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

New Year, new skincare heroes

The beginning of a new year always sees a raft of new grooming products come to market. Here are four that have grabbed my attention this year…  

Lab Series MAX LS Power V Instant Eye Lift, £43 for 15ml.

A decent eye cream should be a staple of every man’s bathroom cabinet, especially  since the skin around the eyes is so delicate and so susceptible to premature ageing. Any eye product will help keep fine lines at bay by keeping the skin moisturised but this one –  the latest addition to Lab Series’ age-defying MAX LS range – not only hydrates skin and reduces under eye puffiness, it also tightens skin slightly too. It’s a perfect product for oldies like me but also younger guys looking for selfie-ready perfection or who simply want a long-term insurance policy against crow’s feet. I keep mine in the fridge since anything cold is great for tightening eye bags.

ClarinsMen Hydra-Sculpt, £45 for 50ml.

Sculpting products – ones that tighten contours and redefine the jaw line slightly – are a major growth area in male grooming at the moment as more and more brands seek to appeal to older guys whose main concerns are wrinkles and sagging skin. This one, which has a super-lightweight texture more akin to a serum, acts as a regular moisturiser, hydrating skin, but also helps firm it up a little. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to suddenly go from bloodhound to greyhound using it but every little helps right? The fact that it also contains lemon extract and salicylic acid to help dislodge dead skin cells, making skin look brighter and helping prevent ingrown hairs, is a useful bonus too. Those who find the fragrance of ClarinsMen products a bit overpowering – and I must confess I’m one of them – will also be glad to know that this particular one is more-or-less fragrance free.

Clarinsmen UV Plus Men, £42 for 50ml.   

I know it’s hard to think about sun protection at this time of year (well, except for those of you in the southern hemisphere) but skin needs broad spectrum protection all year round, especially since it’s the sun’s constant UVB rays that age skin. This light-as-a-feather, oil-free sunscreen leaves absolutely no residue, or shine, and also features a raft of ingredients designed to protect skin from pollution, making it one of the best urban defenders on the market. I have a feeling I won’t be leaving the house without this skin saviour on me.

Shiseido Men Total Revitalizer Cream, £70 for 50ml.

For me, Shiseido Men is the unsung hero of men’s premium skincare. Unsung only because it’s not isn’t nearly as known as it should be. Some of its products rank as my own all-time favourites (their Cleansing Foam is amazing, as is their Moisturizing Emulsion) and this new Total Revitalizer Cream shows promise too. Taking the brand’s existing Total Revitalizer as a starting point it ups the ante by adding a couple of new anti-ageing complexes designed to boost the skin’s power to defend itself and to keep it toned. Like an increasing number of skincare products today it’s multifunctional, helping calm the inflammation caused by shaving too. It’s super-hydrating without leaving shine and, as is the case with all Shisedio products, the packing is superb – an important point if you’re one of those guys who likes to display his statement-piece skincare.

Get out what you put in with new skincare brand PROVERB

The other week in my column for The Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine I wrote about the amazing rise of British male grooming brands in the last twelve months. Sadly, just missing the deadline for the piece was Proverb – a new skincare brand that launched in October. The brainchild of husband and wife team Luke and Kirstie Sherriff – he a former rugby pro and she someone with over 20 years experience in the beauty industry – along with Ben Burch, a former rower for Great Britain, it takes its primary inspiration from the world of sport (and sports nutrition) as well as the proverb ‘you only get out what you put in’. Hence the name.

“A good skincare regime starts with the truthful recognition that results come from ‘inside out’ – your skincare products combined with supplements, diet and water intake – not one without the other,” says Kirstie, summing up the ethos behind the brand and offering, in the process, a refreshingly 360 view of men’s skincare in 2017.

The range features six products: a Skin Defining Facial Scrub; an Oil Balance Pro Moisturiser; a Strengthening Skin Serum, a Hydration Pro Moisturiser;  a Cleanse & Shave Nutrient Mud and a Skin Resistance Training Supplement.

Out of all of these it’s the last two of that stand out most for me. Given Proverb’s inside out approach and their sport influences it was inevitable some form of supplement would be in the line up, and with few other brands including one it certainly gives the range a point difference. The Skin Resistance Training Supplement is much more than just a collection of skin-friendly vitamins though; it also includes hyaluronic acid, which is crucial for skin health, and resveratrol – a powerful anti-oxidant, included here for its anti-ageing benefits.

The putty-coloured Cleanse & Shave Nutrient Mud, meanwhile, has become a favourite product of mine, partly because of its smooth, creamy texture and smell (it reminds me a bit of unbaked cake mix – which I love) but also because of its multi-functionality. As well as being a great cleanser it also doubles up as a shave cream which, because it contains ingredients to calm and nourish skin, reduces the stress put on skin by shaving. Although it’s not flagged up as a face mask I also treat it as one – applying liberally and letting it sit on my skin for five minutes to give the kaolin and hectorite clays it contains time to suck up any grease and grime, before washing it off.

With prices ranging from £30 – £65 Proverb is very much at the premium end of men’s skincare but then you’re paying for the well-thought out formulas, which include the brand’s Lycoprotene complex, created from fermented tomatoes, and the protein-rich egg white albumen, and the use of natural and organic ingredients. Plus, of course, in buying British you’re supporting our economy, which can’t be bad in this time of pre-Brexit uncertainty. So if you’re a grooming-junkie looking for a new brand to try give it a go. After all, as another very famous proverb says, if you never try you’ll never know.

Proverb is available from proverbskin.com with products starting from £30.

eBay launch dedicated Men’s Grooming Hub

Whether you’re logging on to buy a brand new bike, source the one football programme missing from your collection or are trying to track down a mid-century sideboard eBay.co.uk is a shopping experience like no other. And now you can kit yourself out with all the latest grooming gear there, too, thanks to the company’s brand new Men’s Grooming Hub.

Offering everything from moisturiser and moustache wax to state-of-the-art electric shavers, the hub is a one-stop destination for everything grooming, featuring a mind-boggling array of products from well-known brands like L’Oréal Men Expert (who announced their partnership with eBay earlier this year), electrical giants Phillips and masters of facial hair maintenance Mo Bros. As well as offering products at great prices, the hub is a cinch to navigate and everything is covered by the usual buyer assurances the online marketplace is famous for.

Perusing some of the 230,000 items on offer (yep, 230,000!) I came across everything from my favourite fragrances to one of my favourite face washes – L’Oreal Men Expert’s Purifying Face Wash For Skin & Stubble – along with a raft of bathroom cabinet basics like deodorants, shower gels and dental products. What’s more, there are some great statement-making gift sets, too, just in case you’re looking for the perfect pressie for someone.

The hub isn’t just a great place to buy your grooming gear though: thanks to fantastic ‘how to’ guides on everything from achieving a barber-worthy shave to how to adjust your routine to suit the season and a host of tip-packed videos, it’s also a superb source of information for anyone interested in maximising their looks.

So whether you’re after something for yourself or are looking for the perfect Father’s Day present, eBay’s new Men’s Grooming Hub is one bookmark you’ll definitely want in your browser.

To explore eBay’s new Men’s Grooming Hub click here.

An eBay/Grooming Guru promotion. 

Five ways to tame a grizzly beard

They might be stylish. They might be convenient. But like grizzly bears, grizzly beards can be wild, untamed and prickly old things if not taken care of correctly. So here are five ways to tame the beast – with a little help from me and Brisk beard care…

1. Keep in trim.

A neat beard is a sweet beard so ensure you keep your face fungus tidy with the help of a decent, adjustable beard trimmer. Use a brush or comb to straighten the hairs out before trimming and always trim your beard when it’s bone dry: hair expands and relaxes when wet so if you trim it when it’s damp it’ll look shorter once it dries. Remember, too, that your beard doesn’t have to be the same length all over. By cutting it a few millimetres shorter under the chin you’ll create a much softer, more natural transition line. You can do the same if you have a bushy beard and very little hair on your head – by ‘fading’ the sideburns up towards the head you’ll prevent a jarring divide.

2. Comb and condition.

As with relationships, beards tend to be trickiest in their early stages. The first few days of growing one can be uncomfortable and challenging: your new chin accessory may itch, tickle and feel strange to begin with. But there are things you can do to minimise any initial discomfort. Applying a little Brisk Beard Oil throughout the growing process will help keep hair soft, manageable and conditioned. Quickly absorbed and non-greasy, it’s the perfect for  minimising the itch and there are four versions to choose from: Tea Tree; refreshing Citrus; warm and masculine Cedarwood; and Unfragranced if you prefer to smell au naturel. You can apply using your fingertips or use a moustache comb or beard brush to distribute it evenly throughout your beard

3. Give your beard a blow dry.

Yep, you can blow dry the hair on your face just like the hair on your head. Simply use a small brush or comb to ease the hair downwards with the help of a hairdryer on a cool setting. Once dry, apply a little beard oil to finish off.  This a great way to tame unruly beards, fill in small bald patches and to ensure your beard looks neat, tidy and at its fullest.

4. Dodge dandruff.

If you were to run your fingers through you beard right now chances are, you’d trigger a small snowstorm of skin flakes (go on, try it). If you do, don’t feel too bad – beard dandruff is an occupational hazard of having facial hair. It occurs because hair tends to draw moisture away from the face, leaving the skin beneath dry and dehydrated.  On top of that, because you’re not shaving regularly any dead skin cells can build up beneath your beard.

Thankfully, minimising beard dandruff is simple: firstly, cleanse your beard thoroughly with Brisk’s Beard Shampoo, which is designed to cleanse without stripping skin and hair of its protective oils. By massaging in with your fingertips you’ll quickly dislodge any stray dead cells. Choose between the Unfragranced Beard Shampoo or the Tea Tree and Cedarwood version. Tea tree is known for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties so is great for ensuring your beard is clean and fresh. Then apply one of Brisk’s Beard Oils (my own favourite is the Citrus one) to ensure hair is conditioned and the skin beneath it is hydrated. Again, make sure you massage in with your fingers to ensure it reaches the skin beneath.

5. Be patient!

If your face furniture looks patchy and uneven in places be patient. Like raising a child you never quite know how your beard will turn out until it’s fully grown. If it looks patchy don’t panic – as it grows in length some gaps will fill in naturally. Yes, it will look a bit wild for a while but keep it clean and conditioned and show it some love and you’ll soon have a beard that’s tamed and looking top-notch.

About Brisk

Brisk Beard Oils combine nourishing natural almond, avocado, argan and jojoba oils in an ultra-light formula that’s highly conditioning is quickly absorbed. All Brisk Beard Shampoos  are designed to leave  facial hair  clean, soft and manageable and are paraben & sulphate free. Available from Waitrose, Boots, Superdrug and from briskgrooming.co.uk.

A Brisk/Grooming Guru Promotion