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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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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The ‘Lustre Solo’ is a new wireless acne treatment product. It uses advanced blue light technology in a mobile device, allowing “acne sufferers to treat their skin on the go”.
The solo works by killing bacteria under the skin. The spot causing bacteria, P. acnes produce a normally harmless chemical called Porphyrin. When safe natural visible blue light at 415 nm is shone onto the skin the Porphyrins become excited – this active porphyrin has been clinically proven to destroy the bacteria.
When Porphyrins become excited they attach to the spot causing bacteria and begin to destroy it. Acne begins to clear and continued blue light use can help reduce P. acnes growth and stop new spots forming.
Left - Lustre Solo - £79
TheChicGeek says, “They are selling this as a treatment on the go, but when it’s on your face it looks as though a computer mouse has been attached to it. Not sure you’d want many other people to see this, but you’re certainly not handicapped by it.
You attach the simple sticky strips which also sticks the Lustre Solo to your face. There are enough strips for 30 treatments, then they are £16 for 60 new strips.
I wasn’t sure whether you left it in one place for the daily 20 minute treatment or you were supposed to move it around the problem areas. This wasn’t explained.
I moved it around three main areas of my face over the course of 2 weeks. I targeted the forehead, and both cheeks, where I have the most breakouts. It was simple to use and pain-free, easy to turn on and then turned off itself after the 20 minutes.
I didn’t notice any noticeable differences. They do say 2 weeks is a minimum course, so it could require a longer time. After 30 days, you need to start buying new strips.
I know my acne breakouts are related to food intolerances and allergies and I’m still trying to workout which ones are the biggest triggers.”
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Lustre for review
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A decadent oriental leather fragrance in a blend of almond, jojoba, grapeseed oil and vitamin E.
TheChicGeek says, “A beard oil is a real treat product and one from Tom Ford even more so. Beard oil nourishes the beard and facial skin underneath and adding a fragrance makes this a product you could use instead of a traditional fragrance.
So, I had high hopes for this one. I was expect to keep rubbing my hands on my stubble and moustache to inhale the fragrance.
The cult ‘Fucking Fabulous’ fragrance in this disappears very quickly and putting more on doesn’t counteract that. Also, at only 30ml, you’ll get through this very quickly and at £60 that’s very expensive. Within an hour or so the smell had completely disappeared. Men buying Tom Ford are buying into long lasting and powerful fragrances and this, sadly, falls flat in that department.”
Read more about 'Fucking Fabulous' here
Left - Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous Beard Oil - 30ml - £60
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Tom Ford for review
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
People like to watch traditionally attractive people. It’s the foundation on which the majority of reality TV shows and Instagram is based upon. Love Island returns to our screens, and while I dip in, I’m usually away for men’s fashion weeks to get the full minutiae of people trying to fulfil their social media destiny, it is, currently, a huge influence. It’s also a barometer of how this demographic of people look and what they buy and do when to comes to fashion and grooming.
Left - Love Island contestant Curtis with no underarm hair looking like a holiday from the 90s
The prevailing trend for men seems to still be bald as a coot bodies. The hirsute trend we’re seeing in porn, in gay culture and even in women, doesn’t seem to having an impact on this group of people. Or on the producers casting these people. There’s even one guy, Curtis, who doesn’t seem to have any underarm hair. He probably won’t be the only one…
When Frida Kahlo is the poster girl for women, is it a wonder how this smooth ideal for men persists. It does feel like this is the last gasp of the completely smooth trend we’ve been seeing since of the 90s when grooming and men messing around with their intimate areas first started.
A report from Mintel last year stated 46% of British men remove hair from their bodies, up from 36% in 2016. They also discovered that 57% of young men aged 16-24 remove hair from their pubic region. UK sales of shaving and hair removal products to reach £558 million in 2018 with Veet the headline sponsor of reality TV, TOWIE. According to Mintel’s Shaving and Hair Removal – UK, October 2016, 14% of men say that they remove hair from their chest, rising to 20% amongst men aged 25-44.
It does feel like we’ve reached peak body grooming and the figures will start to reverse when they realise looking smooth looks dated and as fashionable as a tribal tattoo or skinny white jeans.
The trend for hairy has been growing for a few years now, some have been calling it the ‘Poldark Effect’, named after actor Aidan Turner’s hairy torso seen scything in the BBC drama.
Right - When Frida Kahlo is today's poster girl for women, is it a wonder how this smooth ideal for men persists
Often removing body hair was about appealing or pleasing a partner. According to dating site MissTravel.com – which conducted a poll on male chest hair – 2017's straight women prefer partners with bare chests (61 per cent like a man to shave or wax), while gay men prefer them hirsute (at 58 per cent).
Gay men are often the leaders of trends when it came to fashion and grooming and were the first to start removing hair, they are now doing the reverse. Men now look lean and hairy as opposed to bulked out and smooth like in previous decades.
Hairier is, now, seen as more masculine, more mature and sexier. Being smooth looks immature and feminine and it’s this polarised worlds of hairy versus smooth which makes the Love Island guys look even more confusing. On a positive, at least those Jacuzzi filters won’t be getting clogged up.
Below - The full 2019 Love Island line up of without a single body hair
Hims is a new American ‘ personal wellness’ brand entering the UK market. ’You should look and feel your best all the time. Men now have easier access to the care they need - because men trust hims with the things they find hard to talk about.’ or so the company blurb says. The Founder and CEO is Andrew Dudum who is a serial backer of start-ups.
TheChicGeek says, “Hims is more than a grooming brand, and goes deep into the wellness area for men. Covering hair, skin, mouth, sex and health, hims is trying to broaden the grooming scope and make these new areas cuddly and sexy. The branding is great. The phallic images of the flaccid cacti feels more like a premonition when you get to my age… (On that note, they could make the information on the bottles a little bit bigger for those us actually losing our hair and of that age).
I tried the ‘dht shampoo’, ‘morning glow serum’ and ‘immunity’ supplements, all achingly cool lower case. It’s a very Helvetica type brand, - it looks a bit like an underwear brand - but I like its modern approach and tone. It’s an open platform and makes more sensitive subjects feel just as easy and fixable as buying a new moisturiser.
Hims offers erectile dysfunction and hair loss treatments, but you have to go through a consultation and an online doctor will prescribe these. The company works with a large network of doctors to prescribe Finasteride - a proven-to-work hairloss treatment - and Sildenafil - the active ingredient in Viagra - through their website - customers will be assessed by an online consultation with one of the team. If they pass the assessment (in the US an average around 10% of patients are refused), an online prescription will be drawn up by a pharmacist and mailed in a discreet manila envelope. There is a huge emphasis on aftercare and customers will be able to follow up with the same doctor to monitor use.
As for the more traditional products I tried: the blue shampoo blocks DHT to help prevent hair-loss, the serum focuses on vitamin C for its collagen benefits and cute gummy bear shaped supplements support a healthy immune system. I have tried ‘Beauty Candy’ before. (Not quite a replacement for Haribo!)
These are all fairly long term products and need a longer of period of time if you’re going to see and assess any benefits. I did want a bit more ‘glow’ from the serum though.
Hims feels like an inclusive brand rather than one trying to rinse people’s insecurities. I just kinda wish they sold the penis cacti too!”
Because the non-prescription products haven’t launched in the UK yet, they haven’t released prices, but looking at the American website they look pretty keenly priced. The prescription products are: Hair Loss (Finasteride): £35 for a month’s treatment, Sildenafil (50 mg pill): £33 for 8 pills or a months supply. There is also a £10 consultation fee on top - www.forhims.co.uk
Disclosure - The products were gifted by Hims to review
TheChicGeek says, ”The first question really should be, why did London have to wait so long? It seems almost too obvious, that, in 2018, there wasn’t a single, male specific environment offering, exclusively, pedicures and manicures for men. There are a few traditional barbers offering some hand and feet treatments, but this is the first, than I’ve ever known, to specialise.
Left - Put your feet up for 'The Modern Footman'
Situated in a private room at the back of Sharps Barber Shop on Windmill Street, Fitzrovia, Aldwyn & Sons, has the assured look and feel of a gentleman’s club. The brainchild of former city boy, the fabulously named Aldwyn Boscawen, Aldwyn & Sons is ‘taking inspiration from the role of the footman from yesteryear’.
Boscawen retrained in hand and foot care and saw the potential of a male only grooming brand offering these treatments. Literally asking men to put their feet up, ‘The Modern Footman’ has a new meaning as your slide into the leather club chair. An area long neglected by guys, me included, our trotters need some TLC every now and again.
Room for only one gentleman at a time, the small room is an intimate and relaxed affair with a collection of furniture and pictures celebrating the revival of all things Georgian during the 1980s.
I must admit, my feet are extremely ticklish, and I’m not massively keen on having my feet touched, but I also like the idea of somebody tidying up my toe nails and making my plates-of-meat look a little more presentable.
I mentioned this to Aldwyn, and, after the initial soapy soaking, he gently cut and filed by toe nails and feet - this is the wriggly bit for me - and then moisturised and massaged my feet.
Right - Aldwyn & Sons' intimate gentleman's club atmosphere
I wished I could have enjoyed it more, but that was more about my sensitivity than the actual treatment.
Pedicures for men are a great idea, especially when nearing beach or pool time, and anywhere that makes you feel relaxed, comfortable and leaving with a spring in your step has got to be a welcome addition to London’s grooming scene."
Aldwyn & Sons’ bespoke menu of treatments includes manicures priced from £30 and pedicures from £40. The signature, 45-minute ‘Modern Footman’, encompassing a pedicure of nail and cuticle work, foot filing, exfoliation and moisturising, followed by a foot massage is £50
Aldwyn & Sons, Barber & Shop on 9 Windmill Street, London www.aldwynsons.co.uk
Below - Liquor as hard as (toe) nails? Soz
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