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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Five Dot Botanics only use 5 ingredients in any product they make, focusing on high-quality, plant-based ingredients. Everything is vegan certified and palm oil free.
Founded by partners Zaffrin and Brian O'Sullivan, the London-based company only launched in the middle of 2019 and hopes to capitalise on the desire for ‘clean beauty’.
Five Dot Botanics launches with 5 products: Facial serum, Restorative Mask, Face Mist, Face Oil and Eye Serum.
TheChicGeek says, “I like the simplicity behind this. The majority of people are blinded by ingredient lists, me included. Who really has the time to analyse and Google everything? Trust is very important. This concept instils trust.
I tried two of the products: the facial serum and the eye serum. The ‘Green Coffee + Cacay Nourishing Facial Serum’ has a very light scent and aims to tackle inflammation, reduce wrinkles and give intensive nourishment. Cold-pressed green coffee beans are said to deliver three times more antioxidants than green tea, calming puffy and congested skin. Amazonian cacay nut oil contains high levels of vitamins E, F and A which revitalise and soften the skin, reducing fine lines, while safflower oil stimulates skin regeneration, clearing blemishes and reducing scars. This has a good consistency for an oily serum. Many brands say 2-3 drops and it’s never enough to fully move around the face. This does that, no problem. It feels nourishing, not too greasy and quickly absorbs.
The ‘Horse Chestnut + Caffeine Renewal Eye Serum’ comes in a metal rollerball and has been designed to reduce dark eye circles and bags. Active horse chestnut extract provides anti-inflammatory benefits and absorbs UV rays. It might be easier to roll this onto the palm of you hand and pat the delicate eye area rather than using direct.
I really like the branding here and the coated labelling, it looks classy. Five ingredients is great, but does this not paint themselves into a creative and chemical corner? Is five enough for some products? And why only five? I look forward to trying more products from these guys though."
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Five Dot Botanics for review
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While the country isn’t in lockdown just yet, and gyms are still open, many people will be thinking about their options when it comes to staying fit and continuing their habit of working out and the buzz it gives. Not to be a gym bore and, obviously, there are more important things, but keeping the body and mind active and positive is important right now.
Left - Turns out Peloton is more than just spinning. Who knew?
One of the brands pioneering at home gyming is Peloton. When Peloton floated in Sept. 2019 raising $1.16 billion, giving the company a valuation of around $8 billion, I scoffed, asking how spinning at home on a £2000 bike and paying £40 for privilege could really be worth that much? Now, we’re all thinking how clever they are. While they won’t reveal whether they’ve had a recent sales surge, I thought this was the perfect time to investigate what the fuss was all about.
Poppy Taylor runs @officialukladiespeloton an Instagram account she runs to support the UK Ladies Peloton FaceBook group that she’s a member of. They have more than 1700 members.
"I love that I can work out at a time that suits me and where I don’t need to worry about childcare, as a SAHM (stay-at-home mum) of toddler twins it would be really hard to find time to exercise if it wasn’t when they’re asleep - at which point I can’t leave the house anyway!” she says.
“The classes can feel like therapy, the instructors have an extremely positive way of talking to you which can really carry you through the day. And it’s an amazing workout! I’ve lost more than a stone and completely changed my body shape purely through Peloton classes.” says Taylor.
A ‘Basics Package’ starts at £1990, which can be paid off interest free, and all bike packages require a monthly Peloton All-Access Membership. Access to unlimited class content across multiple profiles cost £39 a month. There is no commitment and you can pause or cancel anytime.
“The obvious negative is the initial outlay, but I do genuinely think it’s been a hugely worthwhile investment for me.” says Taylor. “I love it and it has changed my life. There IS a real stigma around it being comically expensive though (some of the older adverts don’t help that image!) so it can be hard to convince people it’s not a load of nonsense. It’s more than a bike, but the ads don’t always get that across.” she says.
Clearly the Peloton marketing hasn’t got across the full benefits of the bike and that it offers far more than spinning.
“I think it offers good value for money if you use it! I’ve taken nearly 250 spin classes but there are also runs, walks, bootcamp classes, yoga, strength workouts and even things like guided sleep meditations. There’s so much more than just the bike content. The stretch classes have made a big difference to me as I was previously very stiff and sore from carting two heavy toddlers about.” she says.
“I’ve had the bike a year now and not gotten remotely bored of spinning, I guess because there are so many class types and instructors. There are latin rides, HIIT rides, 70s rides, rock rides, tabata rides, hip hop rides, climb rides and all sorts. You can search classes by artist or difficulty or class style, then there’s all sorts of lengths too so there’s always something fresh to try from the 1000s of classes available. I do love spinning though!” says Taylor.
Lian Hirst, Founder, Global PR & Digital Agency TRACE Publicity, says, “I ride every morning before work. With the recent developments of increased ‘working from home’ and the closure of big gyms it offers me complete flexibility, allowing me to work-out ‘on demand’ utilising my time to best efficiency and work-out around meetings/conference calls.
“It also reduces the ‘commuting time’ to/from the gym which, when you are working to a busy schedule can lose you an hour of your day which could be invested in another area of my day.” she says.
“It’s a brilliant product. It does exactly what it says. I usually do a 45 minute ride on a morning followed by a 10min weights work out and then a 5 minute stretch. The capability to ‘tailor’ your work out around time/type of work out and also choose your instructor is great. Some mornings I feel like a more relaxed ride, other mornings/evenings I opt for a live ride or a live DJ ride.
“I miss it when I travel. Most International hotels haven’t adopted the Peloton as yet. Working out in a traditional gym seems dated now and not very inspiring.” says Hirst.
“Personally, for me, it offers great value for money. I actually purchased mine through Klarna which allowed me to pay in monthly instalments, which in reality wasn’t far off what I was paying monthly for a traditional gym membership, but with the ability to work out whenever I like.
“It is also a great product for switching off. I often take a meditation class on the app before I go to bed or sometimes on my way to work to re-focus my mind and take time out for myself.” she says.
For those who don’t have the budget for a Peloton bike, they have extended the 30-day free trial period for their Peloton App to 90 days. The Peloton App provides thousands of instructor-led, immersive workouts that can be done with equipment or none at all, enabling people to stay active from the comfort of home. Features like virtual ‘High Fives’ and a ‘Leaderboard’ that shows everyone participating in a class allow those working out from home to stay connected with friends, the broader Peloton community and Peloton’s roster of elite fitness instructors.
Peloton has released the ‘Tread’, its version of a running machine in US but is yet to launch it in the UK. Other home interactive gym machine products in the market include the NordicTrack RW900 Folding Rowing Machine from John Lewis at £1,499. Nordic track also offer bikes, ellipticals, treadmills and strength machines with their iFit training software at £129 for one year.
What these companies and products offer is convenience. While people have had exercise equipment at home before, this digital interactive/class side stops people from getting bored, gives motivation and the online communities go someway to add the social side of the gym at home. Peloton's marketing needs to get across it is more than just a bike, but these users are clearly impressed. All exercise needs to hook you in and keep you there if you're going to keep it up. Peloton gives it a positive spin.
MOON(TM) launches in the UK with the Teeth Whitening Pen, Stain Removal Whitening Toothpaste, Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste, Activated Charcoal Rinse, Clean Slide(TM) Waxed Floss, Clean Slide(TM) Waxed Flossers and Soft Bristle Toothbrush set. Prices range from £6 to £20.
The entire collection is PETA certified Cruelty Free & Vegan. Elixir X(TM), which can be found throughout the toothpaste and mouth rinse collection, is filled with antioxidants like cleansing black tea and cranberry extract, plaque-reducing coconut oil, calming and healing Dead Sea Salt, and soothing ginseng and echinacea. The formula is also packed with green tea, peppermint and tea tree oils that provide an invigorating boost and fight bad breath.
Left - The full Moon range
TheChicGeek says, “When you see Kendall Jenner in the brand’s imagery you presume there’s some serious budget behind this new ‘oral beauty’ brand. Moon, ‘a name that reflected unchartered territory and something groundbreaking. The MOON is the future. The moon is where everyone is trying to go.’ is from Shaun Neff who founded his own skate/surf label called Neff in 2002. A ‘Brand Whisperer’ - I am banning that BTW and all the (TM)s! - Shaun has also had involvement with brands such as Sun Bum, Béis, Pattern and florence by mills.
Right - The top of the teeth whitening pen
Now, his focus is on Moon with its range of 7 oral health products. I tried 2 products from the range; The Kendall Jenner Teeth Whitening Pen and Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste.
The toothpaste is pretty much a standard black charcoal toothpaste, while the whitening pen does add the ‘oral beauty’ element to the brand. A wand with a button applicator at the bottom and brush at the top, it has a vanilla mint fragrance. You brush on the clear gel, wait 30 seconds before closing mouth and 10-30 minutes before eating or drinking.You can apply up to 2 times per day for 4 weeks. It does say ‘Do not use in combination with coffee, tea, cigarettes or other substances that many impact whitening effect.”
I can see the black packaging appealing more to guys than women, but the teeth whitening pen has ‘KENDALL’ prominently on the cap. This is a comprehensive range and the prices aren’t crazy. The dental market could do with some sexing up and Moon definitely makes these types of products more appealing.”
Moon - The Kendall Jenner Teeth Whitening Pen - £20, Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste - £11 Exclusive to Boots
Below - Dangerous driving? Kendall using her pen
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Moon for review
When Daniel Craig had his birth of Venus (more like Mars) moment, emerging from the sea fully hench, we all knew this sexualised image was the dawning of a new era of Bond.
That was 2006, and was many people’s first introduction to the first of his five Bond films, Casino Royale.
From Left - 2006 -2020
Fast forward to 2020, and, as Craig bows out of his dinner suited role, we get another undressed look thanks to British GQ.
Now, 52, he looks just as toned and muscular as he did 14 years before. He looks good, but, there’s something of out of step and slightly dated about the image. While he hasn’t changed, men have.
The clean-cut, shaved, tanned and hairless body of 2006 looks almost immature for a man today. There’s a slight hairy treasure trail above his waistband, but it feels like he’s stuck in a Love Island-like time warp sponsored by Veet.
Like I’ve written before, (see below) men are hairy now. From Only Fans porn stars to Frida Kahlo, hairy is lazy and it looks great. I don’t know why, but it just looks right, and that’s the whole point about it looking and feeling contemporary.
Maybe Daniel Craig is naturally hairless and that’s totally cool, but if he’s not, then it’s time for the natural Craig to step out of the water.
Right - We've had a hairy Bond before - Sean Connery
ChicGeek Comment Love Island Men’s Body Hair Polarisation
ChicGeek Comment PrEPpy Style
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A new indie perfume brand from London, founded and created by Nick Steward, Gallivant works in collaboration with perfumers in Venice and Paris. The collection of eight hand-crafted fragrances, named after some of the world’s most vibrant cities, are designed to be travel-friendly with 30ml sized bottles, perfect for slipping into your holdall.
Nick Steward has two decades of hands-on experience in perfume making and was product and creative director of the pioneering niche house L’Artisan Parfumeur.
Handmade in the UK, unisex, vegan and cruelty-free. Gallivant is an ethical and sustainable independent artisan business.
TheChicGeek says, “The Phileas Fogg of perfume, Nick Seward, has produced a travelogue of scent. From Tel Aviv to Brooklyn, each fragrance is a modern take on a place memory.
I was hoping ‘London’ was going to smell like the inside of a red telephone box. Ewww!
If I had to pick a favourite, I would say ‘Tokyo’. Created with Nicolas Bonneville, it is a zingy, spicy, wood. A citrusy head of bergamot and yuzu with black pepper and cardamom, is electrified with a dash of wasabi. A woody heart of hinoki, cedarwood, and incense with orris root, rose and nutmeg mixes with a base of amber, sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver.
Tokyo has a slightly treacly cola top with an aquatic freshness. The warmed incense is there, but it’s deep and kept light with the fruit.”
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Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Gallivant for review
Composed by Julie Massé (MANE), Stronger With You Freeze is the second in the Emporio Armani Stronger With You fragrance series. A citrus woody fougeré, it opens with fresh notes of lime, ginger, and mandarin essence, while an apple accord adds a juicy note. At its heart, aromatic lavender flower, sage and geranium bourbon are combined with spicy cardamom. The notes of glazed chestnut, ambery woods, gaiac and Madagascar vanilla bourbon are on the base.
TheChicGeek says, “I’m not really sure why this is called ‘Freeze’. (The bottles are frosted?). It would have been cooler to call it ‘Frieze’ and pretend it was a post-modern art riff on all those generic juicy apple fragrances. Sadly not.
There’s nothing not to like, but there’s also nothing to remember. It’s young, so suits the Emporio Armani brand, but is yet another facsimile of this type of mass, big brand men's fragrance".
Left - Emporio Armani - Stronger With You Freeze - 100ml - £72
Right - Nicholas Hoult is the face
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Armani for review