Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Kyoku for men: Men's grooming tried and tested

I love toiletries, men’s grooming products, whatever you wish to call them, I love them!

So when the lovely ladies in the Beauty department at work asked me to trial Kyoku For Men, I jumped at the chance.

Designed specifically for men's skin by Asim Akhtar, Kyoku for Men products combine cutting-edge skincare technology with effective natural ingredients.
Kyoku for Men incorporates ancient Japanese knowledge of the active properties in natural extracts with up to the minute scientific research, resulting in the ultimate luxury grooming line for the active urban lifestyle.

The body products range is broken up into the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water. I was drawn to the wind selection so I picked these.

Kyoku for men wind body wash
 I began my regime with the wind body wash.

In a rectangle shaped bottle with a push top lid I struggled somewhat with getting a decent squeeze/pouring action into my hand.

Once successfully decanted the green tinted liquid that oozed from the bottle smelt wonderfully fresh. Perfect for awakening your senses in the morning. The fresh light herbal scent smelt naturally clean and not overtly synthetic as with some shower gels. I found the body wash didn’t lather up as I’d expected but this wasn’t an issue, just a point of difference.

If I had to use one word to sum up this product it’d be ‘invigorating’.

Kyoku for men wind body scrub

The body scrub
The liquid was clear with microbeads that gently yet effectively exfoliate the skin.
Some scrubs can be too harsh but this was perfect for my face as well as my neck and shoulders. I always use a scrub before shaving as this lifts the hairs.
The body scrub felt wonderful and my skin was left feeling refreshed whilst my face was sufficiently prepped for the next stage.

 Kyoku for men sake Infused shave crème
 The shave
As winner of ‘best shave product’ at the 2011 GQ Grooming Awards the Kyoku’s sake infused shave crème was one of the products I was most keen to trial. It came in a large pot that sits smartly on your bathroom shelf.
This smooth mint green hued crème had a pearlised sheen to it which I found rather inviting. The crème spread easily over my face with use of a bristle brush (but the packaging assures that you can also use your fingertips).
When I had finished sweeping my razor around my stubble I instantly noticed a subtle and pleasant tingling sensation that made my skin feel as if it’d had something of a renaissance.
Like all good men I quickly followed up my shave with a balm.

Kyoku for men razor repair balm
Kyoku for men razor repair balm
This light balm blended in well into my skin and unlike a lot of post balms was not at all oily and did not leave my hands covered in gunk. My skin now felt smooth and fresh.
The finishing product was an oil control lotion. I have naturally oily skin, which is great for warding off the wrinkles for a few years but is not pleasant with the much dreaded shine that so many of us men have to cope with.
I applied this to the bridge of my nose, forehead and the cheek area directly below my eyes as these are the areas prone to oiliness. The lotion was easily absorbed and left my skin soft, matt and ready for my busy work day ahead. I had just one product left to try.

Kyoku for men lip fuel

The lip fuel
With an SPF of 15 this avocado oil, peppermint and green tea leaf balm imparted a gentle softening and energizing feeling to my lips with a rather pleasant yet subtle tingling.
My lips were moisturised without looking girly and glossy.

All in all, I really enjoyed the products. They gave my daily grooming routine a compacted feeling of a spa day treatment. An excellent men’s grooming product range perfect for those who pride themselves on exquisite self maintenance.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Stonewashed jeans: Back from the brink

Their presence was noted both on the catwalks and in the audience of Fashion Week this year and they are clawing their way back into the Great British high street. Not only in Britain but also in Europe. Whilst I was on my annual trip to Stockholm, Sweden that I noticed in some of the painfully cool Scandinavian menswear magazines a few trend stories involving stonewashed denim. From that glimpse of effortlessly cool Swedish style in print I began to see jeans in literally a whole new light...(or should that be wash?)

Stone washing is the process used to give newly made denim a worn-out look. The fabric is placed in large industrial drums with stones (normally pumice) and spun so that the stones pound and beat the fabric for a softer feel with a vintage, repeatedly laundered look.
If someone had told me a few years ago that’d I’d soon be rushing out to buy jeans in the same hue as the ones I wore in 1988 (think Bros, The Smiths fans and Nick Kamen in that Levi’s launderette advert ), I’d have laughed.

Nick Kamen in 1980s Levi's advert
But last week I purchased my first pair of stone wash jeans (post 1980s of course).
I’m used to wearing slim or straight fit jeans in a dark 1950s style indigo shade, so I was really breaking out of my comfort zone in an ultra slim pair of stonewashed jeans.

And what a change they made! Not only did they give me a very 1980s rugged rock look but they made me feel quite edgy. I chose to keep it true to the 1980s inspiration and wore them with some canvas shoes and a grey sweater with a David Bowie print to the front.

ASOS authentic blue slim fit jeans
 As I always wear dark jeans for smart/work wear I decided there and then that my new stonewash jeans would be my jeans of choice for casual wear and weekends.

Due to their lighter shade stonewash denims are perfect for summer. Keep it classically cool and wear with a simple t-shirt, go for the indie kid look and team them with a graphic printed tee or update them with a simple tailored shirt.

For footwear canvas and deck shoes are an obvious choice but you could wear them with some classic brogues for a boho romantic look that’s sure to cut a fine figure of a man on the mean streets.
There is something wonderfully rebellious about worn looking stonewashed jeans (In a nonchalant kind of way of course).

With a wide range of cuts available to compliment your style and shape you’ll easily be able to find the perfect stonewash jeans in your preferred cut. So go on, break out of your comfort zone, tap into your inner 1980s rocker and get a pair of stonewash denims this spring/summer.

Classic 1980s Morrissey in all his stonewash denim glory