A hair care brand to swear by.

products_1851_natural-shampoo_0I’m always on the lookout for interesting grooming brands from across The Pond and Hanz de Fuko is certainly one worth looking out for. Hailing from San Francisco it might have a name that’s a danger to pronounce but it certainly ticks all the right boxes in terms of essential hair care. As well as looking cool, it’s packed with stuff you want to see in your products –  like organic ingredients, antioxidants and essential oils –  and free of stuff you don’t, like parabens and sulfates. I highly recommend the Natural Shampoo which is pH balanced so as not to upset the scalp and has a scent somewhere between mint, eucalyptus and cherry aid, but my testers with a little more hair also rate the styling products like the brand’s fragrance free Claymation clay-wax. Check out the range at nivenandjoshua.com

How to grow the perfect Decembeard

DecembeardIf you’ve always fancied growing a beard or just enjoyed Movember so much you fancy continuing with the facial hair then December is the perfect time to grow one – and raise some cash for charity in the process.

Decembeard is the annual fundraising initiative organised by Beating Bowel Cancer and this year I’ve been helping them out by providing some beard-growing tips.  And below is a slightly extended version of them. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now and grow one!

1. Get growing! The great thing about growing a beard is that you don’t have to do any prep – in fact the opposite is true. All you need to do is down tools and let the fuzz flourish.

Every man’s beard grows at its own rate, though, so don’t be put off or disheartened if progress seems slow at first – some of the best looking beards were late developers!

2. Keep it clean. Keeping facial hair fresh is no more hassle than keeping your face clean – you simply need to spend a few extra seconds massaging in your regular face wash. Pay extra attention to rinsing to ensure no soapy residues are left and then gently pat dry with a towel. Don’t rub your beard aggressively to dry it as this can cause irritation.

3. Invest in a good trimmer. Like privet hedges beards need regular pruning if they’re to look their best. To keep your Decembeard looking tip-top whiz over it occasionally with a beard trimmer. Opt for one with a good range of cutting lengths and a removable safety guard or pop-up definer so you can tidy the hair around the lips.

Always trim when the hair is completely dry, though, as hair relaxes and expands when wet, contracting again as it dries, so if you cut it when it’s still damp you may find you’ve trimmed too much off.KING OF SHAVES BEARD TRIMMER

4.  Switch to oil. If you want to shave around the edges of your beard to keep it defined use a shave oil – because they’re transparent you’ll be able to see exactly where you’re shaving and will get better accuracy.

5. Draw the line. For a smart, defined beard trim it so the outer edge lies at the top of the adam’s apple, moving towards the corners of the jaw diagonally. For a softer, more natural-looking beard line, use a beard trimmer and gradually decrease the length towards the outer edge so you get a blended effect.

6. Moisturise. Facial hair ‘wicks’ moisture away from the surface of the skin making the stuff beneath your beard especially prone to flakiness. To avoid dryness and beard dandruff spend a minute or so massaging a specialist beard balm like The Happy Bear’s Superior Beard Balm into the skin beneath your burgeoning face fungus.

GGBB7.  Ditch the itch. Using a moisturiser or beard balm twice daily (see above) will help keep skin and hair soft and supple but applying a hair conditioner to the beard can help keep it soft and reduce itching too.

It’s also worth giving your beard a light brush with a stiff bristle beard or hairbrush or moustache comb to minimize curl, even out the growth and minimize the risk of ingrown hairs.

8. Dye right. If you’re worried about grey whiskers disguise them with a specialist beard and moustache dye, available from most large chemists. Specially formulated for facial l hair, which is tougher than the stuff on your head, they’re easy to apply, cover greys in less than five minutes and deliver great, natural-looking results.

9. Be patient if you’re patchy. Beards are a lot like lawns – sometimes they’re cursed by annoying bald patches. But don’t give up if your beard’s a bit uneven at first – gaps often fill out after a few weeks once the hair gets to a decent length.

10. Have fun! Remember, facial hair fun to experiment with. You won’t know what you’re getting until you’re a few weeks in but that’s part of the fun. And when you’re growing it for Decembeard you’re doing it for a great cause (or something incredi-beard as the charity like to put it). You never know you may even decide to keep it!

For more information about Decembeard go to beatingbowelcancer.org

Niven & Joshua named Best Grooming Website at the annual P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards

Although I’m famously sceptical about awards I’m with actor Peter Ustinov when it comes to accepting them. “To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal,” he once said. So with that in mind, I’ll simply say how nice it is to be part of the amazing team that helped Niven & Joshua win the Best Grooming Website Award at the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards 2013 yesterday. There, acceptance speech done. And not a tear in sight. They didn’t even play the music over me.

P&G copy

G’day! It’s Australia Day! So here’s some grooming gear from Down Under

products_5_shaving-essentials-kit_0Since it’s Australia Day today I  thought I’d do a little post today about a couple of my favourite Aussie grooming brands. Eyre BioBotantics is a premium brand I’ve loved for years (I interviewed its founder Stephen Damiani shortly after it was founded in the mid noughties) and it has been something of a pioneer in terms of organic grooming. Having achieved Australian Certified Organic certification the ingredients certainly come to you as nature intended.

I especially like their twin-chamber delivery system products which contain two separate products in one one tube. If you want a good introduction to this fantastic brand try their Shaving Essentials Kit above, available from nivenandjoshua.com.

VITAMAN-DISCOVERY-PACK-2Also worth checking out is Vitaman, which launched back in 1999 and prides itself on using ingredients like eucalyptus which are native to Australia, and in not using synthetic ingredients or artificial fragrances, which are native to nowhere!

The Body Discovery Pack (above), available from vitamangrooming.co.uk, serves as a good taster and inlcudes one of my favourite Vitaman products – their exfoliating bar, which is minimally scented but great for keeping your bod free of dead skin cells. I especially love the full-sized version which is fantastically chunky.

Anyway, both ranges are well worth investigating and are proof that Kylie, koalas and Kath & Kim aren’t the only great things Australia has given the world.

Zirh: the rebirth of a grooming icon

When I first started writing about male grooming full time, over a decade ago now, American brand Zirh was one of those ranges that was a gift to journalists like myself. Not only was it from the US (and hence exotic), cult (which made you look cool if you mentioned it) and had great packaging (which kept notoriosuly fussy art editors happy) it actually had some really great products in its line up too.

It also led the way with its no-fuss, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin product names (eg. Hydrate, Clean, Correct, Protect etc). Even today, I think brands could learn from it – especially those with products called Hydra Energetic Anti-Dull Tanning Moisturiser – intake of breath – Natural Looking Tan.

Founded back in 1995 Zirh became so desirable that Procter & Gamble looked upon it with covetous eyes, eventually acquiring the brand and…doing absolutely nothing with it. They then sought to divest themselves of it and with its future in doubt it kind of disappeared from the radar and from the shelves of many UK stockists.

But then, at the back end of 2011 is was reacquired by a New York investment company,  and lo and behold it’s back and available on these shores again at online grooming emporium Niven & Joshua (collective Hurrah! please).

So if you were a longtime fan or are a new one who heard great things about it back in the day, crack open the piggy bank. Especially good is the ‘Soothe‘ Post Shave Healer.

The Grooming Guru joins Niven & Joshua

I’m very please to announce that I have now joined leading online men’s grooming retailer Niven & Joshua as Lifestyle & Grooming Editor. Not only will I be reviewing some of my favourite products for them, I’ll also be providing ‘how to’ guides, explaining the the ins and outs of skin, hair and bodycare and will be on-hand to answer those niggling grooming questions too.

I’ll still be carrying on with all my other stuff, of course, but with online business booming  I can’t think of a better time to be joining such a cool grooming website. So if you’re interested in looking good make sure you check it out!

Insider Interview: Amanda Watson, Category Manager for Neal’s Yard Remedies

I’m a huge fan of Neal’s Yard Products so I was honoured to be interviewed for their Organic Life site recently (you can read the interview here). Talking about some of my favourite NYR products got me thinking about men’s attitudes to organic products, though, so I thought I’d turn the tables on NYR and ask them a few questions.

So here NYR Organic Category Manager Amanda Watson, who is responsible for new product development, answers my questions about organic skincare.

GG: Men are often sceptical about organic skincare. What can you say to convince them it’s worth giving a go?

AW: By using organic ingredients on your body, you are reducing the amount of chemical residues that are absorbed by your skin.  We firmly believe that it’s just not necessary to use such synthetic materials.

The body benefits hugely from simple, natural ingredients as they are similar in content to the skins own sebum. Rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids, they are easily and safely absorbed, assisting the skin’s natural functions and helping improve its condition, leaving it soft, supple and nourished.  Some synthetic ingredients cannot be synthesised by the skin so they block pores and diminish the skin’s ability to function, and they may also irritate the skin.

Our NYR Men range has been specifically developed for men using natural ingredients and plant extracts to create effective products that care for male skin which may have been stressed by shaving and exposure to the environment.  The products are designed to nourish and soothe the skin and contain regenerative ingredients to promote a healthy complexion.

GG: There’s often a perception that natural or organic skincare products somehow aren’t as good, or long-lasting as other ones? What would you say to this accusation?

AW: This may have been the perception many years ago but now organic beauty products have become much more efficacy based and with a lot more scientific research and claims behind them.

GG: What ingredients in the NYR men’s range are the most beneficial to men?

AW: Lavender, witch hazel and calendula are very useful herbs for inflamed skin conditions as they have soothing properties which calm and refresh tired skin.  This is why we have used these herbs in the Calming After Shave Balm.

GG: Are there any essential oils you’d say were specifically good or useful for men? If so, which ones and why?

AW: We have included a unique blend of 13 essential oils and resins in the NYR Men range, which not only smell amazing, but they are also great for men’s skin and mood.  For example energising grapefruit is cooling on the skin, aromatic eucalyptus is balancing while uplifting clary sage is toning.  Together with our active plan extracts, they’re just what men’s skin needs to stay in perfect shape.

GG: What three NYR men’s products would you say are bathroom-cabinet must-haves and why?

AW: For a basic skincare routine, men should cleanse, shave and protect so I would recommend the following:

Gently foaming, Purifying Face Wash thoroughly cleanses, energises and refreshes the skin, lifting away impurities to prepare it for shaving.  It contains anti-oxidant rooibos herbal infusion to strengthen the skin, combined with restorative calendula, renowned for its regenerative properties.

Close Shave Cream creates a thick, creamy lather to deep cleanse and soften the skin and bristles, for a closer, smoother shave, with purifying red clay, astringent apple and softening olive oil.

Calming Aftershave Balm is fantastic for calming down that just-shaved skin with soothing lavender, calendula and witch hazel, leaving skin soft and comfortable.

GG: Finally, what’s your personal favourite essential oil and why?

AW: Grapefruit is one of my favourite essential oils as its zesty, zingy fragrance really uplifts me particularly in the morning when I need an energy boost to face the day!

Neal’s Yard Remedies products are available from Niven & Joshua

Bulldog’s Original Moisturiser just got even better!

I’ve said on many occasions and in many publications that Bulldog’s Original Moisturiser is one of my all-time favourite moisturisers. It may be inexpensive but don’t let the price fool you – it’s an excellent and effective moisturiser that I often use myself. Plus, it’s animal-friendly and British! And this hero product just got even better by helping some real heroes.

In support of this year’s Poppy Appeal special packs bearing the red poppy have been produced and for every one you buy Bulldog will donate a whopping 25p to The Royal British Legion. Puts some other brands to shame doesn’t it?

 

Bulldog is available from Boots,  leading supermarkets and online at www.nivenandjoshua.com

Happy Birthday Korres!

Greece might be bankrupt (only a sequel to Mamma Mia! can save it now) but it’s good to know what at least Greek skincare brand Korres is in fine fettle. In fact, the brand, created by George Korres in Athens and characterised by its use of certified organic ingredients,  has just turned 15.

If you’ve never come across it before make sure you check it out. I especially love the soaps (see this previous post), an the Basil Lemon Shower Gel and the Pomegranate Cleansing Wipes (both brand best sellers). The fragrances are fab too, especially the Saffron, Amber and Cardamon one, which is a snip at under  £25.

Anyway,  if you fancy helping the Greek bail-out why not have a look at the range? Korres is available to buy online from www.nivenandjoshua.com