Harry’s team up with Highsnobiety for limited edition razor

The grooming industry collab is, at best, a bit of a hit and miss affair. Get it right and it offers brands a chance to unravel their particular DNA helix, swap some genetic information and create something new that benefits both. Get it wrong and, well, we all know what happened when Paul McCartney teamed up with Stevie Wonder at that grand piano.

Grooming brand Harry’s are clearly aware of the inherent dangers of collaborating because they do it infrequently and wisely when they do. Most recently they teamed up with US facialists Heyday – a brand big in the States if not the U.K. – to create a superb limited edition Detoxifying Face Mask which sold out even before I got chance to write about it. (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they bring it back because it was top-notch.) And now they’ve worked with super-chic online publication Highsnobiety to create a very special razor and accompanying stand.

To be fair, Harry’s have a history of creating eye-catching razor handles (their rainbow one for Pride last year was exceptional) but this one – a rubberised, translucent take on the brand’s classic ‘Truman’ handle –  might actually be my favourite so far. Minimal and unfussy, with a transparent tip and subtle-but-stylish touches like the two blue dots on the underside of the handle, it comes with a matte black, laser-etched stand and is, as you might expect for a collab with one of the world’s edgiest style publications, as cool as f*ck. Not a bad swap of DNA then – and one that’s clearly much better than Ebony & Ivory.

The limited edition Harry’s x Highsnobiety set is available from Harrys.com priced £29.

[NB. Harry’s have gifted me product for review purposes.]

Men’s wellness brand hims launches in UK

The men’s wellness market has certainly come on in leaps and bounds in the past few years. Back in the early noughties, when I was Deputy Editor of Men’s Health, I wrote about hairloss and erectile dysfunction treatments as if they were exotic, last resort options for a select number of men who had the money and wherewithal to obtain them. Frankly, back then, seeking out treatments for these everyday issues felt less like tackling a common problem and more like scoring drugs.

Thankfully, things have changed considerably in the 19 years that have passed since then; not only in terms of the level of stigma attached to these common male problems (men are now far more likely to ‘fess up to being concerned about hair loss than before) but in how easy it is to access effective remedies. Sales of Viagra rocketed to £4.3 millon in the U.K. in the three months after it finally became available over the counter here so to say that there’s a market out there for wellbeing products aimed at men is an understatement.

Which is where hims comes in. Already well-established in the USA, the online personal wellness experts provide a one-stop-shop for men’s wellness and personal care needs, offering access to both Sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) and Finasteride (a proven-to-work hairloss treatments) without you having to rock up at your local pharmacist and tell the counter assistant (along with the entire queue of people behind you) that you’re worried about your hairline or the angle of your chopper. There’s a small initial one-off medical consultation fee, which is there for regulatory reasons and because it’s important to have your order signed of by a medical expert, but after that you’re good to go as long as your eligible to use the products.

The company’s arrival in the UK kicks off with them tackling hair loss and erectile dysfunction but they’ll soon be offering a raft of reasonably priced personal care products too (think everything from shampoo and acne treatments to useful daily supplements). I’ve tried some of these and love the no-frills-but-cool-as-f**k packaging and the quality of the products. The antioxidant-packed Immunity gummies are great (though could be improved by not using animal-sourced gelatin which renders them inappropriate for veggies and vegans) and the Vitamin C-rich Morning Glow Serum provides the perfect pep talk for tired skin and has instantly become part of my daily routine. (It’s especially good when you have a hangover.) To find out more about what hims has to offer you head over to forhims.co.uk

 

Gifted review samples of selected Hims products were sent to me for consideration. 

Terre d’Hermès 2019 Limited Edition: showing that bottles can be beautiful

It’s a conundrum all successful fragrance brands have to contend with these days: how do you maintain interest in your product, especially if that product has been around for a while and hasn’t actually changed for yonks?

Thirty years ago this wasn’t a consideration in the same way it is today. For one thing, there weren’t as many brands competing for the same shelf space as there are now. There certainly weren’t as many launches and there were far fewer ‘flankers’ (variations on particularly successful fragrances) too. Most significantly, though, people didn’t have such short attention spans back then. We didn’t crave newness in quite the same way as we do now but, hey, that’s marketing and the mind-altering effects of social media for you.

Anyway, given that keeping interest going in your brand is so essential today you can see why many fragrance houses look to special limited editions to keep things fresh and dynamic and to grab a few column inches or, given the industry’s current obsession, Instagram stories. A few brands are masters of this (Gaultier and Dunhill to name two) but this year’s Limited Edition bottle of Terre d’Hermès is a masterclass in how to make an old bottle look both irresistible and collectible with just a few simple tweaks.

The work of English designer and illustrator Liubov Edwards, the bottle design features a raft of small metallic squares and diamonds positioned on transparent glass. Only half of the bottle is printed on each side giving a clever three-dimensional aspect to the design and, if you look carefully, forming a letter H. It’s brilliantly thought out and executed (the  fragrance is all about the elements and the diamonds are meant to represent squares distorted by the wind) and, for me at least, is reminiscent of the early work of iconic graphic designer Peter Saville, particularly his work on early OMD record sleeves.

The fragrance itself, of course, is amazing (it’s one of the few contemporary fragrances worthy of the label ‘classic’) so the limited edition bottle is really just the icing on the cake, making it the perfect purchase for existing Terre fans whose current bottle is running a little low, or for those with slightly shorter attention spans just looking for something eye-catching to grace their bedroom dressing table. Influencers will be pleased to know it’s a dream to photograph too.

 

The 2019 Limited Edition version of Terre d’Hermès is available from February as both an eau de toilette and eau de parfum. 

Note: all products are sent to me as review samples from brands and PR agencies unless otherwise stated.

 

Lab Series launch eight-hour oil control system

When it comes to combatting oil and shine – one of men’s biggest skincare concerns – high performance skincare specialists Lab Series have always led the way. They were one of the first major male grooming brands to launch a dedicated oil control range and now they’ve launched a new three-step, 8-hour oil control system, consisting of three core products.

You start your grease-busting regime with the new Oil Control Clay Cleanser + Mask, which eliminates grease and grime without leaving skin feeling dry and tight, then use the Oil Control Clearing Solution to remove any remaining oil and dead skin cells (you’ll need some cotton pads for this) and finish off with the Oil Control Daily Moisturiser – an oil-free hydrator that keep skin shine-free for up to eight hours.

Of the three products, the Clay Cleanser + Mask is probably the most interesting (the other two existed in slightly different forms in  Lab Series’ existing Oil Control range). A money-and-space-saving 2-in-1 product, it can be used as a straight-forward cleanser but also as an oil-absorbing face mask to give skin a deep clean and unclog pores. To use, you simply apply a thin layer once or twice a week and leave on for five minutes before washing off – the detoxifying Amazonian white clay and dead cell-dislodging salicylic acid in the mask do the rest.

With men’s skin naturally oiler than women’s and everything from heat and friction to sun and stress known triggers for oil production, a range like this is one of the best insurance policies a man has against oil slick skin and a shiny schnoz. You don’t even have to have excessively oily skin to benefit from the range. Now that I’m a bit older my skin isn’t nearly as greasy as it used to be (oil production slows down as you age) but the Oil Control Moisturiser is a godsend for when little patches of shine do appear (I just apply a little to problem areas around the nose and forehead before I go out) and I find the Clay Cleanser + Mask a little less aggressive than some other oil-absorbing masks on the market, so it might be worth a try if other masks have left you, quite literally, a little red-faced.

Lab Series’ new 8-Hour Oil Control System is available now. 

Lab Series launch multifunctional Grooming Oil

Of all the mainstream premium grooming brands, Lab Series is possibly my favourite. Innovative, trend-setting and cutting-edge, its products are as interesting as they are effective – as is the case with their brand new offering: The Grooming Oil. The latest salvo in the battle to make grooming routines less complicated and bathroom shelves less cluttered, it’s a multi-functional little wonder that serves, not only as a shave oil, but as a beard and stubble oil too. It can even be used as a pre-shave cushion beneath your regular shave cream or gel to give you enhanced razor glide.

Lightweight and non-greasy, with a barely-there fragrance, it features a trio of nourishing oils (Sea Buckthorn, Jojoba and Sweet Almond) blended with skin-protecting vitamins and moisturising hydrators to ensure skin as well as facial hair always feels its best. I’ve tried hundreds of beard and shaves oils in the past and this is certainly one of the best. What’s more, since you have to shake it to mix everything before use it’s great fun to use.

Is that last feature a gimmick? Possibly, but then in an increasingly competitive market, this kind of interactivity is everything if you want that all important edge. I  must admit I  hate the way some companies insist on putting the word ‘The’ in front of product names (fellow Estée Lauder brand La Mer are the other main culprit) because it ensures the name never quite slips off the tongue and it never looks right written down in the middle of a sentence but otherwise it’s great. And, hey, just look how purdy it looks.

Beauty Banks – for the boys too.

Like me, you’ve probably popped the odd bag of pasta, box of cornflakes or tin of soup into one of the food bank collection boxes located in your local supermarket. Items like these help put food on the table for the estimated half a million people who now use food banks on a regular basis in the UK. But it’s all too easy to forget that toiletries are essentials too and that looking good and feeling clean are inexorably linked to feelings of confidence and self-worth – two things that can be in short supply when you’re strapped for cash and dinner, for the third night running, is beans on toast.

Understanding this, a couple of weeks ago journalist Sali Hughes and PR exec Jo Jones launched Beauty Banks – a not-for-profit charitable initiative aimed at providing those in need with basic bathroom and hygiene essentials like shampoo, shower gel and tampons, in much the same way that food banks aim to provide kitchen cupboard essentials.

With the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimating that 14 million people in the UK are living in poverty and with an estimated 37% of people going without basic toiletries as a result, it’s a much-needed initiative and one that’s already received huge support from the beauty industry. It’s been great to see so many women’s mags and beauty bloggers throw their weight behind it but, hey, let’s not forget that men have needs too – and that things like razor blades aren’t exactly inexpensive (there’s a reason they’re often security protected in supermarkets along with booze and some cuts of meat).

Big name grooming brands are already getting involved (shaving experts Harry’s were one of the first to volunteer product) but everyone can boost the men’s side of things by donating some much-needed grooming gear. Once Beauty Banks have received your donation their volunteers will distribute it food banks, homeless shelters and refuges across the country.

So what are they after? Well, when it comes to men’s stuff, basics like razors, shave gels, face washes, shower gels, antiperspirants, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes are all useful. But not-so-basic stuff like moisturiser and face scrub is welcome too. You can even send those complimentary products you get in hotels – the ones you can’t resist pocketing at the end of your stay (relax, I pocket them too). Just make sure all the products you donate are sealed or unused (well, would you like to receive a third of a bottle of shower gel?). The only thing you can’t donate are products containing solvents so don’t send aftershaves, eau de toilettes or electric pre-shave fluids. Post-shave balms are fine though.

Once you’ve decided what items to send parcel up your contribution and send to: Beauty Banks, c/o Jo Jones, The Communications Store, 2 Kensington Square, London, W8 5EP.

Alternatively, you can purchase toiletries direct from Beauty Banks’ Amazon wishlist and have them sent directly to their HQ. To see the wishlist just click here. I guess you could do the same if you buy toiletries from other online stores too – simply have them sent direct to Beauty Banks.

There is, as we all know, a huge debate about poverty in the UK –  about its causes and how best to tackle it – but regardless of your politics or your thoughts on the matter the fact is that right now there are people in desperate need of help. And what better way to help than to make someone feel a little better about themselves?

 

 

A note to fellow industry bods

As much as I’m writing this for my readers, I’m also aiming this post at fellow grooming editors, journalists, influencers and bloggers too. We’re exceptionally privileged in our industry in that we often get sent products to test as part of our jobs. Please consider donating any you don’t get to try (I’m currently in the process of getting a parcel together myself) and please use the platform you have to spread the word and promote this great cause. And if you’re a PR who works with male grooming brands please think about getting your clients involved. Likewise, if you’re the actual client consider donating some product or, better still, think about an ongoing arrangement with Beauty Banks.

Having worked in the beauty industry for more that 17 years now I’m acutely aware of how shallow and vacuous it can sometimes appear (and believe me, at times it’s exactly how it appears) but even though it’s fundamentally an industry which deals with superficial appearance, it does have a big heart. With your support, Beauty Banks will hopefully be able to show just how big that heart actually is.

 

You can find Beauty Banks on Instagram @The_Beauty_Banks 

To contact Beauty Banks directly email beautybanks@tcs-uk.net

 

Foreo launch His & His toothbrush set

After making a cameo appearance in Star Trek: Discovery, where they’re used by spacefaring same-sex couple Lt. Paul Stamets and Dr. Hugh Colber, it seems only right that beauty-tech brand Foreo’s Issa 2 silicone sonic toothbrushes should find their way to planet Earth as a deluxe His and His gift set.

If other brands had done this shameless gay market grab I’d have arched an eyebrow, Spock-like with cynicism, but given their appearance in the show it somehow seems perfectly natural. What’s more, it’s good value too since by buying the set you save 25% off the price of buying the brushes individually. Watch out, though, because the pairing, rather like that of Staments and Colber, is strictly limited, so use your Spore Drive, transporter or just your old-fashioned cash ensure that a set finds its way into your bathroom before they vanish forever.

Available globally from 22nd February. For more info go to foreo.com