Grooming Guru Essentials: Heyland & Whittle Olive & Fig Soap

HEYLAND & WHITTLEI make no excuses for the fact that I am faintly obsessed by body soaps. And I’m very fussy about what graces the side of my bath. Anyway, this wonderful, palm-sized Heyland & Whittle Olive & Fig Organic Soap is what you might call my latest squeeze – if a slippery squeeze. Made from 100% organic ingredients it’s figgy, slightly peppery and very, very ‘green’ smelling. In fact, it really reminds me of the wonderful cut stem aroma that hits you whenever you walk into a decent florists. At £6 it isn’t ridiculously expensive either and it’s Made in England. Recommended.

For more info go to heylandandwhittle.co.uk

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

Festive Favourites No3: Neal’s Yard Frankincense Essential Oil

I love essential oils (I use them in oil burners, blend my own massage oils and often wear patchouli oil neat) and one of my favourites is this excellent Frankincense oil from Neal’s Yard.

It’s particularly relevant to this time of year, of course, and has a wonderful heritage, having been traded by man for thousands of years. The Egyptians even used the charred resin to make their kohl eye make-up. It’s difficult to describe what it smells like because it smells like, er, frankincense, but it has a sweet, warm, aromatic and resinous aromas that I absolutely love.

It makes a great massage oil when added to a carrier oil and also has skin rejuvenating properties, which explains why it’s at the heart of the Neal’s Yard anti-ageing products. For me, it’s also one of those smells that brings Christmas alive so give it a try.

To grab yourself a bottle click here.

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

Insider Interview: Australian beauty and grooming expert Will Fennell

Will Fennell is one of Australia’s leading beauty and male grooming experts. As well as being a writer and consultant he’s also an accomplished TV Presenter, having appeared on programmes like 10 Years Younger in 10 Days, Queer Eye For The Straight Guy and Seven’s The Morning Show where he is the resident beauty and grooming expert. Fascinated to learn more about Aussie men’s attitudes to male grooming and a little more about Will’s own favourite products I thought I’d fire a few probing questions at him. And here are the results…

GG: So Will, what sparked your interest in male grooming?

WF: I woke at age twelve with a huge pimple on my chin. My Grandmother with all the best intentions articulated to me that methylated spirits would clear it up in no time. Over the next 48 hours I applied metho continuously. Suffice to say mother rushed me to the doctor with a first-degree burn. That pimple changed my life (and the idea that my gran was sane). Within weeks I was cleansing, toning and moisturising daily.

GG: What are your favourite men’s fragrances and why? 

WF: I prefer light, fresh and fruity. But this is a tough one because I don’t really wear fragrance (especially when it is hot and humid in Sydney), but yet I need to review and test-drive them for my blog and DNA magazine. Last year I started to get my readers to review the fragrances instead of me, which was fun. At the moment I have a soft spot for A&F Fierce, but that might be because of the particular man wearing it. If I ever do wear anything, I love Honore’s Trip. It is 100% organic, with natural tangerine oil. The first spritz it’s like walking out into a citrus farm – delicious.

GG: Desert Island grooming product? 

WF: It is a joke (OK, they make fun of me continuously) amongst my friends that I never leave the house without lip balm (OK, lip gloss), so I cant see me jumping from the ship before it sinks without grabbing my Christian Dior Lip Maximiser.

GG: Best grooming tip? 

WF: When you start out keep things simple. I believe the biggest mistake men make (with all the best intentions in the world) is making their skin care routine too complex to stick to. Begin with two steps in the morning and two steps in the evening.

AM;  2 in 1 Cleanser Scrub (perfect as a pre-shave)

Daily Mosturiser (with a 15 or 30 SPF)

PM; Foaming Cleanser (to remove the SPF)

Repairing Moisturiser (containing any of the proven anti-aging ingredients like lactic acid, glycolic acid, antioxidants, peptides, copper)

GG: What are your favourite Aussie skincare brands and why?  

WF: There are several excellent Aussie skin care companies, but my favourite is Ultraceuticals. Dr. Heber who formulates the well-respected cosmeceutical range is second to none when it comes to using proven ingredients that rely on scientific research and not anecdotal evidence. In the past I was critical of this range (like many cosmeceutical lines) as whilst it did the job, it didn’t feel good on the skin. His latest generation of skin care feels good and makes you look younger – bingo!

GG: Is there anything British men can learn from Australian men in terms of male grooming?  

WG: We have grown up wearing sunscreen in Australia because of the fear we have of skin cancer; this has in turn saved Aussie men from aging as well. There is no other country in the world that takes sun protection as seriously as we do and the SPF rating here in Oz is heavily regulated. It has taken me years, but I am proud of the men I educate; nearly all of them wear sunscreen daily. It is quite simple – using a sunscreen moisturiser (an SPF of 15 will be adequate for daily use whilst inside working and much lighter in texture than a 30) will prevent you from incidental sun-induced aging. Remember it is easier to prevent aging than to reverse it!

GG: There’s often a stereotype of the typical Australian man: rough, rugged, positively ‘retrosexual’ if you will. Has this changed in recent years? And if so, what’s caused the change do you think? 

WF: Hollywood and celebrity men looking good have had a huge effect on how Aussie men groom and dress. David Beckham may sound like Minnie Mouse but I admire him for helping men appreciate you could look good, retain your masculinity and still be good at playing with balls.


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

WF: Today I have bed hair and weeks worth of grey beard re-growth, so I give myself a 2…. Normally however I am about a 7 or 8. I used to be far more concerned (one could say high maintenance) with my hair etc. but as I have gotten older I have (thankfully) become more relaxed. My skin however is another matter – my healthy skin is the best advertisement for my clinic – I give my skin a 9.5!

GG: Finally, have you seen the latest pics of newly uber-groomed Shane Warne? What do you think? 

WF: Best of luck to him, but I am sure Liz still turns the lights out before they root (Aussie slang for shag)!

For more info about Will go to www.willfennell.com.au You can also follow him on Twitter @WillFennell

Grooming Guru Essentials: Spiezia Propolis Ointment

As someone who suffers from psoriasis I’m constantly on the look out for products that can improve  or relieve the condition. Although, the only thing that really seems to work for me is sunlight and seawater (a great reason for me to self-prescribe holidays!) various lotions and portions have helped over the years too.

My current favourite is this fantastic ointment from one of my favourite organic skincare brands, Spiezia. Perfect for psoriasis, as well as for eczema, sore, dry skin and athlete’s foot, it’s a rich topical treatment made from extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, calendula and propolis – a resinous product bees produce in their hives to protect against bacteria, parasites and other infections. It’s great for keeping skin soft and supple and to prevent flaking and, thanks to a blend of lavender, thyme and grapefruit extracts, smells absolutely amazing too.

I love the smell so much I also dab a tiny amount on my chest before bed and the soothing smell of lavender acts as a brilliant sleep aid. Spiezia products are also produced in one of my favourite parts of the world – Cornwall – and are 100% organic. Do you really need any more reasons to give it a go?!

Spiezia Propolis Ointment costs £17.95 for 50ml and is available from www.spieziaorganics.com

Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.

Ask The Guru: How do I prevent bogies?

The moment I added a form for readers of this blog to ask me grooming questions I knew I’d get some curveballs. But nothing fazes me. So, without further ado I am answering this for “Mr P’ who chose to pick  (if you’ll excuse the pun) a rather novel question to throw at me. The question being ‘ how do I prevent bogies?’

First off, let me be clear up something. Contrary to fact, nasal mucus wasn’t created purely for man’s pleasure –  it’s there to act as a filter, protecting the nose and lungs from all kinds of nasty irritants like smoke, dust, grime and bacteria. Let those irritants build up for a few days and you soon have an impressive rhinolith (or bogey, if you prefer the schoolyard slang). The fact you have them at all is actually a good sign, not a bad one, as it indicates that your hooter is working properly.

You can’t prevent them altogether (nor should you try in fact) but you can reduce their numbers with sensible nasal hygiene – in other words, gentle blowing and judicious daily cleaning with a tissue. If your nose gets very dry and crusty, try steam inhalations (try adding some Tisserand Organic Eucalyptus Oil) or a tiny bit of Vaseline rubbed inside the nostril. Clearing the nasal passageways with a sea water nasal irrigator (available from chemists) can help keep your passages clean too and is surprisingly good fun.

Whatever you do, at least try to resist the temptation to have a good dig. One of life’s great pleasures it may be, but it also increases your chances of nosebleeds and can transmit germs from your nose to your eyes and mouth. Picking your nose and eating it (a practice known as mucophagy and something even Gordon Brown has been caught doing in Parliament) won’t kill you – in fact one scientist has gone on record as saying it may be beneficial to the immune system – but isn’t going to win you many friends either. Wiping bogies on tables/under chairs/on your boss’ annual report isn’t funny or clever either. Well, it’s not clever anyway.

Got a grooming question for The Guru? Simply fill in the form below. Don’t worry, names and address will not be published.