Father’s Day Feature 1: Men’s Grooming Products

Andrew: I’ve thought of a series of posts to write this Fathers’ Day weekend, as my way of doing things I enjoy.  One of my favourite activities of all is writing – more specifically, blogging! The Father’s Day features will be on topics pertaining to manhood, fatherhood and of course, my family!

This post was actually prompted by my Dearie, and I was initially hesitant as I wasn’t quite sure if there was much to write about (in reality though – it became one of the longest posts I’ve written!). In addition to doing product reviews, thought it’d be fun to link these products back to memories or specific moments in my life. Should be quite a fun post coming up – to write, at least.

Jasmine: You will be surprised but Andrew is actually quite vain! Or concerned about his appearance, at least. I remember that when we first started dating, he was still wearing imitation Ralph Polo tees from Batam with oversized horses on them, but I told him I didn’t want to change a thing about him (I was  young and foolish then haha). And he actually told me that he was disappointed, because he had hoped that I would make him over!

Facial Products

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1. CLARINS MEN Face Moisturiser

Andrew’s Review: Honestly speaking, Dearie was the first person to introduce me to men’s facial products properly and emphasise the importance of taking care of your skin. I do have eczema and dry skin in general. I still recall the first time Dear used face moisturizer on me, she told me it was evident that my skin was dry because it was just ‘drinking up all the moisturiser’. This is supposed to brighten the skin, but I can’t see the difference (honestly). However, what I can attest to is that my skin does feel softer and smoother, it also helps to ease a bit of the ‘burn’ on the skin post-shaving. 

Besides Clarins, I’ve also tried Biotherm’s Aquapower (after reading a recommendation in Augustman), but it’s thicker and tends to leave a rather sticky feeling after applying. It doesn’t go on as smoothly as the Clarins gel above. This is superficial, but the Clarins gel feels great when applying too, because it has a cooling sensation. Have tried samples from Clinique and Lab Series, but they don’t work as well. Been using this for 4 years now, so I do think it’s one of the best out there. 

Jasmine’s Review: This has become a staple in Andrew’s grooming routine and I think it is worthy of the inclusion. It does not leave a greasy sensation, yet is moisturising enough such that I can feel Andrew’s skin get plumped up and softened almost right after applying it. I recall too that there were quite a few times that this product went out of stock, so if you are looking for a Father’s Day gift, this may be nice, especially if Clarins has promotion sets (which is how Andrew got to try the facial wash, below).

Andrew’s walk down memory lane: In our dating days when I hadn’t started buying my own grooming products, Dear would sometimes pamper me after a long tiring day by helping me apply some of her products. Before events like formal dinners etc., she would help to style me and also apply some of these facial products, like a facial of sorts! That was her way of pampering me and showing me love. (Jasmine: Oh he probably doesn’t want me to mention this, but I used to offer to tweeze his brows for him before special occasions. I called it “shaping” and “removing stray hairs” so it would not sound so feminine and thus off-putting to him.)

2. CLARINS MEN Eye Cream

Andrew’s Review: Eye cream was another product that I started using early in our dating days as my beginning teacher days were tiring and long, resulting in me having less sleep and evident dark eye circles. Of course, most women will say that men don’t need eye cream, because signs of ageing are less evident and not as important to men. That’s not true!

Anyway, the first ever eye-cream I used was Biotherm’s High Recharge Eye Shot, which was so aptly named and designed for a man (Do check out the pic!). One thing I’m quite amazed by for men’s products is the branding, which comes through the naming. Same product, but named in such a macho way… I still recall how hand cream for men was branded as ensuring you give the best hand-shake, as opposed to women where the branding is always about ensuring delicate skin, protecting your hands from the ravages of the environment.

Anyway, back to the Biotherm eye cream, it made applying eye cream so easy – and once again, had such a cooling, relaxing sensation on the eye because it was like an ‘eye’ massage. However, I stopped using it after a while, because it didn’t quite seem like it was having an effect.

Andrew: I’ve also tried the Kiehl’s Eye Alert, following recommendations from Augustman again, but just didn’t quite like it again, because it would leave a sticky feeling around my eyes after a while.

Finally, came back to Clarins again! I don’t use it as regularly, but it’s been the most effective thus far – or maybe I’m just resting more.

Jasmine’s Review: What Andrew is trying to say is that the Biotherm eye cream has a metal-tipped applicator. Also, I think it’s the other way round, dear- it stopped having an effect because you stopped using it 😀 But seriously, Andrew does have dark eye circles and we have yet to find a product that will combat this.

Andrew’s walk down memory lane: There are many funny memories I have of my wife  (then girlfriend) teaching me how to apply eye-cream and me failing badly because of my clumsy and brutish actions. LOL! Apparently, you’re supposed to gently dab the area around your eyes with the eye-cream, not use your finger to apply it on – which I sometimes end up doing anyway. I mean, if it’s that good, it should work any way you put it on, right? Occasionally, Dear will pamper me with her high quality eye-cream from… Hmm, what brand was that again, Dear? Cutely enough, before I started buying my own eye-cream, Dear used to spare small portions of the eye cream to me, using little make-up canisters (the one she bought me even had a cute penguin on it!). The portion she gave me was supposed to last one week, but sometimes I finished it within 3 days.  (Jasmine: Oh my… I had a few heart attacks reading this para. Well, I would apply my Lancome eye cream for Andrew, being careful to dab it on instead of just smearing it roughly, as that will stretch your delicate skin and leave it prone to further fine lines and wrinkles. However, it being a women’s eye cream, I always warned him that the effect might not be as strong for him. As for the penguin canister, that was hand-drawn by me… I think we might have accidentally thrown it away during one of our earlier decluttering crazes though!)

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3. Body Shop Maca Root Shave Cream

Andrew: Products (3) and (4) came slightly later on during our married days.

Walk down memory lane: Prior to using this shaving cream, I had been using an electric shaver for the longest time due to convenience and gentleness on skin. Even when I did use the shaving razor, the only brand I had used was Gilette, which was good enough for me. However, there was once during my Reservist days when my electric shaver just broke down and I asked my wife to get me the cheapest razor and shaving gel available – needless to say, she didn’t, and got me this Body Shop Shaving Cream instead and I’ve been using it since and not turned back to the electric shaver or Gilette!

Now, I have to say that Dear is also growing in her knowledge of the complexity of men’s products (yes, it’s complex too!) – in our earlier dating days, I told her that I was thinking of getting some after-shave. She secretly went to get me something from Clarins, only to realise later that it was shaving cream and not aftershave! I used it, so as not to put it to waste, but didn’t quite like it as much.

Andrew’s Review: Anyway back to the product itself – I think many times these grooming products thrive on psychological effect too. This shaving gel is very smooth, and after each shave, there’s a calming sensation on the skin, which makes shaving a more enjoyable experience than mechanically using an electrical shaver (the one I used was a low-end one). Best part is that it contains a mild cleanser, that helps me skip a step, as I can’t be bothered with the whole facewash, cleanser, toner regime.

Jasmine’s Review: After doing some research-on-the-go (e.g. walking to Watson’s while googling on my phone) for best shaving creams for sensitive skin, this came up in quite a few editor’s picks and had good consumer reviews as well. Plus, it was reasonably-priced. I understand that Dear has since bought a second tube! (Andrew: Third – actually.)

4. Clarins Facial Wash

Walk down Memory Lane: Not much of a memory for this one as it was merely me seizing on good deals at the airport as they sold both the Clarins moisturiser and this facewash in one package. The only memory would be Dearie’s Just buy it! response, when I asked her if I really do need it. Heh. That’s indeed her own philosophy. (Jasmine: It was going for the same price as the moisturiser alone, and you needed a facial wash back then…)

Andrew’s Review: The biggest benefit of this facial wash is that it’s soap-free, hence not drying on the skin. It’s very gentle on the skin and leaves me feeling refreshed after each wash.

As you can deduce, Clarins MEN is my favourite series. I even used to be a big fan of their handcream, until they stopped producing it. It was the only non-medical hand cream that helped moisturise while not worsening my eczema. Now, what I use is Physiogel A.I, which is specifically aimed for sensitive skin.

Jasmine’s Review: Forgettable. When it comes to men’s grooming, I tend to pick my battles and only zoom in on what Andrew really needs, instead of doing a three-step routine or whatever.  In fact, I was (happily) shocked that this entry was so long! I thought his only grooming essentials were moisturiser, shaving cream and hair wax!

Hair Products

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5. REDKEN Fiber Cream

Walk down memory lane: I have indeed come a long way from the days of Brylcream and ‘sticky’ hairgel, to using hair wax and clay and also being more aware of the techniques of hair-styling as I now get my haircut at salons, as opposed to $10 QB. This is actually the most recent grooming product I’m trying, and this is another instance of me asking Dearie to go to get me my hair wax, because I’d left it at our staycation venue, but her, being the attentive wife, immediately went to google good hair products and bought this for me – adding that this was actually not her top choice! I have to admit that for me, I just rely on what the hair-dresser recommends and affordability. Can’t really be bothered to google and read through product reviews.

Andrew’s Review: Was rather unused to initially as it’s more gel-like, as opposed to the usual dry cream that has to be rubbed on. This one can be more gently applied, but for now I’d have to say it helps to hold up the shape of the hair well, makes it look more natural and feels gentler on the hair.

Good buy, Dearie! Actually, it seems like a good trick to use if I’m too lazy to choose products now is to ask her to buy stuff for me. What should I get her to buy next…. New shampoo, body soap would be good, Dear – thanks! 

Jasmine’s Review: As Asian hair tends to be coarser than Caucasian hair, it’s important to narrow down the reviews to those which pertained to Asian men. I was actually looking for TIGI Bedhead Men Matte Separation Wax to pamper Andrew (usually he just buys some uncle hair wax from Econ minimart, to my horror), but due to time constraints, I just popped by a hair salon and asked for Redken. The hairstylist recommended this Fiber Cream as it is a texturiser more so than a wax, which means it gives a natural look which works especially well on men with shorter hair, and lends itself well to spiking etc. Also, it being a salon-grade hair wax, a little goes a long way.

Cologne

5. Davidoff Champion

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Andrew’s Review: Looking at the pic above, I’m sure you can tell why I was attracted to this Davidoff Champion cologne! Heh.  This was the first cologne I’d bought during our dating days. Love the light citrusy notes of the cologne, without being overly powering. That tends to be my preference for cologne in general.

They have since come up with Davidoff Energy, which is the same packaging but in red – which I don’t like as much.

Jasmine’s Review: Andrew was drawn to this coz of the “macho” packaging. I didn’t know it had citrusy notes (he must have googled that haha), but it does smell very manly without coming across too strong. I also taught Andrew how to just spray himself once or maximum twice from a distance, then walk through the mist, so that when he’s with people, it won’t feel like Hurricane Men’s Cologne has just walked through the room.

Walk down memory lane: This was the cologne I wore during many lovely dates with Dear during our dating days and even after we got married. In fact, this was the cologne I wore on our wedding day too!

6. John Varvatos ‘Artisan’

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Andrew’s Review: This was another DFS buy, recommended first by Dear, because she was drawn to the design. What a contrast to the more manly, modern look of the Champion bottle – this one’s more vintage and crafted. Scent-wise it’s lighter than Champion – I would say this cologne is more suitable for a more formal dinner at a classy venue, as opposed to Champion, which packs a bit more of a punch. 

Jasmine’s Review: I really adore this scent on Andrew, and prefer it to the Davidoff one, as it is subtler yet still woodsy and masculine. The packaging is also rugged yet earthy, which compliments the cologne perfectly. And I see Dear has taken the effort to photograph it with my garlic basket behind. Heehee!

My Little Grooming Corner

Andrew: To end off this post, one of the decisions we had to make when moving to a new house was obviously, where I would do my man-grooming each morning before going off to work! Dearie has her own dresser, which I obviously can’t use and it makes me feel less ‘manly’ using a dresser. So, we settled for using the guest bathroom, with this very basic stainless steel mirrored bathroom cabinet:

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We got this from one of the furniture stores near ABC Brickworks market and it was perfect because I liked it and the dimensions were perfect too, for the relatively small space we had. Obviously, it’s usually less tidy than this. Heh.

Wow, this post took longer than expected to write and was more meaningful than I thought it’d be. 🙂

Jasmine: Yes, do assume that the space has been neatened up prior to the photo! I just checked a few days ago (to see what hair wax Andrew needed me to replenish) and it was rather disheveled! But I didn’t say anything about it because it was his space and it’s all hidden from sight.

Actually, when Andrew saw how cozy my dressing area in our room was, he asked for an area of his own. So I hung up a vintage mirror with built-in cubby in my our dressing area, but it did not provide enough storage for his burgeoning collection, as you can see. Hence, hubby’s stuff had to be moved to the guest bathroom!

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