Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards, oh my!

MOUSTACHES, WHISKERS & BEARDS bookThese days November and December no longer simply mean Bonfire Night and Christmas they mean ‘Movember’ and ‘Decembeard’  – two whole months where facial rules in the name of charitable causes. And if you want some inspiration on that front you might want to check out the new book Moustaches, Whiskers and Beards by Lucinda Hawksley.

A thoroughly entertaining history of facial hair, it’s packed with interesting historical information; my personal favourite being that a publication in 1880 warned that the absence of a beard was usually a sign of “physical and moral weakness”. The book is lavishly illustrated with images from The National Portrait Gallery’s wonderful collection and is great whether you’re an art lover, a style warrior or simply an unashamed pogonophile. Would make a great stocking filler too.

Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards by Lucinda Hawksley is available from The National Portrait Gallery, priced £10. 

How to grow a picture perfect moustache

MovemberPortraits--®ChristianAnderl-1Every year I come across scores of men who don’t just enjoy growing a moustache for Movember but who positively love it. What’s more, many of them go on to keep their Mo once the annual charity event is over, having discovered that their ‘tache looks rather dashing (a bit like the ones in the pics above and below, taken by acclaimed photographer Christian Anderl). Anyway, this year Canon – makers of cameras like the PowerShot G7 X – asked if I had any  moustache tips for guys taking part in Movember, to ensure that their Mos always look picture perfect. Here’s the advice I gave them…

1. Comb and condition
The first few days of growing a Mo can be uncomfortable and challenging and your new lip accessory may itch, tickle and feel strange to begin with. Applying a little hair conditioner to your ‘tache will help reduce itching, while combing your Mo with a moustache comb once it gets going will improve its appearance and help prevent ingrown hairs.

2. Keep in trim
A neat Mo is a sweet Mo so ensure your ‘tache is tidy with the help of a trimmer or facial hair scissors. Use a moustache comb before trimming and aim for just above the lip line – that way you’ll keep it free of food when you come to eat. Oh, and always trim your Mo when dry; hair expands when wet, retracting when it dries, so you may discover you’ve been a little over zealous with your trimming once it does.

3. Moisturise your Mo
Facial hair might protect skin but it also draws moisture away from its surface leaving it dry, tight and flaky. Make sure you moisturise your Mo twice daily – you can use special facial hair oil for this but regular moisturiser will work just as well. Simply apply a little to your fingertips and massage into your Mo, using gentle circular movements to help reach the skin beneath.

MovemberPortraits--®ChristianAnderl-24. Wax lyrical
Moustache waxes aren’t just the preserve of dastardly ‘tache twizzlers – they’re perfect for adding definition and shape to your facial fuzz too. Simply warm a small amount between your fingers and work into your moustache, shaping it with your fingertips, or rub into your fingers, apply over your Mo and distribute evenly with a moustache comb.

5. Be patient
Like raising a child you never quite know how your ’tache will turn out until it’s fully grown. If you’re not convinced that the style suits you, experiment with the shape until you find a style that does work. Bottom line – there’s a moustache out there for every man – you just need to find the one that works best for you!

PS. For those of you taking part in Movember this year I salute you (and your ‘taches)! For more info on what it’s all about click here.

Make sure your facial hair looks fantastic with Tom Ford’s brand new beard comb

TOM FORD BEARD COMBJust in time for the resurgence of the moustache as a bona fide trend (and in time for the start of Movember too) comes this brand new little facial hair comb from Tom Ford. Perfect for grooming beards and ‘taches, distributing beard balm or moustache wax and removing any detritus from your fuzz it’s a facial hair fan’s new best buddy. Looks cute as anything, too, right?

Available from Harrods, priced £28.

Movember Spawned a Monster…

Movember may well be almost upon us but this year the trend for moustaches appears to have started without it. So popular is the ‘tache these days that it’s more ‘must-have’ than much-maligned. I’ll be posting about Movember regularly in the coming weeks but to kick things off here’s a piece I wrote for The Telegraph about why ‘taches are back on trend. Just click on the image below to have a gander.

moustache

Have you registered for Decembeard?

DecembeardI know that November isn’t out yet and many of you are still in the process of growing your Mos but in a couple of weeks time another – just as worthy – facial hair growing charity initiative begins. Decembeard is a great way to raise funds for Beating Bowel Cancer, a charity that helps support patients and familes of those affected by the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.

This year I’ve provided the charity with some handy beard growing tips and will be posting some useful advice as Decembeard progresses. So if you fancy putting your face fungus to good use or just enjoyed growing a moustache and want to take things a little further why not register for Decembeard now? To find out how simply click here.

Let’s stop moaning about Mos – and get on with the job of helping men beat cancer

merch(1)It’s strange, but criticising Movember now seems to be a national sport in my industry. Every year at least one of my colleagues breaks ranks and has a pop at the fact that Movember has become too commercialised, has too many official partners, or that success has ruined it and that – like an indie band who come up with a multi-platinum album –  it has somehow ‘sold out’. Others complain it has become a joke (wasn’t it always meant to be fun?) whilst some funsters suggest that it would simply be better to forgo the whole moustache growing part and just hand over some money charity.

It is, of course, easy to criticise a cause for not being perfect. It makes good copy and it has the allure of being controversial. It’s also fantastically mean-spittited and rather symptomatic of an industry that sees anything to do with women’s charities as worthy of praise and anything to do with men’s as either daft or cynical.

MOVEMBERWAXThe male grooming industry has a quite pitiful record when it comes to giving anything back to the men who buy its products. Come to think of it men have a pretty pitiful track record when it comes to giving anything back to men. And this is why I’m an ardent defender of Movember. Sure, it’s not perfect – and there are brands that rub up against it for a little of its feel-good sparkle –  but at the end of the day it’s one time of year when men actually get of their sorry asses and do something that helps other men. For this alone it should be celebrated rather than knocked.

So what if companies like Penhaligons, Gillette* and Kent get on board with their products? Who cares if Byron are getting bums on seats with their (rather tasty) Mo’Shroom burgers? Yes, they’re getting publicity. They may be even making a profit for themselves whilst raising funds for others (to be shocked by this is to not fully understand the mechanics of modern charity) but, hey, they’re supporting a great cause and their contribution generates a huge amount of press and publicity – and we all know that charities rely on the oxygen of publicity. On a more basic level, for me, our industry is proactively helping men, in a way that the beauty industry has been helping women for years. Whether the companies involved are doing it selflessly or selfishly, who cares? They’re doing it.

ELC 2013 BCA Campaign PR Visual with RibbonsThe cynicism about Movember comes into sharpest focus when compared with the industry’s attitude to Breast Cancer Awareness. Whilst sitting in the lobby of Estee Lauder’s London HQ a few weeks ago I was struck, not just by the effort that they go to in supporting that particular cause (even re-painting their front doors pink) but by their “We’re stronger together” call to arms. One of the beauty industry’s real successes is how it has united to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer charities (and by industry I mean cosmetic houses, beauty journalists, magazines etc working together to shine a light on the cause). Certainly, my industry could take a leaf out of the beauty world’s book and get behind men’s charities but it won’t if, every time it tries, scorn is instantly poured over its efforts. Just as women are ‘stronger together’ when united to combat cancer so are men. But we’re also weaker when we’re torn apart.

For more information on Movember click here.

*Last year Gillette donated over £100,000 to Movember via on pack promotions.

Mossentials – three must-have pieces of kit for moustache maintenance

A Moustache is a beautiful thing, especially if you’re growing one for charity as part of this year’s Movember, but they do need a little TLC if they’re to look their best. Which is where these three useful pieces of grooming kit come in…

Kent Movember Moustache Comb, £4.50 from kentbrushes.com

With £2 from every sale going directly to Movember this dinky comb is the perfect way to keep your ‘tache neat and tidy and free of food. It makes trimming easier too. But apart from all that combing a moustache is fun and therapeutic. Fact.

KENT

Penhaligons Moustache Wax, £5 from penhaligons.com

Lightly scented with Penhaligon’s Satorial fragrance this moustache wax is the perfect way to keep your Mo looking and smelling great and is great for creating definition and taming unruly hairs. What’s more, Penhaligons will give £2 to Movember for each one you buy.

MOVEMBERWAXGillette Fusion ProGlide Styler, £20. For stockists call 0800 44 55 38 83  

A razor and a facial hair trimmer combined this cool tool is great for mo maintenance and features three detachable combs to help you trim hair to just the right length and a precision edging blade to ensure your ‘tache always looks tip top.

Fusion_ProGlide_Styler_2For more information about Movember click here.

Insider Interview: David Hildrew, Managing Director of The Bluebeards Revenge

david-hildrew-1

bluebeards-revengeThe Bluebeards Revenge is a Great British success story. Founded by former Royal Marine Commando David Hildrew (a man who, as much as anything, is living proof that moustaches can look cool) it’s gone from being a small company based around a high-performance shave cream to one with a whole range of grooming products stocked in the likes of Tesco. Its signature products contain an ingredient designed to slow down stubble growth and as a brand it’s fun, clever and accessible. Here the Bluebeard-in-Chief himself chats to me about blogging, his best shaving tips and yes, that impressive ‘tache.

GG: David, on a scale of 1 – 10, how well groomed would you say you are?

DH: I would award myself a “Len Goodman style” 7! All the essentials are covered (I shave daily of course) but there is room for improvement.

GG: You’re the owner of a fantastic ‘tache I must say. What are your best tips for moustache maintenance?

DH: Yes – mine harks back to the day when any self-respecting Bootneck would sport a growler to grow icicles off as he yomped across the Falkands or Norway! Luckily, I come into fashion once a year now that Movember is all the rage. As for maintenance – sorry to disappoint but mine is a free-spirited beast and is left to its own devices bar the odd trim. That’s not to say that it might not benefit from a dab of Grecian 2000 one of these days.

GG: What’s the biggest mistake men make when it comes to shaving? 

DH: Rushing the process, a lack of preparing the skin, and using poor quality shaving products.

273469-BLUEBEARDS-REVENGE-BLUE-HANDLE-SHAVETTE-WITH-LOGOGG: What trends in male grooming have you noticed of late?

DH: The traditional shave has made something of a comeback over the last few years – double-edged razors, shaving brushes and the use of shaving creams have all become popular again. But top billing goes to an unprecedented interest in cut-throat shaving – mainly as a result of the scene in the James Bond Skyfall movie of 2012.

GG: What’s your best skincare tip?

DH: Man up and moisturise – sorry men, we are not immune from the ravages visited upon us by time, the elements and a busy lifestyle. The ladies are right on this one!

GG: Desert island grooming product?

DH: A fine, Damascus steel cut throat razor – so useful in so many ways beyond just the shave.

alvarez-gomez-agua-de-colonia-concentrada-natural-spray-150ml-2817-pGG: What are your favourite men’s fragrances and why? 

DH: As a married man with 30 years before the mast I have long since worked out that my favourite fragrance really ought to be what Mrs Bluebeard prefers! Right now she seems to be keen on the classic Alvarez Gomez range.

GG: What’s your best shaving tip? 

DH: Take your time (preparing the skin properly before the shave is vital), use good quality products and watch some of the better “How to…” videos on YouTube.

GG: You use the term “The Ultimate Shaving Experience For Real Men!” in your branding. What do you mean by “real men”?

DH: The strap line is meant to be tongue-in-cheek – we make no real judgement as to what we believe a “real man” is – even though in a shaving sense it’s someone who suffers from ultra-tough stubble and has a five o’clock shadow by lunch. In truth though most men are pretty much convinced that they qualify for “Real Man” status and we are just appealing to that belief. Taken in context, most everyone understands that The Bluebeards Revenge is all about a self-deprecating, humorous approach to life in general and grooming in particular. Hopefully we bring a sense of fun and adventure to the daily routine.

GG: As a former Royal Marine Commando what do you say to guys who reckon taking care of their skin isn’t very…butch?

DH: Sorry guys it’s only a matter of time before the penny will drop! Life isn’t a rehearsal and I can give you a rock solid guarantee that you will eventually regret not taking care of your skin from an early stage in life.

bluebeards revenge shaving ceam jpgGG: What’s your favourite Bluebeards Revenge product and why?

DH: Our original Shaving Cream – it is what started the whole thing off! From vanity project to an internationally recognized and respected brand in three years. An amazing product that has taken us on an incredible journey.

GG: How important do you think male grooming blogs are these days are what do they bring to the discussion about male grooming?

DH: I am totally biased on this one as it is has been the support of the online, specialist blogging community that has taken The Bluebeards Revenge from a humble start-up to where it is now. Crucially it is the variety of opinion and expertise made so accessible to all and sundry, on a world-wide basis that makes them so valuable.

GG: Fantasy grooming product?

DH: We are currently working on a creating a new slant on the Double Edged Razor with a view to making it as easy to use as the mass market cassette style razors that dominate the shaving landscape. May not sound too exciting but the engineering and manufacturing challenges we are facing places the project firmly in the land of fantasy at the moment!

For more info on The Bluebeards Revenge visit their site at bluebeards-revenge.co.uk