Manual launches with a focus on ED (erectile dysfunction) and hair loss, but will expand the platform to include solutions and knowledge on everything from sex to skin, and hair to general wellbeing.
I’m trying their grooming products which consists of Mr Moisturiser, Power Shampoo & Wrinkle Warrior.
The moisturiser contains hyaluronic acid and allantoin which soothes, protects and regenerates the skin. The shampoo is infused with natural goodness from ginger, sage, olive oil extracts, with caffeine which stimulates hair follicles, biotin which boosts keratin production and saw palmetto which is proven to increase hair density.
The Wrinkle Warrior hydrates, firms and rejuvenates skin. Vitamin C fights the signs of ageing and neutralises skin damage caused by UV and pollution, coenzyme Q10, aiding the skin in regeneration and repair, and triple hyaluronic acid, which makes skin feel hydrated, plump and healthy.
Left - Manual - ‘Skin Kit & Shampoo' - Power Shampoo - 250ml, Mr Moisturiser - 100ml, Wrinkle Warrior - 50ml - £39 every 2 months on a subscription
TheChicGeek says, “Manual is similar to the American Hims brand - Read more here - which also aims to be more of a wellness brand which includes grooming alongside other issues affecting men both physically and emotionally.
I tried all three products and they all have a reassuring thickness. FYI - The moisturiser actually smells like Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male. I like the pump dispenser for the shampoo. It’s much better for guys who use a lot less and wastes less.
As for the Wrinkle Warrior, I don’t really see the point of neutralising skin damage caused by UV if you don’t put an SPF in the moisturiser, but, anyway.
I can’t report anything radical happening with any of these products, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like them. I like the shampoo the most.
They want you to sign up to a subscription, so the pricing isn’t clear for individual products, which unless you’ve tried them before hand I guess many guys would be reluctant to do?”
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Manual 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
Founded by footballers, Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Özil, UNITY, is a new men’s grooming brand that has been “designed to put people’s health and our planet on the right path to a sustainable future".
The range is comprised of 11 vegan friendly products that feature the highest grade of up to 100% natural origin formulations free from SLS & SLES, parabens, PEGS, mineral oil, silicones, synthetic colours and artificial fragrance for maximum results and performance.
In a bid to reduce the use of virgin plastic, the brand sought out a bio-plastic alternative made from sugar cane that is 100% recyclable, thus minimising the carbon footprint of the brand. Alongside the product, UNITY strives to keep sustainability at its core throughout the business, with customer deliveries arriving in fully recycled craft boxes with bio-degradable and non-toxic starch chips as packing fill.
The brand also believes in the importance of giving back, with 1% of all company revenues going towards causes that seek to make a true difference to people and planet
Left - UNITY - Hair Boost – Shampoo, £10.95, Body Boost – Shower Wash, £8.95, Skin Defence – Face Moisturiser, £11.90, Skin Detox – Face Wash, £10.95
TheChicGeek says, “In our post Blue Planet world, plastic is vilified as the devil of all packaging. If only solving our plastics problem resolved the whole of our environmental issues… But, we have to start somewhere and these guys seem passionate about this subject.
Surely the most environmentally packaged grooming product ever is the humble bar of soap? Used for millennia, is it not the reason Lush made all their products solid? The problem with trying to care for the environment is - and, let’s be honest, anything in the right direction is a good thing - you put yourself out there to be ripped apart. Anything packaged and part of consumerism can be lambasted for simply existing. I think it’s important to say you care, but you also have to acknowledge you’re part of the problem. People will still need to wash and clean themselves and how a brand facilitates this can be minimised. Ernest Supplies’ pouches spring to mind.
Launching with 11 products isn’t really saying "minimal" to me, especially when there’s a shower wash for the morning and and separate one for the evening. (British people only shower twice a day on holiday, FYI).
The main parts of the tubes are made from sugar cane, - Bulldog is another brand I know who is using this too - but the tops are a 25% mix and there’s a beard oil in a glass jar. This goes back to the main problem we have of mixed recycling issues.
The branding is pretty nondescript - it feels a bit 10 years ago - and the packaging is a bit anonymous and generic. There’s no indication of the main ingredients on each product, leaving you to guess the main scent, and saying ’99% Natural Origin’ just makes you think what’s in the other 1% then?
As for the products, they’re not bad and I think they offer value. I tried 4 out of the 11. I sampled the face wash, shampoo, body wash and moisturiser. It feels natural, hence the looseness of some of the consistencies, and the smells are light and not overpowering.
I like the smell of the face wash and moisturiser. The former is a mineral clay in a light toffee colour and the latter is coconut. There’s no lingering smell from the body wash.
This feels like a reliable range, I just wished they’d tried to be more dynamic with the branding and packaging to reflect the passion they have and also to standout in a crowded market. Whispering your green credentials won't change anything”.
Below - UNITY Founders Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Özil
A new daily hydrator that instantly combats fatigue, visibly corrects first signs of ageing, and defends against modern aggressors for a more youthful appearance. Reveals a more youthful appearance with anti-oxidants and a potent “pollution shield” to help defend against pollution/PM2.5, dust, and pollen that can also lead to signs of aging.
Multi-layered defense technology – including sunscreens, repair enzymes, and a unique "Superfood Blend” – fight modern aggressors like UVA/UVB, Infrared (IR), Blue Light, pollution, pollen and dust that can tire skin and accelerate aging.
TheChicGeek says, “This is the direction men's grooming is going in: higher and higher lightweight SPF protection. I was really hoping this would be in a gel format, like - Tried & Tested Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly - but it’s a standard white moisturiser.
It’s slightly tacky on the skin, but feels really light and goes on easily. This is a really high SPF for a regular moisturiser and, finally, men are realising that sun protection should be taken seriously and worn all year around. I'd happily use this everyday. It’s slightly toppy in the pricing for 48ml - what a strange amount? - but if you do want something cheaper, Clinique For Men do a daily moisturiser with SPF 21.”
Left - Clinique For Men - Super Energizer Anti-Fatigue Hydrating Concentrate SPF 40 48ml - £40
TheChicGeek says, “You’ve probably seen this brand before. This is L’Oréal relaunching the men’s grooming brand, Baxter of California, back into Europe. Established in 1965, it is one of the oldest men’s grooming brands and was acquired by the huge beauty conglomerate, L’Oréal, in 2012. (They’ve been hoovering up a lot of brands over the last few years).
The thing I remember most about Baxter of California was the metal tubes. It gave them a retro and quality feel. These are now gone, though the packaging looks similar and I still like it. I don’t actually remember the products themselves.
Left - Some of the vast Baxter of California range
It’s a big range, but feels reliable. I tried the Oil Free Moisturiser, which I really liked and they also do an SPF option which is great. The Citrus & Herbal-Musk Deodorant, is an alcohol and Aluminum-free stick sensitive skin. I also tried a not very memorable body wash, and, the deep cleansing, black bar of soap. These could both do with a stronger and more longer lasting quality fragrance especially at these prices. Men expect and desire this, now, especially when paying a premium.
The pricing is relatively high, with similar prices to that other L’Oréal brand, Kiehl’s.
It’s simple and easy to understand, which is good, but I’d like to see more of its background and history in its products. Where’s my California sun? Which ones are new? Which ones are your heroes? This brand would be perfect to tap the outdoor/active feel that grooming should be heading in.
If I was going to pinpoint one standout product, then it's the Oil Free Moisturiser.
I’d rather buy this than L’Oréal’s new men’s brand, House 99. Read why here
Right - Everybody loves sunshine - Baxter of California needs to push more of its heritage. Or make some up?!
An unbelievably lightweight, water-jelly that delivers 24-hour hydration repair plus pollution protection. The 24-hour hydrator with Clean Shield Technology™ locks in the good—like moisture—and filters out the bad - pollution.
The Clean Shield Technology™ is formulated with a moisture barrier blend of sunflower seed cake, barley extract and cucumber fruit extract to strengthen skin’s barrier, improve its resilience and balance and retain skin’s moisture levels. Hyaluronic acid acts as a natural moisture magnet/humectant.
Left - Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly - 125ml - £31
TheChicGeek says, “Are you ready for this jelly? Hoping to leave your skin ‘Bootylicious’ is the new ‘Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly’ from Clinique. ‘Dramatically Different' is one of the strongest brands in the mainstream moisturising category for women.
Guys got the 'Maximum Hydrator Gel' last year - read TheChicGeek review here - which looks similar.
This is a new clear jelly aiming to not just hydrate, but with the added benefits of protecting the skin against pollution. You’ll need this walking down Oxford Street. Just don’t breathe in!
I asked whether it should be used differently on men’s skin, but they said just treat it the same. It’s really light, moves and disappears like water. This is a good everyday moisturiser that you’ll happily keep reapplying throughout the day. During this heatwave you’ll be tempted to put it in the fridge for a cooling effect. Just don't forget you SPF on top.
I’m never sure how they can say these products hydrate for a full 24 hours, but I guess they’ll be some moisture left under testing.”
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
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.”
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.”