Tag Archives: Grooming

Ursa Major’s Fortifying Face Balm

Growing up the son of working class parents, I remember having occasion items. When Easter rolled around, it was time to get a suit because, if my mother had anything to do with it, we were surely going to church . When we came home from school, the first thing we had to do was change out of our school clothes. I even had a trench coat for church and funerals. This was a function of economics with a dash of reverence.

As I look back and smile about those days, I couldn’t help thinking about that the first time I tried Ursa Major’s Fortifying Face Balm. The ease at which it applied to my face and was absorbed by my skin, it didn’t even feel like it was there. it felt to good for everyday use but as I continued using it, even on days when I wasn’t shaving, I knew I found just what I needed for the summer. Something light, bright and just right.

The heat of the summer can surely make you not want to put anything on your skin, and that’s the worst thing you can do for yourself. What you want to do is shift from heavier moisturizers and creams to ones that are lightweight. Ursa Major’s Fortifying Face Balm is just that. Your skin will also absorb it quickly, hence the feeling that it’s not there. With high concentrations of aloe, myrtle, witch hazel, willow bark, kendi nut, carrot seed and birch sap, it has served me well thus far this summer.

100% natural and 82% organic, 2.5 oz size retails for $36. You can find it at Ursa Major Men and select retailers.

A sample of Ursa Major’s Fortifying Face Balm was sent to me but my views are all my own.

The Weekend Getaway

A quick weekend getaway, while exciting because it breaks the routine, should also have some comforting elements as well. On a recent jump down to Philadelphia, that’s exactly what I had in mind. And while TSA restrictions didn’t apply, I’ve gotten so used to packing that way, all of my grooming necessities were airline appropriate. Continue reading

Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D 1250XCC

As a young man, my father always told me never put a straight razor on my face. He said it would make the hair grow back faster and thicker. Myth or not, I never did put one on my face until my first professional shave at Martial Vivot. It was the closest shave I ever experienced. Continue reading

Face time with Lierac Homme’s Nettoyant Purifant

Now that Memorial Day is behind us, warmer days are ahead. It also means we’ll be outdoors longer enjoying the great weather. That extra perspiration and exposure to the grime of air pollutants will wreak havoc on our skin. For one, the extra oil that our skin releases can clog our pores. Combine that with a day’s worth of dirt build-up and it means we’d be foolish to not be more diligent about taking care of our face. Continue reading

Meet Voon Chew

My favorite cigar spot here in NYC is OK Cigars. The energy there is unlike any cigar shop I’ve ever been to. All of the fellas have their own style, we discuss everything from politics to women and the best part, there is no pretentiousness.

On this particular day, I was sitting outside enjoying a smoke when Voon Chew passed by. I immediately liked his ensemble. I noticed his perfectly weathered Bucks because I was considering getting a pair this summer but chickened out. Next thing you know, he disappeared into the crowd on West Broadway only to reappear asking to take the picture of my smoking buddy Dexter Wimberly and myself. I was flattered because I left the house that day feel eh. We’re now experiencing that in between weather, which always poses a problem wardrobe wise, and my only pair of jeans had me feeling like a sausage after a recent wash. That said I had to pull something together that I wasn’t too happy about.

Mr. Chew pulls out his iPhone to grab a quick snapshot but he just wasn’t getting the shot he wanted. I happened to be walking with my Canon Rebel XTI to grab a snap of a gent to profile here and decided to offer it to him. An impromptu photo shoot ensued and after 15 minutes of shooting I decided to turn the camera on him as I was certain a man with this taste surely appreciated fragrances.

What are your feelings about fragrance?
Fragrance is as much a crucial element as any accessory or clothing item in personalizing your appearance and style. It is quite complex, like trying to pair a good wine with a dish that complements not contradicts. So much love and experimenting is poured into the creating of a fragrance – what makes for the most intoxicating combination? And then you still have to throw you own body chemistry into the mix to see if it makes for a good marriage. I’ve learned that just because a cologne is lovely on its own doesn’t mean it is the right one for you.

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance?
When I was a kid my mum would take me to the Buddhist temples and they would be burning incense. The scent permeated through the entire place and the smoke created this fog of calmness. It was so intense that it was hard not to remember that. And of course like any kid, I used to open up my mum’s perfume bottles sitting on the vanity table to sniff them.

What fragrances are currently in your rotation?
Gucci Pour Homme II, YSL L’Homme and Clinique Happy.

How often do you go out looking for something new?
Once in a while I would walk into Sephora, as I love the setup there. And it is not as overwhelming as walking into the fragrance section of a departmental store where wafts of different perfumes take over, and make you want to get away from that as soon as possible.

What specifically do you look for?
I love ingredients like cedar, cardamom, bergamot that evoke a little bit of muskiness and some citrus to keep it fresh and vibrant. Recently I was intrigued by Gucci Flora for women. It contains mandarin and peony, which are very Asian-inspired and grounded by sandalwood. I always recommend that to my lady friends.

Would you ever consider wearing it?
I tested it on my skin to see how it would react with my body chemistry and even though it has a tinge of unisex appeal, its floral notes monopolized the scent to me, especially the rose which is very distinctive. However, I have to applaud Gucci for coming up with such a lovely flowery fragrance without evoking overly powdery undertones or god forbid a packet of English Garden potpourri!

Have you ever purchased the same fragrance more than once? If so, what was it and what about it made it worthy of a repeat buy?
Gucci Pour Homme II. It has been very well received. When people want to get up close to sniff your neck, even casual acquaintances, you know you have a winner on your hands.

How would you finish this statement? “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?
My most memorable fragrant moment would be when I met this person in Chicago whom I swear oozes natural pheromones that should have been bottled as a fragrance. This is very reminiscent of a scene in the movie Michael (where John Travolta’s character makes all the women swoon as he smelled like cookies). This person did not smell like cookies of course. That was the one and only time I met someone who actually smelled heavenly au naturale.

Just another day on West Broadway. Thanks Voon.

Meet Chad Murawczyk of MIN New York

I recently attended a press preview conducted by MIN New York. I’ve been meaning to go by the store and took the invitation as a sign I had better go. I’m so glad I did.

This Crosby street alteier is a spacious emporium filled with goodies. I love discovering brands I’ve  never heard of and they had quite a few like Linari and Parfums d’Orsay.

What I love about the store is its openness.  Not only is it a nice sized store but the staff is extremely nice. There’s no pressure and they’re available if you need them, but not in a stuffy stand-offish way.

That open, transparent feeling carried itself through to my meeting with MIN’s owner, Chad Murawczyk. Perhaps my initial impression was shaped by his attire that day, he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but it was more so what came out of his mouth when explaining MIN’s curated selection of products. There wasn’t an ounce of pretentiousness and that made me feel welcome. We were two cats that connected on a love of scents and grooming products. I cannot say I’ve had the same experience in some of the New York’s other fragrance destinations.

Here’s a snippet of my conversation with Chad:

Explain the concept behind MIN New York?
Inspired by the New York minute, MiN New York was created on the belief ‘The world doesn’t need more products. It needs better products.’ I wanted a place where you could escape the hustle of the City and slow things down to a space that offers a curated range of honest, artisan things that have endured the test of time. We wanted an Apothecary that respects the rituals of beauty and grooming. Where you could explore your personal style through the Art that is Perfume or shave. An Atelier that celebrates the senses and a Collector can find worthwhile additions.

What is the history of the store? Who are the owners? How did they get into the business?
I founded MiN New York back in 1999 on professional hair color and specialty hair care for men. MiN New York focused on identifying, formulating, and communicating effective solutions for everyday grooming challenges. I have been exploring bundled benefits and how efficacy affects time. Over the years, my passion and business evolved to defining simple luxury in the New York minute. Alas our Apothecary & Atelier was born! Our space is where I curate niche brands, fragrances, and curiosities.

What do guys look for when they shop at MIN? What kinds of questions do they ask?
Our Guests are savvy shoppers. They appreciate that true artisans make the products that we feature. Our customers know what they want and they are eager to explore. They want to know about the notes, the brands, and the inspirations behind each product or scent. They like it that we offer a well-edited selection and our collections evolve continuously. We’ve been told that having a choice to leisurely shop alone or receive a guided flight of personal fragrance is ‘a real treat’. We believe that it is important that our customers test fragrances on their skin prior to purchasing. Upon request, we help our Guests build a wardrobe of only what they love, what works for them.

What are their top-selling fragrances for men?
Miller HarrisFeuilles de Tabac [unique yet traditional] and Notte Bianca [rare, modern and complex] by Linari are a couple of our top sellers. Our customers enjoy scents that are distinctive yet unobtrusive. They appreciate fragrances that are made from the best ingredients by Perfumers, not laboratories. We are fortunate to have Guests that understand that fine fragrances are like wine and spirits. They appreciate our informative guidance and spend much time discovering new scents with our Guides. Unlike the department store environment, artisan fragrances are personal and very dynamic. We are thrilled to see that our Guests have fragrance wardrobes that tailor to various moods and external factors such as the weather.

What are the most interesting men’s fragrances you have? Anything really different out there?
Le Petit Rien by Miller Harris won ‘Best New Fragrance – Limited Distribution’ in the prestigious CEW awards in 2009. This timeless fragrance pays tribute to the great tradition of the cologne. Themed around the orange tree, it incorporates every element from the flower to the leaves. Sweet orange and angelica racine are fused with bergamot from Italy and Sicilian lemon, grounded with rosemary, red thyme, French tarragon and lavender. The heart is petitgrain essence and Tunisian neroli, whilst the base is oak moss, vetiver and patchouli leaves.
The coolness of hesperidia alongside vetiver makes Le Petit Grain a supreme summer choice and a joyful morning addition for any in-between season.

Frapin and Parfum d’Empire are 2 other striking collections that will be available this Fall. From these collections, many scents are very different and suitable for cooler weather. A great way to discover unique scents is to drop in for a flight or call up fragrance samples.

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance?
My earliest recollection of fragrance was when my mother would head out for dinner with my father. She would check in with me and I would catch a whiff of Shalimar. It is quite a memorable and sophisticated scent.

What fragrances are currently in your rotation?
Currently, I wear Kilian’s Straight to Heaven, and Miller Harris’ Vetiver Bourbon.

Have you ever purchased the same fragrance more than once? If so, what was it and what about it made it worthy of a repeat buy?
Yes. Paul Sebastian. It was masculine, refined and subtle.

How would you finish this statement, “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?
I was in Hong Kong touring some shops. A big expensive car pulled up, the chauffeur got out and out stepped a seriously well-kept woman. Her fragrance was foreign and intoxicating. The juxtaposition between the odiferous Hong Kong air and her fragrance made for quite the memory…

Thanks Chad.

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