Shaving Goliath, Gillette’s, new brand, King C. Gillette, "brings a century’s worth of expertise to life and promises to be a one-stop-shop for all men with facial hair.”
Bearing the name of Gillette’s founder, King C. Gillette, the man who invented the double safety razor, it embraces nearly 120 years’ of heritage, innovation and grooming experience and, in a first for the brand, includes a range of specific beard care products.
The full range is made up of eight grooming and facial haircare products for men including a Double Edge Safety Razor and blade refills, Neck Razor, Shave and Edging Razor, Transparent Shave Gel, Beard Trimmer, Beard & Face Wash, Soft Beard Balm and Beard Oil.
TheChicGeek says, “When consumers think of the Gillette brand, it really should be as the Levi’s of grooming. The originally inventor of the double-edged safety razor, King Camp Gillette, is one of America’s biggest business success stories - Gillette sold $6.22 billion of men’s razors and blades and $1.28 billion of women’s razors and blades worldwide in 2018, according to Euromonitor data - and, along with Levis Strauss, provided products to the American working man.
Therefore, it’s surprising that few men would be able to tell you much about the man or whether the brand was even named after an individua
So, Gillette is going back to its 1901 roots “Est. Boston 1901” with this new “King C. Gillette” range of razors and grooming products.
Interestingly, this range is more focussed on facial hair than pure shaving.
Some of it is a simple rebrand. Gillette is part of the giant consumer group, Procter & Gamble, who also own Braun, and the provider of the beard trimmer here. The other razors - Neck Razor, Shave and Edging Razor - feature Gillette’s Fusion heads and don’t really offer anything new other than I’ve never seen a monikered ‘Neck Razor’ before?!
The hero product here is the return of the safety razor. While Gillette invented this in 1901 they actually stopped making these 1989 and it offers a really economical way to wet shave. If you want to know more about safety razors and how they work, I wrote this for The Independent last year - here
As for the grooming products, the Beard & Face Wash is a whopping 350ml, so you could do your whole body with this. It has a refreshing menthol sensation, but no individual distinctive smell. It’s light and easy to wash out. The Transparent Shave Gel is probably an already existing Gillette product repackaged and as such you could just buy that and save money. The Soft Beard Balm doesn’t look or feel premium. It looks like a product you’ll find at a cheaper price but it’s more than adequate when on.
I would have tried to make King the expert in shaving and taken the premium route a bit higher by highlighting more of the ingredients etc. It still feels anonymous, like the other Gillette products. I would have linked it in with Gillette Labs, Gillette’s pioneering heated razor, read more here, and played on the fact that Gillette has always invented and pioneered things.
The ‘Beard Kits’ idea is good on their website, where you buy a collection of products and razors or trimmers according to your style or needs, as the range is broad taking in Victorian shaving through to hipster beard maintenance.
Clearly, the King isn’t dead. How about a spin-off rainbow coloured Pride range called ‘Camp’?!”
Takeaway - The King C. Gillette is premium compared to Gillette’s regular prices and I like the concept and branding of bringing the founder back. Maybe they should have put more of him on the packaging to hammer this home?
Disclosure - A sample for review was provide by Gillette
The brainchild of British duo, hair stylist and owner of the ‘Lockonego’ hair salon in Chelsea, Jonny Long, and business partner, creative film producer Nick Saunders, Saunders & Long includes the expertise of chemist Steve Musumeci, whose pedigree spans former chief chemist roles at Kiehl’s and Bumble & Bumble and perfumer Francois Robert to ensure Saunders & Long’s signature scent is woven throughout the product range. The 9 product range includes hair, body and face products.
Left - Saunders & Long - Moisturising Body Wash - 250ml - £19, Facial Moisturiser - 50ml - £56, Eye Cream - 15ml - £52
TheChicGeek says, “Saunders & Long launched last summer, I went to the launch at Fortnum & Mason. There was no products to takeaway to try, and when I asked to try some later, they still didn’t materialise. I can’t write about products I haven’t tried, so I just forgot about it.
Here they are, finally. I really like the deco-luxe packaging and the signature scent - amber and bilberry - has a really boozy, gentleman’s club feeling that works well with the packaging. It was particularly nice in the Moisturising Body Wash.
Their most original product has to be ‘The Long Weekender’. ‘A traveller's dream - though it only comes in a 250ml size - it is a 5-in-1 masterpiece for decluttering your washbag’. It includes a low-foaming conditioning shampoo, body wash and shaving cream and, finally, a grooming cream to tame fly-always and add control on dry hair. Just add the bathroom sink!
It is enriched with Pro Vitamin B5 to soothe and nourish the hair and scalp, whilst humectant polymers condition, nourishing the hair and body, leaving it soft and smooth. I’ve never been a fan of conditioner/shampoos together, but this does turn into a light shaving cream easily. Not sure about using it as a leave in hair product, but that could just be me.
The facial moisturiser and eye cream are light lotion consistencies, but it’s lacking some of the science. When you’ve name checked the chemist, you’d think the ingredients would have more of a selling point, especially on the back of the products. This sits in the Tom Ford Grooming type arena; where the brand is put at the forefront before the science."
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Saunders & Long for review
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The idea for Hawkins & Brimble was born in 2016 when the founder, Stephen Shortt, noticed a lack of natural premium quality men’s grooming and skincare products on the shelves of British supermarkets. In addition, most of the products seem to smell of mint or lemons, he thought.
For what seemed like an eternity, Stephen went about creating products that he could use (and his wife when she steals them!), without harming his skin, and he did this with the help of a British Master Barber.
Left - Hawkins & Brimble - Daily Energising Moisturiser - £14.95, Face Wash - £8.95 & Energising Eye Cream - £16.95
TheChicGeek says, “I was sent 3 products from the Hawkins & Brimble’s range; Daily Energising Moisturiser, Face Wash & Energising Eye Cream. The latter 2 seem pretty standard fare with aloe barbadensis leaf juice in the Face Wash and aloe vera, ginseng, kernel oil, oatmeal, rhodiola rosea root, vitamin E and African fire tulip in the Eye Cream.
But, focus turns to the Daily Energising Moisturiser. It has a rich and nourishing sensation, thanks, I’m guessing, to the avena sativa kernel oil, but dries matt and doesn’t feel greasy. It smells lovely, as it’s got that addictive fragrant and woody ginseng scent. I would say this would be a good moisturiser for somebody with dry to normal skin. Oily skin could be too much for it.
I like the packaging and branding, - I’m not sure where the name is from? -it looks familiar, but it’s not trying to be too ‘Peaky-Blinders-hipster-tattoo-parlour/barber-shop’, which can look a little generic and dated. (Though it’s right at that line!). The prices feel pretty honest and it’s trying to push ‘Natural Ingredients’ which always feels like a positive thing.”
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Hawkins & Brimble to review
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.”