Bulldog address shaving’s elephant in the room with new Bamboo Razor

Anyone who follows my writing will know that I’m a huge fan of grooming brand Bulldog Skincare For Men. Not only do I love their excellent Original Moisturiser (there’s always a tube of it in my bathroom cabinet) I love their affordability, animal-friendly credentials and the chutzpah they’ve shown in taking on the big boys of skincare – and how they’re winning. Plus, of course, they’re a British brand (and we all understand the importance of buying British now that Brexit is  less than a year away.) So I’m thrilled to see that they’re about to enter the highly competitive razor market this summer with their Original Bamboo Razor.

With five tempered steel blades, a lubricating strip and a flexible head, it offers everything you want from a razor (i.e. a decent, smooth shave) but what sets it apart from other brands is its eco-credentials. No razor is perfect when to comes to sustainability but Bulldog are the first major grooming brand to at least try to lower shaving’s environmental impact in a meaningful way. As well as having a natural, non-plastic bamboo handle, for example, the packaging is kept to a minimum and is made from fully recycled stock, using environmentally friendly inks. Couple that with Bulldog’s shave products, which are certified by Cruelty Free International, suitable for vegans and are free of synthetic fragrances or artificial colours and you’re just about as near to a guilt-free shave as you can get at the moment.

Needless to say, we still have a long way to go to reduce the environmental impact of the daily shave (in the US alone two billion razors are tossed into landfill ever year while the amount of plastic used in both product and packaging is still ridiculously excessive) but it’s a start. I wrote about how we might all want to move towards a zero-waste bathroom in my column for Balance magazine recently, and I care passionately about the need to consider the environmental impact of our beauty and grooming regimes, so I applaud anyone who’s at least trying to make a difference, however incremental.

Shaving brands tend to be great at pumping money into snazzy social campaigns and high-profile sports sponsorships but woefully behind-the-curve when it comes to addressing the elephant in the room: the environmental impact of their products. With customers increasingly conscious of the need to reduce waste that’s a real mistake and one that I suspect will cost them dearly in the future. On this issue, as they were in offering more natural grooming products to the masses, Bulldog are once again leading from the front.

Bulldog’s Original Bamboo Razor is available from Boots stores nationwide from August, priced £12.

 

Harry’s launch ‘Shave With Pride Set’

It’s all too easy to be cynical about the launch of Pride-themed products these days – after all, so many companies cash in on the annual celebrations now – but the new Shave With Pride Set from award-winning grooming brand Harry’s is a bit different. I was lucky enough to be privy to the creation and design of this set and know first hand the level of care, thought and meticulous attention to detail that went into the razor, packaging and the overall campaign of which it’s a part.

Housed in a special presentation box designed by acclaimed graphic design duo Craig & Karl (one you’ll want to keep to house all your bits and bobs in once you’ve removed the contents), the iridescent ‘rainbow’ razor is that rarest of things: a Pride-themed product that’s useful, helpful to the community (100% of the profits from it go to LGBTQ+ charities like the Peter Tatchell Foundation) and genuinely cool to boot. What makes this razor so special is that the design process ensures that no two handles are exactly the same: like the customer it’s aimed at, each one is a one-off and unique. Which is rather appropriate for a company that genuinely celebrates individuality and diversity.

If the set were the extent of Harry’s involvement with this year’s Pride festivities that would probably be enough. The company’s engagement, however, runs a little deeper than that. As well as the limited edition shaving set, they’re also offering support for the community in the shape of their ‘& Proud’ campaign, featuring the likes of TV presenter Dr. Ranj Singh and Queer Eye’s break-out star Jonathan Van Ness, which encourages members of the LGBTQ+ community to reject harmful labels in favour of ones they choose themselves.  (Van Ness describes himself as a “Hair Flipping Free Spirit & Proud” while Singh is a “Super-Nerdy Gaysian”.)

Finally, following on from the company’s detailed Masculinity Report last year, Harry’s have commissioned Ipsos/Mori to conduct a ‘Proud Allies’ survey which examines the relationship between the straight and LGBTQ+ communities in 2018 – the results of which are to be published shortly. Having clocked them already I can tell you they make for very interesting reading.

Taken as a whole, this considered, multifaceted approach shows a level of committment rare in Pride-themed campaigns. As for the Shave With Pride set itself, it’s great if you happen to be from the LGBTQ+ community and are looking for something to zhuzh up your shaving routine or, indeed, happen to be a proud straight ally who’s looking for the perfect gift for an LGBTQ+ pal. Basic message?  Give with pride, shave with pride, support with pride.

Harry’s Shave With Pride Set is available for a limited time from harrys.com priced £24.

 

 

 

 

New by me on Ape To Gentleman: The Art Of Manscaping

As a grooming writer I’m used to providing answers to men’s questions about haircare, skincare and fragrance but the subject they’re most curious about is manscaping. Since it became ‘a thing’ roughly ten years ago I’ve written countless pieces on the subject but nothing quite as comprehensive as the guide that is my first major piece for leading men’s fashion and lifestyle blog Ape To Gentleman. A top-to-toe guide to removing hair, wherever it may sprout, it’s an ideal resource for any man wanting to pluck, prune or depilate. So grab your wax strips/razor/hair removal cream and have a read of it here.

The 5 best mists for men

It’s the hottest delivery system for male grooming products at the moment, with everything from self tanners to post-shave balms appearing in spray form, so here’s my pick of the very best mists for men.

 

1. Harry’s Post-Shave Mist, £11 for 100ml, harrys.com

Harry’s entry into the UK shaving market last year didn’t just offer punters a cost-effective shave – there are some great skincare ancillaries on offer too. Their Post-Shave Balm is one of the best on the market and at £7 is as good as ones four times the price, but it’s their brand new Post-Shave Mist that’s my go-to product at the moment. Since I have a beard I only have to use this on the few areas that I do shave but since it calms, refreshes and hydrates, I also keep it on my desk and use it as a face mist whenever I’m feeling tired or my skin feels dry and tight. A trio of refreshing essential oils (mint, eucalyptus and tea tree) make it the perfect pick-me-up. A cool product. Literally.

2. James Read For Men Hydra Tan Mist, £20 for 100ml, jamesreadtan.com

Nobody in the world self-tanning of is as innovative as James Read. Repeat, nobody. His approach to tanning products is to always go beyond basics to deliver products that do so much more than simply leave you with a natural looking glow. This great-smelling mist is designed to build up your tan gradually with each application, ensuring you don’t rock up to work on a Monday morning looking all mahogany, but also features cooling agents and skin-soothing aloe vera so can be used immediately after shaving, soothing skin while tanning it. With a colourless formula that won’t ruin your shirts or pillowcases, it’s quite possibly the best tanning product for men I’ve come across.

3. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fresh Mist SPF 50, £14 for 75ml, feelunique.com

One of the main reasons people fail to protect their skin from the sun is because so many of the products on offer fail the basic likeability test: they’re messy, greasy and smell horrible (one spray I used last year actually smelt of curry). This SPF50 mist addresses those problems by providing sun protection in the shape of a light-as-anything mist that’s a cinch to use, has a dry, invisible finish and smells great too. It’s also good for protecting the scalp if your thatch isn’t quite as thick as it used to be. And it’s not just me who rates it – last October it was voted ‘Best New Suncream’ at GQ magazine’s annual Grooming Awards.

4. L’Occitane Aqua Réotier Fresh Moisturising Mist, £14 for 50ml, uk.loccitane.com

New for 2018 this light but intensely moisturising mist for the face fuses fresh spring water from Réotier in southeastern France with hyaluronic acid and glycerin – naturally occurring ingredients that help draw moisture to towards the skin – to instantly hydrate and energise. It’s a brilliant product to have in your office drawer – especially if that office is air-conditioned – but it’s good for travel too and I can imagine it’d be perfect  for freshening up on long summer drives.

5. Kiehl’s Oil Eliminator Refreshing Shine Control Toner For Men, £16.50 for 125ml, kiehls.com

With men’s skin oiler than women’s and fiddling with skin a known trigger for oil production this needs-no-fingers-to-apply oil eliminating facial mist is perfect if you’re prone to spots or a shiny schnoz. Designed to cool skin (that’ll be the menthol in contains) and neutralise oil so skin is left with a matt finish, you can literally just spray and go without having to massage it in. Like all the mists mentioned here it’s incredibly simple to use and allows you to tackle your skincare concerns in seconds – and single-handedly at that. What’s not to love?

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.

Harry’s razors: born in New York, engineered in Germany, finally available in the UK

In the same way that a handful of supermarkets dominate the food market, the world of shaving has been monopolised by just a handful of big bucks corporate giants with a grip on the market tighter than your grip on their handles whilst shaving. They have had us,  if not by the short and curlies, then certainly by the fluff on our chins, for decades. Thankfully, things have changed in the last few years as increasingly savvy men seek out cheaper  – but equally as effective – brands that challenge the razor monopoly with money-saving subscription services that suit, not only customers’ pockets, but their increasingly time-poor lifestyles too.

The latest company to fill this need in the UK is New-York based Harry’s. Already well established Stateside, where they’ve been part of the shaving scene since 2013, the company perfectly chimes with the times and with the changing way in which we shop for our grooming gear. Harry’s mission is very simple: to offer high quality razors, delivered to your door and at a fair price. According to the founders, their leading competitors offer products with an average blade price of £3 whereas theirs come in at just £1.75 – a pretty hefty saving, not just for anyone on a budget but for all of us who’d rather spend our hard-earned dosh on other stuff (beer, holidays, generally having a good time).

I’ve been lucky enough to have met one of the brains behind Harry’s, the affable Jeff Raider (the one with the specs in the pic to the right), on several occasions and his enthusiasm for the brand is genuinely infectious, not least because the germ of the idea for Harry’s came about from genuine outrage about how men are taken advantage of by behemoth razor companies.

In an attempt to tackle this ‘injustice’, he joined forces with pal Andy Katz-Mayfied to create a flexible razor subscription service that offers a great shave at a fraction of the cost and removes the hassle of having to navigate a supermarket or chemist in the process. As well as some cool looking, ergonomically designed, handles featuring top-notch blades (they’re made in Germany in a factory owned by Harry’s) there’s also a superb ancillary range, featuring everything from Shave Cream and Face Wash to Face Lotion and an extremely good aloe-rich Post Shave Balm which, keeping with the value-for-money theme, ranges in price from just £4-£7.

If you fancy giving Harry’s a go you can try their free trial set which includes a razor, shave gel and travel for the price of delivery (just £2.95). You can then subscribe to one of their Shave Plans so new blades pop through your letterbox just when you need them.  As well as the economic advantage this subscription service is totally flexible, allowing you to modify or pause your plan depending on your needs,which makes it great for guys who occasionally like to mix things up by rocking some stubble or sporting a beard.

The big question, of course, is ‘are they   any cop?’ Well, even though I have a beard (or an approximation thereof) I still use a razor on a regular basis to give it definition and to shave my cheeks (no jokes please) and the Harry’s razor is as good as anything I’ve ever used. Plus, they come in a range of fab designs and cool colours so, at that price, what’s not to love?

For more info check out harrys.com

5 ways to take the sting out of shaving if you have sensitive skin.

WILKINSON SWORD HYDROFew things challenge sensitive skin quite like the daily shave. Thankfully, combating sensitivity and irritation is simple. Here’s how…

1. Choose your moment.

As with marriage proposals and football passes timing is everything when it comes to shaving. Skin can be puffy first thing so always allow it time to settle before shaving. Have a coffee, grab some breakfast and only then think about grabbing your razor.  Ideally, shave after or during a shower – hot water and steam causes stubble to expand, which will make it softer and much easier to cut.

2. Keep your cool.

Lots of things can irritate sensitive skin: from heat and friction to the fragrances and colourants in shaving products. To reduce the chance of skin becoming sensitised during – and after – shaving, try using products that are free of artificial fragrances and colours; use warm rather than piping hot water to wash and rise your razor with and never put aftershave directly onto your skin after shaving as the alcohol in it can irritate and dry out freshly-shaven skin (yep, there’s a reason why it stings!)

3. Use the right razor.

Your choice of razor is crucial when it comes to minimising irritation and reducing sensitivity. Wilkinson Sword’s revolutionary Hydro 5 Sensitive razor has been specially designed to deliver improved skin protection whilst shaving. As well as featuring an ergonomically-designed handle for better control and Advanced Skin Guards to prevent skin snagging, it also features revolutionary Hydrating Gel Reservoirs.

This innovative system lasts twice as long as the lubrication strips found on other razors* and also delivers 40% less friction, which is crucial to an irritation-free shave because the less friction the less chance of sensitivity. So effective is the lubrication that skin actually remains hydrated for up to an hour after your shave!

What’s more, the Hydro 5’s special Flip Trimmer allows you to pull back the Hydrating Gels to reveal the razor’s five blades for when you want extra precision (you can see it pulled back in the pic above). All these features go to create the perfect razor for guys with sensitive or easily irritated skin.

HYDRO 5 (1)

4. Don’t press too hard and reduce your speed.

Pressing too hard is one of the most common mistakes men make when shaving – as is shaving too quickly. Pressing harder dosn’t result in a closer shave (but can result in more irritation and skin sensitivity) and no man was ever rewarded bonus points for speed shaving – irritated skin maybe, but definitely no bonus points. So take time over your shave and use gentle stokes of around 2cm in length.

5. Moisturise.

Moisturising skin might seem unconnected to shaving but it’s actually a very good way to minimise sensitivity. That’s partly because dry skin tends to be more sensitive in the first place but also because its surface is full of microscopic ridges which the blades of your razor have to pass over. Keeping skin moisturised keeps it plump and hydrated and softens out these ridges – essentially smoothing out the terrain your razor has to navigate.  

So as you can see, with the right razor and the perfect technique there’s absolutely no reason shaving to a (sometimes quite literal) pain in the neck – even for guys with the most sensitive of skin.

310316011_0_640x640The Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 Sensitive is available now, RRP: £9.99

* average vs Quattro Titanium lubrication strip

A Wilkinson Sword/Grooming Guru Promotion