponent before delivering a knock out blow and Gigi can kiss as good as she can kick). Am I’m being over sensitive? A bit too PC for my own good? Perhaps, but following on the heels of the appalling marketing of Azzaro Wanted I’m seriously beginning to wonder where fragrance advertising is heading right now. “Dylan Blue is the essence of the Versace Man today,” says Donatella Versace. Well, if that’s the man of today I’m truly fearful about what the one tomorrow will look like if he buys into this particular kind of advertising.
Grooming Boxes (collections of skin care and hair care products compiled as kits) are, at best, a bit hit and miss. Many I have encountered are skimpy, over-priced and badly curated. These are criticisms it’s impossible to level at Mr Porter‘s grooming boxes, however, because they’re by far the most artfully edited boxes out there. Their brand new Summer Grooming Kit, for example, features well-known brands like Clinique For Men, Tom Ford and Lab Series alongside cult ones like Bumble & Bumble, Czech & Speake and Baxter Of California and lesser known luxury brands like Patricks, which you may not have heard about but should definitely become acquainted with. All in all the kit features 13 full and travel-sized products (there’s a Perricone MD Cold Plasma sample which isn’t in the pic because I used it straight away) and costs £75. If that seems like a hefty initial outlay, consider this: the Clinique, Lab Series and REN products alone are worth £97. If you fancy getting your hands on one, though, don’t spend too long thinking about it – they tend to sell out faster than tickets to see Adele.
Mr Porter’s Summer Grooming Kit is available now from mrporter.com
For men, the quest to find the perfect sunscreen isn’t always as straightforward as one might think. With our skin both oilier and hairier than women’s, the texture and stickiness of products if often a deciding ‘factor’ (if you’ll forgive the pun) in our choices; the ideal product being something that offers high SPF, broad-spectrum protection but which is lightweight, non-greasy and transparent on the skin. And
in terms of what men need from their suncare FIT Skincare‘s new Sun Protect Serum is a product that ticks every box.
The first sunscreen serum created for men, it offers a broad spectrum, five star UVA rated, SPF 50 sunscreen to protect you from both the sun’s burning UVB rays and the UVA ones that age your skin; it leaves absolutely no greasy or unsightly white residue (if anything it leaves skin with a matte finish) and has a barely there fragrance that vanishes altogether after a couple of minutes. This last bit is a big bonus in my book since I’ve worn sun products in the past that smelt of everything from Digestive biscuits to – nightmarishly – curry powder. The scent of one I road-tested a couple of years ago mysteriously attracted so many flies I looked like Pig Pen from Peanuts!
On top of these pluses FIT’s Sun Protect Serum uses cutting-edge ‘micro encapsulation technology’ that helps provide more evenly spread protection and also contains antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and FIT’s unique OXY-FIT-10 oxygen delivery system – a few bonus features that help defend against the dehydrating and DNA-damaging effects of the sun. In terms of summer skincare it way well be your ultimate defence shield.
FIT Sun Protect Serum SPF50 is available now from fitskincare.co.uk
A Grooming Guru/FIT Skincare For Men Sponsored Post
I’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.