I’ve decided to give up processed or refined sugar for Lent. Not because I’m particularly religious, but I feel it is a nice length of time, around 40 days, and other people are giving up things at the same time - so, hopefully, some moral support.
Left - TheChicGeek is smiling at the moment, but will he be smiling in 40 days time?
Henry Tate will be spinning in his grave, but traditional white cane sugar has become enemy number one, lately. But, even without too much nutritional knowledge, it’s easy to understand that sugar is usually a cheap ingredient or substitute in unhealthy foods, drinks and snacks.
As for the health penalties of free sugar, meaning sugar that isn’t bound to fiber in fruit, it can lead to inflammation, blood sugar instability, and, over a period of time, type 2 diabetes. Sugar causes altered internal pH levels resulting in a more acidic body. It is believed that an acidic environment is a breeding ground for disease, whereas an alkaline body promotes good health.
French scientists in Bordeaux reported that in animal trials, rats chose sugar over cocaine (even when they were addicted to cocaine), and speculated that no mammals’ sweet receptors are naturally adapted to the high concentrations of sweet tastes on offer in modern times.
At a dinner, a few months ago, a lady was waxing lyrical about giving up sugar. She said how much better she felt and how much better her skin looked. Ironically, we were probably talking about this over dessert. But, I knew I wanted to try it when I was ready to.
I don't really drink sugary drinks, but my Achilles Heel is chocolate. I understand you can eat sugar free chocolate, but I’m going to try the first week without anything. I’m not going to be militant, like sugar in ketchup and bread, but I’m taking out fizzy drinks, ice cream, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets and any other obvious sugar heavy products.
I want to see whether I’m addicted, whether I can go without and how will I look and feel at the end of the experiment. As we all these things, you learn as you go and more often then not you take some good habits into your everyday life.
The first few days were a breeze, but the mid-to-end of the first week, I feel like I’d run out of things to eat, plus I don’t really feel like I know how much I’m eating, lots of crisps, probably, and there is no full stop on a meal, so the satisfaction is gone. It feels open waiting for that satisfying sweetness a chocolate bar or handful of Haribo may bring. I’m getting bored with fresh and dried fruit and I’ve been googling ‘sugar free brownie recipes’, which I may make this week.
I don't feel tired, but, I feel less energetic and I feel like I’m going to run out of energy quickly. I’m not sure if I’ve lost weight, but I don’t think I’ve gained any and if a six-pack appears at Easter, I’d be more than happy. I’m going to the gym as normal and eating everything else as normal.
On the positive, my gums feel much better and less ‘active’. I feel calmer and less prone to ups and downs.
That first half an hour after each meal is the difficult part, I need to distract myself and push through and ignore old habits. The word ‘Lent’ may derive from the old German word translating as ‘long’. Let’s see.
The Mole Clinic has opened their third outpost in Moorgate in the City of London. Skin cancer is one of our most common cancers. Detected early, it is easily removed. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is extremely difficult to treat, but if caught early it is 100% survivable.
The MOLE Clinic is the UK’s leading independent and award-winning centre for screening and diagnosis of skin cancer which identifies any abnormal moles which may be at risk. There are two types of moles we should be keeping an eye on as a precaution against skin cancer and these are ‘visually abnormal’ and ‘new or changing moles’.
Left - The price for the MOLECheck is £135. For more information visit www.themoleclinic.co.uk
The Mole Clinic offers Skin Cancer Screening, Digital Mole Mapping and Cosmetic Mole Removal.
The MOLECheck normally takes around 45 minutes, although it can vary depending on the number of moles the patient has. It starts with a specialist nurse recording any risk factors that the client may have for skin cancer. Then she will be checking all of the visible moles and freckles on your body from ‘head to toe’. If any abnormal moles are identified then you will have the option to have the mole quickly diagnosed for skin cancer with their TELEDerm service, a non-invasive technique which captures highly magnified images of moles and offers previously unseen views beneath the moles surface to identify cancerous changes.
The nurse will also advise the patient on appropriate preventative steps that should be taken and how the main signs of skin cancer be spotted. The MOLECheck is recommended annually for most adults, however those in a high risk group for skin cancer may wish to consider to have a check every six months.
TheChicGeek says, “I’ve wanted to try The Mole Clinic for ages. I have skin cancer in my family and being a ginger I only have to look out of the window to get sunburnt. I’m careful, but I was burnt as a child. I’m not particularly moley, more freckles, but I think it’s important to learn what to look out for.
While improving, dermatology in the UK has been patchy at best and it’s good to speak to those who know what to look for.
During the MOLEcheck you meet a nurse, she asks a few questions about family history and also lifestyle, like whether you use sun beds or have been sunburnt before. You then strip off - wear your best underpants - and the nurse examines you from top to toe and even between your toes. It wasn't as hi-tech as I thought it was going to be, but it doesn't need to be if you're in the hands of somebody who knows what they are looking for. She’ll ask you about anything that stands out. Looking at moles is a bit like picking mushrooms: most look harmless enough, but only a trained eye can spot a deadly one or spot the difference. If unsure, ask the advice of an expert, hence the USP of the MOLECheck.
Anything unusual the nurse will take a picture of and send to a doctor at the clinic for a second opinion. I received the full, confidential report the next day and the doctor recommended I seek 'Urgent Referral’ for a mole that I hadn’t noticed on my lower back. Looking a bit like Halley’s Comet, it is irregular in shape and colour which are the signs to be aware of. You can choose to continue the private healthcare with The Mole Clinic, or, like I did, take the report to your GP who can refer you to a specialist. As a suspected cancer you receive an appointment within 2 weeks. Hopefully, it’s nothing, but without this check I wouldn’t have been aware of it.
Update - I had a check up with the hospital and the doctor said there was nothing to worry about. He said if you suspect something ask your GP for a 2 week cancer referral.
It’s also worth noting that not all skin cancer is connected to moles. Non melanoma cancer is usually a scab that doesn’t heal within 3 months. With my family history and skin type I think I’m more vulnerable to this type of cancer, but always check yourself and monitor anything changing shape or colour. If unsure speak to your doctor or, if you can afford to, use a service like this one.
With summer coming up, while checking yourself please think about protecting yourself too: no sunbeds, avoid blistering and use a high SPF.
The Mole Clinic was a very professional service which I would recommend and I hope checking your moles and skin will become as common and routine as going to the dentist".
Moorgate/Bank: Mon, Wed: 8am – 7pm; Tues,Thurs, Fri: 8am – 5pm, Oxford Circus: Mon, Wed, Fri: 8am – 5pm; Tues,Thurs, Fri: 8am – 7pm, Harrods Pharmacy: Wed: 10am – 7pm
A new men’s grooming brand, Stoer, pronounced 'store', is named after a remote place in the Highlands of Scotland where the founder, Marianne Morrison, spent her formative years.
This technologically advanced collection of ‘skin-smart’ products introduces novel and effective ‘Cosmetic Drone’ technology, a first for the male skincare market.
Left - The ‘STOER Skincare for Men’ collection includes: Foaming Face Wash, Detox Face Scrub, Firm & Protect Moisturising Serum, Energising Eye Serum and Vitamin Power Mask.
Cosmetic drones focus on delivering the brand’s unique Clima 5™ formulation of active ingredients directly into the skin layer where they work best. Each active has been individually sourced from extreme climates in 5 global locations (Mexico, Japan, Scotland, West Africa and the Alps) to underpin the value of protecting the skin against pollution and the elements, whilst rejuvenating, energising and improving skin health.
TheChicGeek says, “The drones are coming! There are 5 initial products in the STOER range, with 2 more to follow. It’s interesting they’ve launched without a moisturiser, but I think this is down to a production issue rather than a deliberate absence. A moisturiser with SPF 30 is to follow, as it says so on the back of the serum.
I’ve not heard of ‘Cosmetic Drone’ technology before, but it makes sense if your trying to get the right product to the right place rather than relying solely on skin penetration. According to the information, each active is entrapped in a unique microscopic ‘Cosmetic Drone’ capsule to deliver the actives to a deeper layer of the skin. This revolutionary system targets specific cells and releases the active ingredients where needed.
I always think a new range lives and dies on its moisturiser, but I’ll have to pass judgement another day. I tried the serum and eye serum, which both have a nice lavender scent. This is particularly relaxing when applying in the evening, just before bed.
I used the serum like you would a moisturiser and applied the eye serum after. The eye serum definitely had that blowing-in-your-eyes effect which means something positive is happening. The serum and eye serum are light and disappear quickly and you’re not conscious you’re wearing it. It’s non greasy and oily and leaves the skin feeling nourished for the day.
The other products: face wash, face scrub and power mask are pretty standard: easily applied and washed off.
While not cheap, these are reasonably priced. If you didn't want to buy all of them I would go for the serum and eye serum: some men are willing to pay for new technology, especially if it delivers results quickly. STOER seems like a welcome edition to the men’s grooming market and, as we've been told, drones are in our futures, we may as well get used to them in our skincare and medicines."
Available at Harvey Nichols from £24 from 11th March
The first jewellery house to move to Place Vendôme in Paris in 1893, Boucheron is one of the magical names in fine jewels. The Boucheron Collection is inspired by travelling and includes six unisex scents: Iris de Syracuse, Néroli d’Ispahan, Tubéreuse de Madras, Vanilla de Zanzibar, Oud de Carthage and Ambre d’Alexandrie. Five perfumers created the six perfumes and include Nathalie Lorson, Christophe Raynaud, Fabrice Pellegrin, Jean-Christophe Hérault and Dominique Ropion.
Left - The Boucheron Collection - 125ml EDT - £175
TheChicGeek says, “Boucheron are quite late to the party on these luxury sets of one note fragrances. Does the world need another luxurious oud or tuberose fragrance? Probably not.
And the packaging and branding, at this price range, all seems to blur into each other.
Obviously tailored for the wealthy, visiting Harrods customer, but then so is the Zegna, Boss and Armani and numerous other versions of these generously boxed sets.
There’s nothing wrong here, but then neither is there anything original. People who want large volumes of expensive fragrance seem to shop at Harrods, but I think even they’re being saturated with these fragrances and none are offering anything new of different: the finest raw ingredients respectfully presented.
They are all unisex, but I would say the most male facing is the fresh neroli or the richer oud. Perfectly enjoyable and passable.
These big boxed fragrance collections are a bit like simple couture clothes: limited distribution and, ultimately, very few people experience it, so really what is the point when nobody can tell the difference? At this price point there are many options to find something individual rather blending in with this crowd”.
Based in East Yorkshire, Dr Katerina Steventon has launched an anti-ageing serum to address concerns about wrinkles and vertical lines. Named ‘4’ after the four regenerative plant oils - jojoba, rose hip, camellia, echium and four technologically advanced active ingredients - marine micro algae, Indian gentian leaves, Renovage, (the brand name for trepenone, developed by the French skin care company Sederma and used for anti-ageing and skin stress) and liquorice and it is promoted alongside her ‘Faceworkshops’. Over her career she has worked at La Prairie, Shiseido and Smith and Nephew wound healing.
Left - Katerina Steventon 4 Anti-Ageing Serum - 15ml - £52.90
TheChicGeek says, “A new Doctor brand, Katerina Stevenson says over 20 years' experience has gone into this serum. It’s light, non-greasy and is applied before your moisturiser twice a day.
For Katerina it is all about the massage and the ritual of applying the product and with it being an oil-type consistency, this makes it easier to do this.
It’s labelled a serum, but I would call this an oil. I like oils as they feel nourishing and feed the skin. They feel more physical than a normal cream type product.
Katerina says it’s a hybrid product: serum in the morning, massage oil in the evening. The ‘Vertical Line Massage’ - she shows you how to do this on her site - is a prep before the product, but also an exercise for the facial muscles. I’ve seen this promoted before, when Creme de la Mer launched their Renewal Oil - see review here - but I didn’t do this with this product.
It says you need only a few drops of the rape seed coloured product, but I felt I needed more and the more I used the less it felt like an oil. It has a good consistency, absorbs well and smells good. Interestingly, people said how well I looked a few days after using this. A coincidence maybe?
These type of products are for the long-term, but I like a product somebody puts their name and face behind. A lot of these products you have to have an instinct for on whether they are working. This one I would say yes and would definitely look into trying the massage techinques. People can't expect to reduce ageing by simply and lazily apply a product. It makes sense you need to exercise, like the rest of your body, in order to keep it firm and looking its best.”
Tailored to your face. Delivered to your door. Grüum is a new concept in male grooming that they say will revolutionise how men shop for their bathroom essentials.
Founded in the UK by four friends who thought there was something missing, grüum was created to deliver personalised quality, simplicity, form and function.
The grüum concept is designed as a monthly subscription service and is free from EDTA, parabens, sulphates, SLS, SLES, artificial fragrances, colours and made in the UK.
Grüum kits starting from just £6 per month.
TheChicGeek says, “Men are inherently lazy. We’re not very good at replacing our products, especially razor blades, using them even though they are well past their best. I like these new start-up mail-order/internet grooming brands - see the Dutch Boldking here - they offer something fresh and seem to speak in a modern way to guys.
The website looks good and you answer a few questions to see which kit/products suit your needs.
I think I got sent a deluxe kit as it had everything in it: from beard oil to face wash to razor and blades.
This clean Scandi-type packaging, which is everywhere ATM, all starts to lack personality and isn’t very memorable. It also doesn’t make the products feel ‘special’.
I felt the kit centred around the razor so decided to focus on that and the complementary shave products. The razor design, in particular the handle, is good, but the razor feels and shaves like a cheap, plastic disposable. I used the shave gel, but no amount of product made this comfortable or easy. I used the face wash and daily moisturiser on a recent trip to Berlin and the packaging and sizes make this ideal for travel.
Nothing stood out here, but then again I didn’t use every product. I think it’s important they get the razor right as this is the fulcrum in most men’s grooming regimes and a bad one doesn’t start your day on the right foot.”
Feb' 2017 - Update - After reading my review, Bethanie, one of the co-founders and Marketing Director, sent me their new tweaked cartridges to try. They don't look any different, but they are a massive improvement. The shave was much more comfortable, even with the long stubble I had, and a regular amount of product.
JOOP! WOW! awakens all the senses with captivating top notes of bergamot, cardamom and violet-leaf. A blend of rich absolutes: irresistibly sensual fir balsam, darkly masculine tonka bean and dangerously warm vanilla surabsolute. The foundation is the supremely woody base, noble combination of distinctive woods, vetiver and cashmeran, a memorable signature, full of masculinity, intensity and texture.
TheChicGeek says, “Joop fragrances became synonymous with toilet attendants in dodgy night spots and as such the brand was tinged with the dreaded ‘naff’ label. It’s never really resonated as a fashion brand here, unlike in Europe, and as such doesn’t have much identity.
Pronounced Joop with a J here, or with a Y on the continent, it wasn’t cool enough for people to look pretentious by saying it properly.
Left - JOOP! WOW - 60ml EDT - £39
Time for a clean slate then. Coty, the brand license owner for fragrance, has made an effort with this one. The scent is good. It’s warm, woody and amber-like without being sticky which often happens at this price point.
There’s masculine favourites of vetiver and tonka bean in there and a few gourmand ingredients such as vanilla and green notes such as geranium.
I just think there’s a disconnect between the name, the fragrance and the imagery and bottle. The image is of a mature (gentle)man, the fragrance is quite grown-up and the bottle looks likes a miniature of whisky, while the name ‘WOW!’ seems more immature, fun and for the younger, social media generation.
I actually like the name WOW! it’s quite pop, but it seems more suited to maybe a Marc Jacobs fragrance then something with the serious and old-fashioned hashtag #thescentthatmakestheman
The simple bottle design doesn’t have any shelf appeal and isn’t gimmicky enough. I think they want the One Million crowd with this one.
The fragrance isn’t wow, but then what is? But, it’s good.”