I’ve never really liked the term ‘grooming’. It always felt more reflective of animal lovers than contemporary guys wanting to look their best. More Pets At Home than the modern, touchy-feely man, wouldn’t you say?
Walking past this hoarding on Covent Garden’s Earlham Street (left), a new business called Beast is opening that proclaims to be ‘changing the way men shop for beauty’. I asked the guy outside what was new, and he said it would be a one-stop place with all men’s grooming products in one place.
This isn’t new. The majority of men call it Superdrug or Boots. I'm being facetious. Yes, I know this will be higher-end, but there were previous attempts at this concept with a store on South Molton Street, which I can’t for the life of me remember the name of, and one on Bond Street, which, again, I’ve forgotten the name. They both closed a few years ago.
Many prospective businessmen look at the men’s grooming market as half of the adult population. This is far from the truth. Men’s grooming is a growing niche which seems to have flourished online. For big brands, such as Clinique, men’s represents about 5% of their business, so it’s still pretty small. That being said, the guys who are into it, are really into it, so, while a smaller number, they do splash the cash.
To compete with online this place needs to offer the theatre of retail, something new and great customer service and advice. Recommending products is so individual and subjective and many times guys don’t really need what their needs are, let alone why they need to pay a premium for something.
I’m not judging this place before I've seen it, but the term ‘beauty’ is new and for the first time feels right. The new softer, more confident and emotionally aware male is able to approach looking after themselves without pseudo-macho words to sprinkle their moisturising and eye creams with a pretension of overt masculinity.
Proving this point further, a new beauty and grooming destination for Generation Z and young Millennials is 'Very Good Light'. ‘Refining Male Beauty’, it is a space for guys aged 16-26 to share beauty tips. Founder, David Yi, says it’s “a safe haven and a non-judgemental space for guys to talk about manly things from all spectrums of manhood,”. This feels fresh. It’s a move on from that hard, Men’s Health type language that is all competitive and chest beating. This feels open and inclusive.
Finally, male beauty is here and it feels right.
Clinique says it’s taking skin protection to the next level with the new Pep-Start HydroRush SPF20 Moisturizer, formulated with antioxidants, anti-irritants and barrier strengthening ingredients to help provide multi-faceted environmental protection.
A daily moisturiser that provides oil control with an instant rush of hydration plus all- inclusive protection from the environment, leaving skin properly prepped for the day ahead.
TheChicGeek says, “From looking at the packaging this is a moisturiser for the Instagram age. It’s even in the curved square shape of the Instagram icon. It really pops and the bright plastic and its tactile nature makes this something that feels modern and young.
As for the inside, this feels and smells like a sun product. It’s very white and thick and while I’m all for sun protection, I think when you think about a moisturiser with SPF you want it to feel somewhat lighter and the focus on hydrating.
The three main ingredients here are Avobenzone, a chemical sunscreen that absorbs the sun’s rays and offers the broadest protection against UVA, Octisalate, a UVB absorber that helps to protect the skin against sunburn causing UV rays and Polyester-8, which when combined with other two sunscreen agents, helps to boost UVA protection. The sunscreen ingredients are suspended in a floating matrix, which helps prevent the sunscreen from penetrating into the skin, safeguarding against any potential sensitivity or irritation and the reason why you should spend more money on sun protection products. There are other typical moisturising ingredients, but it feels like the above dominate.
I would take this moisturiser on holiday and use as a face protector throughout the day. An SPF of 20 is pretty healthy if you apply often enough. As a regular, day-to-day moisturiser I’m less convinced”.
Above - Clinique - Pep-Start HydroRush SPF 20 Moisturizer - £24
This overnight facial-in-a-jar is said to be a breakthrough in beauty sleep. More than a mask, more than a night cream, it contains the Korres ‘Phos Compound’, a proprietary blend including a brightening agent and stabilised vitamin C. Uneven tone and dark spots will continuously improve.
Wild rose oil is a natural source of vitamin C, which demonstrates significant repairing activity to fine lines and skin colour disorders, while adding brightness and radiance to the skin.
TheChicGeek says, “I like a brand with confidence in their products. Greek brand, Korres, said to review this after one application. I’ve done three, but I did notice something after the first night, I just wanted to make sure!
My skin did look more hydrated and nourished. I didn’t realise at first this had a ‘brightness’ element, which means the discolourations in your skin are lightened and, hopefully, you’ll have a more even skin tone. This is a bonus element.
The rose fragrance did have me thinking I’d be going to bed smelling like Barbara Cartland minus the bed jacket, but it’s more a natural and lighter rose smell, which is really nice.
I’ve been encouraging men to use night creams for a while now. We joke about 'beauty sleep', but as this is the time your skin gets to repair, it’s good to help with this process. I really like this”.
Left - Korres - Wild Rose Advanced Repair Sleeping Facial - £26
If Gucci did grooming, this is what it would look like. I first heard/saw of Buly - full name L’Officine Universelle Buly - a few months ago when they were just about to open a counter in the new Dover Street Market. It has just gone onto MR PORTER, as a global online exclusive, so is much more widely available.
Here’s a bit of background. It was originally founded in 1803 in Paris and was rediscovered by owners, Mr Ramdane Touhami and Ms Victoire de Taillac, who reinvented the brand in 2014 and has since become highly-regarded for its naturally sourced products and handmade grooming accessories.
They sell over 700 products including tens of different types of combs and interior fragrance products.
Left - Buly - Crème Pogonotomienne - £33 from MRPORTER.COM
TheChicGeek says, “For something that looks so old, Buly is surprisingly refreshing. It is part of the trend for richly decorated products which give the impression of ancient manuscripts and knowledgable elders. These products look like something da Vinci or Michelangelo would have used and feel like a discovery. I've wanted to try some since I first saw it.
I tried the Crème Pogonotomienne (shaving cream). It's a mouthful and means to cut the beard in Greek. Buly is anti-plastic so all products come in metal tubes or glass packaging. This is a metal tube with a metal top and adds to the historical feeling. The reason, Mr Touhami says, is that plastic packaging, as you squeeze it, lets air into the product and therefore bacteria.
This is a light, white shaving cream containing burnt hinoki wood and goes on and washes off easily. The smell is strong. I think it smells like burnt marzipan and when I look at the ingredients it does contain sweet almond oil.
It’s often hard to review a shaving product as it’s usually as good or as sharp as your razor. Unless you have a reaction or breakouts, they are usually all pretty passable. That said, the smell of this makes shaving something different. You’re transported to the world of Buly; dusty mahogany drawers and stone floors making ancient magic. It’s not cheap, but it sure looks nice next to the sink, but, there is substance underneath all that beautiful packaging”.
A new men’s scent from French jewellery house, Cartier, the name ‘L’Envol' means ‘take flight’, and plays around with the idea of the Cartier timepieces developed for the first aviators.
An oriental woody fragrance, it contains musk blended with the powerful and masculine gaiac wood with honey notes and balmy facets.
TheChicGeek says, “Tell me, who doesn’t like the smell of honey? But, would you want to smell of it?
This smells like a jar of clear honey - maybe it’s the colour of the juice - made from white flowers. Close your my eyes, lie back and think of all those busy bees buzzing around jasmine and orange blossoms and you basically have L”Envol.
Left - The fragrance bottle is a refillable glass bulb inside a plastic sleeve
This is a very feminine ‘masculine’ fragrance and one I’m sure woman will wear just as much as men. It smells of honey, but without the stickiness you often get with cheaper fragrance ingredients and has a dash of patchouli while drying to a warm, comforting wood.
The bottle is interesting, it’s a glass bulb surrounded by a plastic case (*I've been corrected, the outer case is also glass) with a metal stopper that twists to reveal the opening. The glass bulb looks fairly delicate, so not one for the bathroom floor, and reminds me of one of those fancy oil/vinegar bottles.
It’s refillable, which does reduce the cost, but at £97 for 100ml, it’s really pushing that psychological £100 barrier. The £100 fragrance market is a tough one to crack, especially if this is sitting on a shelf next to cheaper fragrances. I understand that Cartier is a luxury brand, but if they’re going to introduce themselves to a younger, newer audience it still needs to be accessible.
The ingredients do smell of quality though and it’s certainly different.
The latest addition to Lab Series’ MAX LS collection of products delivers anti-ageing power with a fresh, matte finish. Ideal for the man who is prone to shiny skin, this oil-free moisturiser delivers a hydrated, healthy finish without a greasy feeling left on the skin.
Looking at the facts - men produce 3 micrograms of oil per cm2, while women only produce 0.7 micrograms per cm2. Men also sweat more than women, up to 30%-40% percent more, which can exacerbate the shine and large pores. (This is also why we look better for longer!)
The patented Lab Series illumatte™ ingredient complex mattifies excess oil and helps control the production of oil over time so skin stays shine-free longer. At the same time, it helps to increase surface skin cell renewal to help smooth texture and brighten tone, invigorating dull, tired-looking skin with a brighter appearance.
TheChicGeek says, “‘Hydration without the shine’, is what is promised here, and, because the majority of men have oily skin it’s perfectly reasonable for guys to want to limit the shine while keeping their skin moisturised.
Call me a contrarian, but I like to have a healthy glow, without the shine, which is often a fine line to tread before it becomes greasy and you want to starting wiping your polished-looking forehead.
This does have a mattifying/powdered effect. The product is light and goes on easily, and you don’t need much of it, plus the Lab Series MAX LS range features all their anti-aging ingredients as a standard, but, as always, I’d like to see an SPF.
I consider my skin to be fairly standard when it comes to oil and this isn’t my main cause of breakouts. I find with these mattifying products that they often leaving you feeling a bit grey and flat. I think if your skin is very oily, you’ll probably want to cleanse and reapply this more than once a day, if you can.
At £48 for 50ml, this isn’t cheap, because you’re paying for all that anti-aging technology. On a side bar, I do feel like there’s been too many additions to Lab Series’ MAX LS range of products, recently, and it’s started to confuse the product and how each one differs from the others. This one, though, does have a USP if you want to minimise the shine”.
Left - Lab Series - MAX LS Matte Renewal Lotion - 50ml - £48
There are two products in Unilever’s ‘Regenerate’ range: a toothpaste and a monthly treatment serum. While not new, they are being made more widely available.
The Regenerate Enamel Science™ Advanced Toothpaste is so effective that scientists had to develop a new water-free formula to prevent NR-5™ ingredients from reacting & unleashing their regenerative power in the tube.
Left - Regenerate - Serum Boosting Kit - £30
This toothpaste is powered by an exclusive and clinically proven NR-5™ technology which forms a fresh supply of enamel mineral. These wrap and integrate onto the teeth and regenerate enamel mineral with exactly the same mineral tooth enamel is made of.
The exclusive ‘Boosting Serum’ is a monthly treatment to be used 3 times a month for 3 minutes. It increases the effectiveness of the Advanced Toothpaste by 43%, maximising the power of ‘Enamel Mineral Regeneration’, even in interdental spaces that are hard to reach.
Thanks to the NR-5™ technology and the fluoride in its formulation, the Boosting Serum helps provide focused protection for your teeth against the effects of early enamel erosion and acid attacks.
TheChicGeek says, “So, it turns out, from visiting the Regenerate dentist, fizzy water and lemon is bad for your teeth enamel. Who knew?! He recommended drinking these, and other fizzy drinks, with a meal rather than sipping for a prolonged period as this is bad for the enamel.
This is the only range of products which claim to help renew teeth enamel. On a superficial level, tooth enamel helps to keep your teeth white and from discolouration as it get thinner.
The Regenerate toothpaste is pretty standard; it tastes just like a regular toothpaste and has the same texture. It is £10, which is a big premium on the standard price for a toothpaste, but if you compare it to other ‘grooming’ products you can justify it.
The Regenerate serum comes with two mouth trays and two tubes of product. For three consecutive nights a month, you fill each tray with both products, mix together, it comes with a little mixing instrument, and then put it in the mouth for 3 mins.
I’m a completely gagger, so found I could only cope with both trays in by sticking my tongue out. Take your phone with you into the bathroom too, as it’s hard to guess 3 minutes. After, you can rinse the trays and your mouth out.
I’m guestimating that these tubes would last about 4 months or 4 treatments. The tubes aren’t very big and I think you need to be fairly generous on the product.
With both of these products you have to believe they are working, it’s hard to see any visible difference. I would approach these like anti-aging for the teeth: something longterm to use over a prolonged period. I would also look at avoiding certain foods and drinks and habits that also damage the tooth enamel”.
Right - Regenerate - Toothpaste - £10