This is the sixth edition in the Armani Code line-up which was launched in 2004. Armani Code Absolu for men is an oriental fragrance, in which the classic Code base fragrance has been amplified and warmed. Perfumer Antoine Maisondieu from Givaudan has constructed a fragrance which opens with sparkling notes of green mandarin and apple, which guide us towards the heart. Here, orange blossom, nutmeg and carrot seeds unite with Armani Code signature ingredient tonka bean, unveiling a liquorish accord of rum. The dry down reveals a touch of suede, the tonka bean intensity and sweetness of tinted vanilla.
Armani Code Absolu - 30ml - £51, 60ml - £69, 110ml - £84 - Available nationwide from 24th April 2019
TheChicGeek says, “This is definitely an evening fragrance. Gourmand. with a warm vanilla dominating, it has a slight orange blossom wetness on the top. Tonka bean has become a stalwart of men’s mainstream fragrance, but here it’s less metallic and much warmer and lip-lickingly fragrant.
Armani has opted for Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, as the new face of Code, which could be confusing when he was the face of Boss Bottled and is dressed roughly the same in both commercials. I’m not sure if this is deliberate or not.
I’ve never given Armani’s fragrances much time before because, like the rest of the label, they seemed all quite safe and it doesn’t fire me up like other brands. With this, I’m pleasantly surprised. The bottle is very tactile, very Armani, and even has a grained cummerbund wrapped around the top. You don’t get more 'evening' than that!”
Disclosure - The product was gifted by Armani to review
Returning to the classic moisturiser, ClarinsMen new ‘Super Moisture Collection’ contains 3 products all containing ‘Hydra Resist Phyto Complex’ a unique complex combining two plant extracts selected for their super hydrating ability. Organic houseleek lends its super hydro-resistant power to help offset the negative effects of testosterone, helping retain moisture even in extreme conditons, by reinforcing the skin’s surface barrier. Organic leaf of life encourages the natural hydration of the skin to help promote the production of ‘sponge molecules’ in every skin layer.
A ClarinsMen Complex contains a blend of gymnema extract and bison grass extract offering soothing and energising properties, stimulating and preserving skin’s energy while the Anti-Pollution Complex has extracts of nipplewort and furcellaria to help shield the skin from pollutants.
Left - ClarinsMen Super Moisture Collection - 50ml - £30
TheChicGeek says, “When a brand launches three identical looking products and it takes a few seconds of concentrated study to distinguish them, it would make sense to try and make them look slightly different.
There are three moisturisers here: Super Moisture Balm, Super Moisture Gel, Super Moisture Lotion SPF 20.
I opted for the one with SPF, and so should you, to test. It has that classic ClarinsMen smell, and goes on like a lightweight sun protection product. While nothing revolutionary, it still a classic white lotion, it would be nicer if the gel format had an SPF, especially for the facial hair fans amongst us, this is perfectly acceptable daily moisturiser and at a decent price from Clarins.”
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Clarins to review
Hoping to reintroduce men to the joys of the safety razor, 'Primal Shave' is a new online razor supplier offering a ‘Primal Shave Safety Razor Starter Kit’ which includes a safety razor, 5 blades, shaving brush and shave cream, as well as individual products to reorder.
Founder, Andrew Barrett, says feedback from customers, so far, cite a close, irritation-free shave, even on sensitive skin. The single sharp blade of our safety razor allows a clean, crisp shave, whereas multi-blade razors can tug hairs and cause razor burn. The replacement blades are much more cost effective than razor cartridges. A year’s worth of safety razor blades cost less than a tenner. The razor and blades are plastic-free, helping reduce the huge number of plastic razor cartridges that end up in landfill. No subscription. No contract. No tie in.
Left - Primal Shave - Safety Razor Starter Kit - £24.95 www.primalshave.com
TheChicGeek says, “Believe it or not, but I’ve never used a safety razor before. Nearly 140 years after its invention, it is still an effective and cheap way to shave.
There are clear instructions in the box and its all pretty straightforward. You unscrew the top, drop the razor blade in, screw it back on and you’re ready to go. They recommend a new razor blade every week. and at these prices, you really don’t mind.
This isn’t a shave to rush. This is a shave to take your time and carefully contour the face. Unlike modern razors, this razor is very rigid and, so therefore, the areas around the chin and neck need some more time and attention. You’ll need to feel with your fingers where you need to go back to, but the shave is close and comfortable. The razor is easy to wash. The shave cream and brush, are Italian, but I don't recognise the brand.
It certainly reduces wastage and plastic consumption with the tiny packs of razor blades. This is old-school shaving at around £2 a month. Pitching itself as an affordable alternative to Gillette and Harry’s, the Primal Shave box costs £24.95 and is worth around £37, when individually priced. A pack of 5 blades, is under £2, so Primal Shave should offer this as a subscription as you’d barely notice £2 every 5 weeks and they could be delivered in a tiny envelope.
Primal Shave need to brand this stronger and own the box and contents more, otherwise, when the box is discarded, Primal Shave is nowhere to be seen. They could be really playful with older imagery and tap into that nostalgia associated with the safety razor."
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Primal Shave to review
Made in Britain, palm oil and paraben free, ‘Evolution’ is the debut fragrance from men’s grooming brand, Kings. A mix of essential oils including patchouli, cardamom, vetiver, copaiba, ylang ylang and eucalyptus, Evolution has been approved by the Vegan Society and by Cruelty Free Bunny.
Started by founder, Blué O’Connor, as a result of a successful crowd-funding campaign, Kings will be helping to fund two charities in Blué’s hometown of Bristol, Mentoring Plus and Bristol Mind, as well as the national male suicide-prevention charity, Calm.
Left - Kings - Evolution 50ml EDT - £39.99, 10ml EDT - £14.99, 1.7ml EDT Sample Bottle - £2.49
TheChicGeek says, “Price isn’t a signifier of anything anymore, especially in fragrance, and this is great value.
This is really good. It starts with a liquoricey top which turns into an attractive warm rubber. I’m not crazy about the branding, but nobody sees that when their salivating around your neck!
It is suppose to smell like a jungle in bloom, but it’s drier than that. It’s a slow mover from the top to the base, but the journey keeps you engaged. It’s a calming fragrance which also complements its mental health connections. In a nutshell, it smells like sexy car mats!"
Disclosure - The product was gifted by Kings to review
Hims is a new American ‘ personal wellness’ brand entering the UK market. ’You should look and feel your best all the time. Men now have easier access to the care they need - because men trust hims with the things they find hard to talk about.’ or so the company blurb says. The Founder and CEO is Andrew Dudum who is a serial backer of start-ups.
TheChicGeek says, “Hims is more than a grooming brand, and goes deep into the wellness area for men. Covering hair, skin, mouth, sex and health, hims is trying to broaden the grooming scope and make these new areas cuddly and sexy. The branding is great. The phallic images of the flaccid cacti feels more like a premonition when you get to my age… (On that note, they could make the information on the bottles a little bit bigger for those us actually losing our hair and of that age).
I tried the ‘dht shampoo’, ‘morning glow serum’ and ‘immunity’ supplements, all achingly cool lower case. It’s a very Helvetica type brand, - it looks a bit like an underwear brand - but I like its modern approach and tone. It’s an open platform and makes more sensitive subjects feel just as easy and fixable as buying a new moisturiser.
Hims offers erectile dysfunction and hair loss treatments, but you have to go through a consultation and an online doctor will prescribe these. The company works with a large network of doctors to prescribe Finasteride - a proven-to-work hairloss treatment - and Sildenafil - the active ingredient in Viagra - through their website - customers will be assessed by an online consultation with one of the team. If they pass the assessment (in the US an average around 10% of patients are refused), an online prescription will be drawn up by a pharmacist and mailed in a discreet manila envelope. There is a huge emphasis on aftercare and customers will be able to follow up with the same doctor to monitor use.
As for the more traditional products I tried: the blue shampoo blocks DHT to help prevent hair-loss, the serum focuses on vitamin C for its collagen benefits and cute gummy bear shaped supplements support a healthy immune system. I have tried ‘Beauty Candy’ before. (Not quite a replacement for Haribo!)
These are all fairly long term products and need a longer of period of time if you’re going to see and assess any benefits. I did want a bit more ‘glow’ from the serum though.
Hims feels like an inclusive brand rather than one trying to rinse people’s insecurities. I just kinda wish they sold the penis cacti too!”
Because the non-prescription products haven’t launched in the UK yet, they haven’t released prices, but looking at the American website they look pretty keenly priced. The prescription products are: Hair Loss (Finasteride): £35 for a month’s treatment, Sildenafil (50 mg pill): £33 for 8 pills or a months supply. There is also a £10 consultation fee on top - www.forhims.co.uk
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Hims to review
Shaving giant, Gillette, introduces “Gillette SkinGuard Sensitive” designed to stop the irritation many men with sensitive skin experience when shaving. The “innovative” razor places a breakthrough “SkinGuard” bar positioned between two of Gillette’s blades to gently smooth and flatten the skin away, taking the pressure off the blades during the shave.
Due to the blades’ position, hair is only pulled and cut up to 2x in each stroke, which reduces tug and pull. Many multi-blade razors use each blade to gently tug the hair outside the follicle, trimming each hair in rapid succession while they remain extended. Once the blades pass and the hair retracts, it has been trimmed below the surface of the skin. This kind of close shave is optimal for many men, but for others can contribute to skin irritation or a propensity for ingrown hairs.
This gives guys with sensitive skin a comfortable shave without the irritation. With research certified by the British Skin Foundation (BSF), Gillette SkinGuard Sensitive is clinically proven to stop shaving irritation.
TheChicGeek says, “Gillette is the dominant force in men’s shaving by a country mile. But, over the past few years, many up-starts, mostly notably subscription services like Harry’s, have been eating into their market share. Read more ChicGeek reviews about the competition here
Their new woke advert, getting away from the hyper-masculine “The Best A Man Can Get” moniker, is trying to show a more cuddly and modern side of Gillette.
Owned by the giant Procter & Gamble corporation, Gillette is probably the most innovative of the razor brands, having the deep pockets needed to research and fine tune this type of technology. They need to continually pull away from the competition, offer newness and improvements if they want continue their dominance.
Sensitive skin is a problem for many guys - (44%) of men have tried shaving less often to try and reduce the irritation they suffer due to their sensitive skin according to Gillette’s research.
Gillette obviously want us to shave more, but this type of sensitive skin razor can be used by all guys, obviously. I previously liked their “FlexBall” razor, but I don’t think that is in here, as it’s not mentioned.
I also used their complementary SkinGuard Sensitive shaving foam, and I can report that this is one of the BEST shaves I’d had for a very long time - THIS IS NOT SPONSORED!!!!
There was no pull and I had to check it had actually cut the hairs as there was no sensation with the movement of the razor. It was smooth and close and felt effortless.
One thing I feel Gillette doesn’t compete with its rivals on is the perception of value. Though, to be fair, at £8.99, this does feel cheaper than their usual prices, especially for a new product.
I just don’t understand why they can’t be more generous with the blades. You buy the razor with one blade and then, almost straight away, you need to purchase a box of expensive blades before you’ve even tried or grown to love this one. It feels expensive, short-sighted and, also, tight on the side of Gillette.
I would charge £10-£12 for this and put in 3 extra blades. It feels generous, creates more brand loyalty and leaves guys feeling that they’ve got something good for a good price and they don’t have think about buying anything razor related for a few months. Skin isn’t the only sensitive thing when it comes to shaving. Price is too.”
Above Left & Below - Gillette SkinGuard - £8.99 www.gillette.co.uk
Read TheChicGeek's review of Gillette's new, revolutionary Heated Razor - here
I spoke to Stephane Helene, co-founder of the new Huntsman shaving subscription brand, and he said, “I used to use a couple of other shaving subscription brands, but the quality just wasn’t there, whether it was the cream or handle or the blades. I then shared this with my barber and suggested we should start something.Mr Jackson, who is a Master Barber of nearly 30 years, and I spent over 2 years testing and finding the perfect package. I would not have entered the shaving or grooming market without having someone with vast experience and knowledge as a partner.”
Left - Huntsman, the "Quintessential Shaving Club"
Stephane’s background is in advertising and this Huntsman has nothing to do with the Savile Row tailor of the same name. His partner, Mr Jackson, opened his first barbershop in 1990. Twenty eight years later he now owns a chain of high-end male grooming centres.
TheChicGeek says, “This is more a curated box than a standard branded razor subscription with everything being produced by the one brand. It contains 4 products: Huntsman luxury razor handle, 4 X Gillette Mach III Turbo Blades, Edwin Jagger ‘Hydrating Pre Shave Lotion’ and Edwin Jagger ‘Premium Shaving Cream’.
You get a choice of 3 shaving creams: (A) Sandalwood For Normal Skin - Exotic peppery wood and spice aroma, (B) Aloe Vera For Sensitive Skin - Soothing with a natural delicate fragrance, and (C) Cooling Menthol For Normal Skin - Calming and soothing with subtle fragrance.
I would steer clear of the cooling menthol as the ‘Hydrating Pre Shave Lotion’ is mega cooling already and I wouldn’t want you to OD on the menthol! The only branded Huntsman product in the box is the handle and my feedback would be that it looks a bit old fashioned and ‘traditional’.
What shaving really needs is a good injection of the contemporary. Shaving needs to become cool again and all this traditional, Victorian type product just doesn’t feel like the right direction. It’s tired. Somebody needs to make shaving feel contemporary. Something we want to do and get back involved with. MAKE SHAVING GREAT AGAIN! Now, that’s a challenge for somebody.
The blades and 2 products, full price, add up to around £37, so you’re saving £2, while getting the handle and postage free.
If they’re not using their own branded products, I would offer more variety and allow guys more options to mix and match the box. For example, 2 products with the razors, but one month could be pre-shave and another maybe a post-shave or moisturiser. Just an idea.”
Right - Huntsman - ‘Daily Shaver’ - 1 Box Sent Every 6 weeks - £35, ‘Occasional Shaver’ 1 Box Sent Every 12 weeks - £35
Looking for a shaving/razor subscription? Read more ChicGeek Tried & Tested review on Boldking, Bic & Grüum here