Launched in 2017, MARRAM Co offers a luxury, personalised natural shave with the finest of essential oiled infused foams and chrome hardware kits. Hoping to transform shaving into a pleasurable ritual, MARRAM Co believe that the preparation behind the shave is key and have created shaving creams to match your mood, all manufactured in the UK.
Left - MARRAM Co - "Power Up" - Metal tubes and quality fragrances makes this shaving to remember
Using organic essential oils sourced from 212 organic farms all over the world, the creams are therapeutic even for the man with the most sensitive of skin. Choose from “Wake Up Call”, “You’ve Got This”, “It’s Cold”, “Power Up”, “Night Out”, "The Morning After”, “Time Out” and “You Might Get Lucky”.
TheChicGeek says, “When you think about shaving products it’s interesting how, for something we literally put under our noses, quality fragrance hasn’t played a more dominant role.
Named after the grey-green tufts of Marram grass found on British coastal sand dunes, MARRAM, also a palindrome - the same forwards as backwards - is a collection of shaving creams offering distinctive and quality scents.
The brand centres on the traditional barbering routine of cream, bowl and brush. Most guys won’t be bothered with this faff on a daily basis, but it’s definitely for a time when you can enjoy the ritual.
The brushes, razor handle and bowls are really top quality and are priced to match. The razor takes a Gillette head and everything, including the shaving creams, is made in the UK.
Right - MARRAM Co - Brush & Bowl Set - £250
While the hardware is expensive, I like the way they’ve made the shaving cream realistic in pricing - in two sizes, £8 for 20ml and £20 for 100ml - it also means you can play with the fragrances and try a few.
There are 9 different scents, all with fun names, 7 are permanent and a couple are limited-editions. It’s light and foams up nicely and easy to apply with your hands.
I think people are willing to pay more for products with quality scents. I feel £20 is good for 100ml, here, and those essentials oils are the things that transport you, for a few seconds at least, to another place and makes shaving less of a chore and more of a pleasure. The heat and steam of shaving is ideal for these essential oils to really do their best work.
This reminds me of the shaving cream from Buly that smells like marzipan that I like - read more here - and my favourite is “Wake Up Call” with its earthy vetiver fragrance.
I think MARRAM & Co are onto something here. I like the branding, I like the metal tubes and I like the fragrances. I just need to shave more!”
Below - MARRAM Co - Shaving Cream - 20ml - £8 100ml - £20
Exclusive to MRPORTER.COM
Lab Series’ new Day Rescue Defense Lotion SPF 35 is a lightweight, invisible daily moisturiser with SPF and ‘HYDRA-ENDURE TECHNOLOGY’ ‘which harnesses extracts from plants known to endure extreme weather conditions’. This is helps combat the visible effects of sun, dry climate, and pollution—environmental damage that can lead to dehydrated skin and the look of stress and premature ageing. Non-acnegenic. Suitable for use on bald heads.
TheChicGeek says, “Stop what you’re doing, this should be your new daily moisturiser. This is ticking all the boxes: sun, pollution and a nice consistency. The last time Lab Series did a decent SPF it was in a BB cream. SPF 35 is a good number and this doesn’t feel heavy, at all. I’m always banging on about having an SPF on everyday, so just do it.
Pollution is also becoming a hot topic in grooming and you'll just have to believe this is trying its hardest against this. I also like the way they’ve mentioned bald heads, this is often an area men forget. Always apply protection or wear a hat.
I really like this. Use liberally, but with it only being 50ml you’ll get through it pretty quick, that’s the only drawback.”
Left - Lab Series Day Rescue Defense Lotion SPF 35 - £31
Created by David Beckham in partnership with L’Oréal, HOUSE 99 is said to take a holistic approach to grooming, merging British barbershop culture and style with hair, skin, beard and tattoo creativity to build a home for every man’s next look.
Twenty one products named after David’s favourite year; he has ’99’ tattooed on his hand to mark a momentous year in both his personal life and career. He married Victoria, his eldest son, Brooklyn was born, and Manchester United won the treble.
The current HOUSE 99 must-haves include: Going Big Thickening & Purifying Shampoo, Get Groomed. Purifying Beard Scrub, Seriously Groomed Beard & Hair Balm. You get the idea…
Left - HOUSE 99 - Going Big Thickening Daily Shampoo - 250ml - £16, Get Groomed Purifying Beard Scrub - £18 Exclusive to Harvey Nichols until March
Quinoa and spirulina form the heart of HOUSE 99’s formulas, chosen specifically by David Beckham for their health-boosting properties, as a prominent sportsman. These natural protein-rich actives combine the essential constituents needed by hair and skin that can’t be synthesised by the body.
TheChicGeek says, “Does the world need 21 new grooming products from David Beckham? Probably not. Will it be successful? Probably. The thing about the current grooming market, this massive need for new shelf space will displace or replace existing brands. I’m not sure why L’Oréal didn’t just put David Beckham into their Men Expert range or make the new Barber Club his imput. Both need more identity, editing and personality.
But, I can see why they’ve done a separate range when I look at the prices. It’s more expensive than I initially thought or looks - £17 for a face wash, £22 for moisturiser.
I tried three products: Greater Look Face Moisturiser, Purefectly Clean Face Wash and Truly Brighter Eye Balm. The only thing of interest was the peppermint tingle in the face wash. The ‘Eye Balm’ is a bit too thick for such a delicate area.
Overall, I’m not sure where this fits. It’s priced to compete with Clinique and Lab Series, but it's packaged to compete with Nivea and Bulldog. I’m not sure what you’re paying a premium for other than for Golden Balls’ name. I also think launching 21 products at once is overwhelming and it’s a lot for anybody to take in. Modern grooming needs to be simple.
The tattoo products make sense with Beckham as the face and if they do box sets for gifting, I can see this being a popular present come father's day or Christmas.”
Since 1980, Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories’ (DCL) scientists have closely collaborated with physicians to create targeted and innovative skincare formulations for some of the best, brightest and most venerated names in skincare, including renowned dermatologists, global top-selling brands and influential retailers.
A couple of years ago they launched their own skincare range. The DCL Active Mattifying Range targets both genders but with a primary focus on men. The active mattifying range is targeted to oily skin, to help clear excess oil and sebum from the skin and eventually minimise the appearance of pores over time. Dermatologist tested. Non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic. Paraben-free.
TheChicGeek says, “I hadn’t heard of DCL before. This American firm has some serious pedigree and certainly has the experience. Like most manufacturers who produce for others, the clever thing is to start your own brand and use your expertise exclusively for yourself. This has been happening in fashion and now it’s time for beauty/grooming.
I tried the moisturiser which had a broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection of 30. It says it rehydrates oily, combination and acne-prone skin without blocking pores or provoking flare ups.
This is really light and is definitely mattifying, so great for men's oilier skin. I like the feel and it has no weight, considering the high SPF. It is pushing it in price in the pricier range of moisturisers, but you’re not paying for the brand, you’re paying for the science."
Left - DCL Ultra-Light Hydrator SPF 30 - 50ml - £54
Happy New Year, Chic Geeks. What a crazy year. Things all went a bit Back To The Future II with our Trumpian dystopia, jaffa cakes got reduced from 12 to 10 in a box - the tragedy! - and online started to really eat into, and effect, traditional retail models.
It feels like we’re in an in-between period, right now, looking to the past, while waiting for the future. Prepare yourself, it’s definitely coming. Here’s a bit of TheChicGeek looking back, rewarding and remembering the past year.
Join in on social media with #TheChicGeekAwards
Best Label of 2017 Balenciaga
You had me at ‘rubber car mat skirt’. Anybody who can make a blue leather Ikea bag, at £1800, desirable, is on to something. Demna Gvasalia, the Georgian fashion designer, has made looking drab and unglamorous an art form. While not a massive fan of Vetements - his own label - Balenciaga still has some of the luxury polish left which makes something desirable. ‘Interesting’ could be the word, but what he does with this label is make you think about what you are looking at. It makes you question what you like and what you don’t, and that has to be interesting, no?
Left - Balenciaga Lookbook SS18 Glamour!
Best New Label of 2017 Martine Rose
Before you scream 'it’s not new' at me, I know, but this year Martine Rose broke through. After 10 years on the margins, and, I’ll be honest, I never really quite got it, everything changed and fashion turned towards her style.
She also started working at Balenciaga, above, and, used their manufacturing, giving her collections the polish it needed. She's making some of the best items of the season and if you’re into fleeces and cycle shorts, you’ll be in 90s heaven.
Left - Martine Rose SS18 - One of the must-have menswear pieces of the season - more about that later
Below - Boohoo has just launched activewear for men
Best High Street of 2017 Boohoo Man
Manchester based Boohoo has expanded hugely over the last few years. It was founded in 2006 by Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane who previously supplied high street chains such as Primark and New Look.
Boohoo recently announced plans in June 2017 to build a 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2) warehouse, costing £150m over the next three years, and would offer the capacity to deliver annual sales of £3 billion, alongside their existing Burnley warehouse.
One of the most successful British online retailers, Boohoo has massive potential and is doing really well in the US. In fashion terms, it’s fast and cheap, and this is the only way to survive and thrive in this market, aimed at 16-24 year olds.
While they nod to the trends, Boohoo makes clothes these people want to wear and while they aren’t all hits, there’s enough choice to be able to make a selection to reflect your personality or the character you want to be that day. Affordable, yes, disposable, yes, but this market is fickle and you’re only as strong as your last product, but there’s plenty here to get excited about and it’s only going to get bigger.
Best Grooming Product 2017 La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anti-shine Invisible Fresh Mist SPF50
Anything that protects, is easy to use and you’re not conscious of wearing, is the Holy Grail of grooming products. This spray goes on like a light mist and offers a high SPF protection. Sun damage is the biggest factor in visible ageing and anything that makes it simple and quick to add a layer of protection has to a good thing. You’ll actually enjoy using this and it shouldn’t just be restricted to the summer months.
Left - Get one of these for your holiday and then carry on using it - more here
Best Grooming Brand 2017 Perricone MD
The best grooming brands are those which make you feel like you’re in a knowledgable and safe pair of hands. Dr Perricone’s MD brand launched this 3-part men's CBx range, this year, containing a face wash, post-shave product and a moisturiser.
The 'CBx' part is a reference to Phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are non-psychoactive cannabinoids derived from the cannabis sativa plant - hemp.
Expensive, but it feels like you’re getting more than fancy packaging here and with a new supplements range out this year - 2018 - and twists on his cult products, I think I’m going to carry on being a big fan.
Above - Dr Perricone's first men's range - read more here
Fragrance of the Year 2017 Tom Ford’s Fucking Fabulous
Picture the scene: Tom Ford walks into Esteé Lauder’s New York headquarters. He’s here to talk about the future of his cosmetics and fragrance business. It gets to new fragrance names. We have a new ‘oud this’, ‘something leather’ that, it’s all very predictable, and then, suddenly, somebody suggests, how about ‘Fucking Fabulous’? The room laughs. We all say it, don't we?!
The execs at Esteé Lauder look at each other, want to carry on laughing and then move over the joke. But, Tom’s feeling cheeky and he wants the name to stick.
No other brand would do it and that’s the power of having your name, and the power that goes with it, on the product. Nobody is going to question Mr Ford. What he says goes and this is why many fashion companies struggle. It’s all bit beige, a bit done by committee, nobody is willing to stick their neck out. Especially in conservative America.
Okay, so I’ve made this story up. But, this will be the fragrance people will remember from 2017. It’s just a shame the actually scent doesn’t live up to the name and is a cult for more than its name. If this had a memorable and individual scent it would be unstoppable. I just love how they have to blank out the f-word on the adverts.
Above - More than a name? Fucking Fabulous by Tom Ford
Most Stylish Programme 2017 The Deuce
If you know me, you’ll know I love a bit of 70s style. Think the pimps from ‘Live & Let Die’, and you’ll get an idea about the wardrobe for The Deuce. James Franco, annoyingly, and unnecessarily, plays twins in this, but Maggie Gyllenhaal steals the show. It’s a mix of mafia, prostitutes, pimps and punters in this grimy yet quite glamourous take on bankrupt 70s New York.
Left - The Deuce's pimps getting pimped
Best Menswear Collaboration 2017 Topman X Stranger Things
The right product, at the right time, driven by a massively popular Netflix series made this a big success for Topman and Topshop. It’s been a tough year for Topman and they need to think clever in order to take on the ASOSs and Boohoos of this digital world. Think ringer tees and washed denim in a collection of early 80s teen-wear.
Left - Taking a trip to Hawkin
Special ChicGeek Award 2017 - Christopher Bailey
Bailey is Burberry and Burberry is Bailey. The giant luxury goods company we see today has been created thanks to his creative design, direction and his attention to detail. This doesn’t mean it can’t change, it just means, in my opinion, it will never be as good.
For many years, Burberry was flying high. It tightened up its licensing and became a must-have for the newly rich Chinese.
It’s hit the buffers recently, so it’s probably time for something new, but some of those Bailey/Burberry collections were some of the best of their time. Leather sleeves on jackets? Yes, Mr Bailey. He made heritage Britishness modern and exportable and gave it a gloss that made you proud that Burberry was British. Read more here
Left - 2018 is the year Burberry waves goodbye to Christopher Bailey, what will he do next?
Turkey of 2017
Jeff Koons for Louis Vuitton was a double take when it first appeared on Twitter. What looked like a collection of bags straight from the back of a Chinese counterfeit operation, was, in fact, a collaboration with one of the world’s most successful artists. This tacky collection hijacked some of the world’s greatest artists and their most famous paintings and then emblazoned their name all over it: as if you were too dumb to recognise them. If you need a gold “DA VINCI” on your Mona Lisa then this collection was for you.
Left - Never actually seen one on the street, maybe rarer than the real thing?!
What are your thoughts? #TheChicGeekAwards
Bulldog Skincare’s new 'Age Defence' range comprises a Moisturiser, a “potent” Serum and Eye Roll-on. Each product is said to have a powerful blend of antioxidants from rosemary and echinacea to help fight free radical damage as well as vitamin E.
The Age Defence Moisturiser is said to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles after 4 weeks. *Consumer trial - 146 male participants, June 2017.
Left - Bulldog Skincare - Age Defence Moisturiser 100ml - £8, Age Defence Serum 50ml - £12, Age Defence Eye Roll-On 15ml - £10
It’ll also brighten the complexion and leave your skin feeling moisturised and nourished. The tube is part made from sugarcane plastic - plastic which is produced from ethanol derived from sugar cane production - to help reduce consumption of fossil fuels.
With more than double the concentration of antioxidants as the Age Defence Moisturiser, the serum has been formulated to leave the skin feeling firm, smooth and nourished. Should be used underneath the moisturiser for an extra boost of hydration and the Age Defence Eye Roll-On has been formulated to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, dark circles and puffiness.
TheChicGeek says, “If I was going to be picky I would say just use Bulldog’s “Protective Moisturiser” with an SPF if you want ‘anti-aging’, as the majority of our skin’s aging is from the effects of UV rays from the sun.
Many men have grown up with Bulldog, and trust it, so it’s about time they did a range of “Age Defence” products for their loyal and maturing fan club.
They did have an “Anti-Ageing Moisturiser” before, but not a full range. The new Age Defence Moisturiser will be replacing this, as they say they’ve done more tests to prove the efficacy on this one. It has more of a potent blend of antioxidants and different actives.
These products are targeted specifically at those who would like to prevent the effects of free radical damage - which is the main cause of skin ageing. Free radical production increases under certain conditions such as UV radiation and environmental pollution; known as oxidative stress.
I never really buy into this idea of "anti-aging", but if you look after your skin, from a reasonably early age, it will reward you. FYI - Lots of sleep, water and SPF help too.
The moisturiser has a “brightening” element which helps to lighten and even out skin tone. If you lighten the darker blemishes, the skin looks younger and more flawless. Brands are often afraid to mention skin lightening, but it works to deceptively even out creases and wrinkles.
The serum has the consistency of a moisturiser and the roll-on has a cooling steel ball to gently rub around the eyes. I like using Bulldog’s products and I enjoyed using these. The prices are great value and everything feels simple and straightforward. The serum is billed as double the potency as the moisturiser, so if you were only going to get one product from this range, I would get this and add an SPF moisturiser on top.”
TheChicGeek says, “If you’re worried Bic is going to send you one of their famous orange-plastic, disposable razors, which literally scrapes the hair off your face, don’t worry, their new refillable blades are so much better. So good, in fact, it makes you wonder why they haven’t sold these before? Or, if they do, why didn’t I know about it.
This new subscription service enters a market that is quickly hotting up. We’ve had Harry’s launch this year and I don’t think it’ll be long before Unilever’s Dollar Shave Club makes an entry into the UK market, plus a few other, smaller European subscription services such as Boldking and Grüum.
Men are notoriously tight, so the razor market is very price sensitive. They are also lazy and adding convenience will increase razor use and grow the market.
This seems to be offering great value. Still French, family-owned, the Bic Shave Club is a monthly or bi-monthly subscription service offering 3 or 5 blade refillable razors. I tried the 5 blades razor and it arrived with the razor handle and four blades.
I’m told the regular price for this is £8, which is much cheaper than Gillette and with more blades, but they are offering it at a special introducing offer of £2.95, and you can cancel at any time.
The razor was easy to use, with plenty of lubricating strip. It’s a standard razor, but Bic do know how to make blades and have plenty of experience in this area. They’ve designed the razor head to be less proud, so it is easier to getting into a smaller, slimmer box and therefore through your door or into your mailbox.
This service seems really simple, easy to understand and offers good value. I think we will see the established players - Gillette, Wilkinson Sword - offer better value and compete in these new “Razor Wars” and the winner will be, you, the consumer.
Disclosure - I’ve worked as a consultant on the launch of Bic Shave Club - see video below - but, they never asked/paid me to use or review the service and product.
Starting with sports and diet - which is a good idea, these days - Proverb skincare says it takes the understanding and efficacy of elite sports nutrition and applies it to your skin. Proverb is a “lifefuelled” training program comprising of skincare, supplements, and expert advice.
Founders, Kirstie and Luke Sherriff, met at Oxford University from where Luke signed a professional rugby contract for Harlequins RFC and played in the Premiership and in top flight rugby for 11 years including the England and Great Britain 7s, and Barbarians squads. Understandably he developed a dedication to elite health, diet and wellbeing. In 2009, he joined Kirstie to launch their first natural spa range for women.
With over 20 years' of skin expertise, Kirstie developed organic spa products, beauty schools and trains therapists at spas including Āman Global Resorts, Cowley Manor and at John Lewis’ first concept beauty spas.
Ben Burch, the third founder, is a former Great Britain rower. While, officially, he is the IT expert and completes the Proverb trio of skin, body and mindset.
Left - Proverb - Hydration Pro Moisturiser - £55, Cleanse & Shave Nutrient Mud - £30
TheChicGeek says, “I like the rounded approach to this. Diet, exercise - it even mentions water!!!! - has an effect on your skin. I was sent two products to try: "Hydration Pro Moisturiser" and "Cleanse & Shave Nutrient Mud".
My initial impression was the packaging seemed really cheap: the sort of generic packaging and labelling a product manufacture offers a start up brand, which is surprising considering the experience above.
There are six launch products in total including a “Skin Resistance Training Supplement”.
The moisturiser contains hyaluronic acid, which always keeps your skin nice and plump and moisturised. More interesting is the dual cleanse and shave product. I used it for both.
"Glycoproteins with omega fatty acids from acai and avocado help calm and repair environmental skin damage. Nutrient clay minerals cleanse deeply, while lycoprotenetm complex from tomato and egg white help reduce skin stress, providing powerful anti-oxidants", it says.
I found this almost waxy. It was almost a bit too dry. It worked well as a shave product, but could easily be looser. It washed off okay and I do like the idea of combining products.
It you had asked me to guess the pricing I would have said cheaper than what they are asking, which is probably down to the packaging and labelling. The products are fine, but these prices are premium and they just don’t have the feel and bathroom shelf appeal of others in this category.
Adding supplements to a grooming range is a great idea - £45 - and pushing grooming into overall health and wellbeing is definitely the direction it is going in.”
TheChicGeek says, “Based around organic soaps, SCRUBD is a new British grooming brand. Founded by entrepreneur, Mark Helvadjian, his previous company was ShippingEasy, an online fulfilment platform, after he couldn’t find premium all-natural grooming products created specifically for men. Two years ago the journey began and, now, launches with 9 products - 4 of which are soaps - exclusively at Harvey Nichols.
Left - SCRUBD grooming based around organic soap - Exclusively in Harvey Nichols - Soaps - Cedarwood & Grapefruit, Lemongrass & Lime, Oakmoss & Spearmint, Charcoal & Black Pepper - £17, Face Scrub - £24
I was sent 2 soaps and the face scrub to try:
I like the branding, it’s simple yet distinctive. The soaps are man-sized and will last a decent amount of time. I can’t see in the blurb how the ‘Hand-crafted all-natural, organic triple-milled soap block’ has been made specifically for men’s skin? I must be missing something.
I don’t usually use soap as it dries out the skin. This has an element of dryness, but it isn’t too bad. I like the all-natural, organic idea and the smell is subtle - it could actually be stronger.
There’s a novelty to using soap, when you don’t usually, especially in certain areas! These big sizes will be more cost effective than any body wash. They are fairly premium for a soap - £17 - but it is “hand-crafted” in England and organic.
The "Face Scrub" is pretty standard. It’s nice and soft and cleanses and washes off easily. I usually judge a new grooming range on its moisturiser which I didn’t try here, but I like the idea of bringing soaps back and centring the brand around these.”
Beverly Hills Formula’s Professional White range offers a brand new advanced formula for superior whitening results using clinically proven ingredients to help remove surface and deep stains without harming the enamel.
Oral hygiene experts, Beverly Hills Formula, have been working on the ground-breaking new whitening formulation for over two years and it’s currently only available in the UK.
Black Pearl works by using activated charcoal combined with professional whitening ingredient Phthalimido-Peroxy-Caproic Acid (PAP) to help remove surface and deep stains without harming the enamel and is safe for daily use.
Chris Dodd, CEO of Beverly Hills Formula which has been established for over 20 years, said: “We are very excited about our new Professional White range which has taken over two years in development, but it’s been well worth it because we believe we’ve created the best teeth whitening products which aren’t harmful to enamel and are aimed at consumers who expect superior results from a whitening toothpaste.”
TheChicGeek says, “If I got a smile like one of those “Housewives” I’d probably blind everybody when I opened my mouth. My goal isn’t ice white, it’s more a subtle British ivory, if you get my drift!
I’m always a bit sceptical about “whitening” toothpastes and I’m firmly in the camp of “this won’t do anything, but it can’t hurt”.
This is the first jet black toothpaste I’ve used. It isn’t difficult to rinse and there are no traces of it left after using, ie grey gums. I really enjoyed using this. I’m not sure if my teeth look whiter, but I definitely feel like my gums are better and my teeth feel really clean. This feels like a quality product.”
Above - Beverly Hills Formula Black Pearl Professional White Toothpaste - £10.99