New Year, new skincare heroes

The beginning of a new year always sees a raft of new grooming products come to market. Here are four that have grabbed my attention this year…  

Lab Series MAX LS Power V Instant Eye Lift, £43 for 15ml.

A decent eye cream should be a staple of every man’s bathroom cabinet, especially  since the skin around the eyes is so delicate and so susceptible to premature ageing. Any eye product will help keep fine lines at bay by keeping the skin moisturised but this one –  the latest addition to Lab Series’ age-defying MAX LS range – not only hydrates skin and reduces under eye puffiness, it also tightens skin slightly too. It’s a perfect product for oldies like me but also younger guys looking for selfie-ready perfection or who simply want a long-term insurance policy against crow’s feet. I keep mine in the fridge since anything cold is great for tightening eye bags.

ClarinsMen Hydra-Sculpt, £45 for 50ml.

Sculpting products – ones that tighten contours and redefine the jaw line slightly – are a major growth area in male grooming at the moment as more and more brands seek to appeal to older guys whose main concerns are wrinkles and sagging skin. This one, which has a super-lightweight texture more akin to a serum, acts as a regular moisturiser, hydrating skin, but also helps firm it up a little. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to suddenly go from bloodhound to greyhound using it but every little helps right? The fact that it also contains lemon extract and salicylic acid to help dislodge dead skin cells, making skin look brighter and helping prevent ingrown hairs, is a useful bonus too. Those who find the fragrance of ClarinsMen products a bit overpowering – and I must confess I’m one of them – will also be glad to know that this particular one is more-or-less fragrance free.

Clarinsmen UV Plus Men, £42 for 50ml.   

I know it’s hard to think about sun protection at this time of year (well, except for those of you in the southern hemisphere) but skin needs broad spectrum protection all year round, especially since it’s the sun’s constant UVB rays that age skin. This light-as-a-feather, oil-free sunscreen leaves absolutely no residue, or shine, and also features a raft of ingredients designed to protect skin from pollution, making it one of the best urban defenders on the market. I have a feeling I won’t be leaving the house without this skin saviour on me.

Shiseido Men Total Revitalizer Cream, £70 for 50ml.

For me, Shiseido Men is the unsung hero of men’s premium skincare. Unsung only because it’s not isn’t nearly as known as it should be. Some of its products rank as my own all-time favourites (their Cleansing Foam is amazing, as is their Moisturizing Emulsion) and this new Total Revitalizer Cream shows promise too. Taking the brand’s existing Total Revitalizer as a starting point it ups the ante by adding a couple of new anti-ageing complexes designed to boost the skin’s power to defend itself and to keep it toned. Like an increasing number of skincare products today it’s multifunctional, helping calm the inflammation caused by shaving too. It’s super-hydrating without leaving shine and, as is the case with all Shisedio products, the packing is superb – an important point if you’re one of those guys who likes to display his statement-piece skincare.

Elizabeth Arden’s City Smart – the ultimate urban defender

city smart (1)Living, as I do, in one of the busiest – not to mention most congested – capitals in the world I’m acutely aware of the potential damage that city living can inflict on skin. With new research suggesting that it’s not just sun damage that causes uneven pigmentation but pollution too, using products that shield skin against environmental aggressors has never been more important – especially if you’re a townie. Air pollutants called ambient particulate matter are a particular problem because they can trigger the production of harmful free radicals which cause all kinds of skin problems – from inflammation to premature ageing.

Thankfully, coming to the rescue is Elizabeth Arden‘s new PREVAGE City Smart – a product I’ve been using daily for a couple of weeks now. Designed with an invisible barrier that shields skin from pollution it also packs a broad spectrum SPF50 sunscreen and a raft of powerful antioxidants to give skin maximum protection against daily damage. On top of all that it also contains optical diffusers which enhance the appearance of skin too. At £55 for a 40ml tube, though, it’s possibly one city survival product you’ll need a job in the City to afford.

 

Perfect your summer skincare

muradNow that the sun’s finally made an appearance it’s time to think about protecting your face from it a way you might not have done back in miserable old February. Finding a face product that contains a broad spectrum sunscreen but doesn’t leave a smelly, white residue can be easier said than done, though. With sun damage one of the main causes of premature ageing, however, factoring up on a daily basis is essential. So if you’re looking for something that’s going to make you look better right now as well as ten years down the line you might want to check out Murad’s Invisiblur Perfecting Shield. As well as mattifying skin (handy in the summer, given that heat can stimulate skin to produce oil) and ‘blurring’ surface imperfections so skin looks more even, it also packs an invisible, broad spectrum SPF30 sunscreen. There’s no greasy residue (it leaves the skin supple but matte), no white sheen and the fragrance is minimal, making it just about the perfect product to throw in your work bag this summer.

Available now, priced £55 for 30ml. 

 

Don’t let sunburn be a pain in the neck!

sunburn

Okay, since summer is here (sort of) I thought I may as well issue my annual sunburn warning. British men’s attitude to sun protection has improved immeasurably in recent times, which is just as well given that malignant melanoma is the sixth most common cancer in men and death rates from it are 70% higher in us than in women.

dermalogica spfWith all the will in the world, though, it’s all too easy to end up with a nasty dose of sunburn, especially as our unpredictable British weather means that you can leave the house in fog, lunch in sunshine and return home in pouring rain. And as you can see from the picture above it’s easy for people to get caught out unexpectedly. They guy in the pic is actually a friend of mine who slathered on the sunscreen for a one hour walk to work but forgot to protect one crucial bit – the back of his neck. It’s a part of the body that catches the sun easily so make sure that when you protect your face you always take your sunscreen around the back of your neck, into the nape and over the ears (another prime place for burning).

If you always want to be prepared, do as I do and carry a product like dermalogica’s Super Sensitive Shield SPF30, which is compact enough to fit in a bag or pocket, and  ensure you go under the line of your shirt or T-shirt so you’re still protected even if your clothing moves. Nivea’s Sun Kids Pocket Sized SPF 30 is handy to have at hand too. Bottom line is: always be prepared if you don’t want sunburn to be a  – literal – pain in the neck.

Grooming Guru Essentials: SkinCeuticals Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF 50

I know the summer’s almost over but I just wanted to give a shout out to the one product that has loyally seen me through the sunshine we did have this year: SkinCeuticals’Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF 50. This high-performance mineral sunscreen has been an absolute godsend.

Since I have a fair, easily burnt Celtic complexion I’m uber-cautious about sunburn so always like to play safe with a high SPF. This lightweight liquid has been with me on beaches, picnics and impromptu hill walks throughout the summer and I can’t speak highly enough of it.

Absolutely nothing got through it and though I’ve tanned slightly, I never burnt once. It might be a mere 50mls in size but I’ve still got enough left for an Indian Summer and its dinkiness means I’ve always been able to finds a bag or pocket to store it. If you’ve still got hols in the pipeline don’t leave home without some.

Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF 50 is available from http://www.skinceuticals.co.uk, priced £28 for 50ml

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

insider interview: chris beastall, co-founder Niven & Joshua

As well as being one of  the nicest guys in the industry Chris Beastall has managed to make online grooming retailer Niven & Joshua, which he co-founded back in 2008, one of the coolest destinations for men seeking cutting-edge skincare, cult, quirky brands and a first-class service.

Catering for a discerning skincare customer it stocks cult brands like Anthony Logistics, Korres and Cowshed alongside exclusive ones like Japanese brand retaW. With a progressive nod to the future of male grooming you can also find acclaimed Australian brand Eyre, which focusses on organic ingredients, and (one of my fave brands) Bulldog Natural Grooming – one the the best ‘natural’ skincare brands out there.

I caught up with Chris recently to discover his views on male grooming, where the industry is heading and also get a glimpse into his own grooming routine…

GG: What do you think is the attraction to men of buying their grooming gear online?

CB: Prior to Niven & Joshua’s birth we considered opening male grooming salons in a selection of the UK’s most cosmopolitan cities. However, after much research from many sources, we learned that online was the way to go. The primary reason was anonymity, all the data pointed to the majority of men preferring to buy online and not have to face the intimidating, ill-informed sales assistants of department stores with their ailments and concerns.

The emergence of great blogs like The Grooming Guru and grooming guides such as those on Niven & Joshua means men can sit comfortably at their computer, learn, make an informed decision and then buy with the benefit of quick delivery from most e-retailers.

GG: Based on sales, what’s men’s biggest skincare issue would you say?

CB: The biggest skincare issue we see in terms of sales patterns are shaving related. Brands such as Taylor of Old Bond Street are extremely popular. Nearly every man shaves at some point in their life and most are shaving daily. The harsh effects of literally gliding a blade over your skin can easily be countered if you prepare with the right products.

GG: Favourite product you stock and why?

CB: My favourite product(s) would have to be any of the retaW Body Shampoos (shower gels). retaW is a Japanese brand we were absolutely blown away by when sampling it. The ingredients are all organic, highly concentrated and the scents, well, they must be tried to be truly appreciated.

GG: Best skincare tip you’ve come across?

CB: My best skincare tip would be to self-educate. Don’t fall for clever marketing, educate yourself in terms of your skin type and from there learn which products will work for you. We only take on brands we have tested, know work and would be happy to use ourselves.

GG: Desert Island grooming product?

CB: My recommended desert island grooming product would have to be a good quality moisturiser with SPF. It’s important to keep skin hydrated for many reasons and the added SPF is a bonus for warding of premature ageing of the skin and skin cancer.

GG: Who do you think is the ultimate grooming role model for men and why?

CB: I would have to say every man’s father. His toiletry selection was probably limited when you were growing up but he set the ball rolling in terms of intrigue and trial. It’s a cliche but I remember my father showing me how to shave for the first time, and sneaking in to his bathroom to spray on his green and gold bottled Ralph Lauren Polo fragrance.

GG: What are your favourite fragrances and why?

CB: There’s a small perfumery in Belgravia, London called Les Senteurs who offer a niche collection of the finest fragrances the world has to offer. In particular I am a big fan of Editions de Parfums by Frédéric Malle. The pick of the bunch would have to be Carnal Flower or Noir Epices, they are seemingly expensive for the size but one spray is all you need and the lasting scent is magnificent.

GG: How do you think the internet changed male grooming in the last few years?

CB: The internet has been a genuine blessing for the male grooming industry. Previously there was only a limited offering of basic male grooming products in supermarkets and chemists, agreeably there was more on offer at larger, higher-end stores but these being located in major cities made them inaccessible to most. Global accessibility is a major plus point of the internet, as well as anonymity when buying but also the plethora of information available on male grooming e-retailing sites and blogs means men can make informed decision before buying. Ultimately the aim is to look good to feel good, it’s not about vanity just taking care of yourself, being healthy and feeling confident within yourself – every man deserves that.

To check out Niven & Joshua go to www.nivenandjoshua.com

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