Summer Stylin with #PMInsiders

paul mitchell mitch matterial styling clay reviewThere have been some crazy humid days this summer, hasn’t there? One of the things that I struggle with during the hot and humid summer months is how to keep my big afro puffy mane looking decent when the heat and humidity is downright disrespectful.

Luckily, the folks over at Paul Mitchell keep me in the know with a variety of hair products to try to help me keep my fro looking its best, no matter the temperature.

Paul Mitchell recently launched a new product in their MITCH line called “MATTERIAL” which is, as it sounds, an ultra-matte styling clay with strong hold. Designed to help hair look thicker and create more textured looks, MATTERIAL’s texture is a bit more sticky than the other pastes or pomades in the MITCH line. And that’s for good reason.

I should continue by saying that my hair is incredibly dense and I’ve always operated at the false assumption that I have 100 million times more hair strands than the average person. At least that’s what it feels like when I’m trying to detangle after a few days.  But, I digress.

MATTERIAL is an incredibly effective product. Its texture grips hair fibers and holds them together so well that you would be hard pressed to find a styling clay with a better hold. This stuff works. This is both a benefit and disadvantage in my eyes because when you use this your hair is going nowhere!  No movement! Unfortunately that also means that you suffer in the touchability factor.  My other qualm about MATTERIAL is that its ultra matte finish makes my already dark and dull looking kinky hair seem even more dull and “dry-looking”.  That being said, I could see many folks with thin strands or thinning hair create some damn good day-to-day hair with this stuff.

Along with MATTERIAL, I was fortunate enough to also try two products from Paul Mitchell’s softstyle line.  Once I saw the bottles, I already knew I was going to like it. I was (partially) right.

The Foaming Pommade was a pretty big miss for me unfortunately. Designed to help “take control” of hair, the liquid finisher just doesn’t do it for me. The gummy texture is thick and glue-like which my hair just simply didn’t agree with at all. Again, like MATTERIAL this product is best suited for folks who need a bit more control and texture which is not a problem that thick, afro-textured hair usually has (with the exception of a few flyaways).

On the other hand, I LOVE “The Cream” which is touted as a styling conditioner. Formulated with Hawaiian Awapuhi, The Cream gives me all the things I need in a hair product: moisture, softness and shine.  It’s seriously amazing.  And a little bit goes a long way, which makes me exponentially happier because I know that at some point I’m going to have to go out-of-pocket for this stuff. It’s that good. The ingredients list includes jojoba oil, safflower oil, and white ginger flower amongst other things, which obviously contributes to its position as a stand-out product. I routinely paired The Cream with the Reformer pomade from the MITCH line to get easy and soft manageable hair.  It’s definitely my winning combination at the moment!

 

Disclosure: Products for review were provided via courtesy of John Paul Mitchell Systems.

Sunne’s Gift Author Ama Yawson Talks Identity and Self-Acceptance

Back in December 2014 I featured a post on Sunne’s Gift by Ama Karikari Yawson, a children’s book that helps promote self-acceptance and healthy self-esteem in young children.

Today, I’m even more excited and happy to share with you Yawson’s Tedx George School talk about the same ideas that she discusses in her book. She is a fantastic storyteller and really brings home a message that we all need to hear.

Check it out!

Sounds of Summer with Wild Turkey American Honey®

Compensation was provided by Wild Turkey American Honey® via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Wild Turkey American Honey®.

This past Thursday, summer was in full effect as I attended a Hudson RiverRocks concert at Pier 84 in NYC while I enjoyed some good tunes and delicious Wild Turkey American Honey® cocktails!

After a long day at work, there’s not much better than live music, new friends and a cocktail or two to relax. And that’s exactly what I got to do this past Thursday right along the Hudson River in NYC.

Hudson RiverRocks is celebrating its 17th season of live entertainment in New York City this year. The series has been hosting free concerts for NYC workers and commuters on Thursday evenings. And as I learned, not only do these events offer up some live music and cocktails, but food stands and trucks are all around to make sure that no one goes home with an empty stomach.

AHoney collage

When I arrived at the event, the scheduled bands Waxahatchee and Speedy Ortiz weren’t on stage yet so I headed back to the VIP lounge where I got to enjoy an adult version of Wild Turkey Jenga while sipping on a delicious cocktail of Wild Turkey American Honey® Lemonade. That was where I ran into Nadia of nacstyles.com and talked shop about all things blogging, NYC and bourbon.

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Soon thereafter, the bands Waxahatchee and Speedy Ortiz took their respective turns on stage to a pretty decent sized crowd. If you’d like to join in on some of the fun with Wild Turkey you can join them at further Hudson RiverRocks concerts on 7/23 and 8/6.

Once there was a short break, I had to start making my way home. Luckily I made it into a cab just as the rain started to pour. Lucky me! All in all, I had a pretty good time with my blogger pals and Wild Turkey American Honey Lemonade. I’ll definitely be looking to recreate that drink for my next summer barbecue!

American Honey is the original honey bourbon, made with real honey and real bourbon. Serve up your summer with American Honey! Follow American Honey at Facebook.com/AmericanHoney.

AH LOGO

 

Product Review: eShave

eshave review maneman

eShave has been on my grooming calendar for quite some time. Finally, I was able to devote some time to giving eShave products a try and today I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on two products: the Moisturizing Bath Soap (Orange Sandalwood) and Verbena Lime Deodorant. Read on for the full review!

I was originally intrigued by eShave as I heard its origin story. The brand’s founder Danielle Malka wanted to start a brand for the modern man who featured high quality grooming products.  Her big push was to help bring back the wet shave leading the brand to create a host of shaving products over the years. Since then, eShave has broadened its scope to include many products that men need to keep themselves looking and feeling their best.  You can see why I was drawn to the brand in the first place.

Recently, I was asked to give two products from eShave a try; the Orange Sandalwood Moisturizing Bath Soap and the Verbena Lim Deodorant.

The first product that I tried was the bath soap, which hails from the Provence region in France. Formulated with shea butter, the soap aims to cleanse effectively while not completely robbing your skin of it natural oils.  It works well overall as it’s not too drying and gives you that clean soap smell and feeling that many gents are accustomed to.  Admittedly, I don’t get much of the orange sandalwood smell when I’ve used the bar, so I can’t say that is a huge selling point.  At about $15 ber par, the soap boasts the best of both worlds; offering a good value for an elevated grooming product.  If you’re looking to expand into better quality products that don’t stray too much from what you’re used to this is a good bet.  Your skin will thank you.

I didn’t have so much luck with eShave’s Verbena Lime Deodorant. Let me begin by saying that the smell is awesome. It’s a perfect scent for summer as the lime conjures up images of beaches and tropical getaways.  The deodorant works well but I found that it required reapplication during the middle of the day.  Now, for many gents this is going to be a deal breaker and trust me I understand.  But, if you’re planning on showering mid day anyway, let’s say after a post-work gym workout, this is a great product to have in your bag.

Overall, I think eShave has some good staple products to offer.  While the Verbena Lime Deodorant left me slightly disappointed with performance the scent is amazing.  On the other hand, the Orange Sandalwood Moisturizing Bath Soap didn’t offer me much in the scent department but worked well at not robbing my skin of moisture.

For more information on eShave products, you can visit the brand’s website at eShave.com.

 

Disclosure: Product for review was provided courtesy of eShave.  All opinions listed herein are mine and mine alone.

100 Years of Men’s Fashion in 3 Minutes

I’ve always been interested by style throughout history but frankly I’m just a little too lazy to really do the research to delve further into the vault of men’s wear. That’s why I was especially happy to come across this video via Mode.com, 100 Years of Men’s Fashion.

While I can’t really give the model any props for his dance moves (sorry guy!), I am thoroughly impressed by the team’s ability to completely transform this guy from the 20th to the 21st century without missing a beat.  The 80s and 90s looks had me shaking my head in disbelief as I remember them all to clearly.  By the way, can we go back to Miami Vice white linen sans the mullet? I’d be on board with that.

Check out the video below:

Getting a Feel for Rockport DresSports Luxe Cap Toe Oxford: A Review & Giveaway

rockport cap toe oxford review maneman

Work hard, play hard.  That’s what life is all about isn’t it?  Well, in my case, also comfort.  I don’t consider myself a fashionisto by any means but I’m the kind of guy who tries to keep up with trends and style, even with my classic sensibility.

I’ve always liked Rockport shoes since I was gifted a pair as a teenager. Since then, my love affair with the brand has grown and I love their #RockportChallenge because not only does it give me an opportunity to try out some of their best offerings, but it also gives me the opportunity to pass on some perks to you!  Check the end of this post for an opportunity to win your very own pair of Rockport shoes!

DresSports Luxe is Rockport’s latest venture to combine the comfort of athletic shoes with the style of business dress shoes.  And I have to say, I’m definitely a fan.  I’m the type of person who believes you really shouldn’t be wearing tennis shoes (or sneakers or whatever you call them in your neck of the woods) unless you’re working out. It goes without saying that tennis shoes shouldn’t be paired with business or even business casual looks. But doesn’t mean that you have to suffer with foot pain throughout those long work days just to be dressed stylishly and appropriately.

Here are some of the features of DresSports Luxe:

  • VIBRAM outsoles give a durable grip on a variety of surfaces
  • Padded collars and tongues help prevent blisters and lace bruising
  • Strobel construction provides forefoot flexibility
  • Ortholite footbed with EVA cushioning provides fast comfort and lightweight support
  • ADIPRENE® by adidas provides shock absorbing heel cushioning
  • Rich leathers give immediate fit, comfort and become more beautiful with each wear and shine

I got to try out the brown Cap Toe Oxfords (pictured above) and they’re super comfortable.  When I put them on the first time I actually thought about all the stylish but horribly uncomfortable dress shoes I’ve worn in my life.  These shoes are padded for extra comfort and while they look like a very classic style, inside they are anything but.  I definitely felt like I was walking on a well-supported cloud of air. I’ve still got to break them in a bit, but I have not experienced any blisters or discomfort that usually comes with a new pair of kicks.

Here’s your opportunity to win!

If you want to try your own free pair of these gems (pictured above), leave a blog post comment below to enter. That’s all you have to do! In your comment tell me if you have ever tried Rockport shoes and what feature you’re most curious about. The winner will be selected by next Thursday, July 9, 2015.  Good luck gents!

Update:  Congrats to Haley (entry #1). You’re our winner! Please check your email on instructions to claim your prize.  Thanks to everyone for participating.

Disclosure: Product for review was provided courtesy of Rockport, this post’s sponsor. 

Feeling a Little Unruly with Old Spice Hair Care + A Giveaway!

old spice hair collection maneman

Every gent needs to have an amazing set of grooming products at his fingertips at a moment’s notice. Popular brand Old Spice is now delivering more hair styling products (see above) to help keep your hair looking and smelling its best.

Designed to offer the easiest to care for hair, Old Spice’s lineup of products boasts some cleansing conditioning options as well as pomades and gels in a variety of scents to meet your needs.  And many of them have the quirky names that you’re accustomed to when it comes to Old Spice.

Recently I was able to try out the following from Old Spice:

  • Unruly Paste
  • Spiffy Pomade
  • Forge Putty
  • Deadlock Spiking Glue
  • Timber w/mint 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Swagger 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner

The styling products (Unruly, Spiffy and Forge), while different types of products, are eerily similar in texture and function.  They all serve as the final stop in your styling routine, designed to limit fly-away hairs and provide control to otherwise “unruly” hair.  While the textures are very similar, the scents don’t differ much either, which made them pretty interchangeable in my grooming regimen.

In my trials with the products, I ended up using Unruly the most (probably because it most described my hair).  It has a pretty clean scent, which funny enough, doesn’t linger all that much throughout the day. That’s actually one positive/critique about Old Spice’s line up of hair products…they don’t pack the potency that some of their body sprays do, which is a refreshing surprise.

I tried the pastes/pomade/putty on damp or dry hair as the products suggest, but I have to say that they prove to work much better on dry hair.  A dime-size to a nickel-sized amount worked perfectly well at taming my fro and providing much need control in humid summer weather. Overall, they’re a safe bet when it comes to controlling your locks, despite having a less than stellar ingredients list. But, that’s more of a personal preference type of thing.  Mineral oil just isn’t high up on my list of approved ingredients.

Regarding  Old Spice’s Deadlock which is the new gel in it lineup, I don’t have much to offer.  The “spiking glue” as its called, didn’t work particularly well for me on damp hair. I think there’s something about the formulation that just didn’t work well with my hair. It didn’t help clump hair into nice curls but did work well at  fighting off humidity and “the frizzies” as I like to call them.  That being said, the hold is pretty strong so a little goes a long way my friends. Use this one judiciously.

The major winners though, in my mind, were the 2-in-1 shampoo products, likely because I honestly wasn’t expecting to like them so much! Swagger and Timber work pretty well at cleansing the scalp and providing moisture. But, I have to say that I found myself indulging in Timber over and over again due to its refreshing mint smell. It just felt more natural to me, which is something I always look for in my products.

All in all, there are some good options in the new hair care line-up from Old Spice. Standouts, for me, were the Unruly Paste and the Timber 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner but the other products weren’t too shabby either.  Overall, I think that Old Spice is definitely making some serious head way in improving their offerings in the hair care game and I think many guys will respond well to the availability and value of these products.

Enter in the widget below to receive your own prize pack from Old Spice featuring some of the same products reviewed above!  The giveaway will run for 1 week and prizes will be shipped out in July. So what are you waiting for? Enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Old Spice and compensation has been provided for this review. 

The Sweet Life with Coffee-mate

Compensation was provided by Nestlé Coffee-mate® via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Coffee-mate.  

coffe-mate chocolate chip

As a young boy I was someone who really liked to emulate my parents and one of the things that I enjoyed most was drinking coffee with them. I don’t know why I liked it so much as a young person; it was just something that I enjoyed doing and I think that in some way it helped me feel more like an adult.  And truth be told, I was always too big for my britches.

My love for coffee started pretty young. I actually don’t remember the exact age I tried it because it was always a part of my upbringing. There were plenty of times that I was concerned that it would stunt my growth as the rumors suggested, but I got over that pretty quickly.  Luckily, in high school, I had good friends who enjoyed watching a lot of movies and we would often head to a strip mall to get coffee and cookies or pastries before or after. The Coffee-mate Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie creamer reminds me of those times spent with friends as we threw caution to the wind and absorbed an enormous amount of late night calories of chocolate chip cookies, coffee and pretty much any other pastry we could get on our hands on.

There was something about the bitter and sweet taste of coffee that always felt so comforting to me, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I still drink it today. There’s not much better than a tasty cup of hot coffee.  While I have had some times where I cut back, coffee is still one of my favorite drinks in part because it largely reminds me of the mornings I spent with my parents and those late nights with friends that often included coffee and some pretty deep conversations about life, love and what we wanted to be when we grew up.

I remember watching my father make coffee religiously. I used to watch him with this sort of Zen-like focus because he was the only one who was allowed to make coffee in our house. My mom always complained that she couldn’t ever brew it strong enough, so my dad was always responsible for making the coffee every morning.

Out of all the times that we enjoyed coffee, one of the most vivid memories I have with my family was of Sunday mornings. Everyone slept in a little late, and waking up to the fresh smell of coffee was always really great for me. In addition to that, I knew that the smell of coffee also came with the lovely smell of buttery French toast and crackling bacon. You can imagine that Sunday breakfast quickly became one of my favorite things.

So as I would get up for breakfast, even as a young kid, one of the things I would do was engage in this ritual of making my own cup of coffee. We were a house that always drank it with sugar and creamer and one of my favorite creamers was the Coffee-mate Classic Vanilla. For me, Coffee-mate offered that extra touch of silky creaminess that always goes with the perfect cup of Joe. And while there’s nothing like enjoying a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning, I can’t help but also remember the friends that I’ve lost touch with and the many hours we spent embroiled in teenage angst contemplating life.

As I think about my long love affair with coffee, I can’t help but think about the meaningful times I’ve spent with loved ones either over bacon or chocolate chip cookies or other tasty treats. Maybe I should re-create some of those times pretty soon with Coffee-mate.

This summer, Nestlé Coffee-mate® is celebrating the sweetest form of nostalgia with their exclusive range of fun, exciting flavors that evoke delicious memories and emotions of the past These sweet throwback flavors include Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookie, Caramel Macchiato and Classic Vanilla.

coffe-mate logo

The Corktown Beard Oil by Detroit Grooming Co.

Beards are all the rage these days.  It seems like now, more than ever, everybody is sporting a little bit of extra facial hair. But, most folks aren’t investing in beard care the proper way.  Hoping to teach myself a little lesson, I dove face first into Detroit Grooming Company’s Corktown Beard Oil.

Named after the oldest neighborhood in Detroit, Corktown beard oil is a natural emollient that blends beautifully chosen ingredients to offer great benefits to your face and beard.

The oil boasts a ton of skin and hair benefits due to its formulation that highlights sweet almond oil.  Sweet almond oil is light and very effective.  It readily absorbs into the skin promoting softness all while not clogging pores. It’s rich in vitamins and antioxidants which means there’s really no reason not to love it.

One of the best things, and biggest surprises, about The Corktown was that it wasn’t a greasy, “oily” product as I was expecting. The formulation is light enough to not come off as greasy but also potent enough to offer some real benefits.  The softness it offers is tangible and the subtle shine from the product is really amazing.

By and large, the best part of The Corktown is that it just smells so damn good.  The blend of sweet almond oil with hints of vanilla, cedarwood and tobacco makes it one of the most delectable, masculine scents I have ever experienced.  It’s seriously a joy to wear.  And it’s not an overpowering scent either, which makes it even more impossible to resist.

Overall, I’m really surprised by how much I ended up liking The Corktown. I came from the perspective that having a special beard product wasn’t really a necessary step in a gent’s grooming regimen, but after using this gem I’m seriously starting to reconsider my position.

 

Disclosure: Product for review as provided courtesy of Detroit Grooming Company.

 

Product Review: Dove Quench Absolute Restoration Mask

dove quench absolute review

 

 

 

 

Designed to moisturize hair and define curls, Dove’s Quench Absolute Restoration Mask is a newer product in the brand’s line up.

Always on the search for the next best thing, I picked up the mask on a recent supply run at the local pharmacy.  You can read on for my full review below.

To me, there’s always been something so classic about Dove’s clean look. It’s always been something that’s just jumped off the shelf for me, branding-wise, which is probably why I even noticed this gem in the first place.

In a hair care regimen, the Dove Quench Absolute Restoration Mask is what you would call a deep conditioner as its main focus is to restore the hair to health. Its designed to repair all the damage that you’ve done to your mane as well as the damage done by the sun and the elements.

Here’s the good news: the Absolute Restoration Mask is as good as any other off the shelf deep conditioner. It has a great consistency and amazing slip that makes it easy to distribute through thick hair like my fro. I have an inkling that kinky-haired naturalistas will love it for this reason alone.  But that’s sort of where the good news ends unfortunately.

There’s nothing inherently bad about the product. It just doesn’t deliver on all its promises to define curls and provide nourishment and shine.  All that heavy lifting is left up to whatever styler you plan on using at this time. In my opinion there are other, more effective, quick deep conditioners out there to try.

A modern man's lifestyle guide to hair, health and everything in between.