Thursday, 13 April 2017 08:58

Beards: The Global Phenomenon

Over the centuries, the humble beard has been through many styles and transformations, but British men continue to love them and use them as a means of expressing their individuality. So far, we’ve witnessed everything from the glitter beard bomb of 2016, to intricate plait designs and wax styling wonders that would make most catwalk models jealous. Just when you think there’s a lull in beard trends, some crazy new twist is put on them to bring them back to the here and now.

So, which style do you go for when it’s time for a trim? Whether it’s the artistic goatee, the traditional gentlemen’s moustache, a bohemian style with funky dyes, or the full fisherman’s beard, each of these styles have something to say about your personality. However, it appears your facial hair can also be determined by where you live. In the following infographic, not only will you learn about the most popular beard trends of 2017 in Britain, but you’ll see why those who hail from Leeds are more likely to opt for the chin curtain, those from Sheffield prefer the mutton chops look, and Geordie’s choose the goatee. Not only that, but you’ll be able to see how our facial hair trends in the UK compared to those overseas, and some handy ideas on grooming. 

 

Published in Grooming

Review of Perricone MD Shower Mask groomingPerricone MD has launched this new face mask that is designed to be used in the shower. How is a mask meant to be used in the shower you ask? Well, while you're shampooing, shaving, lathering up, the heat and steam of the shower activates the ‘Refreshing Shower Mask’ gel formula. And as an added bonus, it’s designed to protect your face from hot water, and the gel consistency clings to your face, so it doesn't wash away.

The purpose of the mask, which has a cooling factor, is to revitalise leaving skin feeling smoother and softer, while using Dr Perricone’s Nrf2 Antioxidant Support Complex to support your skin when fighting off environmental and oxidative stress. Ingredients such as squalene and jojoba are included to moisturise and increase skin elasticity.

TheChicGeek says, “Now this is a mask idea I can get on board with. Anything that is easy to use and effective will make it into a man’s regime. Men like to try and multitask, even if they are bad at it. Move over sheet mask, we’re going ‘in-shower’!

Firstly, it doesn’t suggest how often you should use this, but it seems quite gentle, so I’d say maybe twice a week. It’s a green gel, not too thick, and goes on easily. It’s tempting to just wash it off, like you would normally a face wash, but you resist. Resist I say! It does also depend on how long your showers are, but by the time you’ve washed your hair and body it should be pushing 5 mins. *checks hot water bill* It does warn it may tingle in a cooling way, but I didn’t feel any reaction. 

It didn’t ‘set’, or change and washed off easily, which is usually quite satisfying with a mask. The end result: my face felt extra clean and well prepped afterwards”.

Left - Perricone MD - Refreshing Shower Mask - 74ml - £32

Published in Grooming
Tuesday, 07 March 2017 16:15

Sugar Free Geek

Sugar Free Geek DiaryI’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.

Published in Grooming
Thursday, 16 February 2017 17:31

Tried & Tested STOER Skincare for Men

Review STOER skincare for men Harvey Nichols cosmetic droneA 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

Published in Grooming
Thursday, 09 February 2017 01:12

Tried & Tested The Boucheron Collection

Boucheron Collection Fragrance Review The Chic GeekThe 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”.

Published in Grooming

Katerina Steventon Serum Anti Ageing reviewBased 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.”

See also Tried & Tested Katerina Steventon 9 Radiance Eye & Lip Serum

Published in Grooming
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 13:53

Tried & Tested Grüum

Review Gruum grooming made in uk The Chic GeekTailored 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.

Published in The Grooming Archives
Tuesday, 03 January 2017 15:49

Tried & Tested Boldking Razor

Review Boldking Razors The Chic GeekTheChicGeek says, “I went to a recent event that Kiehl’s had to celebrate Thanksgiving and they had a complimentary barber doing facials and wet shaves. We got to talking about which razors we used, I said I liked Gillette’s Flexball and he said he used a brand called ‘Boldking'. I hadn’t heard of them, I asked what was good, and he said that the razorblades were spaced far apart to stop them clogging, which is one of the biggest bugbears of shaving and razors in general.

I thought nothing of it and then, as what always happens, through the mystery of the internet and a greater power, an advert for Boldking came up on my Instagram feed. The conversation I had with the barber came back and I clicked through to their site and asked them to review one of the razors, which they kindly agreed to.

Boldking was founded in 2013 and is based in Amsterdam with the aim of making shaving enjoyable and affordable again.

Left - A Boldking Starter Set - £12

So, here goes. Firstly, the branding is really good. Gone are the muscles and steamed up mirrors: replaced by cute graphics and chatty instructions. This feels modern, it feels like there’s no pressure to be a certain type of man, it’s simply about shaving and doing a good job. 

I think I got sent a deluxe box, but the basic ingredients are the same. A black rubber shaving handle that has a clever suction cup to stick the blade to the mirror or wall. Please note this other shaving brands, this is a great idea: you know where it is, plus the lube strips don’t stick to anything.

You then clip one of the four cartridges on and you can see the blades are visibly spaced further apart. 

Did it clog less? Yes. Razors usually clog around the coarser and thicker areas around the chin and nose. This made shaving easier and faster. You simply shook the razor in the water and everything came out without any banging on the side of the sink.

The negatives. The plastic rubber handle does feel a bit disposable and cheap. The razor was a bit bouncy, again because it’s cheaper, but like all razors, once you got used to it, it was fine.

What do I like? The price is good. A ‘Starter Set; which has 4 cartridges and ‘Aftershave Cream’ is only £12 and that includes free shipping from Holland. 

Secondly, it works. Shaving isn’t exactly enjoyable, but it is quicker and less annoying. Think less banging on the sink. 

Thirdly, the brand feels cool. It feels contemporary. It also feels honest and caring: they offer a recycling service, but do you have to pay £1.50 for the envelope. 

Overall, it’s thumbs up for a small company up against the Goliaths of shaving. 

Boldking is only available online through their website www.boldking.com

Published in The Grooming Archives

The Risk of Trimming Pubes STI increasesFrom the metrosexual’s early foray into light trimming to the porn-star-bald-as-a-coot look of today, it turns out our love of messing with our pubes could actually be bad for us.

Shaving, trimming, or otherwise grooming pubic hair may be associated with an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), according to a study of more than 7,500 American men and women, published in Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Left - It seems it maybe better to be a cheeky monkey than as bald as a coot!

‘Extreme groomers’ - sounds like a Louis Theroux documentary - those who remove all their pubic hair at least 11 times a year are most at risk.

The study, although observational in nature, suggests a potential link between frequent, intense pubic hair grooming and increased exposure to a host of STIs.

“Such a relation is plausible because the act of grooming with razors or shavers causes epidermal microtears, which may permit epithelial penetrance by bacterial or viral STIs,” E. Charles Osterberg of the University of Texas and colleagues wrote in their study. 

“Irrespective of the underlying mechanism—whether a casual relation or statistical association—understanding the possible link between pubic hair grooming and STI acquisition could be useful for developing strategies to reduce STI rates.”

Osterberg and colleagues surveyed 7,580 men and women, 74 percent of whom reported at least some pubic hair grooming. The researchers found that groomers were often younger and more sexually active than non-groomers, and that  those ‘extreme groomers’ reported the greatest number of sexual partners.

The researchers concluded that any type of grooming is associated with an 80 percent increased risk of contracting any of eight STIs evaluated, including HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, and genital lice. 

Extreme grooming was associated with a 3.5- to four-fold increased risk, especially for cutaneous - relating to the skin - STIs, such as herpes and HPV.

Because of the study’s observational design, it is impossible to determine causation based on these results. And although the authors attempted to control for lifetime sexual partners and other confounding variables, it remains possible that pubic hair grooming is a marker not of increased STI risk, but of increased likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behaviors. “Several mechanisms may work together to explain our findings,” the authors wrote. “For instance, our stronger findings for cutaneous STIs may be explained by both microtears and residual confounding.”

There are a lot of variables here. The people who admitted to trimming their pubes were younger and more sexually active and the extreme groomers had the most sexual partners so increasing their risk. It could also be said that those in a monogamous relationship may not be as worried about being as tidy downstairs as those who are single and meeting more people more frequently. 

But, let’s be honest, trimming down there isn’t easy. No matter what you use, body groomer, razor, waxing etc., there is always a possibility of nicks and tears and it makes physical sense that this could make you more vulnerable of exposure to an STI. 

It’s funny how, over the last few years, guys became fixated on facial hair and growing it and downstairs went in the opposite direction. Looking at this study, there’s definitely an argument to being lazy. 

Published in Grooming

Beast Grooming Earlham StreetI’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.

www.shop-beast.com

www.verygoodlight.com

Published in Grooming
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