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

Exclusive: Remington aim to Hoover up competition with new Vacuum Beard & Grooming Kit

Remington_Vacuum Beard and Grooming Kit TrimmerHaving sported a beard for over a decade now I like to think I know a thing or two about facial hair. In that time I have also tried just about every beard and stubble trimmer on the market with, it must be said, varying degrees of success.

One of the major problems with trimmers, of course, is that they have a nasty habit of creating an almighty mess in your bathroom or bedroom (on numerous occasions I’ve had to root out a sink plunger to unblock my bathroom washbasin after a quick trim).

Thankfully, Remington have solved this rather annoying problem with their brand new Vacuum Beard & Grooming Kit.  What I like about it is that as well as allowing you to shape your beard to a range of different lengths it also has a detailing trimmer for creating clean, crisp lines and a special foil shaving head which allows you to shave areas like the cheeks and neck where you might not want any beardage.

What elevates it above many other trimmers, however, is its built-in vacuum chamber. This allows those pesky beard clippings to be Hoovered up and stored away as you trim so they don’t litter your bathroom sink or bedroom floor. It also takes them away from your face, removing the need to wash immediately after trimming. What’s more, the chamber’s easy to empty and there’s no loss of suction as it fills either.

If one of things that’s currently putting you off growing a beard is the mess, the The Remington Vacuum Beard & Grooming Kit may well be a real game changer.

Available exclusively at Boots and on boots.com priced £54.99.

Viktor & Rolf hope to spice up fragrance market with new fragrance

In the last few years the Holy Grail in terms of men’s fragrance has been to come up with something as successful as Paco Rabanne’s surprise hit 1 Million. I say surprise because, in reality, the fragrance itself is a bit ‘meh’ – its natural home being a Wolverhampton nightclub on a rainy Saturday night. But the bling bling bottle is genius which kind of makes it the ‘all-fur-coat-and-no-knickers’ of the fragrance world. Or ‘all-leather-jeans-and-no-Y-fronts’ if you prefer. But still it sells – by the bucket load.

In a crowded, increasingly competitive, market bottle design really matters (witness Marc Jacobs’ novel Bang flacon) so it’s no surprise that a stand-out bottle was top of mind when creating Viktor & Rolf’s new fragrance for men, Spicebomb.

Designed to resemble a hand grenade (it even has its own pin) it’s certainly eye-catching, though I’d have liked to have seen it a little heavier myself, since a weighty bottle always says quality to me.

And, so, what about the fragrance itself? Well, it’s quite different to the design duo’s first men’s fragrance, Antidote. The brief here was clearly to create something sexy, wearable and very ‘now’ and in this respect it succeeds admirably.

Spicebomb hits you like…well, a bomb really, with one big olfactory wallop. There’s chilli, saffron and pink pepper along with fresh bergamot and grapefruit notes and leather, tobacco and vetiver ones. It’s a more conventional blend than the press bumpf would have you believe and to me it has a headiness akin to fragrances like Mugler’s A*Men and a faint gourmand quality (the cinnamon maybe?).

It doesn’t feel quite as sophisticated, daring or as complex as Antidote, nor as quirky, but because of this it should be able to reach way beyond the former’s narrow customer base. Who knows? It may even go off like a….No, I’ll resist that one.

Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb is available exclusively from Harrods now and nationwide from 7th March priced £45 for 50ml eau de toilette.

Grooming Guru Essentials: BaByliss For Men Super Clipper

Those that know me are aware of the fact that all my life I’ve had an irrational fear of hairdressers. As an eight year old I used to scream the place down when my mum took me for my six weekly bowl-cut (a style which admittedly may have been the root of my phobia).

So when male pattern baldness meant that visits to the barbers were an unnecessary indulgence I was frankly rather thrilled to have the opportunity to cut my own hair. I now think of myself as my very own hairdresser, only one without the tattoos (though that’s about to change so watch this space). Over the years I’ve also tried scores of clippers with varying results –  from uber-professional crops to the kind of haircut only a patient from a Victorian mental asylum might sport.

Anyway, this one – the Super Clipper from Babyliss For Men – is one of the best I’ve come across.  Not only does it give an even trim, it’s lightweight but sturdy and has a taper control which allows you to vary the length of the cut by minute degrees giving you total control.

I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a good piece of grooming kit, though, because at the end of last year BaByliss did a huge survey in association with Men’s Health magazine to get some feedback about the product. Having worked for Men’s Health for over a decade in one capacity or another I know how demanding its readers can be – so it’s a testament to the Super Clipper’s that it passed muster with flying colours. If you want to know what some of them said about it I’ve embedded the video below.

Anyway, if you fancy giving the Super Clipper a go you can pick one up from Argos priced £60.

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