Jo Malone takes a trip to Namibia and uses the potent sap of the myrrh tree in the latest fragrance in their Cologne Intense range. This species of myrrh grows on mountains in the northern region of the country. In the dry season, the resin from the omumbiri myrrh tree is collected and left to cure in the African air for a few weeks. No tapping ever occurs in the region to ensure a sustainable wild population of these exotic myrrh trees.
TheChicGeek says, “This is very warm and gourmandy - that’s the almond and vanilla. It’s an oriental wood with the myrrh being the focus. It contains classic masculine fragrance ingredients too, such as lavender and tonka bean, but overall it’s the sticky warmth that resonates and tonka bean adds depth with a metallic edge. The myrrh isn’t distinctive, but like amber and oud, these tree resins have the warm depth people look for in modern fragrance”.
Left - Jo Malone - Myrrh & Tonka - 100ml - £105
From 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.
Beirut based, IDEO Parfumeurs, takes inspiration from 1930s Morocco and Egypt with their new fragrance, Tarbouch Afandi. The name refers to a traditional gentleman's hat - the 'Tarbouch' - while 'Afandi' means both mandarin - a central note in the fragrance - but also the respectful 'Sir'!
Notes include green mandarin, pine, peppermint, honeyed tobacco and Lebanese cedarwood.
TheChicGeek says, ”I’d not heard of IDEO before, but if this is anything to go by then they are using the best ingredients in an interesting way. What makes this stand out is the animalic notes. Parfumeurs often stay clear of these musky and sexual ingredients as they can often have that primitive reaction of warning you off.
What hits you first is wet violet leaves which quickly dries to form a warm animalic scent. It's a bit like smelling a fresh fur coat, you can smell the fur and the heat from the body of the animal, but with a freshness. the mandarin, that stops it from being too much. This goes as far as many want to go with this fragrance family, but if you want more and you're a fan of a sweaty arse crack then you’ll probably love this - here
It is perfect for this time of year: it stays with you, but doesn't become annoying or dirty. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the packaging. It’s a bit generic for something as interesting as this.”
Left - IDEO Parfumeurs - Tarbouch Afandi - 100ml - £140 Exclusive to Liberty of London
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
If Gucci did grooming, this is what it would look like. I first heard/saw of Buly - full name L’Officine Universelle Buly - a few months ago when they were just about to open a counter in the new Dover Street Market. It has just gone onto MR PORTER, as a global online exclusive, so is much more widely available.
Here’s a bit of background. It was originally founded in 1803 in Paris and was rediscovered by owners, Mr Ramdane Touhami and Ms Victoire de Taillac, who reinvented the brand in 2014 and has since become highly-regarded for its naturally sourced products and handmade grooming accessories.
They sell over 700 products including tens of different types of combs and interior fragrance products.
Left - Buly - Crème Pogonotomienne - £33 from MRPORTER.COM
TheChicGeek says, “For something that looks so old, Buly is surprisingly refreshing. It is part of the trend for richly decorated products which give the impression of ancient manuscripts and knowledgable elders. These products look like something da Vinci or Michelangelo would have used and feel like a discovery. I've wanted to try some since I first saw it.
I tried the Crème Pogonotomienne (shaving cream). It's a mouthful and means to cut the beard in Greek. Buly is anti-plastic so all products come in metal tubes or glass packaging. This is a metal tube with a metal top and adds to the historical feeling. The reason, Mr Touhami says, is that plastic packaging, as you squeeze it, lets air into the product and therefore bacteria.
This is a light, white shaving cream containing burnt hinoki wood and goes on and washes off easily. The smell is strong. I think it smells like burnt marzipan and when I look at the ingredients it does contain sweet almond oil.
It’s often hard to review a shaving product as it’s usually as good or as sharp as your razor. Unless you have a reaction or breakouts, they are usually all pretty passable. That said, the smell of this makes shaving something different. You’re transported to the world of Buly; dusty mahogany drawers and stone floors making ancient magic. It’s not cheap, but it sure looks nice next to the sink, but, there is substance underneath all that beautiful packaging”.