Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pasha de Cartier Edition Noire


If you haven’t seen it on Pinterest, I have a rather large board dedicated to aftershaves that I really want to try. You can see the board here. For the last month or so, Pasha de Cartier Edition Noire has been sat there and it wasn’t until yesterday that I had the opportunity to get my hands on a bottle, have a good sniff and really put it though its paces. Is this an aftershave that deserves a luxury label because of its lovely fragrance or does it need to be consigned to history for it’s value for money. Read on, read on…..

Pasha de Cartier Edition Noire
Pasha de Cartier Edition Noire

This isn’t cheap but it also isn’t in the Creed category of "holy mother of god" that’s expensive – it’s £97 for 150ml of the EDT which suggests that you get a lot for your money.

So, what’s in it?

The key notes within Pasha de Cartier Edition Noire are: Fougère accord, cedar, citrus, sea mist

After just a few sprays you are met with a beautiful light fragrance – the citrus and cedar weirdly blend to give off a slightly floral scent with hints of lavender. That I hadn't expected at first. The fragrance however changes almost immediately getting lghter and lighter to the point that within thirty minutes I couldn’t smell it on myself. Normally when this happens with other aftershaves I don’t worry as people around me either comment that they can still smell it. With Pasha de Cartier Edition Noire I had to keep asking people if they could smell it and the response for a short period of time (around two hours) was overwhelmingly yes, but after three people really struggled to pick out anything and that is a massive let down.


Pasha de Cartier Edition Noire
Pasha de Cartier Edition Noire

This has one of the loveliest fragrances that I have smelt in a long time and I’m glad I had the chance to give it a try, but sadly I can’t bring myself to recommend this as even after applying large amounts it simply does not last. I applied around five or six squirts from the bottle last night and it wasn’t noticeable after just three and a half hours. This morning I applied even more after a heavy routine of exfoliation and moisturising and yet after just an hour it had faded into oblivion. It had completely faded – not good.

In terms of value for money therefore this doesn’t represent a good investment and I would suggest that you look at more harder wearing aftershaves out there with a citrus base like L’eau d’Issey by Issey Miyake or Bvgari Pour Homme.

Yes it is a great smell, but you can only realistically wear this if you only want wafts of the aroma for short bursts, anything longer and you will be disappointed. In my view it needs a bit of a look at the formula to give it a bit more depth on dry down.

NOT RECOMMENDED

This has been moved from the aftershave wishlist board on Pinterest to the aftershave loathes board where I keep details of those aftershaves that have really let me down.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Schwarzkopf 3D Molding Wax

When it comes to hair products I’m not short of things to try, and that is why nearly a year after sending me a pot of the Schwarzkopf 3D Molding Wax (shouldn't that be moulding?) I’ve finally gotten around to writing about it. Oops, sorry! I could pretend that it is purely because I wanted to use the entire tub but I’d be lying, it’s actually because I’ve found this one of the hardest posts to write…..ever, and what’s weirder is I have no idea why (indeed, I appear to becoming more and more clueless as I get older).

Schwarzkopf 3D Molding Wax

Anyway, before I digress any further from what is essential about some goop you put in your hair to hair it a bit of background into my hair and the product itself.

When I started using this months ago my hair was in a permanent state of shock, by which I mean I had short and spiky hair. This has grown out and more often that not now I can be found with longer hair that is swept back. The two photographs below show the general styles I’ve been sporting for the last six months.

Schwarzkopf 3D Molding Wax

So, onto the product……at just over £10 this is more expensive than other styling products from Schwarzkopf. In the past I have picked up their products and been mildly surprised by their affordability and performance – you can read about my experiences of got2b Spiking Glue here and got2b Glued Spiking Wax here if you so wish. This is what they say about it over on the Schwarzkopf website:

‘Get maximum, 3D care and protection for your hair with the Schwarzkopf [3D]MEN range, a collection of products that address the daily challenges of a man's hair.

3D MEN STYLING

The first styling brand matching the 3 key performance dimensions of male styling:

[1] Hold
[2] Texture
[3] Definition

Molding Wax

The versatile wax is ideal for creating supple styles with a natural hold, and it is particularly effective on medium-length hair that craves volume and shape. The creamy texture of the wax melts onto hair without stickiness, and offers a natural shine finish that lasts.

    Maximum moldability cream wax
    Create and re-invent with gravity-defying shapes
    Natural shine finish
    Apply to dry hair and mould into style’

Schwarzkopf 3D Molding Wax

Schwarzkopf 3D Molding Wax

Styling with 3D is actually quite easy no matter how long the length of hair - personally I find that even with short spikes or a messy look the style is held perfectly in place even without blow-drying. I have to admit that with a short style it does help slightly when applied to damp hair. That said, even after being exposed to stupidly strong wind it only moves the hair slightly which makes manipulating back into style a breeze (pun intended)

As my hair gets longer I think this is where 3D comes into its own - with a brushed back style like the photographs show it holds, and it holds all day, and then well into the night with no hassle. Seriously, apply this at 8 a.m and it'll still be holding your hair in place at 10 p.m - you can't argue with that kind of staying power. It’s so hard wearing that it is on a par with Structure Adhesive Paste, one of the most hardwearing hair styling products I’ve ever used – the main difference is that this is much easier to style with on medium to longer hair.

Can it all be that good? Affordable purchase price, easy to apply and long lasting hold. What are the downsides? Well, there aren't any 'downsides' per se but my minor bugbears are that hair feels a tad greasy to the touch a few hours after using (simple solution: stop touching your hair) and finally you will be disgusted at how much pollution and grime it attracts and helps clings to your hair. Washing it out every morning brings the inevitable "eurgh" as I watch the manky (Mancunian for dirty) water wash away in the shower - so not a fault of the product, but still not nice thinking how much s**t has been stuck in your hair overnight.

Personally I love this stuff – while it looks like a cream, makes it easy to style as though you are using a cream you could be forgiven for thinking that this may be a cream. I was actually a bit confused when I realised that it is in fact a wax. The purchase price is an irrelevance when you consider that I’ve been using this nearly every day for over six months and it is only just now running out. That’s value people, and value that should be applauded.

This won’t leave horrific residue that starts to flake, makes styling easy and has hold that lasts for ages.

What’s not to like?

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Obsession by Calvin Klein

After digging around the house last weekend I came across several bottles of aftershave that I've had in and out of my collection since my early twenties (that'll be some time then). Included within the collection of dusty bottles was one of my firm favourites from those carefree times of my life, Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein.

Obsession by Calvin Klein

Obviously as the aftershave had been sat in a box for some years it had gone off, but just the memories of it made me part with £22 for another bottle from Superdrug. It remains surprisingly cheap in comparison to how much it used to cost back in the day - I'm just tight and actually when sitting back and thinking about it, it probably wasn't that expensive, it was just that it cost more because I earned less and because there were fewer options for us blokes back then (I'm talking early 1990s people, those joyous times before smartphones)

My new bottle arrived last week and I’m happy to report that the vile smell that wafted from my old bottle was indeed completely different to the rather sweet, yet sickly smell that greeted my hooter (read nose).


Sadly my early twenties me was clearly a bit weird. Thinking back to how I used to think I smelled lovely I wince. I sprayed this liberally and yack, it's not how I remember at all. 


First impressions of the aftershave were not good. As you remove the lid and apply the fragrance your nose is overwhelmed by a warm and fruity sensation, but rather than giving a warm feel it is overly sickly in nature - it's as though they have packed it full of tonka beans to give it a sweet vanilla edge and it's way, way too much - this is not the fragrance I remembered fondly.

After leaving the fragrance on, it takes well over 30 minutes before it starts to blend on the skin and the actual smell changes. It begins to fade, taking the overpowering edge off and becomes what can only be described as a warm sensual smell, still with obvious hints of vanilla. 
There were no notes with this bottle of Obsession so I couldn’t trace where the smells were coming from but once the fruity tang subsided vanilla was and remains the most predominant smell.
Obsession is strong stuff. I cannot stress this enough and a lot of the aftershave isn’t required to give full coverage.
I applied Obsession first thing in the morning (thankfully on a Saturday) and it was evident to me and those around me ten hours later. You can't knock how hardwearing it is, but you can pan the actual smell. I haven't put any more on since and I think I can still smell it! 

After wearing it to work I didn't get the seal of approval from HR (the new blog fragrance ranking system - do the HR team at work like it). It got a you smell fruity comment, a wink from one of the guys in a sarcastic way and one comment of "can you go back to Creed please".


Personally I will only use this again when hell freezes over. Yes my tastes have evolved over time, but it's so sad that I used to love this and now find it far too sweet. It certainly isn’t a fragrance for going out on the pull wearing and would make you stand out for the wrong reasons at a special function.

When I used this in my late teens and early twenties I liked it, my friends liked it and more importantly the girls loved it. Looking back I think I’ve outgrown this, my tastes have changed significantly over the years and this isn’t one I’ll be buying again.
I can’t recommend this, but what I would say is try out a tester just to see if you can handle the fruity side of Mr Klein.
NOT RECOMMENDED

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Echo by Davidoff

Davidoff Echo, an aftershave for men was originally an impulsive purchase by yours truly when firmly in the mindset that spending $35 for a 100ml bottle wasn't too much if it was nasty once I got my sniffing tackle around it. If you want to buy a bottle after reading this, then you can for under £20 from places like Fragrance Direct. Before you rush over to buy a bottle, read on.....
The first thing that attracted me to this on the shelf was the stylish bottle, it has to be the funkiest aftershave bottle. Made from clear glass it is more of a sculpture than a bottle. On deeper research it comes to light that a designer was commissioned to actually make the bottle! A bit over the top for an aftershave, but a nice touch all the same. A work of art? No? 


Echo by Davidoff
To this day I've never seen Echo advertised in the UK so you really have to do some digging to find the marketing blurb, or as I shall now call it 'garbage':

'Dynamic, cool and masculine Echo is an urban trendsetter'
The notes to Echo build it up as an airy innovative fragrance that contains:
Head: Suede, musk, liquid air.
Heart: Sandalwood, cedar wood, nutmeg.
Dry-down: Chilli pepper, black pepper.
From reading the notes I would be inclined to think from the notes that the fragrance would be very dry and heavy on the nose and the combination of suede, musk and sandalwood would make this strong providing a very hard wearing masculine fragrance.
Actually applying the fragrance is a bit tricky due to the size and shape of the bottle. The smooth ridged glass combined with wet hands is not an option and I found that I had to use two hands. One to hold the bottle and the second hand to actually press the atomiser! The first thing to strike me was that large amounts of the aftershave are dispensed with one press of the atomiser, meaning that three squirts are more than enough.
My initial thoughts about this fragrance were correct, heavy suede with a warm musk was the first smell to strike me and it was far from cool. After shaving this stings, it stings a lot and in my case inflamed the area around my neck when I applied it after shaving. I am not a big fan of heavy fragrances and as such I wasn't happy when I first applied this, but to its credit, the head notes do fade very quickly, however the woody and spicy notes are equally as strong as the head notes and again, these seem far too heavy on the nose. 
Thankfully within 10 minutes of application the head and heart notes do become lighter and less evident, however there remains a warm, woody spicy fragrance and the dry down notes to me were at no time evident. This doesn't mean that they weren't lingering though. An hour after applying Echo my better half would not come within 50 yards of me, due to the "awful pepper smell". 
In the interests of seeing if the fragrance altered over time, and indeed how long it would last I persevered - I even tried changing my moisturiser, tried it with a beard, tried it shaved all to no avail. Unfortunately the fragrance does not calm down. 
Overall, I was drawn in by the cool bottle and cheap price but was left disappointed by the heavy fragrance. To this day Echo sits on the shelf in the bathroom and is never used. Although some people would like this sort of fragrance (Davidoff themselves do say that it is for a more mature audience - that rules me right out)

I personally prefer light fragrances that have a citrus base and personally would never ever buy this for myself or as a gift for others. It simply is not refreshing enough and lacks that certain something that would make people stand back and say "wow, that smells lovely".
Davidoff Echo in my opinion would appeal to those who like Christian Dior Fahrenheit, Polo by Ralph Lauren and Diesel Zero Plus. I could also only see it suitable for daywear due to the heavy nature of the fragrance.
If you like your fragrances to be light, citrus based and easy on the nose you should avoid this at all costs.
NOT RECOMMENDED

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Wrist Porn: Atolyestone London


For the last twelve months I've had something of an accessory addiction and have coveted a number of male bracelets. If you didn't see my wishlist from 2015 you can here. This however is just the tip of the iceberg and on Pinterest here I have a rather large board that has everything from £5 to £5,000 (a man can dream) bracelets to adorn my wrist. It was on Pinterest that those purveyors of fine jewellery for men Atolyestone London got in touch and asked if I had ever seen their range. I must confess, at the time I hadn't heard of them or seen their website but with two clicks of the mouse I was in luxury bracelet heaven.

Wrist Porn: Atolyestone London

This is what they say about themselves over at the Atolyestone London website here:

'Atolyestone is a high-end jewellery brand with our head office based in London. Our aim is to harmonise the traditional bead and charm bracelets with modern silver gold and silver moulding techniques. Today, Atolyestone is staying loyal to its original ideas and reinterpreting the world of high-end jewellery.'

As a bit of a disclosure, I was offered the opportunity to pick a product from the site and then entered a period of calm (read neurotic indecision) as I tried to settle on one particular bracelet.

In the end I opted for the Lava Skull Beaded Bracelet at £70, fired off my request and sat back with the giddy excitement of a four year old on Christmas morning. I didn't have to wait long. My ordered was placed on Saturday and after another ugly Monday I arrived home to a card from DHL advising that the bracelet had been signed for by my neighbour (cheers bud). I was that excited about my new bracelet that I (for the first time in my thirty seven years) kept checking the online tracking system from DHL.

The anticipation could not have prepared me for the sheer "wow" factor when opening the package. Not only did the bracelet come in the chunkiest and weighty box, it oozed quality, and that was before I had opened it. 


Wrist Porn: Atolyestone London
Wrist Porn: Atolyestone LondonWrist Porn: Atolyestone London

Opening the box brought a bigger smile to my face - there is was in all it's glory - the black lava stone wrapped around its own little cushion, the sterling silver skull staring back at me. Pleased is an understatement of epic proportion. 

Well made, oozing class and more importantly, looking stunning I am delighted with my choice.

Yes, Atolyestone London in my view falls into the luxury category but they are well and truly worth the additional expense. My ASOS bracelets now look like paupers when placed next to my new offering, which means that I'm going to have to upgrade my collection (double edged sword time)

If I had to pick other bracelets from the range available on the Atolyestone London website my favourites have to be these babies:

Wrist Porn: Atolyestone London

With colours and ranges to suit all tastes, and bracelets, bangles and cuffs that cost from £40 to £245 there is something that will appeal to every taste (it's not all skulls). If you’re not treating yourself, these would make a perfect gift for the man in your life.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Clean shaving: How to prevent a shaving rash

Shaving is an activity that men must perform regularly throughout their lives, yet despite practising it so often, many of us continue to steer clear of a full clean shave through anticipation of a shaving rash (or just because our other halves hate the clean shaven look). The fear of shaving rashes is understandable — the sensation is unbearable, looks terrible, and is difficult to treat once the damage has been done. However, these rashes are entirely preventable.

Clean shaving: How to prevent a shaving rash

Shaving rash is caused by excessive friction applied to your skin — it doesn’t help that this friction is facilitated by a razor blade. You must take steps to lubricate your skin to ease this friction. The rash can also be caused by dehydration of the skin after shaving. Your skin will lose natural oils during the shave, and you must replenish these oils to prevent irritation. Of course, learning proper shaving technique is perhaps the most important, and could make a huge difference to your skin and how your facial hair grows in future. Here are some tips for preventing shaving rash before, during, and after your shave.

Preparing to shave

You will experience the best shave if your facial hair is warm and wet. It is a great idea to take advantage of the steam from a bath or shower to prepare your face for shaving, as this will both soften your bristles and lubricate your skin. You could even try making your own facial steam bath, which is a much more effective and direct way to soften your hair and open the pores in your skin. Live Strong has a simple but informative guide on making your own steam bath — just be sure not to wet your face with cold water before shaving, as this will close your pores.

You should also think about exfoliating your skin before shaving. This will get rid of any dead skin cells that would otherwise make shaving more difficult and improve the chances of suffering from razor burn. Use a facial scrub that contains micro particles to comprehensively exfoliate your face, but take care not to scrub too hard as this could be harmful to your skin.

During shaving

It is also extremely important to apply a lubricant to your face to aid the glide of the shaver against your skin. The classic product to use is a shaving foam, but this isn’t ideal as it can often obscure your vision. You would be best served using a transparent gel or oil such as this no-foam shave cream from King of Shaves, so you can manoeuvre your razor with good visibility, even in the more difficult areas.

When shaving, use short, light strokes, making sure to shave in the direction of hair growth, not against it — shaving ‘against the grain’ is one of the most common causes of shaving rash. This short video from Manhood TV gives a great visual demonstration of good shaving practice.

After shaving

If you have suffered any cuts when shaving, it may be wise to use a small amount of rubbing alcohol to disinfect the cuts before applying any products to your face. When your face is clear of all hair and your skin is looking bare and supple, this is when you must think about re-hydration. You must replenish the oils and nutrients that were lost during shaving, and the most effective way to do this is by moisturising your skin.

Take care to choose that right moisturising product for your skin, however, as using the wrong formula could lead to greasy skin. This guide from the skincare experts at E45 contains some handy advice for identifying your skin type and choosing a cream based on that.

Shaving rash is an easily preventable ailment. Following these simple but effective tips will ensure that it is no longer a problem for you. 


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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Disposable vs. Safety Razors

The first time I shaved (circa 1991 - yeah, I’m old) I used my dads safety razor and managed to cut my face to pieces. This was in the days way before the wealth of disposable razors blades, hell I remember when the first two bladed disposable razor was released to talk of it being the devils work. As I’ve grown older I’ve used pretty much every razor available. With this in mind, I thought I would give my thoughts on what works for a cough 37 year old Stephen now. 

Disposable vs. Safety RazorsDisposable vs. Safety Razors

Do the disposable (disposable at that price for a blade eh?) blades offer something better in terms of shave and protection missing from the safety razor. So here we are, Disposable vs. Safety Razors - let’s get ready to rumble.

Disposable vs. Safety Razors
Disposable vs. Safety Razors
While disposable razors offer a better level of protection against cutting your own throat they can be expensive whereas once you have the actual safety razor you can pick up blades for pennies, yes, just pennies making them a far more cost effective solution to rid your face of fuzz.

Ease of shave SAFETY RAZOR WINS

With a longer beard I find it almost impossible to use a disposable razor - in fact I usually have to abort the shaving, dry my face and then use a trimmer to cut down the length before a swipe across the face takes the hair down to skin. If I continue without trimming I find that the blades get clogged and I have to apply large amounts of pressure which increase the risk of cuts and nicks. Having to continuously remove long strands of hair from the blades also adds too much time to shaving.

Disposable vs. Safety Razors

With a safety razor very little pressure is required and the length of the hair isn’t an issue - short, medium or long, boom this rids the face with little effort. There is an issue with build up of hair, but actually, it isn’t as bad as getting hair caught between the multiple blades of a disposable razor.

Safety - DRAW


I’d say it’s a draw - I still get the occasional cut here or there using both, although a nick from a disposable razor is much less traumatic that a gash that comes from the safety razor. A little bit of care and they are both safe to use for an veteran shaver.


Hair re-growth - Safety Razor Wins

This week is the first time in months that I’ve shaved all of the hair from my face. Normally it takes three to four days before it needs shaving again down to the bone using a disposable razor, but using a safety razor it can be anything up to ten days before I need to begrudgingly go back for another shave.

Feel that face - DRAW

The results are actually the same - irritation levels, razor burn and bumps don’t actually differ for me depending on what type of razor I use. The big factor for reducing irritation is the preparation and pre-shave routine. That said, with both I end up with a face as smooth as a plum.

So, in summary, for me, the disposable razor offer a much better shaving experience when I have five o'clock shadow and really short stubble - razors like the Gillette Mach 4 and Wilkinson Sword Hydro 3 do the business and help me to do it quickly but as my beard grows removing it is much easier with the safety razor. If you haven’t used a safety razor yet I would recommend that check them out at least once and if you do, check out the best safety razor blades available as there are hundreds out there to choose from.

Neither are perfect to be honest, the best shave is when someone else does it for you with a cut throat razor, but that works out as horrifically expensive if you have to shave three or four times a week.

SAFETY RAZORS WIN IT FOR ME

If you could only have one type of razor in the future, what would your choice be? Oh, and Hector loves joining in with a spot of grooming! 

Disposable vs. Safety Razors

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