March 12, 2008

Review of Mensgroom Scrubbed the Right Way Facial Scrub

mensgroomscrubbed.jpgDay three of our Mensgroom safari brings us to the Fisherman's Wharf section of San Francisco. Ever been there? Total tourist trap. Fried dough carts. Ripley's Believe or Not "museum". And mimes.

Much like those mimes you see on the street, dead skin cells should be dealt with extreme prejudice. Do the job with this special scrub. It's formulated with Tea Tree Leaves for a polite, yet firm exfoliation. Use it just thrice weekly, preferably before you shave. Then go around work saying 'thrice' until everyone gets really annoyed. It's a blast!

Hold on. This is the thrice product we've reviewed from Mensgroom, and it's missing a distinctly defining ingredient. Are you telling me we've found a Mensgroom product without shrooms?

Aloe Vera and Mushroom Extract are added to soothe, calm and moisturise the skin.

Phew! Had to click into the What Makes This Product Extra Awesome link to see the mushrooms. But they're there!

superball.jpgMensgroom Scrubbed the Right Way Facial Scrub is one of the gentlest exfoliants I've used. Scrubs tend to have course or fine grit. Mensgroom's is mostly a thick gel with some sort of flecks. Might be tea tree leaf powder. Not sure. Frankly it looks like the stuff they make superballs out of. I'm tempted to leave some in a round mold and see what happens.

I'm never sure about exfoliants, but every line of men's grooming products has one, and women have been using them long before men. I assume that some smart people probably think it's a good idea. Or that we've succumbed to some sort of circular peer pressure ring. Who knows.

Mensgroom Scrubbed the Right Way Facial Scrub is $20 for a 3.4 oz / 100 ml tube. "Use just three times a week. Like Monday, Wednesday and Friday." Easy.

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March 11, 2008

Review of Mensgroom Soothe the Shaven Beast After Shave Balm

mensgroomsooth.jpgDay two of our tour of Mensgroom's facial products. Yesterday we shaved. Today we after-shave.

Mensgroom's Soothe the Shaven Beast is a light white lotion with a vaguely old-school barbershop scent. Just a hint of your grandpa's aftershave without his overwhelming halitosis. Three little squirts were all I needed to cover my face after each shave. One tip - pick the bottle up and squirt it into your hands. The spout really isn't long enough to dispense when it's sitting on the counter.

Contrary to what those annoying spandex-clad health freaks say, you don't need to feel the burn. At least not on your face. This after-shave will cool, soothe and stimulate you with a mixture of Birch Sap, Mannetake Mushroom and Menthol. And unlike most oil-tanker captains, it's alcohol free.

See? Shrooms again. Sweet!

Despite this after shave balm being very light, it was all my face needed. I've used several other after shaves which were so light I needed to apply something heavier, especially around my nose and lips where skin gets drier in the winter. Not so with Mensgroom. Another point for the shrooms.

Mensgroom's Soothe the Shaven Beast after shave balm is $30 for a 1.7 oz / 100 ml bottle. "We know it's hard to believe something can soothe and stimulate you with no alcohol. But trust us, it's true." Yup. Alcohol is for rubbin' and drinkin'.

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March 10, 2008

Review of Mensgroom Shave the Males Shaving Cream

mensgroomshave.jpgA while back we got a big shipment of products from Mensgroom. It's taken some time to get through them, but we're finally ready for the reviews. So here we go...

First up - Shave the Males shaving cream. What's in it? "Menthol, Mannetake Mushroom, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E."

Hold on. Did you say shrooms? Ok. Now you've got my attention.

Actually Mannetake Mushrooms seems to be the secret sauce to most Mensgroom products. I'm sure there's some health-related reason like blah blah lubricating oils and yada yada amino acids, but seriously dude. One tab of this sh!t and I was shaving with a rainbow Medusa-headed Hendrix. Does your morning shave get any better than that?

Mensgroom Shave the Males is a white cream which goes on easily and does not foam up. Why doesn't the Shave Cream foam up?

You want to know why? Because it's not supposed to, that's why. Because its Mushroom Extract and Aloe Vera, meant to calm and moisturise your skin for a smoother shave, will never, ever foam. Ever. Now leave us alone.

(Answers and other insults can be found at their FAQ by clicking on the above link.)

The shaving cream provides a slick surface for your razor, and I had little to no nicks or cuts while using this stuff for a month. Great close shave everyday. We've already covered the foaming bit, but that means you use a regular amount with each shave. Not a ton, but this isn't one of those magic soaps where a tiny smidge lathers up to a bubble bath. Just don't skimp on your first shave, and then start cutting back to see how little you really need.

I've read a bunch of shaving reviews on other sites, and one thing some people worry about in general is shaving cream gunking up their razor. Not an issue for me, but I imagine this might bother some people if they tried Mensgroom. So you rinse your razor more often. You should be doing that after every stroke anyway.

Mensgroom Shave the Males shaving cream is $22 for a 6.8 oz / 200 ml tube. As they say on their site, "Shaving usually sucks. Now it sucks a lot less." We agree.

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February 13, 2008

Review of Zia for Men's ActiClean Skin Clearing Face Wash

ziaActiclean.jpgA while ago we reviewed Zia for Men shaving products. And recently we received a shipment of other men's facial products from Zia. We've been using Zia for Men's ActiClean Skin Clearing Face Wash for a month now, and here's our report.

Good stuff.

Once again Zia has managed to create a high-quality product using natural ingredients, free of dyes and perfumes. Even if you actively seeked out a face wash with radioactive blue dye and ingredients with names a mile long, you'd have a hard time turning Zia ActiClean down.

Zia's face wash is a clear gel with a pleasing peppermint scent. I tended to use it once a day when I was washing up before going to bed. A quarter size amount is all you need. Apply to a warm wet face, work up a light lather, and rinse. Follow up with a light moisture cream. Easy. My face felt nice and clean, and wasn't left too dry.

Zia for Men's ActiClean Skin Clearing Face Wash is $8.95 for a 5 oz tube. Get some.

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February 12, 2008

Review of the Philips Norelco Nose and Ear Trimmer

nt9110.jpgI know, it's not something we all want to talk about. But every man should have a nose trimmer in his hair-battling arsenal. Woman may have their waxing kits hidden under the vanity. Men should have their nose hair trimmer hidden right next to them. Take a minute to read our unboxing of the Philips Norelco Nose and Ear Trimmer, then come on back for our full review.

foilHeadtrimmer.jpgLate last year Philips Norelco introduced the NT9110, aka the "Precision Nose and Ear Trimmer", a radical departure from traditional rotary tops. How is different? Well, while most nose hair trimmers have a spinning blade under a foiled head, (see picture left), the Norelco has "Tube Shave" technology.

Tube Shave is a next-generation shaving technology that delivers fast, one stroke efficiency for significantly better hair catching than foil shaving. You also get significantly closer results than current precision trimmers. Tube Shave technology shaves at skin level. The shaver can be applied to every angle of the skin without losing shaving effectiveness.

"Tube Shave" seems like kind of a funny name for it. I'd call it "Vertical Shave". Or "Shaft Shave" (given the innuendo Philips Norelco tends to use). Basically, you stick that long shaft, er... stalk up your nose and wiggle it around. You'll be surprised at how far up it can go. Kind of freaked me out. The good news is that it never once caught or tugged a hair, which would have been very painful.

The Philips Norelco Nose and Ear Trimmer also comes with two eyebrow attachments which easily snap on over the shaft. Er... tube. They actually work pretty well at trimming out-of-control eyebrows. You'll definitely want to go against the grain. Running them in the direction that your eyebrow hair grows will only work as a comb (which is sometimes all that you need). I'd definitely recommend starting with the longer attachment first. Can't recover from too close. For me the longer attachment was all I needed, although I have pretty thick eyebrows. No need to go all Bob Geldof in The Wall.

Finally, the NT9110 is also an ear hair trimmer. You don't need any attachment. Just run it along your lobes where hair grows, and occasionally in the folds of the ear. (I'm embarrassed to admit that hair grows there too.)

So, how does the Philips Norelco Nose and Ear Trimmer really stack up? As a nose-hair trimmer, it's decent. I think the rotary foil trimmers I've used in the past have done slightly better, but the Norelco does well, and you don't get the occasional painful snag. As an eyebrow shaver it's great. Your alternative is a comb, a pair of scissors, and a lesson from your barber. And as an ear hair shaver it's mixed. For hair along the lobe I prefer an electric razor. For hair in the folds of your ears, it can't be beat.

In summation, I'd give the Norelco an A for effort, and a B+ for execution. At $12.99 (which includes battery!), it's definitely worth it.

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January 30, 2008

Follow Up to Shaving With The Art of Shaving's Shaving Cream

taosShavingCream.gifGot an email from someone at The Art of Shaving in response to our recent review of their Unscented Shaving Cream, specifically about my application technique. Or lack thereof. Here's the advice:

Next time you shave, wet the brush with warm water...take about a 1 finger amount of shaving cream and put it inside the center of the brush. Then lather up. No need to put it on your face first to mix-you don't need to use that much of any of our products.

Not surprisingly, that method works really well. And, if I were a little more observant, I would have seen that their website had similar instructions on the "more about shaving cream" link. Should have been doing that for a while. Could have saved a little bathroom mess.

The Art of Shaving's Unscented Shaving Cream is $22 for a 5.3 ounce jar.

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January 29, 2008

Review of The Art of Shaving - Unscented After-Shave Balm

taofAfterShave.gifIf you're just joining us, we've layer some pre-shave oil on our face, shaved with unscented shaving cream, and even rubbed a rock on our face. We're finally ready to apply after-shave.

Formulated with grapeseed extract, shea butter and vitamin C, it moisturizes, rejuvenates and revitalizes to promote healthy skin. After-Shave Balm is recommended for normal, sensitive and dry skin. Antiseptic and alcohol-free.

I loved The Art of Shaving's Unscented After-Shave Balm. Went on smooth and easily, and helped my skin recovery from the radiation fallout of my Gillette Fusion Power. Very little scent, although it vaguely reminded me of some vanilla soy milk I tried at Whole Foods.

I'm going to complain about one thing here, and it's a nit. As much as I love the thick glass bottle, it's not the greatest choice for dispensing the after-shave. A squeeze tube would be better. Instead you're left thwacking the bottle against your palm to get an unpredictable amount. I often end up with a little too much after-shave on my hands.

That said, The Art of Shaving's Unscented line receives a big thumbs up from us. They had a high bar to hit, and they cleared it. If you're interested in taking your shave to a new level, you will not be disappointed.

The Art of Shaving's Unscented After-Shave Balm is $38 for a 4 ounce bottle.

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January 28, 2008

Review of The Art of Shaving - Alum Block

alumBlock.jpgSo we've thrown some pre-shave oil and shaving cream on our face, we've shaved, and now we're ready to soothe our skin with some after-shave balm. Slow down tiger! Don't you want to rub a rock across your face?

That's right. A rock. The Art of Shaving's Alum Block is a quartz-like block of alum whose "antiseptic properties calm razor burn and soothe irritations, and help stop bleeding in the event of a nick or cut." And guess what. It kind of works. Well, at least it definitely stops the bleeding of a minor nick or cut. I don't usually get razor burn, so I couldn't easily verify that, but there's no question that rubbing this rock over your freshly shaven skin will seal up any little cut you might have gotten. And it doesn't sting.

After shaving, moisten stone with cold water and rub it gently on abrasion or cut. For minor cuts, moisten stone with cold water and hold it over cut for a few seconds until bleeding stops.

This got me thinking - would any rock due? Now I took science in high school. Four years of science. I think one of those years was earth science. Heck I'm practically a scientist. So I went out back, dug in the earth, found a nice looking flat rock, and rubbed it on my face. Guess what. Hurt like a mo@*&!!%*#er.

So the real questions to me are - who in their right mind was the first person to think that rubbing a rock on your face might be helpful, and who was the first person to realize that it actually was? I'm guessing it was probably one of the Rockefellers. Those guys are smart.

Anyway, if you get a bunch of nicks and cuts from shaving, switch to The Art of Shaving products, and stop trying to get 30 shaves out of your disposable razor. If you can't do that, get an Alum Block and rub it over your face.

The Art of Shaving's Alum Block is $15 for a 4.4 ounce block.

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January 25, 2008

Review of The Art of Shaving's Unscented Shaving Cream

taosShavingCream.gifOK, so yesterday we applied some pre-shave oil from The Art of Shaving to our faces. Today we're going to shave. Gentlemen, lather up!

I mentioned yesterday that the "lather" step is a little tricky. Here's why - somehow you've got to mix The Art of Shaving's Unscented Shaving Cream with a little water. My technique, which is far from perfect, is to apply a little warm water to my face with a wash cloth. The thing is - oil and water - they don't mix. Just ask your salad dressing. So I do my best to get some water on my face, then throw a little shaving cream on top, and start mixing. You could definitely try some different techniques, like combining a little water with the shaving cream in your hands (a little messy) or a shaving mug (one more thing to clean). For me, the wash cloth technique worked the best.

Once the shaving cream is on your face, I found it lathered up best with a brush. Fingers worked fine, but the brush gave a more even lather and stood my whiskers up for a closer shave. Getting the tip of the shaving brush wet with warm water will also help you mix up a nice rich lather. You definitely don't need to use a brush with The Art of Shaving products; I just found a slightly better shave with one.

The shave is great. Nice and close, little to no nicks or cuts, and no irritation. The Art of Shaving is one of the few companies which recommends the up-shave. Actually the "cross-shave". They recommend you shave first with the grain, then a second time across the grain. I usually did a quick re-apply of water and lather before the second shave. This is easy to do if you're using a shaving brush because the brush will contain enough shaving cream that you don't need to use any more from the jar. You'll get a very close shave this way.

My only complaint is that the shaving cream lathers up to a rich white foam, which isn't see-through. This is fine for people who aren't trying to maintain some facial hair, or for people who are trying to avoid a blemish, but tough for others. Not a huge deal, but something to consider if you're having trouble coloring within the lines.

In the end, The Art of Shaving's Unscented Shaving Cream stood up to its reputation. Again, I would recommend buying the pre-shave oil, as I think these guys have developed an excellent shaving system that should be followed as intended. Definitely try their products if you're on the quest for the ultimate shave.

The Art of Shaving's Unscented Shaving Cream is $22 for a 5.3 ounce jar.

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January 24, 2008

Review of The Art of Shaving's Unscented Pre-Shave Oil

taosPreShavingOil.jpgThe Art of Shaving is one of the most prestigious and preeminent brands in the shaving world. Born out of a modest kitchen, and grown into a prominent brand with several boutique stores and a presence in many upscale department stores, The Art of Shaving has put luxury shaving products on the map. I've been looking forward to trying their products out for a long time now.

Even before you start shaving with The Art of Shaving products, you'll notice their packaging. Sturdy, thick, glass jars where appropriate. Minimalist labels. Classy design. They look great on your bathroom counter.

As we've mentioned before, there are shaving oils and pre-shave oils. With a shaving oil, you shave with just the oil; nothing else. With a pre-shave oil, you typically add a layer of shaving cream on top and then shave. It's basically the first layer of protection on your face before you start slicing.

The Art of Shaving's Unscented Pre-Shave Oil falls into the latter category, and really should be followed by their shaving cream. In fact, if you're interested in trying these products, I'd definitely recommend getting the pre-shave oil. They've developed a system. Pre-shave oil is part of it. Don't skimp.

And follow the directions:

Before shaving, rub a small amount of The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil in the palm of your hands and massage into beard. Lather Shaving Cream or Shaving Soap over oil and shave.

Pretty simple. Actually, the only tricky part is the "lather..." step, but we'll talk about that tomorrow.

The Art of Shaving's Unscented Pre-Shave Oil has a mild, pleasant scent. Reminds me vaguely of chartreuse. It's simple to dispense and smoothes easily onto your face. Again, if you're interested in these products, and I think you should be, get the pre-shave oil.

The Art of Shaving's Unscented Pre-Shave Oil is $22 for a 2 ounce / 60mL bottle. Tomorrow we shave!

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