The new fragrance from Czech & Speake ‘Villa Ausonia’ captures the exhilarating freshness of the Atlantic coastal breezes of South West France, with the lingering intoxicating scent of distant pine forests and the salty ocean. This androgynous, modern and light fragrance blends notes from oceanic ozone, green (a lighter interpretation of chypre) with citrus/fruity to sit in the gourmand fragrance family.
Ausonia, is a nod to the first Roman Governor who historically brought vines to Bordeaux from Rome. Frank Sawkins, founder of Czech & Speake who happens to have a house in this part of the world, decided to create a fragrance that married history and the captivating smells that surround the ocean.
“Ausonia is quite personal to me, It took over 2 years to develop and now I feel extremely happy with the results. Trying to capture a modern ozone scent is quite a challenge, but it is one I have greatly enjoyed. As a designer and creative I work closely with the perfumer, it is quite a process to achieve a well-balanced fragrance,” says Frank Sawkins, Founder of Czech & Speake.
Left - Czech & Speake - Villa Ausonia - 100mls - £125
TheChicGeek says, “This is very solid in its top and middle notes; what you smell at the beginning is consistent to the end. If you like pine/conifer notes you’ll love this. (It could be a good one to spray on the Christmas tree. Just an idea…)
There’s a juicy green apple in there to get your mouth watering and would be a good progression for those of you who have out grown or want something more premium than Boss Bottled. It’s all about the Golden Delicious in Boss Bottled.
This contains calone, also called watermelon ketone, a perfume ingredient that is responsible for many of the ocean breeze fragrances. Personally, I find scents containing ‘aqua’, ‘ozone’ or ‘oceanic’ notes a little synthetic, in a negative way. It’s something you can’t quite put your finger on, but it doesn’t smell natural nor boldly artificial. But, if you want a refreshing pine forest fragrance then this is definitely one to try”.
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
French colourist, Christophe Robin, has worked with Kylie Minoque, Tilda Swinton, Catherine Deneuve and, historically, the 90s Supermodels’ hair colour. This is his men’s product. It’s a shampoo with rassoul clay - draws out impurities a bit like a face mask - and Tahitian algae, which is very nutrient-rich, so great for strengthening and thickening hair.
Left - Christophe Robin - Thickening Paste Shampoo - 250ml - £42.50 from Harrods
TheChicGeek says, “This is a real treat. While the colour and texture looks a little disconcerting - you’ll know what I mean when you see it - it’s very thick and brown. It’s like a nutty chocolate spread.
It quickly foams up into a shampoo. With 95% natural-origin ingredients, it is concentrated with pure rassoul clay. Rich in minerals, it is said to gently absorb impurities that suffocate the scalp and immediately brings fullness and body to the roots.
Forget Christophe Robin, I felt more like Pooh Bear dipping my hand in the honey pot using this. It’s a jar, so needs a juggling act in the shower, but this feels expensive and rich. You don’t need much, maybe a large pea size and it states there are around 30 applications in the jar, so is expensive.
This feels really thick and indulgent, there’s not a particularly strong smell, though it does say a blend of woody notes and amber.
I didn’t find it particularly thickening, but then my hair is really thinning. I think you need that bouncy, curly, French boy hair like Timothée Chalamet - here to make it work!"
Suitable for all skin types, 9 is a light satin-feel oil-based serum for the delicate eye and lip area. It is formulated from a unique blend of four modified plant oils (Coconut, Olive, Kahai and Echium) and high levels of five scientifically substantiated active ingredients that are proven to reduce puffiness, re-hydrate and firm the eye and lip area. Ingredients include marine micro-algae (CF) to smooth out the appearance of lines, geranylgeranone to promote cell longevity, liquorice (GG) to brighten, induce radiance and for even skin tone, aloe leaf to gently hydrate, soothe and reduce puffiness and poppy to firm the delicate areas.
Left - Katerina Steventon - 9 Radiance Eye & Lip Serum - 15ml - £65
Dr Steventon says, “9 is a unique, hybrid formulation that combines traditional plant based healing with 21st century clinically proven active ingredients to help repair and prevent signs of ageing. The four natural plant oils have been specifically selected to increase the penetration of the five active ingredients deep into the skin to promote a youthful appearance.”
TheChicGeek says, “The queen of facial massage, Steventon is quickly become the go-to for anti-ageing serums. This targets the eyes and lips and is, as always, not just about applying the product, but also taking time and massaging the targeted areas. (I’m not very good with this and feel like I need a dressing table and half an hour to really do this justice).
You need very little, just one drop each, for both the eyes and lips. Warmed in your palm and gently patted onto the areas, this is fragrance free, but you’re inclined to add more, as a drop doesn’t seem like enough.
I was conscious of it on my eye area for sometime after application, and, while not uncomfortable and heavy, it was a continual reminder. I wondered if I’d put too much on, but any less and you feel like you’re not really applying anything?
I think this is a long term product, and I like the way its for eyes and lips, which are the most delicate areas. It's about learning a routine and religiously sticking to it. I don't suffer from any dark circles and puffiness around the eyes so I can't report any noticeable differences, in the short term anyway."
Dr. Goldfaden's cult exfoliator contains crystals that polish away dead surface skin, leaving skin brighter, appearing clearer and younger-looking. Formulated with line-filling hyaluronic acid to deliver long-lasting hydration while nourishing seaweed and organic red tea extract offer antioxidant nourishment.
Left - Goldfaden MD - Doctor’s Scrub - 50ml - £35
Powerful ruby crystals, the purest, most valuable mineral crystals that can be applied to the skin, and commonly referred to as “The King of Gemstones” are used due to their impressive metaphysical and healing properties. This deep penetrating exfoliating treatment allows for post treatment products (i.e. anti-aging serums etc.) to better penetrate deeper into the skin, enhancing overall treatment results. Additionally, the crystals mimic those commonly used in in-office microdermabrasion treatments, delivering the same results in the ease of one’s home.
Daily use will make skin feel firmer and appear stronger, working towards a radiant complexion. Good for all skin types.
TheChicGeek says, “You know I love a doctor brand, and this is a new one on me. I was told this ‘Doctor’s Scrub’ was their cult product and I really wanted to try it.
This is interesting because it’s really smooth, yet really rough. It’s kinda hardcore scrubbing, but feels controlled because the texture is very uniform. The perfectly spherical shape of the ruby crystals makes them excellent exfoliating agents as they successfully remove dead skin cells evenly, along with dirt and oil without aggravating or tearing the skin. Dr Goldfaden is all about the naturals too, which is good.
It is relatively expensive for a scrub, but, for guys who like a really rough and satisfying scrub, then this is definitely for you.”
This new ‘Super Energizer Anti-Fatigue Exfoliating Powder Cleanser’ is a versatile, water-activated powder cleanser that gives fatigued skin the boost it needs. Renergises and invigorates even the most tired and the dullest of skins. Enriched with salicylic acid and ascorbic acid, this powder cleanser transforms into:
a rich, foamy, face wash when mixed with a liberal amount of water, OR a deep-cleansing exfoliating paste when mixed with a couple of drops of water, paving the way for a closer shave. Use 2-3 times per week.
TheChicGeek says, “I reviewed Clinique’s 'Fresh Pressed 7-Day System with Pure Vitamin C' a while back - read more here - and thought this was something similar, just repackaged for men. It’s similar in the way it is dry and you add water, but there is no vitamin C in this. The packaging and bottle are anonymous of ingredients and it’s quite hard to judge how much powder you’re going to need.
It doesn’t foam up as well as you want and the powder quickly clogs. I tried it in London’s hard water and also on holiday in Rhodes with little noticeable difference.
One positive is, with it being dry, it doesn’t count in your travel toiletries when passing through security."
Left - Clinique For Men - Super Energizer Anti-Fatigue Exfoliating Powder Cleanser - £22.50