Lab Series aim sky high with new ‘MAXELLENCE’ collection

maxellenceWith the economy finally picking up (sort of) it’s not surprising that a lot of skincare brands are eyeing-up consumers’ fatter-looking wallets and launching high-end products to empty them come payday. That Lab Series – one of my favourite skincare brands – should be one of them is a bit of a surprise, though, because I’ve always thought of them as a fairly democratic brand and they already have a premium MAX LS range for those willing to pay a little more for their skincare.

In January, however, they’re set to launch the MAXELLENCE collection – a pair of products that best even the MAX LS range’s premium price point. The new products – The Dual Concentrate (a serum which hydrates, firms an supports collagen production) and The Singular Cream (which moisturises skin and is infused with ‘galactic meteorite extract from the heart of an asteroid’) – cost a cool £130 and £105 respectively. Or, since they’re designed to be used together, a whopping £235.

The justification for this high price is twofold. Firstly, they’re using ingredients from outer space (the meteorite extract is rich in two – very earthly –  ingredients, calcium and magnesium, which assist skin function) and secondly the products themselves are made in small batches (a key plank of modern hipsterism). As you might expect, there’s only one logical stockist for MAXELLENCE outside of the Lab Series website and that’s Harrods – a store where price is always paramount.

max-lab-1The question is: are they any good? Having used them for a week I can tell you they certainly do the job though the concentrate doesn’t seem all that different to Lab Series’ excellent Future Rescue Repair Serum whilst The Singular Cream, isn’t dissimilar in feel to their Age Rescue+ Water-Charged Gel Cream. What really marks these new additions out, apart from some of the ingredients, is their fancy packaging and the colour of the products themselves: the lid of The Singular Cream, for example, is designed to look a bit like a meteorite while the cream itself is grey and the concentrate is both grey and white and is mixed at the point of delivery. As someone who associates Lab Series with no-fuss, almost clinical, functionality I personally find these new products oddly (and unnecessarily) gimmicky as well as expensive. They may be boldly going where few skincare brands have gone before but, for once, I’m not entirely sure whether I’m prepared to join them on the journey.

Lab Series MAXELLENCE The Dual Concentrate and The Singular Cream will be available from Harrods and online at labseries.co.uk from January. 

Bulldog win coveted Sainsbury’s Beauty Award

sba20161027_176The other week I was lucky enough to present the Best Male Product Award at  Sainsbury’s annual Beauty Awards – an event hosted by the very lovely (and very pregnant) Kimberely Walsh. As one of this year’s judges I was extremely impressed at the level of competition in this particular category and was honoured to present 2016’s award to British brand Bulldog, for their best-selling Original Moisturiser.

original-moisturiser_1_1A product I’ve long championed as one of the best mass-market moisturisers out there it was great to see so many of the other judges rate it so highly too.  At just £6, it’s also one of the best-value skincare products for men so if you haven’t tried it yet do pop one in your basket next time you’re out shopping for your dinner.

A complete list of this year’s winners can be found here.

GT Shopping: a one-stop destination for all your style and grooming gear

gt-shoppingWhen it comes to looking good and dressing well we all know that it’s all about the edit: about choosing just the right products for your skin, a fragrance that reflects your personality and clothes that suit your very personal sense of style. But with so much out there to choose from it’s sometimes difficult to know where to begin when picking out the perfect moisturiser, fragrance or new winter jacket. Which is where GT Shopping comes in handy. A new site in partnership with Gay Times Magazine, it helpfully points you in the direction of the very best fragrances, skincare products and grooming gadgets on the market (along with some of the most stylish menswear picks and a whole lot more)  so you don’t have to go trawling  the internet to find just the product you’re after.

gt-page-1A lot of the products I mention in my monthly male grooming column in GT can be found there but that’s just the tip of the iceberg and you don’t have to be a reader to use the site, though there is an option on there to subscribe to the mag and get regular (very useful) style updates if you wish.

So whether you’re looking the perfect new fragrance for yourself  (bottle of Tom Ford  For Men anyone?), something to wear for an upcoming party or are looking for the perfect gift for a loved one GT Shopping is the place to head. To see what’s on offer go to shopping.gaytimes.co.uk.

 

A Grooming Guru/Octer Sponsored Post

Clarins launch 12 Days of Christmas survival kit for men

clarins-mens-advent-calendar-selfridges-exclusive-65We 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.

Spice up your life with Comme des Garçons’ latest fragrance

COMME BLACK PEPPER 2As 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. 

Versace’s Dylan Blue delivers a knockout blow to decent fragrance advertising

versace (1)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.

versace dylan blue (1)