Tag Archives: Grooming

How to Make Your Cologne Last Longer

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I had the pleasure of contributing to a menshealth.com article about cologne and its longevity. It’s a quick read and I hope you find it useful. Check it out here.

Thanks!

 

Alluvian Silver Tip Badger Brush

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A few weeks ago I was contacted by the men’s grooming line, Alluvian, inquiring about my willingness to test some of their naturally fragrant products. Upon doing my research, I realized there was something here not to be missed. The founder John Cowan was working in biotechnology and his sustainability and holistic reservations about what he was doing led him to the idea of “making grooming products geared for men that would be pure, unadulterated, high quality, sustainable and most importantly, distinguished.” Translation, John knows formulations. John comes from a science and technical background. Two reasons in my book to get to know this brand.

As I was poking around Alluvian’s site, I realized John was very attentive to details. The site’s presentation was well curated with product and lifestyle imagery and short and to the point copy. He even handmade badger brushes. All of this piqued my interest.

After exchanging a few emails, my product arrived and its scent was a dead giveaway. Alluvian’s soaps are beyond run of the mill. While I pick up masculine traits, they won’t leave your bathroom smelling like coast guard. If that’s what you want, this isn’t the brand for you. After geeking out on the soaps, I couldn’t wait any longer and had to open the tube holding the badger brush.

As a shaving enthusiast, the sight of a new brush is like running down the hallway on Christmas morning to a tree full of gifts. From appearance alone, it’s a thing of beauty. They are handmade in Peoria, Illinois using American hardwood and the finest silver tip badger hair. The brush’s barrel feels right at home in my hand and when wet there is no slippage. What was most impressive was how easily it broke in. As you know, badger brushes can take a bit to get to that sweet spot. I found with Alluvian’s Silver Tip Badger Brush, after 3 shaves, the bristles had soften quite a bit and was holding water and soap exceptionally well. The brush’s loft has also bloomed beautifully.

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Last but certainly not least, Alluvian had the genius idea to attach a leather strap so the brush could be hung out to dry. While the handle is shaped to fit your standard T stand, the brand leaves nothing to chance. It’s the little details like this that often excite me about new brands and it won me over with Alluvian’s brush.

Bottom line here, this well priced, handmade shaving essential, which retails for $68, will rival any brand name brush on the market.

Well done Alluvian.

Gym Bag Essentials

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I recently started going to the gym again. I’m paying a more than I have for my membership but the experience is worth it. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is guys either having to much grooming products or relying on whatever maybe thrown together by the gym. I’m all for a lighter bag. Not having to carry around a towel is beautiful amenity. One thing I won’t skip on though are my essential products. Call it what you want but after a great workout and a long day ahead of me, it makes all the difference. Below are a few my must haves for your consideration.

Lucky Tiger Liquid Shave Cream – While I love using my badger brush, even I know when to leave it home. I love this shave cream because even with my hands I get a nice lather but more importantly, its ingredients moisturize the skin and gives the razor a super easy glide.

Crown Shaving Co After Shave Balm – Ever since I tried Crown Shaving Co., I’ve been hooked. Boasting traditional formulations and masculine marketing efforts, these guys know shaving and know how to take care your skin while doing it. The balm isn’t super thick and doesn’t leave my face greasy. Makes a difference when your metabolism is still revving and while rushing so you won’t be late, you find yourself sweating.

Curel Itch Defense Moisturizing Spray – It’s easy in the rush to forget to apply lotion and if you happen to remember, what’s provided at most gyms smells medicinal. Believe it or not, spraying the lotion actually shaves time off getting ready but what I love about Curel Itch Defense Moisturizing Spray is it absorbs into the skin super fast, isn’t greasy or heavy and most importantly for a scent enthusiast like me, it doesn’t compete with my cologne choice of the day. It’s just what I need to keep the ash away.

Degree Motionsense Dryspray – Not that I need protection for 48hrs (God forbid that amount of time passes and I haven’t showered…can you say ewww) but after an arduous day, I find this deordorant is still going strong. Works for me!

Bevel Razor – balanced weight, extra long handle, never looses its grip…never leave home with it. (Disclosure, I am a freelance writer for Bevel. My decision, however, to use it daily is because it’s really a great razor.)

Musc Imperial by Atelier Colgone – I will admit, this is the one thing that changes regularly. I’m not a signature scent kind of guy, as I love variety. If I was, however, this is one I’d chose to go with. I’ve been a fan of the Atelier Cologne brand for a very long time as I’ve never been disappointed by their scents. Developed as the signature scent of the Majestic Hotel & Spa in Barcelona I find this simply magnificent. If this is in part a reminder of Barcelona, I want to go. This reads traditional to me. I think of well-dressed Barcelona men that make me want to wear a suit. It opens sweet and clean and right away I pick up the lavender and fig. As it develops the leather, woods and musk kick in. Its longevity is incredible as is the case with all of Atelier Cologne’s fragrances. When I’m headed out on a business trip, I usually throw Oolang Infini into my dopp kit. Musc Imperial is now a no brainer for gym bags and business trips.

 

Whipping A Great Lather

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As a kid, I can remember running around the house, stumbling upon my dad shaving in the bathroom while watching his face, full of shaving cream and always thinking, that was so cool; it often left me wanting to do it, too. He never formally taught me how to whip up a great lather, but with time I developed a reliable technique of my own. Continue reading my latest post on Bevelcode.com.

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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