The Art of the Groom
Where we ask our favorite Italian Rapscallion, Bill Ervolino, to round up his favorite new summertime products for fellas we love. (And PS: Perfect timing for August birthday boys.)
By Bill Ervolino
In the shower, most guys we know prefer bar soap to the liquid stuff. But as those manly bars have become more natural -- Ginger! Lemongrass! Citrus! -- they’ve also become bigger, heavier, and, occasionally, hazardous. If you’ve ever dropped one of those mondo bars on your foot, well, keep your fingers (and toes) crossed that it doesn’t happen again.
In the meantime, take note that the new Vetiver Soap on a Rope from Art of Shaving ($25) can spare your guy a painful shower mishap while lathering him up with the earthy scent of vetiver, aka khus -- or, if you want to get technical about it, chrysopogon zizanioides, a bunchgrass from India. The essential oil has anti-fungal properties and is even known to repel certain insects. The soap is foamy and refreshing and the scent is pleasant and woodsy without being oppressive. (It may even seem a tad familiar for guys who have ever splashed on Dior Eau Sauvage or L’Occitane Vetyver.)
And, since it weighs in at eight ounces, it will last a good long time, which is nice, since your man will miss it when it’s gone.
Get down with your bad self! As its logo notes, Chassis offers “Man Care For Down There” and we’re not talking Australia. Do we think it’s a good idea? Oh, yeah. We want to keep that chassis classy.
Consider the line’s 5-IN-1 Shower Primer ($18), which addresses cleaning and moisturizing your lower deck while also reducing friction and reining in those scents you really want to keep under control. The line’s frontline ingredients include aloe vera, allantoin, baking soda, hops, pumpkin seed, witch hazel, and good old zinc oxide. Oat oil, another ingredient, boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Shaving It Nicely
The Art of Shaving offers a sturdy case for its Lemon Essential Oil Travel Kit ($150), which should generate sighs of relief from on-the- go guys who’ve had to move their shaving supplies and other toiletries from their carry-on bags to their checked luggage in recent years. (And we all know what happens to checked luggage.)
The kit is handsome and luxurious, replete with a 1 oz. bottle of lemon oil, a 1.5 oz. canister of lemon-scented shaving cream, and an after-shave balm with another burst of lemon that will give him just enough zing to face the day -- or a long, well-deserved night on the town. The shaving brush is a thick, sensual accessory that every man should have. And the line’s Lexington Fusion razor gets the job done with all the precision and oomph we’ve come to expect from The Art of Shaving.
It may take a couple of attempts to cozy up to Clinique’s Charcoal Face Wash ($20). The inky color may put you off, even as it provides an amusing Annie Hall flashback. (“You got black soap? What, what are you, joining a minstrel show?”) And the scent is nothing special. (It’s not good or bad, it’s just kind of neutral.) But there’s no getting around the fact that it creates a nice lather with some cool properties: in addition to cleansing, it draws out impurities and addresses oiliness without drying out your skin. After a week, we really did notice a difference.
With its Anti-Age Moisturizer ($37) and Maximum Hydrator ($34), Clinique For Men is providing a one-two punch for skin in need of serious moisture, strengthening, and firming. The Anti-Age Moisturizer comes in a tube and has a milkier consistency. Maximum Hydrator comes in a jar and is creamy and lush. Both go on easy and neither leaves a greasy film. If you had to pick one, we’d suggest the Maximum Hydrator. We’ve been using them together, though, and were pleased with the results.
Even the most staid daddy-o (or daddy-to- be) knows he has to take care of his skin, ASAP, and Kiehl’s Age Defender products are ready to help. Cypress extract is one of the featured ingredients in the line’s Power Serum ($50), but the addition of caffeine, denatured alcohol, and root extracts makes this mixture almost feel like a bracing after-shave.
Get him to supplement that serum with these two must-haves: Age Defender Eye Repair ($30) and Age Defender Moisturizer ($40-$52). The Eye Repair features rye seed extract, which helps to improve skin’s firmness and smoothness, and targets crow’s feet. The Moisturizer combines caffeine, linseed extract, and soy protein to minimize lines and exfoliate, too. Like the serum, the moisturizer feels great right after a shave.
And there it is: in 45 seconds or less, your active man will be ready to roll.
For pure herbal goodness, it’s hard not to love Jack Black. The Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser ($19) is enriched with aloe and sage leaf. The Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20 ($28) is awash in blue algae extract and sea parsley. And the Beard Lube ($17), which promises -- and delivers -- a “conditioning shave,” brings in a pleasing jolt of jojoba and eucalyptus.
These are high quality products with plenty of natural ingredients and no parabens for the guy who appreciates herbs and their properties. As for all those scents: Even when used all together, they’ll leave you smelling clean, fresh, natural, and not the least bit perfume-y.
KAPOW is the key word here for The Art of Shaving Skin Care Kit ($75). The facial wash, scrub, and moisturizer are suped up with peppermint oil for that ooh-so “cool menthol” feel and scent.
The wash is refreshing first thing in the morning, or after a serious workout and sauna. The scrub feels as good as it smells, and it tones as it dislodges all those skin cells that have reached their expiration dates.
The moisturizer brings some eucalyptus essential oil to the mix, which is a nice finishing touch to a regimen that’s just what every guy wants: It’s quick, it’s easy, it smells great and it works.
Whether your favorite dude has a preponderance of hair on his head, his face, or both, Mitch Barber’s Classic Pomade by Paul Mitchell ($21.99) is guaranteed to make him happy. Pomade, of course, is one of those things men don’t know they need until they get it. Then, they never want to be without it.
It promises to “tame curls and waves” and our sources insist it does. We’ve been using it to keep our facial hair in order, though, and it’s done that with such flying colors we’re certain it will do what you want it to, no matter where you dab it.
The product is high shine/moderate hold and the scent is clean and pleasant, so you won’t mind it at all in your magnificent mustache.
Scent of a Man
Ooh la-la! With its dash of ginger and hint of mint, Eau de Lacoste Energized Edition ($74.50) is a light, beguiling scent that’s perfect for summer. Additional notes of tuberose, leather, and cedar wood give this eau de toilette a super-fresh aroma that will wake your guy up after a long, exhausting day at the beach. Or, on the softball field. Or, better still, the tennis court, since it is, after all, named for one of the 20th century’s true tennis greats.
The bottle is casual and chic, in a soothing shade of ivory with flags of the world filling in the company’s iconic crocodile logo. (Or, alligator. But, let’s not start that argument, again.) Men will also appreciate the bottle’s textured sides, which makes it easy to hold, even with wet hands.
Subtle it’s not. And yet Boss, the Hugo Boss scent for men ($85) isn’t overpowering, either. There’s a hint of floral in this eau de toilette, but the notes that grab you first are the ginger, marinka fruit and leather.
As for this scent, which launched last year, promised a seductive experience. We were skeptical, of course. But, we’re not, anymore.
Not every man appreciates such an assertive fragrance, but those who do will likely fall hard for this one. (So will the ladies in his life.)
The bottle, in a leaded glass design, is appropriately masculine and very sturdy. All in all, we really love it.
Parfums Des Champs offers gift sets for almost every occasion with dispensers that look so much like real cigars, you may be tempted to light a match. The Cuba Variety set ($14.99), featuring four scents identified by color (Gold, Blue, Red, and Orange), is an irresistible gift idea, even if the packaging is the bigger attraction than the scents themselves. At this price point, though, why quibble? If you’re spending a day at the beach or down by the pool, these scents will help you feel fresh without breaking the bank.
Just to be sure, we shared our Prada Luna Rossa Eau de Toilette ($51.99 - $97.99) -- and three other men’s fragrances -- with six friends who like to smell great, especially when they’re out for the evening. Five of the six proclaimed the Prada to be their favorite. And, when asked for their reasons, four used the same word:
The energizing scent gets its punch from lavender absolute and bitter orange, but we think Prada Luna Rossa’s sage and spearmint clinch the deal.
We’d recommend it for a romantic evening, but it won’t be a distraction at your next business conference. It’s terrific -- and well worth the price.