Wilkinson Sword back this year’s Movember

I rarely get angry about the industry I work in (let’s face it, if you’re going to get angry, get angry about the state of the NHS or fat cat bankers not the cupcakes at a fragrance launch or a moisturiser) but there is one thing that really annoys me about it – and that’s its woeful response to male charities.

In October you simply cannot move for beauty and cosmetic company breast cancer initiatives. Big brands fall over themselves to get involved. Bizarrely, even some of the leading men’s brands have got in on the act in the past by donating money from their own sales to…breast cancer charities.

I’m not knocking this. I think the industry’s response to breast cancer is amazing. But its enthisiasm for the cause only makes its apathy towards prostate cancer (the most common cancer in men, affecting 250,000 men in the UK) or testicular cancer (where there are 2,000 new diagnoses a year) all the more evident. And shameful. And let’s not forget that many of the companies that so admirably support female cancer charities also own male grooming brands that could support men’s charities just as vociferously. But they don’t.

Why? Well, clearly, economics plays a part. The beauty industry is still much bigger than the men’s in terms of sales. And there’s a perception that women are much more touchy-feely than men and so a brand can gain much kudos (and additional sales) in supporting the right charities and campaigning in the right way. Again, I’m not knocking this – charity is a business thesedays –  I’m just stating an obvious, if uncomfortable, truth.

The other sad fact, of course, is that men’s cancers rarely make headlines in quite the same way diseases like breast cancer do. Breast cancer has high profile ambassadors like Kylie: prostate cancer has Rudi Giuliani. Breast cancer can affect women who are young, vibrant and have their whole lives ahead of them: prostate cancer tends to affect men who are much older. Yet, both are killers and both destroy lives.

The cruel irony is that women are far better educated (perhaps in part to companies’ charitable campaigning) in terms of looking out for symptoms, getting checked and knowing what resources are available for them than men. The fact is, it’s men who could do with the help. In my opinion, a little concerted effort by the male grooming industry into raising funds for all the men out there who buy their products really wouldn’t go amiss and I’m sure it would get the full support of the men’s press.  After all, men do put money into the pockets of the major skin and haircare companies too.

But enough of my ranting. The actual reason for this post was to mention that Wilkinson Sword are supporting Movember this year as official grooming partner. Movember, in case you’re unfamiliar with it, is one of the few initiatives across the year that focusses on raising funds for a male cancer charity – in this case The Prostate Cancer Charity. An increasingly popular event, all you have to do is register as a ‘Mo Bros’ at the start of November and get growing a moustache (be as outlandish as you like, in fact I positively demand it). As you do this, of course, you need to get as many sponsors as possible and raise as much money as you can.

Wilkinson Sword will be on had to provide support, advice, inspiration and the tools for the job (their Quattro Titanium Precision razor is the ultimate piece of kit for shaving and trimming your ‘tache) so why not get involved? After all, you won’t just be helping other blokes you may well be helping yourself somewhere down the line too.

For more information go to www.facebook.com/WilkinsonSwordMenUK

Thanks to Chris James for the illustration. For more information click here.

Everything you ever wanted to know about shaving but were too afraid to ask!

Over the years I’ve provided hundreds of male grooming pieces for menshealth.co.uk in my capacity as Online Grooming Editor. What’s emerged is an invaluable online rescource for anyone who cares about looking good. To make things easier for you to access, though, I thought I’d gather a few of the links together, via subject matter. So I’m kicking off this week with probably men’s biggest grooming concern – shaving. Read these and you need never leave the house covered in bits of loo paper ever again!

Foam, cream or gel?  Click here.

How do I use shaving oil? Click here.

Can I slow down the growth of my stubble? Click here.

Why it’s not a good idea to shave against the grain. Click here

How do I use a shaving brush? Click here.

How to prevent ingrown hairs. Click here.

The rules of electric shaving. Click here. 

How can I make my razor last longer?  Click here

How do I treat nicks and cuts after shaving? Click here.

How to pick the right shaving balm for your skin. Click here

Noxzema Protective Shave: a blast from my past

Once upon a time, way back in the 1980s, when male grooming was still in its infancy, if a vaguely exotic skincare product  emerged I would cling to it. At the time few of my friends really bothered with fancy shaving gear or moisturisers but I was obsessed. And Noxzema – iconic American shaving brand – was one of the products I fought hard to get hold of.

Thankfully, a new UK distributor has recent brought it to the masses over here. Back in the eighties I seem to remember it stocked by the odd barber shop and advertised in the back of trendy style mags. The first time I smelt the bracing Methol version I was captivated, so much so that I actually couldn’t wait to shave (a concept hard for me to imagine these days) and the moment I smelt it again this morning I was instantly transported back to 1987.

As a brand Noxzema has been around for yonks, launching its first shave cream in the Fifties and the shaving foams 30 years ago, so having lasted this long you know it’s doing something right.

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of shaving foams, finding them too drying but the Noxzema ones are an exception. They’re rich, creamy, refreshing, dermatologically tested and deliver great results. What’s more (and I know these things matter to many) there’s also something reassuring about the delightfully solid and chunky cans they come in.

Noxzema is available nationwide priced £5.95 for a 300ml can. There are five variants but it’s the Menthol one that will also ways do it for me. For more info go to www.noxzemaproducts.com

Grooming Guru Essentials: The Razorpit

Let’s face it, whilst shaving might be a pain in the neck it’s the constant expense of buying blades that’s the real killer. And that’s before you consider the eco-nightmare of tossing all that metal and plastic into the bin. Well, that’s where this genius little device from Denmark comes in. It uses a small silicone plate to miraculously sharpen blades and keep them free of dead skin, stubble and grime (a much better solution than cleaning your razor with a toothbrush which can dull the blades). The result? Your razor stays sharper, for longer. I must admit I was sceptical at first but tried it on a blunt blade I was about to throw out and it gave it a whole new lease of life. Ok, so there’s an initial outlay but you’ll soon recoup that trust me. Cutting-edge stuff, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Buy RazorPit – Razor Blade Sharpener from Jesper Hvejsel on Vimeo.

 

To buy the RazorPit click here.

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

 

Grooming Guru Essentials: Geo F Trumper Block of Alum

Like the wheel, the hamburger and the Wonderbra there are some inventions that are a true gift to mankind. The Alum block is one of them. Used by man since Egyptian times as a cure for cuts, nicks and razor burn and popular with traditional barbers for hundreds of years, it’s now something of a grooming curio, having fallen out of favour with the advent of aftershave balms. But believe me, you’ll never have a more useful grooming tool. Moistened with cold water and rubbed on the face after shaving alum acts as a natural antiseptic, calming irritation and redness, and also as a styptic, stopping bleeding and helping heal nicks a cuts. It’s simple, cost-effective and, frankly, pure genius.


To buy Geo F Trumper’s Block of Alum click here

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

New King of Shaves Azor 5 razor is a sharp mover – in more ways than one

Following my comments about the new Gillette ProGlide razor a few days ago it seems only appropriate that, now that I finally have the King of Shaves Azor 5 Sensitive razor in my grubby little hands ahead of its official launch later this week, I should let you know what I think.

Firstly, ‘the science bit’ as they used to say in the ads. As a company King of Shaves rivals only L’Oreal in the silly made up-words stakes (if anyone at L’Oreal is listening, by the way, my dream job is coming up with ever more ridiculous ingredient names). So, not only does this particular razor feature ‘Bendology’ Technology, it also has ‘Endurium’ Nano Coatings on its blades (to make them last longer), features a blue ‘Polyastomer’ alloy handle and has (and this is my absolute favourite) an Elastomer Skin Pre-Tensioning Beard Bumper. You’ve no idea how much all this verbal silliness arouses me. Genuinely. After ‘Nutrileum’ ‘Derma Genesis’ and ‘Boswellox’ it doesn’t get much better. In fact, it’s practically turned this blog into a one-handed write.

Of course, I’ve no idea what any of this fancypants wordplay actually means and don’t suspect the average punter does either, nor will he care. He certainly won’t be reading the explanations on the back of the pack (by which time he’d have three days growth anyway). No, top of the consumer’s priorities is whether it provides a decent shave.

The answer, I’m pleased to report is yes. As an inexpensive razor (a handle plus two replacement cartridges costs a mere £6.99 – much cheaper than its rivals) it certainly does the job. I still think the Azor’s Soft Flex hinge isn’t a patch of its rivals in terms of  contouring (it’s the equivalent of a clumsy lover who grabs and gropes rather than strokes and caresses) but in tough times we often have to compromise.

Bottom line, though, is that it didn’t draw blood which is certainly as much as you can ask from a razor. And I’ve grown to like its unique Y-shape design. What’s more, the Azor 5 is absolutely beautifully weighted (‘Sensubalance’ technology perhaps?).

The big downside, however, is that in addition to the five blades on the cartridge there appear to be a couple of extra ones down the side of the handle in the shape of some rather nasty ridges. What’s more, on my sample at least, there were more sharp edges where the two halves of the handle meet.  This is annoying because there is a little part of me that wants it to be fantastic. Unfortunately, discovering these careless imperfections is the equivalent of a man finding out his hot date has a bristly pair of legs. But then, if you will plump for  a cheap date…

Gillette’s new ProGlide Razor whisks up a new storm

Recently the rather febrile world of male razors had yet another of its regular ‘convulsions’ as Behemoth manufacturer Gillette launched its brand new razor, the Fusion ProGilde, into the market. Specially re-engineered, with superfine blades, improved glide and a redesigned handle for better control it’s the latest development in the quest for that holiest of Grooming Grails, The Perfect Shave. Price? Just under a tenner for the manual version with two blade cartridges.

Bang on cue, self proclaimed ‘David’ in the epic David and Goliath razor war, King of Shaves, pops up with its usual ‘can you believe how much it costs?!/how much the blades are?!’ indignation. King of Shaves, you see, has its own new razor to promote, the Azor 5 System Razor, and appears to have based its entire marketing strategy on being cheaper than Gillette. Which I can confirm it is, in a similar way that Lidl is cheaper than Waitrose…you get the idea. Anyway, as I write this I am wondering whether I am suffering deja vu but no, we’ve all been here before and, scarily, I’ve written about it all before too so do forgive me if you’re nodding off.

Now, to me the cost aspect is totally bogus. Here’s how I look at it. I  really like a nice omelette right? I do, and I’m very funny about my eggs. I happen to like Burford Browns. They cost a packet compared to your bog standard ova but have such wonderfully rich orange, tasty yolks that I will settle for nothing less. And, whether you think I’m a snob or not, I will pay what I can afford for a good egg because, for me, a good egg makes a good omelette and while I can still spare the money I will. In fact, I’d probably go without  for a good egg – it’s that important to me. And my point is, why should shaving be any different?

I have tried the ProGlide (on what skin I do shave on my mush) and personally think it’s excellent, with great handling, fantastically smooth results and – crucially – no nicks and cuts. Okay, so I’m not a huge fan of the colour (I’d like a simple black and gunmetal grey combo) but really can’t fault it otherwise. I’ve talked to other men who’ve tried it and they agree with me.  I haven’t yet tried the Azor 5 System but will let you know how it compares in due course. Rest assured, though, I certainly won’t be basing my review purely on something as one-dimensional as cost. No, Sir-ee. As sure as eggs is eggs I won’t.