Wednesday, June 29, 2016

MR Style Salt Spray by Jamie Stevens

I’ve been adding various lotions and potions to my hair for years, from gels, waxes, pomades and pastes. A casual glance through the postings here and you’ll see lots of varying products from a wide variety of brands. One thing that I had never used was a spray to add texture. All of this came to an end, and now in addition to the hair styling products I’m a firm convert to the use of salt spray, not just any old salt spray, but Jamie Stevens Salt Spray from the MR range.

Jamie Stevens Salt Spray
Jamie Stevens Salt Spray

I did receive a bottle of the salt spray from Jamie when he cut my hair a few weeks ago, but alas this fell foul of airport security after I stupidly thought that it was only 100ml (it wasn’t, it was and does come in a 150ml bottle). Whilst I spent most of the flight to Glasgow slow clapping myself the first thing I did on my return was purchase a further two bottles from Boots (even better it was on a 2-for-1 deal) for just £10.

So, what claims are made about the product over at the MR website?

‘A unique spray that will enhance the volume of your hair while imparting texture to your style. The salt adds body to the hair while the softening Pea Peptide ingredient adds volume while preventing stiffness.
  • Contains System-PPX™ active thickening complex
  • Natural matt finish
  • Against animal testing’
First things first, I love the smell of the salt spray, it’s actually becoming borderline obsessive. It has a fresh and clean fragrance very similar to that of the shampoo and conditioner from the range. Personally I still find myself getting whiffs of the spray as I wander around and it’s really quite comforting! Sad I know, but I really do miss it on the days where I have to rush out of the house and don’t have time to apply it.

After washing my hair, naturally using the shampoo and conditioner from the range I pat my hair so that it retains a little bit of moisture and then usually use around four to five sprays of the product to cover all of my hair. I mess my hair up to spread it through and then brush it into style while letting it dry naturally and also deciding which hair styling product to use.

After my hair has dried I find that it does add texture – my hair feels slightly more course rather than thin and rather limp. Imagine being at the beach, swimming in the sea for a few days but not washing your hair. The salt builds up in the hair and gives it that little extra body. Well, that’s exactly what this does for my hair.

Styling is no easier or harder after applying but I do find that the style stays put for longer and the additional weight in my hair means that even in adverse weather conditions my hair isn’t blown around as much as normal.

This normally costs £10 for a 150ml bottle and I really wouldn’t be without it now as an additional tool to help me style and create hairstyles that make me smile when I look in the mirror. If you want additional texture that adds a touch of volume to your hair then you should not be without this. 


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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Chatham Escape Suede Moccasin Loafers

Summer is nearly here and finding the right kind of footwear to go with shorts or a nice light pair of linen trousers is something of a bane. I already have a nice air of deck shoes from Diesel but when I was asked by those lovely folk over at Chatham Footwear if I would like to pick a pair from their new range I jumped at the chance. I’m something of a fan of their footwear and if anything, working with the brand in the past they managed to alter my slant on foot fashion and convinced me that I didn’t always have to wear thick and chunky biker boots, and yes, I now do wear different colour boots. You can see what I thought of their boots here, but today I’m going to be showing off my Chatham Escape Suede Moccasin Loafers with an ultra-comfortable padded in sock, durable moccasin style and lightweight sole.
The Escape show is available in a range of colours from cobalt, grey, navy blue and brown leather and cost £69. Not massively expensive and when you look at the other new shoes in the range or similar types of footwear from other brands I consider them to be reasonably priced. As I’ve already said, I’ve had footwear from Chatham before and they are still going strong nearly two years later. Quality and comfort are two words that immediately spring to mind when I think of the brand.

The Escape to be blunt is bloody brilliant - I opted for a navy blue pair and it’s like slipping on a second skin over your foot. The sole is thick and cushions every footstep. As someone who suffers from horrific back pain that cushion when walking takes some of the pressure off my lower back and unlike the shoes I wear for work, I don’t find myself struggling when off on a walk.

The grip is on the bottom of the shoe is solid and even better, if you are a driver they have a small grip on the heel to provide a decent grip for when driving. Nice touch, nice touch.

So, here they are….

Other shoes in the range include (pictured left to right):

Echo - £59

Echo is an elegant loafer boasting a premium leather upper with a contrast leather collar. For extra comfort, Echo is layered with padding underfoot and mounted on a studded sole unit for stability. Available in a range of bright, summer colourways, Echo offers the perfect combination of style and comfort.

Step - £59

Step joins Chatham’s women’s range, this stylish premium nubuck leather ‘deck trainer’, is designed on Chatham’s tri-density sole unit. Available in Tan, Dark Blue and Dark Grey with a contrasting lining and outsole.

Recoil - £69

Recoil is a classic ‘deck trainer’, combining cutting edge technology, tri-density comfort technology and 3mm memory foam to offer maximum comfort and spring. Recoil is available in Brown or Navy.

If these last as long as my last pair of boots from Chatham I would consider them to be excellent value for money. At just under £70 these are a stylish shoe that make a perfect choice for the summer. They appear to be well made (I have been pulling and examining the seams and stitching). Personally I really the way they look and feel and that readers is all I could wish for.


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Monday, June 06, 2016

Electric Shavers - Father's Day 2016

Shaving is a pain, and while you can reduce the likelihood of razor burn or those nasty red bumps when using a disposable or safety razor there are two ways of completely reducing that threat, either don't shave (and start to look like an extra from Lost) or just use a trimmer or electric shaver.

In the past I've used a trimmer from Braun but that doesn't take the stubble right down to the wood. For that I will need an electric shaver and I've been looking a few of the Panasonic men's shavers over at their website. While browsing I thought hey, this would make a great gift idea and hence, here you have it, I'm sharing my top three picks from their range.

First up is the Panasonic ES-RW30 - it works wet or dry, so no chance of blowing yourself up which is always nice. But seriously, with twin blades this is my personal pick as it's available for just over £20 has more power than a Toyota Aygo and has a pop up trimmer so I can say goodbye to the crusty old Braun.
Panasonic Shavers
Second up with the Panasonic ES-SL41 - it costs upwards of £30 but for that you have a three blade electric shaver that not only looks cool but also like the ES-RW30 it can operate wet or dry. With a decent ergonomic grip the blades are designed to follow the contour of your face which should make shaving that bit speedier.
Panasonic Shavers
Last, but not least is the Panasonic ES-LV95 which is basically the Mercedes of the electric shaving world. Out of my price range, but at upwards of £150 you get five blades that say they deliver a shave that’s gentle to the skin. For that price I kinda want dinner and a trip to the cinema thrown in, but it does profess to do good things. It has a quick lift foil to remove those beard hairs that lie stubbornly to the face. Guys, it also has sensors, so for gadget freaks, this is for you.
Panasonic Shavers
Throughout writing this post I’ve had the awful Remington shaver advert from the late 1980s stuck in my head. Arrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhh

What are you planning on buying your dad this Father's Day?

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Saturday, June 04, 2016

Aftershaves under £20 - Father’s Day 2016

For Father’s Day in the past I have pulled together a series of recommendations of aftershaves depending upon what type of dad you have - back in 2014, yes that long ago, I broke down my recommendations based on sporty, trendy and earthy dads. You can read that post here and I stand by the recommendations I made then. Today however I’m highlighting three aftershaves that are affordable on a tight budget and available for under £20. 

1770 by Yardley London
Notes: Rich woody amber fragrance with citrus, fig and spicy black pepper top notes complemented by a floral, cocoa bean and woody heart with a warm base of patchouli, vetiver, moss and musk.

My take: Bizarrely, this starts off for the first minute with a smell that would make your mother weep, but that first blast is so wildly different from how it settles you would be out of your mind to cast this to one side, it is actually one of the nicest and cheapest fragrances I've had the pleasure of smelling in my many years of collecting aftershave. It does have a slight chemical aroma for thirty to sixty seconds and it masks the notes. I can't put my finger on what it reminds me of, but thankfully you really get a melting pot of notes that blend beautifully. 

The top notes of citrus remain for a good thirty minutes and while it starts off warm it does get deeper and warmer as it starts to dry down. For me personally I like this after an hour when it has fully dried down and you can pick out the vetiver and musk. 

The wood amber provides a solid base that means this isn't an aftershave you spray and forget about. You can throughout the day smell this on yourself, well I can and I love it. More than eight hours after a few sprays and you can still pick up hints of this. I've worn it consistently to work over the last few weeks and it has attracted positive comments. Hardwearing with a great blend of notes.

Cost: £14.99 for 50ml

Buy from: Yardley London

The Dreamer by Versace
First of all, congratulations to Ness who won the 100ml bottle of The Dreamer in my giveaway. 

Notes: Head: Juniper, Mugwort, Tarragon, Heart: Ambered Lily, Flax Flowers, Iris, Dry-down: Amber, Tobacco Flower

My take: This starts off light with a slightly fruity twist that comes from the juniper. It fades yet gets warmer and last for ages. 

It has depth and warmth but the fragrance almost evolves through a series of stages. The ambered lily and iris blend with the juniper after around an hour to make this less fruity on the nose and actually it’s like a mild floral explosion for around thirty minutes until it moves into the dry down. The amber and tobacco flower provide an excellent base that compliments the tarragon and lily to make this well worth a look.

Cost: £19.50 for 100ml

Buy from: Allbeauty

Ambre Noir by Yves Rocher
Notes: Essential oils of patchouli, vetiver, bergamot, cardamom seed, mandarin, cedarwood, elemi and lavender, violet leaves and tonka bean absolutes.

My take: First impressions were good, it is very light and fresh. To me, I was sure that the main top note was a light and very subtle lavender which blended with the mandarin to give a rather fruity citrus aroma (if you really do keep sniffing away you can pull out the sharpness of the mandarin just momentarily).

Within fifteen minutes the top notes die down yet the aftershave becomes sweeter on the nose - weird, but a good kind of weird. This sweetness remains for moments, less than five minutes. 

At this stage, the amber and tonka beans blend beautifully. It’s almost a weird union of the warmth of the amber and the sweetness of the tonka bean. Without the amber this would probably have the same sweetness as Versace Eros, Joop or Valentino Uomo, instead it starts to dry down to a lovely warm reliable fragrance very much on a par with Fahrenheit by Dior

As I have said, the fragrance on dry down has the warmth of Dior’s Fahrenheit, it has a depth of both spice and wood to make this probably a bit too earthy and masculine for me to wear out and about at night, but perfect for daywear on a regular basis. That depth and the dry down base keeps Ambre Noir sitting on the skin really well and for over ten hours which is always a plus. 

At every stage of wearing this what I found was a series of ingredients that blended so well it was a pleasure to wear Ambre Noir, and I rarely say that.

Cost: £17.90 for 50ml

Buy from: Yves Rocher

All three sit in my collection and while I have bottles that cost in excess of £100 for the most minute amount these all come in good quantities (over 50ml) for under £25 notes and have above average lasting power, lovely fresh and consistent fragrances and in the value for money stakes rank highly in my opinion. While I received the Yardley and Yves Rocher aftershaves as PR samples they are staples in my collection and all are perfect for daywear. You won’t repulse people wearing any one of the three and in my view these would make perfect gifts this Father’s Day for people who don’t want to or can’t break the bank.


Do you think any of these three aftershaves would be a good pick for your dad?

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Percy Nobleman Beard Grooming Giveaway

As I approach 1,000 Instagram followers not only am I amazed that I’ve managed to keep this blog going for so long without losing interest (I’m very much a here and now kind of person rather than planning) but that people actually read what I have to think on the various products, places and clothes I try out. As way of saying thank you, today I will be opening up a new giveaway competition that once again is available to all who visit my little corner of the Internet. In a few days I will draw the winner of the 100ml bottle of The Dreamer by Versace, but to keep you doing today I will be opening up the giveaway for June 2016 and this giveaway is for those who really like to see a well groomed beard and like to use good quality products to keep it clean, fresh and styled. Enter stage left Percy Nobleman and their exquisite range of all things beard care related.
So, what’s up for grabs? - I have one set of the Percy Nobleman Beard Grooming Kit (RRP £26.99) and a 75ml bottle of Percy Nobleman Face & Stubble Moisturiser (RRP £16.99).  
This is what the Percy Nobleman website says about the beard grooming kit here:

‘This kit is the perfect antidote for any gentleman commencing on their first bearded adventure. This pack holds the magic tonic (beard oil), the elixir of cleanliness (beard wash), wax to fend of wild beasts (or your moustache), and your trusted pocket comb. Each box contains 30ml of our best selling beard oil, 30ml of our beard wash, a 20ml tub of moustache wax and a pocket miniature moustache comb, which works great on shorter beards too!

So, if you're on the fence on which way to proceed with your beard grooming, take no risks and invest in this kit, which, if it's right for Percy, is right for you too! Revitalising and nourishing your beard doesn’t get easier than this!’
This is what they say about the face & stubble moisturiser over at the Percy Nobleman website here:

‘Prepare your skin and stubble for the day ahead with Percy Nobleman's fresh, nourishing and non-greasy Face & Stubble Moisturiser. A blend of the finest pure ingredients, our easily absorbed non-greasy lotion is a blend of light natural oils designed to moisturise and soften your skin and facial hair. Scented with Peppermint & Cucumber, this multi-purpose moisturiser is a first of it’s kind and has been specially designed to aid and moisturise both skin and stubble simultaneously helping you to feel fresh, invigorated and ready to face the day. Revitalising and nourishing your Face & Stubble doesn’t get easier than this!’

So go on, click on the Rafflecopter entries below and you could find this set and bottle winging its way to you.  Just for reference, this competition is open worldwide and you must be 16 or over to enter, unless you have parental permission because I will need your home address.  There are some mandatory entries which must be completed and failure to do so will disqualify your entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck.

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

In conversation: Mr Jamie Stevens

You may have seen the post, but on 5 May this year I walked into the hair salon owned by Jamie Stevens and the way my hair looked, the way I styled it and the way in which  I cared for it changed forever. If you didn’t see the write up (it is rather gushing) of my new hair style I really recommend that you do (and you can do easily by clicking here). I found the entire experience amazing, and while I could remember some of what was said as we chatted I really wanted to share some of the conversation - so today you have a Q & A session with Jamie Stevens
In conversation: Mr Jamie Stevens
This wasn’t your run of the mill conversation with a hairdresser or barber, you won’t find any “are you going anywhere nice on your holidays” patter here. Instead we talked about why Jamie became a hairdresser, and as my hair was styled I had the opportunity to ask about the MR range from Jamie Stevens while picking up some tips.
In conversation: Mr Jamie Stevens
Why did you want to become a hairdresser?

My mother, grandmother and great-grandfather were all hairdressers so you could say hairdressing runs in my blood. By the age of eight, I was already helping my Mum in her salon which I then went on to take over from her at 18 and have never looked back.

When did the MR range launch?

We launched the MR by Jamie Stevens range in October 2015 going directly into 360 Boots stores nationwide.

What inspired you to create your own range of hair styling products?

Hair loss is a big concern and causes real fear and anxiety for a lot of men, whether they care to admit it or not. As someone who has thinning hair, I hope that getting men to talking about the issue will stop them suffering in silence whilst also addressing how prolific and serious it can be for self-esteem and confidence. The solution doesn’t have to be expensive - I wanted to create high performance products that combine effective treatment with the best ingredients so that men no longer have to be afraid. 

What has the feedback on your products been so far?

We have overwhelming feedback, it has been incredible so far, actually really emotional for me as so many men and also women have sent us messages saying it's changed their lives and made them feel so much more confident. This is why we aim to continue developing and giving something new to the market.

If you had to pick your favourite product from the range, what would it be and why?

Salt spray has to be my favourite, it is a versatile product that can be used to blowdry into the hair to give the hair a slightly thicker feel or you can spray into wet hair and let it dry in which gives the hair a matt like beach look.

The disguise sprays, there is nothing like it out on the market, a water resistant colour spray which instantly makes your hair look thicker.....It's like having a hair transplant but in a bottle and it's only £18 not thousands of pounds and best of all it's pain free! 

Did you see a gap in the market, was there something about the offer already out there that you didn’t like or you found frustrating?

Working in men’s hairdressing for so long and winning a lot of awards I felt the market was crowded in styling but nothing was there for an inexpensive alternative to helping people with hair issues. I felt this was a big part of the market that could really work for so many people and is one of the reason the disguise spray and fibres are such a significant part of the launch. It helped create a men’s range for everyone plus the range is suited to all ages from 16-60. 

Most of the products have our trademarked ingredients system PPX which helps reduce the rate of hair loss and keeps the hair you have thicker, fuller and stronger.

Do you see the range expanding further?

I always see the range expanding, we have had a great initial launch and I always see us adding to that and tinkering so watch this space. 

How did your life change when you became hairdresser in residence for the X Factor?

It changed in a big way as it gave me a platform to be showcased to 10’s of millions of viewers in the consumer market and allowed me exposure to many more people, with the continuation of my residency my profile continually raised and got me to a point where I felt confident enough to launch the range.

If you could offer one haircare tip to a regular man on the street, what would it be?

So many guys don’t actually know how to treat their hair so I would say make sure you use a specific shampoo and conditioner for men and not just whatever is in the shower, e.g. your partners or shower gel and most importantly when you get out of the shower don’t dry your hair roughly, pat it dry, I know so many people really rub their hair aggressively with a towel to dry it and this undoes so much of the smoothing work done in the shower. Invest in quality products to look after your hair as you only have it once! 

If you could give one styling tip to someone like me who uses a lot of product, what would it be?

Try cocktailing, where you use a base of wax and then your usual styling product of say a paste. Apply it  from back to front rather than from front to back, you’ll find less product build up at the front and it makes styling so much easier, particularly for your new style where you don’t want too much volume on top.
In conversation: Mr Jamie Stevens
I will be writing about my experiences with the products over the next few weeks now that I have had the chance to really give them all a good try. While Jamie said that one of his favourites from the range is the Salt Spray (which I agree is great), for me at the moment I'm torn between the cocktailing wax and paste to style my hair or the shampoo and conditioner which have left my hair feeling and looking fantastic. 

My hair is naturally very fine but there is a lot of it. After my hair had been cut using the shampoo and conditioner for three weeks solid has added body to it and keeping the style flat to my head not only makes my massive forehead look smaller, but it also covers the receding zones brilliantly, even when stood in really bright sunlight, or well lit rooms. 

If you haven't seen the MR range yet, go on read Jamie's blog The Grooming Room where you can see the positive effect his products can have on your life.

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