Category Archives: Product Reviews

Reviews of hair and body products. Everything from hair conditioners and stylers to shaving and grooming products.

Product Review: Artnaturals Bluetooth Diffuser

Disclosure: Artnaturals was courteous enough to provide sample products for the purpose of the review. All opinions listed herein are my own.

Everyone likes to have a home that smells welcoming to guests (and frankly helps cover up any food scents or other odors).  Most of us rely on candles but diffusers, now growing in popularity, may be a better and more sustainable option.

Many of us are somewhat familiar with diffusers. Often they come in sleek little bottles that sit on our desks at work. But what if you had one that gave out a pleasant mist in controllable increments and worked as a bluetooth speaker?

Artnaturals Bluetooth Diffuser does just that.

Previously, the folks at Artnaturals sent me their bluetooth diffuser to try out in my home office space. After using it for a while, I thought I’d share my thoughts with all of you.

Let me begin by saying that I’ve never actually owned a diffuser of my own but had been thinking about purchasing one as I’ve become increasingly interested in the use of essential oils (thanks hair care research) especially as it relates to managing mood and energy.  This opportunity gave me a chance to really see how I felt about it.

What I Loved

I think that the Top 16 essential oil pack is a great selling feature of this combo. What’s best about that is that with the purchase you also get, what I call, a recipe book that provides some potential mixes for you to try out in your space. It helps provide a strong foundation to work from, and to be honest I haven’t tried even half of the mixes and I’m already a few months in.

I also think that the design of the diffuser/speaker itself is neat. If you watch closely, you can see the mist escaping from the top of the spout when the diffuser is on. It also has a clock which is a nice add-on, especially if your diffuser is in a space without another visible clock.

But, by far, having control over the diffuser is the best-selling point for me. You can simply have it turned on until your water-oil mix runs out and/or you can put it on specific time increments such as 1 hour, 3 hours or 6 hours. This makes it great for creating a specific feel in an environment, whether that’s the work place or your home.

There is also a feature that allows the diffuser to show different colored lights when it’s on. Again, you have control over this so you can opt for no lights or opt for one color the whole time which can add a little ambiance if you’re looking for that extra little touch.

And ultimately, the diffuser with 16 essential oils retails for less than $60. That means you’re getting a diffuser, bluetooth speaker, and a nice set oils for a damn good price. It’s a great value.

What Could Use Improvement

I don’t think that the bluetooth speaker has the best sound quality., to be honest. I  didn’t expect it to provide super high quality sound. But, it works just fine for ambient and instrumental music. Surprisingly though, it can get quite loud (it has volume controls) so it has that going for it on the plus side.

Overall, I think that an electronic diffuser is a great idea because it gives you a lot of control over how often and how much you diffuse in your space. I wish that the smells lingered more often, but then again, maybe that’s just to the fact that we tend to assimilate to smell very quickly.  Needless to say, my home office nook smells pretty good and it’s fun to play around with different scent combinations to create different moods.  I personally think the set I tried out would make a great gift for someone who’s learning more about oils and their use in the home or office. And, the style is simple, yet decorative enough to not be so disruptive to most spaces.

To learn more about Artnaturals and to buy the Top 16 Essential Oils and Bluetooth Speaker set.

 

Product Review: Kat Burki Skin Care

Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Kat Burki.

Since I started MANE MAN years ago, I’ve come a long way in upping my skin care regimen. It was nonexistent through my teen and younger adulthood, in large part because I think I was just somehow gifted with fairly balanced skin.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve held on to the idea of keeping my mug looking as youthful as possible and it’s something that I try to take seriously. Recently, I tried some great products from Kat Burki so I’ll be sharing some thoughts with you about how these products made me feel.

Before we fully dive in though, I want to take a step back and make a note about man often feel pressured to use “manly” products or products made for men. I definitely think there is space for products that are created for the unique skin challenges of men (many of us do shave, after all). We have larger pores and that can impact what our skin’s needs are. However, there’s generally a LOT that you can gain from dabbing into products from the other side of the aisle.  There’s a lot of good stuff out there that might help your best and it just be hidden in pink and green packaging.

Ocean Mineral Gel Cleanser

Lately, I’ve been using a thicker, creamier face wash to keep my skin clean and breakouts at bay.  And in large part, it’s been working well for me. That being said, when I tried the Ocean Mineral Gel Cleanser, it is nice break from what I’ve been used to lately.

While the cleanser is thinner than I would naturally like, I have to admit that scent and lightness is incredibly refreshing, and not in a heavily perfumed way. It’s light and subtle, just as the branding suggests with its muted colors and overall soft demeanor. And unlike other washes, it feels very gentle. After use my skin feels clean and new, but not dry. And if you look at the ingredients list, you would see why. It’s packed full of nutrients and oils.  It’s quickly become one of my favorite parts of my daily skin routine.

FORM CONTROL Marine Collagen Gel – How it Works from Kat Burki on Vimeo.

Lift & Fill  Form Control Marine Collagen Gel

To be frank, I don’t need “fill” in my face. At best it’s youthful, cherubic even (facial hair is a must) which often throws people off because I’ve got a fair amount of gray sprigs of hair in my mane. Nonetheless, I’m committed to taking care of my mug and serums are really potent and powerful little additions to a skin care regimen. This gel is no joke. It definitely boasts hydration and makes a great nighttime treatment before bed.  It’s texture is smooth and slippery but not os that you end up wasting product in the sink when trying to get it out of the nice little pump bottle.

My only real qualm is that the gel’s smell is not to my taste. It smells like cucumber to me, which is personally just a big NO-NO. I’m not a fan of cucumber in general, however, I’ve managed to get over it with this gel because it just feels so damn good.

These products are pricey so they may not be to everyone’s taste or fit everyone’s budget. But, I will also say that if you’re looking for products that really help your skin feel hydrated and youthful, this is the way to go.  You can learn more about these products at KatBurki.com.

 

Product Review: ArtNaturals Men’s Body Wash

Disclosure: Product for review was provided courtesy of ArtNaturals.

Let’s face it, there are a LOT of options out there when it comes to men’s body washes.  Does anyone else remember the days when it was less “manly” to use body wash and you had to use bar soap to be a real guy? I do. And Im glad those days are long gone.

ArtNaturals, as the name suggests, is a personal grooming brand focused on bring its customers high quality, natural products. They craft everything from body washes to essential oils (and diffusers!), lotion, shaving cream, etc. They basically have anything that you might need for your grooming needs.

The folks over at ArtNaturals shared some of their goodies with me and I’ll look forward to sharing all my thoughts with you. Today, I’ll talk about my experience with Men’s Body Wash.

You may have noticed by now, but I’m a sucker for a natural ( or mostly natural) product. I figure, why not use mostly natural products as much as possible, right? They can often be more expensive than products with a lot of synthetic, or man-made chemicals, and that’s often something to consider. But, I think it’s worth to cut back in other places when you can have more knowledge about putting better ingredients on or in your body.

It is exactly this reason that I really enjoy what I’ve tried from ArtNaturals so far. You can smell and FEEL the natural quality of their creations. They are effective, but not harsh. Fragrant, but not overwhelming in any way. In short, they hit my natural product sweet-spot.

The Men’s Body Wash is a great example of this. Formulated with aloe, cocoa butter and shea butter, it’s evident from the second this stuff touches your skin that you’re not only being cleansed but also being nourished. It has hints of that nutty shea butter smell and has that smoothness that cocoa butter and aloe provide so well.

For those use to super soapy and sudsy washes, this isn’t going to seem to be a great cleanser for you, but I think it is. It cleanses well without completely stripping my skin. It’s one of the reasons why I think it’s  perfect for summer. Imagine that you’ve been at the beach all day reading a book, playing in the sand or diving in and out of the ocean. It’s hot and you get home about 3 shades darker than when you left (I’ve been there!). You KNOW your skins is parched even though you used sunblock and tried to say hydrated. This Men’s Body Wash is what you need afterwards. The combination of ingredients offers your skin the nourishment that it needs, without the stripping element of your average body wash.  It’s a winner, in my eyes, and I think that if you try it, it will be one for you too.

For more on ArtNaturals Men’s Body Wash and their line up of products you can visit their website and shop.

 

Van Der Hagen Premium Shave Set Review + A GIVEAWAY!

Every gent needs a good shaving system as some point in his life. I recall the days when I first started shaving and struggled with nicks, cuts and just using whatever the cheapest shaving products was out there. As the years have gone by, and I’ve been exposed to a wider variety of product choices, I’m glad that I’ve been able to try Van Der Hagen’s line up from time to time.

Shaving soap is something I’m still not all that familiar with, as I’ve mostly tried out gels and creams, however there is something to be said to using a tried and true method like the Van Der Hagen Premium Shave Set.  It comes complete with a shaving brush and soap which is housed within a nice ceramic bowl.

After washing your face, and exfoliating which I recommend, you wet your shaving brush with warm water, lather up the soap in the included bowl and then brush your face in a gentle circular motion. This part is important, especially for gents with curly or coarse hair types. Applying shaving soap in a circular motion will help lift those stubborn hairs reducing irritation and nicks.  From there, you shave as normal.

The Van Der Hagen Premium Shave Set is affordable at about $13.99, which means it works as gift for anyone, especially someone who may not have used a brush or shave soap before. It’s a great value.

My only qualm about the product is that, at times, the brush sheds a few hairs, which can trip you up at shaving time so be on the lookout for that. Otherwise, the set presents an affordable and quality option for gents looking forward to having a better shave without breaking the bank.

I’ve also teamed up with the folks at Van Der Hagen to bring you the opportunity to win a shaving set for Father’s Day! Enter in the widget below for your chance to win. Winners must be U.S. residents and one winner will be chosen one week from today, on June 5.  Good luck!

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Product Review: Curve Black

“Cool. Sophisticated. Bold.” Does Curve Black live up to the hype? Read on for my review.

Curve Black is the latest creation of the team at Curve. Launching this month, Curve Black aims to offer the more sophisticated Curve aficionado another bit of depth to his cologne repertoire.

Curve Black claims to offer a distinctly masculine fragrance by combining fresh fougere with fresh florals and warm, woody accents. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

Fragrances are usually built with base, heart and top notes to create a dynamic and rich scent profile. This, in my personal opinion, is what allows for fragrances to work a little bit different for every person’s body chemistry. Certain “notes” will be expressed differently depending on person’s skin, body temperature, etc. It’s really interesting how that happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the notes for Curve Black:

Top notes: Italian bergamot, violet leaf & nutmeg
Heart notes: Includes lavender, clary sage and tree moss
Base notes: Tonka bean, teak wood and sandalwood

In my experience, Curve Black lives up to its promise. There is most definitely a cool, sophisticated scent profile. I am particularly fond of the woodier base and heart notes. There is a sort of fresh finish, which feels distinctly on-brand for Curve, to me.

Fragrances are meant for difference occasions and while I really love Curve Black it may not be something that I would wear on an everyday commute to the office. It seems a bit more complex than that, but of course I guess that also depends on your personality, style and environment. It’s a little sexier, which means it’s perfect for drinks or date night, without a doubt. And as far as that packaging goes, I LOVE dark and deep colors so this one definitely offers a lot for me.

Would you give it a try? It could even make a great gift for a recent graduate or a happy Dad on Father’s Day which is coming up soon!

You may purchase Curve Black as most mass retailers in the states now. Eau de Toilette retails for $47 (2.5 fl. oz./ 75 ml.).

Product Review: Shodai

Today, I share with you my thoughts on a new personal favorite, Shodai!

Hailing from Japan, Shodai skin care for men is an emerging, small-batch brand which makes use of some of Japan’s best local ingredients. The ingredients are cool, smooth and in my experience, work well for folks with sensitive skin. There are no harsh chemicals that leave your skin feeling rough or overly dry.  Read on for more of my thoughts!

Appearance wise, this is BY FAR the sexiest branding I’ve seen in a very long time. The minimalist color scheme reeks of elegance and sophistication. Every time I enter my bathroom there’s always a little bit of extra joy seeing these black bottles and tiny origami birds chirping to greet me.

The appearance is matched by what’s housed inside. When I initially received the product for review, I wasn’t convinced that a product with sake in it (SAKE FOR SKIN?!) would be the right thing for me. And I have to admit, the scent at first was just so unexpected. Perhaps, late night karaoke memories were triggered but that’s neither here nor there 🙂 Once I settled into the idea after about a day or two I realized that I really like the smell. It’s simple and not the overly fragrant stuff you’ll find in a lot of grooming products. For a gent like me, with sensitive skin, this is something I prize in skin care products.

Second only to the branding is the consistency and texture of  the face wash and moisturizer. They’re both pretty luscious and creamy, and not in a way that feels heavy. It’s odd, but they both strike a really good balance between thin and thick. And a little goes a long way for both, which is a good thing when you’re investing a few extra coins in your grooming products.

If you check out Shodai’s website you’ll learn even more about the products and what’s housed in this sexy little bottles. Some of the ingredients included are things like sake (as I mentioned), green tea (which is known to be great for skin) and hiba (something I’m less familiar with but has antibacterial properties).

That being said, I’ve been rationing out these little gems as I’ve grown fond of them.  You can learn more and purchase your own Shodai products at shodaimen.com.

 

Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Shodai. All opinions listed herein are my own.

Old Spice Hydro Wash Giveaway!

Disclosure: This content was sponsored by Old Spice, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on the new Old Spice Hydro Wash. From there you might have gleaned that I’m a fan of the product. So much so that I have steadily been using these new washes for a couple months now.

Here’s the skinny on Old Spice Hydro Wash:

  • Hydro Wash offers superior hydration with over 20% hydro-moisturizing complex.
  • Features Old Spice’s proprietary “dual stream” formula, keeping moisturizers and cleansers separate so that the moisturizers don’t wash away with the lather before hydrating the skin.
  • Thicker and richer lather means less product down the drain, resulting in a better overall shower experience that leaves skin feeling hydrated and clean.
  • Debuts in NEW Steel Courage scent. Old Spice’s daring new scent is assertive yet laid-back, combining the energizing top notes of pineapple and warm rum with a mid-note of intoxicating clove, crisp pepper and sage. Hints of sandalwood and warm amber add a balanced finish. SO GOOD!

Today I’m happy to share with you that I’ve teamed up with Old Spice to host as giveaway of their Old Spice Hydro Wash “Power Shower” Pack!

In this pack you will get the following:

  • *New* Old Spice Hydro Wash – Combines ultra-superior hydration with Old Spice’s long-lasting, masculine scents. Guys, you’re smellcome. (Enjoy in new Steel Courage scent, plus popular scents Live Wire and Pure Sport Plus.)
  • Old Spice Shower Speaker – Another way to amp up your shower experience. Power ballads or air guitar optional.
  • Old Spice Towel – Go ahead, show your #smellegendary status to your medicine cabinet mirror-reflection self. And as a BONUS you’ll also get Old Spice Sweat Defense – Your post-shower Hardest Working Collection hero. Because your pits deserve powerful anti-perspirant protection, too.

The team over at Old Spice also sends some thoughts via Janine Miletic:

We’re proud to support guys on their journey to legendary freshness with the launch of new Old Spice Hydro Wash body wash,” said Janine Miletic, Old Spice Brand Director at Procter & Gamble. “This new shower innovation combines ultra-superior hydration with our long-lasting, masculine Old Spice scents. Guys, you’re smellcome.”

Winner will be announced next week. Enter in the widget below & good luck!

 

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Product Review: Old Spice DUO

Disclosure: Product was provided for the purpose of this review. The opinions listed herein are my own.

What’s the one thing that could make showering a bit easier (aside from not having to do it all)?  Maybe DUO by Old Spice is the answer.

While I do tend to dive into the depths of men’s grooming, trying out various products and regimens, I have to tell you to that there’s nothing I love more than a product that solves a problem.  And when it comes to your skin, DUO does a pretty good job at that.

Here’s what’s so cool about it. DUO is a soap on a rope…but better. It’s a two-sided cleanser that houses soap on the inside. On one side of the sponge(?) you get the smooth, wash-cloth type feel and on the other you get a bonus exfoliating side which is helpful when you’re trying to get rid of dead skin (which I recommend regularly). Regular exfoliation, and by regular I mean a couple of times a week, keeps your skin healthy and looking at its best.  This is especially good for active gents or those who otherwise find themselves exposed to the elements.

The great thing about DUO is that it’s a magical combination of soap, wash-cloth AND an exfoliator. Hmm, maybe they should have named it trio?

Here’s what else I really loved about DUO, it claims to last for a month (30 days), which means that if you buy one a month you’re set for your shower needs for the month. In my trial with the product, I came pretty close (within days) to the 30 day mark so by all means DUO pretty much lives up to its name.

DUO is available at most drugstores and grocery stores and sells for around $9.99. Ivory and Olay all have their own varieties so everyone in the family can use something different and all have great skin.

I highly recommend this one folks!

Product Review: Old Spice Hydro Wash

Disclosure: This content was sponsored by Old Spice, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know I have had a long love affair with Old Spice products. Old Spice is a brand, for me, that very much symbolizes my own journey from boyhood to manhood. I remember that my first experiences with Old Spice were when I first started wearing deodorant. I remember picking up a tube in the grocery store. I remember the fresh, masculine scent and it’s always something that will be a very strong memory for me.

With that, I’m happy to be sharing with you my latest review featuring some of Old Spice’s newest offerings: Hydro Wash!

Hydro Wash is the newest addition to the brand’s Hardest Working Collection, which is the highest performing anti-perspirant and body wash line-up.  If you’re a sweater, like me, this is probably right up your alley.

Here are some key points about Old Spice’s new Hydro Wash:

  • Hydro Wash offers superior hydration with over 20% hydro-moisturizing complex.
  • It features Old Spice’s proprietary “dual stream” formula, keeping moisturizers and cleansers separate so that the moisturizers don’t wash away with the lather before hydrating the skin.
  • Thicker and richer lather means less product down the drain, resulting in a better overall shower experience that leaves skin feeling hydrated and clean.
  • Debuts in NEW Steel Courage scent. Old Spice’s daring new scent is assertive yet laid-back, combining the energizing top notes of pineapple and warm rum with a mid-note of intoxicating clove, crisp pepper and sage. Hints of sandalwood and warm amber add a balanced finish.
  • Old Spice Hydro Wash is also available in popular Old Spice scents Pure Sport Plus and Live Wire.
  • Old Spice Hydro Wash is available nationwide at drugstores, food stores and mass merchandisers beginning February 2017 (The standard retail price is $4.99 but pricing is also at the sole discretion of stores)

Also, The Walking Dead fans probably recognize this mug (Steven Ogg who plays Simon, one of Negan’s henchmen)! 

So what do I think?

Overall, I think Hydro Wash does a pretty good job at living up to its name. I found that all varieties of the wash do a stand-up job at keeping my skin moisturized. They feel pretty smooth on the skin and not drying like other body washes feel. They also come in pretty big bottles which means you’re going to get to use it for a pretty long time. I’ve had the three bottles for over a month (maybe 2?!) and it looks like I’ve barely made a dent in all three. You definitely get your money’s worth.

What about scents? Here’s my breakdown…

Live Wire – This name always reminds me of the one certain app us old-heads used in the 90s to share music LOL  But, scent-wise it’s one of my favorites as it has this really fresh, citrusy kind of scent. It very much reminds me of Iime. There’s always an extra little pick-up in my step when I use this one. Very fresh & clean scent.

Pure Sport – This is probably my least favorite scent out of the bunch. That being said, I recognize it might be a favorite for a lot of gents. It has a very soapy, clean smell. I imagine that a lot athletes will find this one to be a familiar scent, especially if you also use the Old Spice deodorant of the same name.

Steel Courage – This scent reminds me of a cross between Zoolander’s blue steel model-pose and James Bond. There’s a smooth, warm sexiness to this one. It has touches of sandalwood and amber with close which makes it pretty intoxicating.  As far as favorites go, I find it hard to decide between Steel Courage and Live Wire, but thankfully I don’t have to choose! Which one I use just depends on my mood.

You can purchase Old Spice Hydro Wash at most major retailers and at OldSpice.com.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more from Old Spice here on MANE MAN very soon!

 

Product Review: Artis Brush

Disclosure: Product for review was provided courtesy of Artis.

Have you ever tried using a shaving brush?

When I first discovered that you can create a barbershop-type experience at home with a shaving brush, I was surprised. I thought that brushes were too fancy for home use. Brushes were an unnecessary tool. It was only a few years ago that I learned different.

Now when I shave, I ALWAYS use a brush to help spread the shaving cream or butter. I’ve found that brushes do a far better job at distributing products, and I think that I tend to use less product when a brush can help build up a quick and rich lather. For a while now, I’ve been using only one brush faithfully. That is, until the folks over at Artis sent over their brush for me to try out.

Read on for my review…

The Good

The Artis Brush is beautiful. It’s well designed with a smoky color and it is compact, which means that it will probably fit well in most average-sized hands. Its design is interesting as it requires the use of your entire hand, instead of how you typically hold brushes with a couple of your fingers as you swipe and flick away. This, I think, is part of what makes the Artis brush so unique.

For those of you with sensitive skin, the bristles are light and smooth. So much so, that the term bristles seems like a bit of a misnomer here. It FEELS so good on your skin.

But is it right for use with shaving cream or shave butter? That’s another question altogether.

The Not So Good

In my trials with the products, I’ve found that it’s pretty difficult to work up a good lather with this brush.  It doesn’t matter what shaving product I used (I alternated between a gel-based product and a soap-based product), Artis just doesn’t ever get there. Similarly, it doesn’t readily absorb water which makes it very difficult to use.

The brush itself, I think, would be a prime candidate for makeup application, which I think is its primary purpose actually. But for shaving, unfortunately it’s a miss for me.

If you’re looking for a shaving brush to add to your daily routine, I can’t say that I’m convinced this offering from Artis is the right thing for you. However, if you are a make-up aficionado then it might be something that you can really appreciate.

 

To learn more about this brush, you can visit the Artis website at artisbrush.com.