Even as a former grooming editor, I remain horrified by the cost of razor blades and can’t understand why any man with choices would pay a supermarket premium when subscription schemes are much more affordable. Harry’s subscriptions start from just £14 for a regular delivery of high-quality German blades, though if Santa needs something more tangible to bung under the tree, they also have gift-boxed starter packs from £19. Or you could buy a luxury shaving cream; every man I know is mad for Le Labo generally, and so theirs (£25 for 120ml), is a safe shout.
Another reliably well-received luxury, particularly for the keen sportsman (or in my case, orienteer and mushroom forager) in one’s life, is Elemis Aching Muscle Super Soak (£39.50, 400ml). This skin-softening, naturally foaming cream creates the sort of bath that makes you groan as you submerge your weary bones, then envelops the senses in an aromatic fug. On that (top) note, my favourite of the new men’s fragrance launches is Tom Ford’s Ombré Leather (£82, 50ml). Apparently the Texan native presented his perfumers with his favourite cowboy boots and asked them to recreate the smell of the luxury leather. Team Ford did such an uncannily accurate job that I keep making those around me sniff it to prove I’m not exaggerating. But this is more than mere gimmickry – the scent is soft, sexy, long-lasting and seems to suit all men.
Speaking still of smells, the most recent and encouraging study on hair loss suggests that sandalwood oil (Tisserand’s high-quality, ethically harvested, version is £23 for 2ml, but there are many cheaper brands) is effective in inhibiting baldness. Researchers at Manchester University found that rubbing sandalwood or an identically smelling synthetic oil into roots could both increase hair growth and decrease baldness-causing cell death in the follicles. Surely worth a bash?
Finally, if your recipient is a grooming fanatic who knows his Clinique from his Clarins (their hero products: Maximum Hydrator, £33.50 for 50ml and Anti-Fatigue Eye Serum, £30 for 20ml, respectively), or a man who has everything, splash out on Liberty’s Men’s Grooming Kit, £65 for £150-worth of fine products, packed in a cool leopard-print toilet bag from Scamp & Dude.
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