Like with anything that becomes more common it doesn’t take long before you know a friend of a friend or someone closer who takes the plunge and has it done. You have lots of questions and you just want somebody you trust to give you the honest lowdown and then you can decide whether it’s something to seriously consider or dismiss and move on.
I’ve been thinking about hair transplants recently. They are becoming much more common, more affordable and are a physical solution to the "problem" of male baldness. There are so many products and supplements targeting the Achilles’ heel of men losing their hair and prey on the desperation to find a solution, but, to me, a physical solution seems the most logical and reasonable answer.
I’m not hung up on my hairloss, but, if somebody said you could have a full head of hair, of course, I would say “yes”. I’ve asked two friends who recently have had the procedure, completely anonymously, their honest thoughts and whether they would recommend it. Here’s what they had to say:
CG: How did the procedure work in practise? Was it painful? Sore?
1) “The procedure took part over the course of two days. Eight hours per day, four hours extracting the hairs from the donor area at the back of the head and four hours implanting the new hairs to the front of the head. Unfortunately, I didn't take well from the meds on the first day so I did feel a level of soreness (they can only put a certain amount of local anaesthetic in the head as it has an adverse effect if they add too much). Discomfort came from laying in the same position for eight hours.”
2) “I had a hair transplant, so the ‘roots’ of my hair were transplanted from one area – called ‘the donor area’ – to the places where hair was missing. The donor area is around the side and back of your head, and the missing areas for me were quite common in many men, the crown and the top of my hairline at the left and right.
They shave the donor area down, they extract the hairs one by one and place them on a petri dish. Incisions are made in the areas that will be receiving the hairs. Obviously you’re under anaesthetic – that is, arguably, the most painful part – so you can’t feel anything, but you can most certainly hear it. It sounds like a knife cutting a raw carrot. So it’s not that it’s painful, really, it’s just that you have a rush of adrenaline because you’re expecting it to be painful. Obviously it can be quite bloody, so it’s not for the faint-hearted…
Don’t forget that each hair was transplanted individually in my case – I felt this would look better than transplanting sections of hair (grafting rather than transplant).”
CG: Was it how you expected? Did you get the results you wanted?
1) “When you have a surgery like this, you don't believe that you can get amazing results as it seems too good to be true. But, a year on I am thrilled with my results and have certainly grown in confidence.”
2) “I think it was exactly how I expected it to be, perhaps a little quicker. I was expecting it to take about eight hours and I was probably done in six, including lunch. The thing with this procedure is it takes up to eight months to really show properly, so you get a bit impatient waiting to see results. It’s also good to go into it knowing that you may need a second and third transplant for it to really take, or to get the kind of density you want.
“But now, almost nine months on, I actually have hair growing in what were previously bald spots. And not just fuzzy little hairs, we’re talking long actual comb-aside hairs. It makes me laugh because obviously you’re not sat there watching it, and suddenly one day you go ‘hang on, I don’t actually have bald spots any more’.
“I think the most telling thing is that I always, always used to wear a hat. It was kind of my ‘thing’. But I don’t anymore. I didn’t make a conscious decision, I just kind of stopped. And I realised that it had really affected my confidence and this transplant had changed all that.
In fact, I’m growing my hair long now. Just to see. Because I can!”
CG: What has been - if any - the biggest disappointment(s)?
1) “After the donor hair is implanted and it starts to go back, after about two months your hair sheds to the same as it looked before. You have to be really patient to see growth, which happens at a slow pace.”
2) "The only disappointment I can say, and this is nothing to do with the actual procedure and everything to do with my age, is that the new hair – i.e. the hair from the back of my head – is growing in grey and wiry! I suppose I could dye it, but I’m going to embrace being a silver fox.”
“I suppose you could add one thing about disappointments. I had hoped it might be a bit thicker, but I guess that’s down to my age and hair being thinner – and obviously being forewarned that I might need a second transplant to get the desired effect. But having said that, I have hair where previously I had none and that’s pretty amazing!”
CG: Would you say it was worth the money?
1) “I was lucky enough to be in a position where I was a case study for the clinic, so did not pay - however, the surgery was valued at 8.5K and I feel it would be worth the money if I was in a position where I had to pay for it.”
2) “It’s costly, but not something that you want to do on the cheap - you’ve got to get it done properly. So I would say, personally in my case, it was worth the money.”
CG: Would you recommend it?
1) “Absolutely, it's improved my confidence beyond belief.”
2) “I would definitely recommend it to anyone bothered by hair loss that can afford the procedure.”
CG: Is there any on-going maintenance or follow ups?
1) “You have the opportunity to start again with your hair, so it's important to use good shampoos (Aveda), wash hair daily, hair masks and hair oils to keep it in top condition.”
2) “The first week is slightly odd, as you have to sleep as though you’re sitting up in a plane – you can’t lay flat on your back. And it’s your natural instinct to do that. You have to spray the transplants all through the day, and you can’t wash it for the first few days. A minor inconvenience for what you’re ultimately going to get though. And it’s quite gratifying after a week or so to be able to knock off the tiny scabs… Too much information? Well, you are having multiple incisions made into your scalp!”
So, overall, it seems very positive. It does feel like a big commitment as the operation is lengthy and I would like to be reassured I could stick it out. The prices are still fairly high, but from these testimonies it seems to be worth it.
In the modern Orwellian landscape it often feels like it’s a battle of the overly confident male egos. From Trump to Putin to Kim Jong-un, puffing your chest out and beating it hard has become an everyday occurrence. I thought - hoped - we’d left this in the last century, but it feels like we’re reliving the worst of the 20th century, every day.
There’s nothing wrong with being and feeling confident. It’s what gets you ahead, or so we are told. But, a delusional sense of entitlement and pride often ends with many cases of cutting your nose off to spite your face.
Last night, Zegna launched a new collection of premium fragrances. Titled #ElementsofMan, it contains 5 new fragrances named “Talent”, “Integrity”, “Passion”, “Wisdom” and "Strength".
Left - Wisdom, anybody?
While I can see the overall idea, it doesn’t feel very contemporary. Where’s “Vulnerability” & “Sensitivity”?
It feels like the Donald Trump collection of fragrances, which is ironic because Trump’s first fragrance, "Donald Trump, The Fragrance” was produced in partnership with Estée Lauder, who also produce the fragrances for Zegna. Launched in 2004, he also had others, now discontinued, called “Success” and “Empire”.
He’d probably wear all five of these, layered á la Jo Malone, yet he’ll think it was his original idea. More is more when you’re reeking of “Strength” & “Wisdom”, don't you think? No room for "Arrogance"?
It feels like an idea dreamt up between Lauder HQ in “Never Sleeps” New York and Zegna HQ in “Macho” Milan with little thought for the rest of the world. Successful men do wear Zegna’s clothes, you need a certain depth of pocket to be able to afford it, but let’s leave the 80s arrogance to Gordon Gekko.
Right - The full Zegna #Elementsofman line-up
“Talent”, for example, in isolation just seems a little strange. My British modesty and cynicism couldn’t wear a fragrance called “Integrity” without a little smirk.
Zegna is a premium menswear brand and they manufacture the most beautiful Italian clothes and fabrics worn by some of the world's most successful men. I think men today are more complex than these allow. These, at £180 for 50ml, are a premium fragrance offering, it just feels a shame that they’ve handicapped them with their names before you’ve even opened the bottle.
In the modern world, where the male body is constantly objectified, you’d be right for thinking there isn’t much we haven’t seen. Naked men are an everyday occurrence on TV, advertising and social media. But, there is one part we haven’t seen or appreciated before, until now.
Left - Nackt, 2, 2014, Wolfgang Tillmanns from the recent Tate Modern exhibition
Is it time to appreciate the male undercarriage? Are men’s bollocks having a hirsute moment?
These aren’t the manicured porn-star-type bollocks from the nougties, but masculine, hairy and au naturel. Artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Celia Hempton are focusing on the sack and crack, giving them some love, in the visual sense.
Right - Celia Hempton (2013)
The male ball sack is going mainstream. Definitely not social media friendly - damn your American uptightness - but it’s the new the erongeous zone and is a signifier of the growing appreciation, and acceptance, of the male derriere.
Stephen Fry once said his favourite statue was 'David' by Francis Derwent Wood, on the Hyde Park Corner roundabout, because of his arse. Niche gay publications like Butt and the celebration of gay art at Tate Britain in the 50th year of the part legalisation of homosexuality in 'Queer Art' all make 2017 the year of the masculine arse crack.
So, put that groomer and razor away, the male undercarriage is going mainstream, just don't mind the hairy bollocks!
Below - ‘Ben’ (2017) by Celia Hempton from Counter Editions
It was at the launch of the new men’s grooming destination, Beast, - more info here - in Covent Garden that I was introduced to Leo Crabtree, the man behind the Beaufort London fragrance brand. There were a few samples of his fragrances in the selection of products to try and I was impressed by the originality of the scents. Historically based, they are a dramatic concoction of rich and smokey scents inspired by Britain’s maritime history. I wanted to know more, so, TheChicGeek asked Leo a few questions:
CG: What’s your background and why and when did you start Beaufort London?
LC: My background is mainly in music and I studied history at university. BeauFort London came about as a vehicle to market some homemade grooming products I was making around 4 years back. I found myself getting bored of the stuff that was available at that time and I thought I could do a better job. This project then developed into something a bit different, particularly when I started to learn about making fragrance. This area really interested me and I’ve kind of followed this path for the last 3 years.
CG: Where does the name come from? 1805 is a special year for you, why is that?
LC: The brand’s name comes from the Beaufort Scale which was thought up in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort - a way that sailors could gauge and report the wind strength. It’s still in use today.
This idea of invisible strength resonates and seemed appropriate for a brand that initially was only selling very firm moustache wax. The metaphor works nicely for fragrance too.
Aside from this detail, 1805 was also a pivotal year for British fortunes at sea… following the win at the battle of Trafalgar (October 21st 1805) British sea power was established and continued unchallenged for a century or so… I think these naval events still echo in the way we Brits perceive ourselves. And there’s something about the early 19th century that fascinates us - it seems to pop up a lot in popular culture at the moment.
CG: How many fragrances are in the range?
LC: The ‘Come Hell or High Water’ Collection consists of 5 Eau De Parfum each representing a different aspect of our relationship with the sea: Tonnerre (Trafalgar/warfare), Coeur De Noir (adventure stories / tattoos), Vi Et Armis (The opium / sea trade), Lignum Vitae (ships clocks / time) and Fathom V (The Tempest - weather). We are launching a 6th later this year too and we recently released a leather discovery set of the whole collection - refillable 7.5ml vials of each which is really popular.
CG: What is the idea behind the packaging?
LC: Well the caps were at one point going to be made out of pieces of old ships, but this didn’t work all that well. So, now, they are made from ash, which is a bit more stable and safer to reproduce.
The boxes ended up becoming almost like books or possibly sarcophagi - this is a pretty important thread in all this. The past, history, books, it’s all in here. I like to include snippets of things I’ve read, pictures inspired by the events that inform the fragrances. Each box is embossed with a little latin phrase which I found on a medal that was given to those who fought at the battle of Trafalgar. All these little things build a coherent picture of the brand I think.
CG: I like Tonnerre, which is inspired by the battle of Trafalgar, how do you get that smokey effect?
LC: Lots and lots of birch tar. This is an intensely smokey material made by boiling birch sap. This has been used a lot in the past to create a ‘leather’ effect (Famously in Chanel’s 'Cuir De Russie’ - historically Russian soldiers used Birch tar to waterproof their boots). In the case of Tonnerre the perfumer uses it in far far higher concentration than anyone has before to produce a gunpowder effect. I love the intensity of it… and the smell of tar immediately reminds me of boats.
CG: Any highlights from the others? What is the most popular and why do you think that is?
LC: We actually use birch tar in a lot of our fragrances. That smokey tar effect is almost our signature so if you’re looking for fresh you’re in the wrong place…
Vi Et Armis is really popular, I think because it’s so ‘in your face’ and unusual - dark as all hell. And Fathom V is an intensely strange aquatic fragrance which seems to be doing well too. We use a lot of strong materials, a lot of wood, tobacco, spice and booze. I think people like our brand because we offer something very different to traditional fragrances.
CG: You also sell other products like candles and moustache wax, how did these come about?
LC: The candles were due to popular demand, we had a lot of people who loved the scents asking if we could make them, so we tried it, and it seemed to work. Again, it hasn’t really been about planning these products, they just seem to make sense, and so we do them. I like experimenting with ideas.
CG: Has it been easy to produce in the UK?
LC: The perfume industry is rooted in mainland Europe for sure, but there’s a rich history of British perfumery and some really interesting newer British brands.
It was always a key aspect of this project that we would only work with British companies, and that has made things tricky (and almost certainly more expensive) at times. But it can be done, and I’m proud of it.
Our perfumers are based just outside of London, our boxes are made by hand in Sheffield, our bottles are filled and packed in the Cotswolds, the candles are made in Derbyshire and the moustache wax cases were made in Coventry.
CG: What do you think about the current perfume industry? Is it welcoming to niche producers? Is there too much product?
LC: When I first launched the range we went to Paris fashion week to have a look around. I was talking to a guy who works for a very long established French perfume house and he said to me quite unequivocally, “now this is war”, which seemed pretty ridiculous at the time. However, as time has passed, I think he’s right. There’s so many brands all trying to get a piece of the pie and the pie isn’t all that big in the first place. New launches happen all the time and it seems like (as with everything else) attention spans are short and the temptation is to churn out ’newness’ (a word I particularly hate) to grab attention fleetingly.
In the next few years, we may see some of these brands falling away as saturation point is reached. In my mind, starting a brand is the easy bit. Establishing longevity and maintaining engagement with your customer over a significant period of time is much harder… Time will tell.
CG: Is there any advice you would give to men about choosing fragrance or how they apply or use it?
LC: As with anything, the most rewarding experiences are those you invest some time in… do some research, get some samples of things that intrigue you. Spend a bit of time getting to know the fragrance in different environments as the best fragrances can develop massively throughout a day. Don’t rush… I’ve always said that YOU should wear the fragrance, don’t let IT wear you which is particularly important with these strong, heavy fragrances. There just too much for some people… they should blend with your character somehow rather than take over.
CG: What’s next for Beaufort London?
LC: Put it this way, we have been researching Georgian vices… I can’t say much more than that but it’s going to be an interesting couple of years!
Over the centuries, the humble beard has been through many styles and transformations, but British men continue to love them and use them as a means of expressing their individuality. So far, we’ve witnessed everything from the glitter beard bomb of 2016, to intricate plait designs and wax styling wonders that would make most catwalk models jealous. Just when you think there’s a lull in beard trends, some crazy new twist is put on them to bring them back to the here and now.
So, which style do you go for when it’s time for a trim? Whether it’s the artistic goatee, the traditional gentlemen’s moustache, a bohemian style with funky dyes, or the full fisherman’s beard, each of these styles have something to say about your personality. However, it appears your facial hair can also be determined by where you live. In the following infographic, not only will you learn about the most popular beard trends of 2017 in Britain, but you’ll see why those who hail from Leeds are more likely to opt for the chin curtain, those from Sheffield prefer the mutton chops look, and Geordie’s choose the goatee. Not only that, but you’ll be able to see how our facial hair trends in the UK compared to those overseas, and some handy ideas on grooming.
The full title for this is Clinique For Men Maximum Hydrator Activated Water-Gel Concentrate and is said to “deliver a turbo-boost of cool supercharged hydration to increase skin’s moisture reservoir with an immediate 179% moisture boost that is retained for 24 hours at 65%”.
The breakthrough weightless formula transforms from a gel to a liquid, releasing a cooling burst of oil-free hydration that’s instantly absorbed by your skin leaving zero tacky residue. Skin is left feeling soothed, comfortable, and fresh.
Formulated with dual-action Liquid SphereTM Technology, new Clinique for Men Maximum Hydrator Activated Water-Gel Concentrate, helps to break the cycle of dryness and oxidative damage, releasing vital antioxidant protection.
The Liquid SphereTM Technology encapsulates spheres of Vitamin E and Vitamin C that burst instantly on application to release potent antioxidants that protect against oxidative damage and fend off free radicals. ‘Moisture Holding Matrix Polymer Technology’ uses moisture-magnet polymers to seal and lock in hydration, helping to boost skin’s moisture retention
For best results, apply AM or PM to face and neck on clean skin. Also ideal to use after shaving to soothe and calm irritated skin. Safe for eye area.
TheChicGeek says, “Thirsty?! Well, your skin definitely is. This does look the part and you can see the vitamin spheres inside the gel. Unfortunately, they don’t pop on the skin, which gives it that oh-so-satisfying sensation. Can you remember Mr Radiant from Givenchy?
This is very light and you don’t need much of it. It goes on easily and is non tacky. It just doesn’t hydrate as much as you hope. I wanted something dewy and it just seems to disappear. Clinique already has a Maximum Hydrator, in white cream form, in their range and I don’t think this is really offering anything new. You could use this as a moisturiser and then apply an SPF sun product on top".
Left - Clinique For Men Maximum Hydrator Activated Water-Gel Concentrate - 48ml - £34
Like clear moisturiser? See Clinique's new Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly - here
Perricone MD has launched this new face mask that is designed to be used in the shower. How is a mask meant to be used in the shower you ask? Well, while you're shampooing, shaving, lathering up, the heat and steam of the shower activates the ‘Refreshing Shower Mask’ gel formula. And as an added bonus, it’s designed to protect your face from hot water, and the gel consistency clings to your face, so it doesn't wash away.
The purpose of the mask, which has a cooling factor, is to revitalise leaving skin feeling smoother and softer, while using Dr Perricone’s Nrf2 Antioxidant Support Complex to support your skin when fighting off environmental and oxidative stress. Ingredients such as squalene and jojoba are included to moisturise and increase skin elasticity.
TheChicGeek says, “Now this is a mask idea I can get on board with. Anything that is easy to use and effective will make it into a man’s regime. Men like to try and multitask, even if they are bad at it. Move over sheet mask, we’re going ‘in-shower’!
Firstly, it doesn’t suggest how often you should use this, but it seems quite gentle, so I’d say maybe twice a week. It’s a green gel, not too thick, and goes on easily. It’s tempting to just wash it off, like you would normally a face wash, but you resist. Resist I say! It does also depend on how long your showers are, but by the time you’ve washed your hair and body it should be pushing 5 mins. *checks hot water bill* It does warn it may tingle in a cooling way, but I didn’t feel any reaction.
It didn’t ‘set’, or change and washed off easily, which is usually quite satisfying with a mask. The end result: my face felt extra clean and well prepped afterwards”.
Left - Perricone MD - Refreshing Shower Mask - 74ml - £32