Wednesday, August 23, 2017

AFTERSHAVE: Joop! WOW! Eau de Toilette

Those folk over at Secret Scent Box have a lot to answer for, I'd like to blame my aftershave addiction on them (like a true addict) but alas, my obsession has been going on for many decades, yes decades. That said, I'd had no desire whatsoever to try or buy Joop! Wow Eau de Toilette until a sample dropped through the door as part of the Secret Scent Box in April of this year.  

The original Joop! was  staple in my aftershave collection when younger, from the ages of fifteen to twenty four I would always have a bottle of the purple goodness on the shelf and it never failed to deliver compliments as the warm yet sweet tones wafted off a young Stephen. The missus put pay to me wearing it with any regularity - she claimed women liked to too much. A bottle has sneaked into my collection again thanks to my brother and his penchant for buying me aftershave for Christmas (thanks Joel).

Anyhow, I digress, I received a 9ml sample of this in the Secret Scent Box, sprayed it three times, let it dry and then went in search of a bottle of Wow to call my own I am that impulsive, much to the dismay of the other half.

The notes to Joop! Wow are:

Head: Bergamot, Cardamom and Violet

Heart: Geranium, Fir Balsam and Vetiver

Dry-down: Cashmeran, Tonka Bean and Vanilla
Now this section is copied from my previous thoughts as after all, first impressions count. So here goes some cracking copying and pasting!

First impressions literally are "wow" - this has a strength that defies how light it actually is on the nose. It's instant spice at first that fades gently into a slightly heavier floral earthy note. It's almost as if the vetiver is battling the heart notes to keep this smelling masculine. As it starts to progress through the heart it gets lighter and lighter on the nose as the sweetness from the tonka bean and vanilla give hints of sweetness that linger on the nose and remain evident to those around you for hour after hour.

I expected something of a teenage fragrance when looking through the notes but actually it's so incredibly refined. This would make an excellent aftershave for daywear or nights out on the town. It's unique, I really can't say "it reminds me of......" because it doesn't, and that's rare nowadays. After five hours of being on it finally settled and stayed evident to me and those around me for another eight hours. It's got legs people, it has legs.

Lush.

Those were my first thoughts and I have to say they haven't changed much. A bit of the shine has worn off over time but I still find this such a unique and hardwearing fragrance that it is just perfect for daywear, around the office or for events where you want to stand out from the crowd. A floral spice with sweetness that just rests on the nose - perfect.

At just under £40 for a 60ml bottle this would make a perfect gift for anyone aged sixteen to forty five in my opinion and represents great value for money.

RECOMMENDED

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Friday, August 18, 2017

HAIR: The Charming Man Refining Cream


Back to hair today, and it seems like an absolute age since I reviewed one of the many products that get slapped onto my head on a daily basis. Today I’m taking a look at The Charming Man Refining Cream, £12.99 for a 100ml tub.
The Charming Man Refining Cream
The Charming Man Refining Cream
The Charming Man Refining Cream
A couple of observations before I start – one, I can’t use this without humming ‘Charmless Man’ by Blur, which is no reflection on the product, more a reflection on my own warped mind and secondly, my hair is horrifically long at the moment.

This is what they say about the cream over at the The Charming Man website:
‘Our refining cream consists of a soft, thick yet lightweight formula which is designed to be used on any type of hair. It’s based on a water soluble solution which makes it brilliantly pliable, giving you the freedom to re-work your hairstyle throughout the day.’ 
The proof of the pudding is in the sniffing, and as soon as the lid is off boom, you have hints of almond and cherry that only just detectable – heaven in a tub. These notes are ever so subtle so there is little danger of you attracting insects and the like due to an OTT fragrance within your hair.

When I first received this to try some three months or so ago my hair was significantly shorter, and as they direct, just a peanut sized amount was needed to cover my palms in the rich cream. Rubbing it between my palms I looked down (humming Blur – I hate Blur) and wondered how such a thick cream would be absorbed into my locks, it really does have a thick texture but fear not, you won’t end up with white streaks through your hair, that is unless like me you have stupid amounts of grey/white hair already.

So far it smells great and is a doddle to apply to the hair. The three most important things for me are the firmness of the hold, how long that hold lasts and how my hair feels to the touch, after all, I have an annoying habit now my hair is longer to flick and run my hands through it far more often than I should.

In terms of hold, the cream does add weight and texture to my hair which in turn keeps it nicely in style. As it is absorbed and dries it leaves a little bit of a shine to my hair but it’s far from greasy and for that I’m grateful – there is nothing worse than touching your hair and then finding that the residue has turned your hands into a human version of fly paper. Once dried the hold is firm but not crispy which means that if the style does get blown out by gale force winds it’s so, so easy to pop back into place.

Applying first thing in the morning I can play around my hair all day and some ten hours later the style is still looking top notch. Yeeeeessssssssssss.

With no hints of flakes on drying, the ease with which you can wash it out and the fact that after months of using this on and off I’m still nowhere nearly a fifth of the way down the tub this is great value for money. It does the job and it does it well. If I had to find a niggle, and it’s a minor niggle, now that I’m resembling Cousin IT from the Addams Family (see below) unless I straighten my hair I find that it does curl a touch at the ends. I wouldn’t expect a hair styling cream to hold that length of hair in place so I can’t and shouldn't be too judgemental.

RECOMMENDED

Me, before styling......
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

BATH: The Big Sleep Jelly Bomb

Sleep is not something that comes naturally to me, I am either awake for hours or I can sleep for days, there is no happy medium for little moi which means, I'm either copping ZZZZzzzzzz or wandering around like a zombie. In an effort to wind down before bed I have taken to using absolutely anything I can to try and get a good nights sleep.  This week was the turn of The Big Sleep Jelly Bomb from Lush.

The Big Sleep Jelly Bomb
The Big Sleep Jelly Bomb
The Big Sleep Jelly Bomb
The Big Sleep Jelly Bomb
The Big Sleep Jelly Bomb
The description reads:
'Slip into something more comfortable: your bath! When you're in need of some serious relaxation, grab this snoozy lullaby of lavender and tonka. Relax in the water, pop it in and soak under the skin softening jelly blanket.'
So everything I need to fall asleep is right there in this one product. Coloured Blue and Green (I am reliably informed as I am colourblind) this Jelly Bomb looks like your average sized bath bomb sold in Lush. Decorated with a 3D Moon which stands out in the middle, the scent of Lavender is well and truly evident - wow it's really strong.

A Jelly Bomb is slightly different to your average bath bomb.  Like a bath bomb, you chuck the whole into a bath of running water (usually like a hand grenade if you're like me) and watch it bob and fizz around in the water, often creating an explosion of colour. The difference with a Jelly Bomb is that as they fizz they also release a spectacular jelly which is made from sodium alginate which comes from a mineral-rich seaweed. 

As the Jelly Bomb dissolves into nothing and leaves behind the brightest deep blue bath I think I have ever had, the scent of Lavender and Chamomile also spreads nicely throughout the house.  In the bath those essential ingredients have mixed into the steam of the hot water and within minutes.

Personally my first thoughts were that the water seemed to leave my skin a touch greasy but it was actually the oils. These seemed to be absorbed and within 15 minutes of soaking my old bones boom - my eyes started to go and once they went there was no coming back. My eyelids felt as though someone had attached lead weights to them. This sensation become stronger and stronger as I bathed. After drying my skin felt soft and smooth and still does a good twelve hours after my bath. 

Did I sleep? Like a baby, and for that I'm truly grateful. Even better, it cost just £4.95!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 


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Monday, August 14, 2017

AFTERSHAVE: Jimmy Choo MAN INTENSE

Smelling lovely is an addiction, there, I've said it. I'm an addict. Do brands help to wean me off this addiction? No, of course not, and as such I have a raft of of aftershaves new to the ever growing collection and today, with a laser-beam like focus I'll be giving my thoughts on Jimmy Choo Man Intense.

Jimmy Choo MAN INTENSE Eau De Toilette

Jimmy Choo MAN INTENSE Eau De Toilette
Jimmy Choo MAN INTENSE Eau De Toilette
Jimmy Choo MAN INTENSE Eau De Toilette
A completely new fragrance on me and I'll confess, would I probably have ever been drawn to this on a shelf? Probably not, after all, Jimmy Choo is more famous for shoes than fragrances. A 100ml bottle has a recommended retail price of £65, but with some shopping around you can pick up all around the web for sometimes as little as £45. Shop around!

Here is what they say about the aftershave:
'JIMMY CHOO MAN INTENSE captures the spirit of the Jimmy Choo man, with model Marlon Teixeira who embodies the essence of INTENSE – an overtly masculine style, refined but with a fearless attitude.
An accent of Black Pepper and a trio of new notes to bolster its Amber base. Honeydew Melon adds a watery freshness whilst Davana oil gives a sensual quality and Tonka Bean brings an almond-meets-tobacco edge that’s warm and intensely masculine.'

The notes to Jimmy Choo Man Intense are:
  • Head: Lavender, Honeydew Melon, Mandarin
  • Heart: Artemisia, Black Pepper, Geranium
  • Dry-down: Tonka Bean, Patchouli
First thoughts were "wow, his is aptly named"! Intense is an understatement actually as this fragrance has the kick of a mule with a pleasant assault on the senses. The lavender and mandarin filtered through onto the nose as a warm, heavy floral scent and it stays intense for hour after hour. That said, within fifteen minutes of applying you are in floral heaven with the pepper and geranium adding more depth while diversifying the range of notes so that it retains that masculine feel, on a par in my opinion with the more expensive Man Rose by Etro.

Based on the head and heart notes I'd reserve this for daywear around the office but it alters dramatically after thirty minutes and does become a touch lighter on the nose. The tonic bean provides a slight sweetness that takes the edge off the mandarin and lavender.

A good ten hours after applying this and I still get asked what that lovely fragrance is - people are even more shocked when I tell them that it's Jimmy Choo. This has staying power that exceeded my expectations.

A little really goes a long way, and if you can shop around to pick up a bottle below the retail price you are getting a brilliant fragrance that contains something for nearly everyone - unless you are wedded to wearing light and citrus I can say with some confidence that you'll find yourself wanting to buy this yourself. Perfect for daywear but not out of place for nights out where you want to get noticed.

RECOMMENDED


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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

BEAUTY: The Vintage Cosmetic Company Blemish Wand

Me, blemishes? Not a chance......(I wish).

The Blemish Wand from The Vintage Cosmetic Company is described as being the easy answer to a clear complexion and it works to unblock pores by safely extracting blemishes without marking or scarring.  Admittedly when this tool arrived I had no idea what to do with it, I know the wife has one, but I'd never used it, I just knew they helped to remove blackheads, something anyone who lives in London and travels on public transport will no doubt need.
The Vintage Cosmetic Company Blemish Wand
The Vintage Cosmetic Company Blemish Wand
The pink wand has a soft touch handle that can be held without slipping no matter how big or damp your hands are. The wand features both a small loop and a larger flat loop and they both have different uses depending upon your need.  The smaller loop has been designed so that can be used to extract blackheads whereas the larger flat loop is designed to be used to gently draw out whiteheads (nice)
The Vintage Cosmetic Company Blemish Wand
The Vintage Cosmetic Company Blemish Wand
When it comes to using the wand there is thankfully a little guide on how best to use it because having run it down my nose without reading the instructions I swore blind it was nothing short of a torture tool and was never using it again! After first use I was reminded of my old English teacher from school who rocked a bottle of whisky before work - red nose! Oh dear! Fear not though, it was just me being far too eager. Anyone who spends more than a minute reading the instructions would be able to avoid my mishap!   

To use the wand you firstly need to ensure you have a hot towel or muslin cloth and you place that over your face for around a minute to open your pores. Personally I prefer to let my pores open up in a hot shower as I do prior to shaving. Then once you have finished use cold water or astringent to close up those pores - again, good old cold water works a treat for me.

Available in pink or rose gold for £7.50 this little beauty has banished the blackheads from my nose and after a couple of weeks of using this I'm really pleased with the effect it has had. My face looks much clearer and the fact that it's so easy to use means I don't have to expend that much time and energy. A couple of minutes a week and hey presto, bye bye blemishes.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

SKINCARE: Stoer Defence Shield For Men's Skin


Guess who is back and fighting fit again? Yep, that'll be me and what better way to start the new coming of Stephen than a set of skincare beauties that helped mask how ill I actually have been looking - that'll be the fairly new range from Stoer Skincare for Men.  Described as being the most technologically advanced male skincare range you can pick it up online or in store from Harvey Nichols. 
Stoer Skincare | The Ultimate Defence Shield For Men's Skin
The brand was a new one on me completely and a few months ago I leapt at the chance to really put the entire range to the test. Before rubbing myself in something so new I did a touch of research. So who are Stoer? The brainchild of Scottish skincare expert Marianne Morrison, she spent over 3 years working with experts to develop and refine the brand and travelled across the globe to source the 5 key ingredients that create this Clima5 formulation. Those actives have been individually sources from the extreme climates of Mexico, Japan, Scotland, West Africa and the Alps and together, they help to firm, hydrate and protect the skin from pollution and other environmental aggressors. 



Those 5 key ingredients are:
  • Peat Moss from Scotland - Peat Moss helps to shield and rehydrate. Sourced from moss which grows in Scotland and is supported by strong moisturisation data, it retains natural moisture levels within the skin, naturally plumping and evening skin tone.
  • Alpine Plant from Italy - Helps to improve elasticity and firmness. Sourced from the Alps, this plant survived the ice age. 
  • Baobab Leaf from West Africa- Works to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This particular extract was developed for male skin with strong clinical data evidencing 
  • Wakame from Japan - Extracted from Japanese seaweed, Wakame supports the production of collagen and helps to protects against pollution as well as increasing oxygen levels within the skin. 
  • Barbary Fig from Mexico - Derived from Cacti, the Barbary fig is exceptionally soothing, firming and very hydrating.
The Stoer Skincare for Men collection comprises of five products which include a Foaming Face Wash, Detox Face Scrub, Firm and Protect Moisturising Serum, an Energising Eye Serum and a Vitamin Power Mask.  What drew me to the brand was the terminology 'Cosmetic Drone' which is the description given to the cutting edge technology which essentially helps to deliver the actives into a deeper layer of skin. For around two months I've been using this on and off as my health has fluctuated but the last two weeks have seen them take a real pounding.

Starting with the Foaming Face Wash which is a Sulfate-free formula designed to rid skin of grease, grime and pore-clogging pollutants.  

Stoer Skincare | The Ultimate Defence Shield For Men's Skin
On the skin it is really creamy and can be used in place of a shaving gel, if that should be your preference. I don't personally, my shaving routine is not being altered! What I like about the face wash is that it doesn't leave my skin feeling taut and dry after using and it lathers up with little effort. 

The Detox Face Scrub features a trio of mineral, volcanic and natural exfoliants which work to remove dead skin cells and unblock pores. I was expecting this to be a really abrasive scrub, but the wife owns some which are more lethal than this. 
Stoer Skincare | The Ultimate Defence Shield For Men's Skin
Massaging it onto damp skin in circular motions, you can, if you press hard enough, feel the particles working on the skin and afterwards, again there is no dryness feeling.  I have been using this scrub once a week and am a huge fan.  A 75ml tube retails for £27.

I am a bit of a face mask fan and it is a product I perhaps haven't used as much as I should have done. The Vitamin Power Mask is packed with antioxidant vitamins A, C & E, anti-inflammatory Pro Vitamin B5 and it also features the unique Clima5 technology which works to bolster the skin’s natural defences. 
Stoer Skincare | The Ultimate Defence Shield For Men's Skin
To use, you need to set aside around 12 minutes of your time and you liberally apply a thick layer to the face and neck, after cleansing and then simply remove with warm water.  There is an additional usage to this mask if you suffer from razor burn, which I find quite clever and that involves applying a thin layer of the mask to the affected area, massage as much of it in as you can and then leave it on your skin overnight as a treatment and wash off the following morning.  Not something I have yet tried, but useful to know!  A 75ml tube of the mask retails for £32.

The use of serums is something that is new to me and not a product that I have used a lot. The wife has one or two within her morning and evening routine and constantly tells me how good they are.  So with thanks to Stoer I now have two different ones to use.

The Firm and Protect Serum is described as being a matte finish facial serum and it is said to help minimise fine lines.  What I have found is that it is incredibly hydrating, more so than any moistusing cream that I have used and I was surprised at how little I need to use to cover my entire face and neck - just 1-2 pumps is more than enough and it can be uses both morning and evening. I like this serum is lightweight on the skin and doesn't feel at all slimy. 
Stoer Skincare | The Ultimate Defence Shield For Men's Skin
As it gives a matte finish, I am reliably informed it doesn't make my skin look shiny or greasy, instead it is quite the opposite and having used it for a fairly long period of time, my skin does feel a lot more hydrated and smooth to the touch. Priced at £40 for 50ml.

Finally we have the Energising Eye Serum which has been formulated specially for the delicate skin around the eyes and featuring STOER’s unique Clima5 TechnologyThis serum is really lightweight on the under-eye area and again, it can be used both morning and evening.   
Stoer Skincare | The Ultimate Defence Shield For Men's Skin
This is the product I am hoping to see a lot of results from, in just two weeks the dark circles and bags under my eyes have decreased, the skin feels tighter around the eye and it's obvious to me as a lay person that this part of my face is hydrated to the max.  Priced at £32 for 25ml.

What I am really enjoying about this range is the effect it is having on my skin - softer, smoother and far more radiant and that for me is a massive result. With a pleasant aroma, distinct lack of greasiness in the serums and noticeable positive results this is a great range and one I'll probably cry about when it all runs out! 

In recent years I have taken, mainly through curiosity, to cleansing, using a mask and adding a moisturising cream to my skin. No longer is it 'a thing' that men don't talk about or mention. In fact I am quite open about using skincare products on my skin, especially as I live in London which does have a cause and effect with the high levels of pollution, something we are all now becoming much more aware of. So go on, take the plunge. If you want a skincare range that is designed to make you look the best you can be then look no further.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


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