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
The Chic Geek's latest vlog celebrates National Grooming Day and includes grooming advice and the latest product from Clinique, Tom Ford, Versace, Diesel, Foreo and Gillette. Watch TheChicGeek video below and subscribe to his YouTube channel here
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
If you haven’t heard of American grooming brand, Malin+Goetz, before, where have you been? I remember first seeing their products when I started TheChicGeek. That was over 7 years ago and, now, they are opening two stores in London simultaneously: one on Upper Street in Islington and the other on Covent Garden’s Monmouth Street.
Left - Malin+Goetz's new Islington store. Open now
The brand was founded by Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz 12 years ago in New York’s Chelsea neighbourhood. Over the years, their award winning formulations and iconic packaging have expanded along with their growing portfolio of stores in New York and Los Angeles.
Malin+Goetz products have become synonymous with healthy skin. Every product has been formulated with trusted natural ingredients along with performance focused tech- nologies to deliver exceptional results in the most gentle way – even for the most sensitive skin.
Right - Wake up with zest! Malin+Goetz Bergamot Body Wash - £17
Now, Malin+Goetz open their first London flagships (as well as their first UK e-commerce site www.malinandgoetz.co.uk). Each London shop has its own distinct architectural design. The local firm, Jonathan Tuckey Design has produced two concepts. Islington is in a late Victorian building and features a dynamic shelving grid fabricated from cedar plywood that undulates from horizontal shelving to covering ceiling. A new shop front incorporates a period curved glass entryway, and a stunning green fascia and shop front and also includes an antique apothecary counter from the late 19th Century.
The Monmouth Street’s shop front is imagined as a large scale retail television. Almost becoming a kinetic diorama from the street, you enter the shop from a velvet lined tunnel to discover an elegant dashed shelving system of compressed dark paper supported by dowels on a birch plywood wall. The ceiling is fabricated from seamless reflective material that continues to enhance the concept of retail theatre.
Malin+Goetz Stores - 146 Upper Street, Islington, 6 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden
Left - Malin+Goetz also do candles. Malin+Goetz Tobacco Candle - £37
WIN - Competition!
Look out for the Malin+Goetz stencils appearing on a street near you. If you spot one, take a picture and post it to Instagram using the hashtag #MGUK and tagging @malinandgoetz and you may be chosen to go in store and collect an exclusive Malin+Goetz prize. Good luck!
Right - Don't look up! Look for the Malin+Goetz stencils on the street
TheChicGeek says, “How unruly are your brows?! Trust Tom Ford to come up with a new product category for men’s grooming. The eyebrows are, clearly, now, a thing, well, if you subscribe to the Tom Ford school of grooming, it is. He’s launched a few new products as well - Shave Oil and Exfoliating Energy Scrub - but the most interesting and novel is the ‘Brow Gelcomb’.
“Simply twist the bottom and out comes a dark grey gel on to the comb part of the wand. I was worried - I have ginger brows - that the colour would darken them, but this wasn’t the case and they quickly dried without being sticky or noticeable.
According the blurb, it is 'designed to groom and refine while giving balance and symmetry to a man’s most masculine facial features'. This is for the man who has everything, so, again, that’ll be Tom Ford.
n.b. This doesn’t give permission to overly shape or pluck those furry slugs. Just tidy.”
Left - Tom Ford for Men - Brow Gelcomb - £32
Swiss grooming brand, Cellmen, is the only cellular skincare brand specifically designed for men’s skin. The 'UltraCell Intensive' is a 12 day intensive treatment which works to re-energise the skin using active stabilised bio-integral cells that work in harmony with our own skin cells. As a result, skin is left detoxified, lifted, refined, revitalised and firmed. It is recommended as an intensive skin treatment 2 to 3 times a year.
TheChicGeek says, "Firstly, this is one of the most expensive products I’ve ever tried. £335 for 12 days!! The packaging certainly reflected this, with 12 individual glass phials all securely sealed with a pipette to apply.
After the second day, I had to send an e-mail to the PR to ask if I’d actually been sent the proper product and not a dummy filled with water. The product has no smell and the consistency of water, which made me wonder whether it was simply water?? When you’re pipetting the product onto your face and watching it run down your chin, it's difficult not to think somebody is playing a trick on you.
The kind PR offered to send a sample she had on her desk, which, when it arrived, was exactly the same. I carried on using each phial, fully, for the full 12 days, barely able to look at myself in the mirror!
I’m not really sure what to think. There was no difference to anything, other than I felt I’d washed my face twice before bed. Could this be the Vetements of grooming products?!"
Left - Cellmen - UltraCell Intensive (12 phials) - £335
Poxrucker & Co. was founded by international makeup artist, Alicia Poxrucker, who found she was encountering more and more questions from her male clients about how they can improve the appearance of their skin and benefit from the power of skincare and grooming products.
Finding a lack of products specifically geared towards men, even with her reach as a makeup artist, with almost two decades’ experience, Alicia decided the only way to keep her clients truly happy was to create her own premium range.
So, after extensive research and development, Gentleman’s Polish was born: a lightly tinted, mineral-based makeup with a smooth, sheer finish designed especially for men’s skin.
Above - Poxrucker & Co - Gentleman’s Polish - Mineral Sheer Tint - 30ml - £35
The multi-tasking formula helps reduce the dreaded man-shine and contains light diffusing pigments that help to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s perfect for the gentleman who wants a pick-me-up after a late night or a long winter, before a big date or job interview.
Gentleman’s Polish is oil and paraben free and hypoallergenic, so it’s suitable for all skin types, and it contains SPF 20+ for sun protection.
TheChicGeek says, “Sounding a bit like something you should be spreading on toast, this is the first men’s specific foundation I’ve encountered. I’ve tried BB and CC creams before, all which have a slight tint to the product to hide blemishes and even out the skin, but none has felt as light and as natural as this.
This is you on your very best day. I don’t think I’d apply this everyday, but as the blurb says, this would be great for the morning-after-the-night-before, when trying to look less like death or possibly a date or job interview. There’s an SPF 20 in here, somewhere, even though it didn’t mention this on the sample I was sent. Whatever you do make sure you get the correct skin colour, I went for ‘light’. If in doubt go for a lighter shade.
My feedback would be that the branding and packaging doesn't do this justice. It needs a more serious approach. I like the name, it just needs better branding and nicer packaging for the £35 price tag."
If Helmut Lang and American Apparel had a lovechild, you’d probably end up with RON DORFF. Born out of the partnership of Jérôme Touron, a Frenchman, and Claus Lindorff, a Swede, RON DORFF is a simple combination of their two last names. Aligning Swedish functionality with classic French elegance, RON DORFF is a new idea of sportswear.
Left - SS16 - VELO LOVE developed together with Lorenzo Martone of MARTONE CYCLING COMPANY OF NY
Basically, it’s basics with a few slogans in a simple typeface and we can never get enough of these post hipster labels.
Offering sweatshirts, hoodies, swimwear, joggers, underwear, accessories and skincare, RON DORFF slogan is DISCIPLINE IS NOT A DIRTY WORD.
RON DORFF constantly collaborates with other designers and together offer exclusive limited editions such as the ‘Innocent Summer Pleasures’ series developed in collaboration with the Swedish graphic artist Johan Oxe and the ûber-light but practical city bike VELO LOVE developed together with Lorenzo Martone of MARTONE CYCLING COMPANY OF NY.
Left - RON DORFF's skincare line is made in Sweden
RON DORFF line of bodycare products is 100% made in Sweden and developed in partnership with Sweden’s most respected skincare brand, FACE Stockholm. The collection includes a shower gel, body scrub, tonifying shampoo and Swedish Massage Oil. The list of ingredients is brief, free of parabens and mineral oils, enriched by active botanicals harvested north of the Arctic Circle. The series also includes an exclusive, scented Swedish Massage candle made in Grasse, France.
Right - The majority of RON DORFF items are unbranded, but come into the slightly pricier bracket for men's basics
They have a Paris flagship store and plan a second in London at the end of this year.