Product Review: Another Look at Dove Men+Care

Since Dove Men + Care first stepped on the scene with products specifically targeted for guys who like to take care of themselves, I was impressed. As someone who is always on the hunt for the right or “perfect” products, Dove Men+Care represents some of the best stuff that you can get at a reasonable price. But, with more and more specialty brands hitting drugstore shelves, does Dove Men+Care still stack up?

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to try out some new Dove Men+ Care products for both shaving and hair care.  Read on for my thoughts below:

Fortifying Styling Paste:  In the past I’ve had mixed results with styling pastes or paste-like pomades, so I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this option from Dove.  Unfortunately, it turned out to not be a favorite of mine and for reasons that are hard to explain.  Mainly, when I used this product it felt like it never absorbed or settled into my hair leaving my mane feeling coated and sort of waxy. For me, it left my hair more untouchable than I would like, even though I’m not a fan of folks touching the fro, but that’s besides the point. Unfortunately there’s just something about the formulation that didn’t work for me, no matter how hard I tried.  Damp hair, wet hair, dry hair….I was always got that same coated feeling.  My distaste for it might be related to the second ingredient being petrolatum (mineral oil, paraffin etc.), which I find is a less than ideal ingredient for hair care.

*New Deep Clean Face Scrub:  Alternatively, I actually ended up liking the new Deep Clean Face Scrub!  It’s pretty similar to the shave cream (see below) in that it’s texture has a smooth and luxurious feeling which makes it a great option for people looking for high-quality face and skin products but can’t afford, or aren’t willing to pay, heftier price tags. This is definitely something I would buy out of my own pocket and use on a day-to-day basis. It also has a very nice masculine refreshing scent that makes washing my mug pretty pleasant overall.  And with my sensitive skin, I experienced no negative reactions or redness which was definitely a plus for me.

Fortifying Styling Gel: Unfortunately, much like the styling paste, the styling gel didn’t fare too well with me either.  While it works fine as a styling aide, I only wish that it boasted more botanical or natural ingredients made to make the hair healthier, as opposed  focusing on “the  look” that you can achieve while using.

*New Hydrate Shave Cream: To be honest, it typically takes a lot for me to think that a shaving product stands out for two reasons… 1) there are so many good options out there to choose but they tend to be expensive or 2) they’re inexpensive products yet so readily available. I think that Dove Men+Care’s New Hydrate Shave Cream represents the best of both worlds: being inexpensive and accessible while also being of great quality.  This makes for a great value and I’m a bit of money hoarder, which I’m sure some of you could identify with. The formulation is smooth and creamy which reminded me of top dollar specialty shave creams that I’ve used in the past.  Yet, the product is also inexpensive enough to justify making it a regular buy as opposed to a special occasion one like those higher priced brands.  All in all, it’s definitely a great product!

Overall, I think Dove Men+Care is making some good strides in offering men affordable grooming options.  Maybe this a generalization for my overall reviews (I’ll let you decide) but I think that I have much higher, potentially unrealistic, standards for hair care products.  Maybe that’s why Dove Men+Care has yet to impress me on this end. Nonetheless, the shave and face products are, in my humble opinion, good buys that present great performance at a good value.  Happy grooming gents!

 

Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Dove Men+Care for the purpose of this review.  All opinions listed herein are mine and mine alone.

 

Lip Care for Men with Carmex

carmex soothing

Lately I’ve been thinking about all these smaller, and arguably more ignored, parts of every grooming routine and I realized that I’ve actually written very little about lip care for men.  What was I thinking?!  Just in time, along came one of my favorite personal brands, Carmex and I was all too happy to oblige in getting to know more about what the brand had to offer.

First things first…caring for your lips is an essential part of your grooming routine. Ironically, lips require more conscious care than most of us really devote to them.  And if you’ve done any level of smooching in your day then you know that your boo always appreciates moisturized and supple lips.  No one wants to kiss the Sahara Desert, you know what I’m saying?

If you’re like most guys I know, you’re more than likely just licking your lips to keep your soup-coolers moisturized but it turns out that really doesn’t help that much at all. Just think about how many times you’ve licked your lips to wet them to find that you’re licking them again in the next 15 minutes because they’ve started to feel dry again.  Does that sound like you?  Yep, me too.  That’s why lip care is a must.

Lips are constantly vulnerable to the environment, harsh weather conditions (hello winter in NYC) and all the foods and liquids you consume on a daily basis. Labios need a little extra love.

Personally, I try to opt for products that have some SPF for protection from the sun’s rays as well as other softening and herbal ingredients.  Carmex employs a few like cocoa butter and beeswax. And there’s no forgetting the inescapable camphor influence that leads to that tingling sensation the brand is so well-know for.  And yes, Carmex does boast mineral oil (or petrolatum) in their formulations but I’ve never had any problems with mineral oil in lip care so it’s not something I avoid in all instances.  It’s all just a matter of personal preference I suppose.

Over the years the brand has updated itself to include a variety of flavored lip balms which are great because they’re also unisex and not too glossy.  Just be sure not to over apply gents or you will likely end up looking like you’ve just had a really greasy friend chicken dinner from the corner deli.  That’s not a good look.

I have tried the original, cherry and strawberry flavors all of which were great.  None of them are too fragrant or glossy which makes them great must-haves for guys or girls.  And one thing I love about Carmex is how they have expanded their products to include not only the classic jar they are known for, but also modern squeeze tubes and sticks. There’s the option to use whatever method with which you’re most comfortable and that is pretty cool.  Carmex products are readily available as most major stores nationwide and will only set you back a couple of bucks which makes the brand an overall great value too.

Don’t forget, lips need love too.

 

 

Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Carmex. All opinions discussed herein are mine and mine alone.

The Missing Step in Your Grooming Routine

I realize that many of my posts about my grooming regimen have focused heavily on afro hair care and that’s no mistake. I love my hair and taking care of the fro has been a pretty big priority for me.  Its almost as if I can never learn enough to make sure that it stays hydrated and healthy no matter how long or short it is.  But today I want to speak on something a little different.

I’ve realized that one step that often gets overlooked by guys in their grooming routines is moisturizing.  I can’t tell you how many guys I know that don’t regularly have a daily moisturizer on hand to keep their skin looking it’s best. Sure staying out of direct sunlight helps to combat wrinkles, but imagine if you could take another preventative step now that will keep you looking young well past your mid-life crisis.  Well gents,  it’s all about daily moisture.

Washing with a mild facial soap is essential but so is using a gentle daily moisturizing lotion that goes all over your face and neck (not just the parts you shave!).  This will not only help keep you looking young (I can attest to this as people are often perplexed as to why I have gray hair) but will also help your skin recover from the horrors of shaving AND actually make it easier and less painful to shave.  It is much harder to irritate skin that is so well taken care of.

What are my recommendations?  Moisturize every time you brush your teeth.  That’s at least once in the morning when you’re getting ready for your day and once right before bedtime.  Let all those good moisturizing oils and peptides soak into your handsome mug over night, you won’t regret it.  And for those with sensitive skin like me, opt for something fragrance free. And for most of us, opt for something that’s non-greasy and oil free so you don’t end up looking like an oil slick.  This will also keep you from looking shiny.

Go forth gents…and moisturize.

A Little Taste of Manhattan Moonshine

One of the great (and fun) pleasures of being an adult (read: grown ass man) is cocktails!  Once you hit the ripe age of 21 you can enjoy them freely, and legally, but I’m a firm believer that it’s not until you past the quarter of a century mark do you really appreciate a well made drink.

Spirits, libations, cocktails.  All are variations of some liquor infused drink but they’re not created equal and depending on your exposure you may find yourself into a bit of a comfort-zone with certain drinks or spirits depending on your friend group at different life stages. Vodka has been a well documented spirit in many of my late nights exploits, but I’ve tried to branch out from time to time to see what other tasty cocktails await.  That’s why I was more than happy, albeit a little concerned, to try out Manhattan Moonshine, a “prohibition-style whiskey”.

Again, I’m not a whiskey guy so my main focus in bringing this review to you was to try out a mixed beverage that I thought I could actually handle/like and that some of you might want to try too.  I ended up making my own twist on a “Bessie Smash”.  Here’s the altered recipe I tried:

  • 1 1/2 oz of Manhattan Moonshine
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz Liber & Co spiced tonic syrup

It ended up looking a little something like this!

Manhattan Moonshine
Not too shabby, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It turned out so good I might have had more than one!  Manhattan Moonshine is a pretty clean spirit so it lends itself to mixing well with a variety of cocktails.  The term “moonshine” is a bit misleading as people often think of moonshine as a harsh spirit but I think this whiskey is smoother and cleaner than even I expected.  It’s a great substitute for vodka or gin which is why I think I have the curiosity to dabble again in the whiskey end of the liquor spectrum.

To find out more about Manhattan Moonshine check out the website at manhattan-moonshine.com.

 

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

Back to Basics: Hair Care 101

conditioner bottles

From time to time I get asked how I take care of my hair so well and whenever I do it’s always a huge compliment! I’m always very grateful to hear people think that I have great hair. There was a time when I didn’t think my hair was so great, especially when I grew out my fro for the first time. It’s been a challenge for me to get used to all the attention (both positive and negative) and it’s been a growing process overall.

Today I want to share with you how I actually do take care of my hair. You’ll see some of the same steps on my hair care regimen at the link on the top right-hand corner of the page, but today I just want to give you a little bit more insight into my process and how you can take good care of your hair so that you are always looking your best.

First off, let me start by saying that one term that you’ll hear about in hair care, and black hair care in particular, is wash day. “Wash day” is exacty how it sounds; it’s the day of the week that you wash your hair.  Yes, I know that sounds disgusting at first, but the truth is that no matter your hair type you really shouldn’t be shampooing your hair more than a couple of times per week, barring any special scalp conditions.  Washing your hair more often with traditional shampoos can rid your hair of it natural oils and moisture.  This can leave you with chronically dull and dry hair. But because we have to use shampoo from time to time, there are some easy ways to minimize it’s effects.

First, only use a sulfate shampoo when you feel your hair is especially dull and gunky.  Sulfates have been found to dry out your hair and scalp and can cause irritation. And for those of you with sensitive or scalps, you might want to try and avoid altogether.  I like conditioning washes like MITCH Double Hitter as they don’t dry out my hair or scalp but make sure I feel clean.  This particular option also helps detangle my strands which is helpful when you have kinky or coily hair.

So now you magically find yourself on wash day…what comes next? It’s time to condition!

There are a lot of conditioning options out there but there are three basic types you should know about for the second part of your hair care routine.  They are rinse-out conditioner, leave in conditioner and deep conditioner.  Here’s a quick breakdown of the three types:

Rinse out conditioner: this is your typical conditioner that you can find in most drug stores or in your local grocery store. After washing your hair you apply a rinse out conditioner for a few minutes, usually about 3 to 5 minutes, and then you rinse it out completely.  It’s usually best to do this with cold water.

Personal recommendation: TRESemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner. You can read my review at this link.

Leave in conditioner: leave in conditioner is just how it sounds. This type of conditioner is usually applied after you rinse out the conditioner and it’s meant to be left in your hair before your styling product.  The amount you should use varies on your hair length and texture.  For my currently cropped mane I use about a nickel to quarter sized amount.

Personal recommendation: Kinky Curly Knot Today.  My hair LOVES this stuff and its one of the best on the market, in my opinion. See more information at this link.

Deep conditioner/hair mask: this type of conditioner comes in the form of many different names. It’s often referred to as a deep conditioning mask, a hair mask/masque or something else. Usually this type of conditioner requires that you leave it on your hair for more than 10 minutes and sometimes you get the best results by using heat as well. If you ever get treated in a salon, they’ll often put you under a hooded dryer for this part.

Personal recommendation: Pantene Pro V Intensive Restoration Treatment.  Read my review at this link

I should say that this sounds like a lot but I don’t typically use all of these products at every wash. I usually wash 2-3 times per week to remove product gunk and cleanse my scalp which is prone to buildup.   Usually, I only deep condition about once a week on the infamous “wash day” and while I do use shampoo on other days I don’t go through the whole shebang as it were.

So in essence wash day looks like this:

  1. Shampoo
  2. Deep condition
  3. Leave in conditioner
  4. Gel or cream based styler
  5. Use pomade once hair is dry

While non-wash days look like this:

  1. Rinse out conditioner
  2. Leave in conditioner
  3. Gel or cream based styler
  4. Use pomade once hair is dry

So there you have it! There are my not-so secret tips to keeping “good” hair. Don’t forget to check out my hair care regimen for more insight into my process.

Spring Adventure Style with Rockport Shoes #PoweredbyRockport

Walk360 Rockport
Rockport Walk360 shoes in Blueberry/Real Teal

By nature, I’m not an adventurous person. Well yeah that’s a bit of an exaggeration as I’m a pretty well documented creature of habit. That’s why when I was charged with creating some sense of adventure by the folks over at Rockport Shoes for the first challenge in 2015, I had a pretty difficult time thinking of something really out

Let me start by saying that NYC has basically been a metropolitan tundra this Winter (and it continues!) so I was all to eager to get out and just walk in some milder weather as March rolled in. The plan was to take a nice long stroll in the concrete jungle to get my blood flowing again after basically being a hibernating bear for the past few months.  Unfortunately that also means I’ve been doing a lot of eating and sleeping, but I digress.

Runners in the NYC Half-Marathon
Runners in the NYC Half-Marathon

As I planned to take this new epic trek in my Walk360 shoes by Rockport, sadly the nasty winter came swarming back in. So instead I opted to lace up when my friend and many other NYC’ers decided to get in a little exercise themselves at the 2015 NYC Half-Marathon.

For me, it turned out to be a chilly but not too cold day which made it the perfect time to try out the new kicks. Plus we got a little power walking in so as to not miss our friend crossing the finish line.  The good news, not once did I think of my shoes or feet being uncomfortable and that’s after hours of standing and walking around.

rockport walk 360
A shot of me rocking my Rockport Walk360s. Comfy!

 

Also, if you’re looking to get yourself some new shoes for spring, I have great news! I’ve teamed up with Rockport to offer you an exclusive 20% discount for all Rockport shoes.  This code is valid from March 1st-April 30th for all purchases on www.rockport.com. I can vouch for the comfort of all their shoes, their shoe technologies are awesome and I can’t imagine that you would disappointed.  You can out more of my Rockport posts at this link. Use the code MANEMAN20 at checkout.

 

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Rockport shoes. Products were provided courtesy of Rockport for the purpose of this review. The comments and opinions listed herein are my own.

 

 

Caring for Curls, Kinks and Coils Recap!

caring for curls kinks coils

This past week I was invited by some devastating divas from Barnard College here in NYC to speak on their panel for Caring for Curls, Kinks and Coils and I had a great time!

I really love doing panels, I really do. To me it’s great to have an actual interaction with the participants as well as fellow panelists and in this case there was a great amount of diversity of perspectives which made for some insightful and enriching discussion.

As we were addressing natural hair in the professional spectrum we had a range of professionals from different fields like everything from hairstyling to strictly corporate environments.  It was even eye-opening for me!

We covered everything from Giuliana Rancic’s comments about Zendaya at the Oscar’s to battling dry hair, gender role stereotyping and how to fight for your scalp at the braiding salons on 125th street in Harlem.  All I can say was it was a great privilege to sit on such an intelligent and illustrious panel.  And the audience participation was spot on.

We wrapped by raffling out some prizes by the event’s sponsors and I took home some nice samples too.  All in all it was a great event and it’s very encouraging for me to see students having these very real and meaningful conversations about natural hair and race in the workplace.  My biggest hope is that every person left feeling encouraged to enter the professional world knowing that it’s possible to embrace natural hair and thrive professionally at the same time. I definitely look forward to more events like that in the future!

Here are some snaps from the event:

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Members of Delta Sigma Theta at the event.

 

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Engaging in some good discourse and some shots of the participants.

 

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Closing up with some conversations and a quick photo of the panelists and hosts.

 

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And here are the product giveaway winners!

 

 

The MANE MAN Shop is Now Open!

Hi everyone!  How you holding up in this weather?  NYC  has been pretty dreary for a while now but hopefully the snow is making its last rounds this week as we prepare to enter spring time pretty soon.  I’m ready to give up on the wool coats and scarves. A guy can dream, can’t he?

I’ve been working on a few things for you all including the new MANE MAN shop!  I’ve teamed up with NMRKT to offer you some of my favorite picks from some of the best online shops.

In the top right hand corner of the site you’ll see a link for “Shop”.  It’s located right next to the little magnifying glass search button.  Click and you’ll enter the MANE MAN shop and see all my favorite picks when it comes to style, grooming, home and lifestyle.   All of these items make for some pretty great purchases for yourself or gifts for a friend, family member or loved one.  With each purchase through that link, I’ll get a little kickback for curating my picks for you.  That’s it!

Some of the featured shops brands/stores include:

  •  Nordstrom
  • East Dane
  • C.O. Bigelow
  • Strawberry Net
  • Todd Snyder
  • Top Shop

There will be more to come but for now go ahead and check out the shop for yourself!

 

Grooming with Paul Mitchell Systems #PMInsider

PM Insider 2015

This year I’ve been asked to participate in a wonderful program with Paul Mitchell systems as a brand ambassador. With that, I’ll periodically be taking you on a look inside some Paul Mitchell products and other opportunities.

To keep up with all facets of the program check out me and some other awesome online media mavens at the hashtag #PMinsider.

For my first foray into PM insiders I was sent a box chock full of some great Paul Mitchell products. I got to try my hand at the following:

  • Mitch Double Hitter 2-in-1 Conditioner and Shampoo
  • Tea Tree Special Shampoo
  • Tea Tree Body Bar
  • Mitch Reformer Texturizer (Styling Paste)

The folks at Paul Mitchell were also kind enough to gift a t-shirt and water bottle as well but I’m sure you’re less interested in that and more interested about these products!

You might remember that I previously reviewed the Mitch Double Hitter 2-in-1 Conditioner and Shampoo. I stand by my first review and you can read it for more detail.  It’s really a great product especially for those with kinky or curly strands that like to love on each other.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I was anywhere nearly in love with the Tea Tree Special Shampoo.  For some folks it might be perfectly fine but my scalp is like the Sahara Dessert and so I have to be extra careful with shampoo and conditioning products that strip my scalp and hair of much-needed moisture.  The product unfortunately boasts some pretty tough surfactants like SLS that just rob me of moisture every time.  It does work well as a tingly body wash in a pinch though.

I actually just tried the Tea Tree Body Bar for the first time this morning and ironically it feels like it has more moisturizing properties than the shampoo. It smells good and features a nice minty inspired scent that’s a great way to start the day.  It comes in bar form and I wonder if Paul Mitchell has any plans to create a body wash in liquid form as more and more gents opt for gels instead of old school bars. I maybe have a slight preference for liquid soap but it’s always nice to revisit a bar every now and again and this is a good one.

Reformer by the Mitch line (which is exclusively for men) is a bit of wild card in terms of my hair. Let’s be honest, I think it’s safe to assume that this texturizing paste wasn’t created with kinky hair in mind.  Surprisingly, it works pretty well to control fly-aways and frayed ends.  And not to mention that it smells like straight up cologne which in part makes me worry about the ingredients that make up the scent, but I use so little of it at every application that I honestly don’t think much of it.  In summation, it’s a versatile product that’s paraben and gluten free AND vegan.

All in all, I’ve pretty pleased with my introduction into the #PMInsiders club.  My only question is, when’s the next box coming?!

Superior Denim: A Review of Mott & Bow Jeans

I’m pretty sure that, like most of you, I have a closet full of denim. But as I’ve always been pretty conservative with cash I’ve reserved spending money on more substantial items like good shoes or nice shirts and admittedly have typically opted for an average pair of jeans. Well, that might be changing.

As I go into this review, feel free to let Drake play in the background :)

The folks over at Mott & Bow decided to take a chance on my limited denim expertise and asked me to go a round with their straight leg Thomson jeans.  I think there might have been some sort of denim bat signal saying that I needed help escaping my $20 jeans obsession.

I had to opt for the Thomson jeans over the skinny ones because well, I’m not a skinny dude and that’s just not my style anyway.  So after a bit of consultation with the Mott & Bow team we settled on the Thomson, a black denim which has clean lines and is super stylish.

Mott and Bow Thomson
Thomson jean by Mott & Bow

The Thomson jean fits great and is so versatile that it can practically be paired with anything. But by far the best feature of Mott & Bow jeans is how they feel.  The jeans are incredibly soft.  Like butter.  I almost wish I were exaggerating. You know those informercials for women’s sweatpant jeans?  Imagine what those might feel like…that’s what Mott & Bow jeans feel like.  They feel like sweatpants against your skin but look incredibly stylish and clean.  They’re real jeans! They’re just awesome.

While I haven’t purchased a pair of Mott & Bow jeans for myself yet, I’m sure there’s another pair in my future.  I just have to make room in my closet and get rid of some of those “bad jeans” sometime soon.  I guess it’s almost time for spring cleaning, right?

 

Disclosure: Mott & Bow provided sample product for the purpose of this review. 

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