Category Archives: Product Reviews

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

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.

Product Review: O’Keeffe’s Working Hands & Healthy Feet

OKeeffes Healthy Feet Working Hands review

Most guys haven’t been blessed with smooth and moisturized hands, well that is unless you’re a hand model. With the modern guy in mind, O’Keeffe’s products “Working Hands” and “Healthy Feet” are designed to help keep us all looking and feeling our best. Ladies, don’t worry I think you’ll find these products pretty fantastic too.

O’Keeffe’s Working Hands was created by a pharmacist by the name of Tara O’Keeffe almost three decades ago when she needed a solution to help her diabetic father with his dry and cracked skin. Since that time, O’Keeffe’s has added the Healthy Feet Foot Cream to its lineup.

Have you ever experienced those painful cracks at your nail beds or spent an entire work day trying to peel off dead skin without harming yourself? Good, so I’m not alone!  Working Hands is a product that aims to help you battle those dry and brittle hands.

I absolutely HATE the feeling of dry hands and when you push a lot of papers throughout the day, having cracked hands can make paper cuts almost inevitable and ain’t nobody got time for that.

I tried out both O’Keeffe’s products and they’re really wonderful. The formulations are very creamy and the texture is oddly reminiscent of old school Noxema cream.  Both products offer long-lasting moisture. So much so that your hands may be so protected that soap will have a little trouble working up a lather after your bathroom breaks.

O’Keeffe’s for Healthy Feet Foot Cream offers the same benefits as Working Hands.  It’s honestly one of the best products I’ve used for my dogs.  It’s luxurious and creamy, but not greasy, making it a perfect product whenever you’re rocking flip flops or sandals.  This product definitely helped me avoid walking around with ashy, cracked feet. And it lasts throughout the day.  That being said, a little goes a long way.

I received the products in the trademark O’Keeffe tubs but I just learned that they also come in handy tubes that are great for your messenger/work bag or to store in your glove compartment.

Working Hands and Healthy Feet come in 2.7 oz and 3.4 oz tubes and are readily available at retailers like WalMart, Target and Amazon.  The prices fall within the $6-$8 range making them both very affordable grooming staples.  They’re definitely worth a purchase if you’re battling dry, cracked hands or feet.  Try them out for yourself!

 

Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of O’Keeffe’s. All opinions listed in this review are mine and mine alone.

A First Impression of American Crew’s Liquid Wax

american crew liquid wax review

American Crew is a well-known hair care brand that tends to be highly popular given it’s availability and affordability.  Recently the brand launched a new product, Liquid Wax, in an effort to diversity their line up and offer a one of a kind product for various hair types.

Liquid Wax is pretty much as it sounds. It’s a hybrid wax/gel styling aid that comes in a plastic squeezable bottle. It’s housed in American Crew’s trademark amber-colored bottling with white lettering.

“Controls like a gel, finishes like a wax, ” is the promise written right on the bottle.  Does it actually deliver?

There’s a lot to say for the flexibility of this product. It actually does deliver on its premise of providing gel-like control.  I can’t speak to the wax aspect as I’ve typically steered clear of wax products for my mane and having nothing to compare it to. There’s just something strange to me about using wax in my hair.  Maybe I’ll revisit that at a later date…who knows.

Lately, I’ve been applying my gel to damp hair instead of soaking wet hair in the shower and have had some pretty good results.  American Crew actually works well, but unfortunately it doesn’t play well with others. I’m not sure if it’s the formulation of the Liquid Wax in and of itself that makes it flake OR if it’s the result of an interaction with the conditioner that I’ve been using.  Nonetheless, the result is no bueno.  Flakes galore.  And this has happened on more than one occasion unfortunately.

After using the product a few times over the course of several weeks, I can’t say that the benefits outweigh the flakey consequences.  Maybe it’s user error and maybe I’m applying it wrong/  To be fair, there are not real instructions on the bottle itself which makes me wonder if other gents are having similar results.

I suppose only time will tell if American Crew Liquid Wax turns out to be a useful product. If I’m going off first impressions, I wouldn’t invite it out for another round, but hey stranger things have happened.

 

Disclosure: Product was provided courtesy of American Crew for the purpose of this review.

So Fresh & So Clean with Paul Mitchell Tea Tree & Lavender Mint

Back in February of 2015 I shared with you my take on some of the Paul Mitchell hair care line up and while there was some successes, I felt like the products didn’t quite give my mane the nourishment it needed.  Well, that’s all changed with the Lavender Mint line up from the Tea Tree collection.

In my #PMInsiders box I received the following:

  • Lavender Mint Moisturizing Shampoo
  • Lavender Mint Moisturizing Conditioner
  • Tea Tree Body Bar (soap)
  • Tea Tree Firm Hold Gel
  • Tea Tree Hair and Body Moisturizer
  • Tea Tree Shave Gel

There is a lot of similarity between the products.  First, the lavender and mint products boast an herbal and calming scent which I found very refreshing.  The tea tree products offer a slightly more biting scent thanks to an extra dose of tea tree oil, but it’s still pleasant nonetheless.

The Tea Tree products gave me a bit of a mixed bag in terms of results. Both the body bar and shave gel are mostly “what you see is what you get” products.  They don’t particularly deliver anything unexpected.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing…it just is.

I was more shocked by how much I got along with the hair and body moisturizer which actually does live up to its name. It’s a great after shower moisturizer.  It isn’t greasy and absorbs into skin very quickly, leaving an unobtrusive amount of moisture on the skin.  And as the temperature continues to rise, I’m sure that I’m not the only one starting to avoid those heavy winter body creams.  The moisturizer works wonders as a leave in hair conditioner, delivering softness all while feeding your hair with nutrients like aloe leaf juice and peppermint oil.

But, the biggest surprise for me out of the entire group was the Tea Tree Firm Hold Gel.  I’ve had a love-hate relationship with gels as many are often too greasy or leave highly textured hair looking like a pack of ramen noodles which is not something I aim for.

This was the one time that I followed the directions to the letter and waited until after my hair dried a little to slap on some product. It turns out, I’ve been using gel wrongly for many years and that’s the way you’re really supposed to do it. I’m still continually impressed by my results.  My hair has good definition, volume and softness.  This gel is a win-win-win. It’s a serious triple threat.

And while I was most excited about the Lavender Mint products (the shampoo and conditioner) I wasn’t as surprised as I was with some of the tea tree line up.  Both the shampoo and conditioner work pretty well and boy, do they smell great.  The super clean and calming bouquet, I imagine, will be welcome in many folks’ shower stalls.  The shampoo has a surprising amount of slip which makes it ideal for detangling highly textured hair types (like afros and type 4 hair) while the conditioner offers a helpful follow-up to wrap up the routine.

There is no such thing as a perfect product, but with Paul Mitchell’s offerings there is something for everyone.  Whether it’s the scent, consistency or performance, there’s a good bit of helpful choices in the tea tree line which is worth a buy.  These products are of good quality and represent some of the better options from Paul Mitchell so far.  My stand-out picks are the Tea Tree Hair and Body Moisturizer for its incredible versatility and the Tea Tree Firm Hold Gel for its consistently good results.  The Lavender Mint Moisturizing Conditioner comes in at third place regrettably, as it just doesn’t have the “it” factor the other products have.

Those looking for eco-conscious grooming (see: gluten free & vegan) might want to give these products a try. No matter what your needs are, it seems that Paul Mitchell has you covered.

 

Disclosure: Products were provided courtesy of Paul Mitchell as part of the #PMInsiders program.

Nubian Heritage Launches All Natural Deodorants: A Review

Image courtesy of Nubian Heritage.
Image courtesy of Nubian Heritage.

Wellness beauty brand Nubian Heritage recently launched their line of 24 Hour All Natural deodorants.  The line of aluminum-free deodorants features a variety of pleasant scents all without the chemical gunk that beleagueres your favorite antiperspirant.

The deodorant versus antiperspirant debate is one that I’ve struggled with myself.  While antiperspirants provide odor protection as well as wetness protection, deodorants only provide the necessary ingredients to ward off room-clearing body odor.  Some folks can’t live without the wetness protection which I can understand. It’s all a matter of personal taste.  My personal take is that you can get away with just deodorants, especially in beautifully temperate weather as you’re not spending much time sweating too heavily.  I personally think that deodorants are great for the winter, spring and fall months especially.  They also give your sensitive underarm skin a break of the chemicals that come with your favorite drug store “deodorant”.

Nubian Heritage had developed a pretty well-rounded, unisex line of deodorants based on their model of  ethically sourced shea butter from co-ops in Northern Ghana.  With every dollar spent with Nubian Heritage you know your money is being used and traded responsibly. It makes me feel good to know that a brand has such character and integrity.  It’s inspiring.

Now on to the products!

Nubian Heritage has four all-natural deodorants which I’ve had the pleasure of sampling and there’s not a dud in the bunch.

  • Coconut & Papaya – The most fruity of the bunch, this stick uses coconut oil, a natural moisturizer that keeps skin super soft. Papaya doubles down with offerings that help keep skin clear and healthy.  All of this comes with a delightfully pleasant, albeit  an arguably feminine scent, that I think many folks will like.
  • African Black Soap – Long associated with promoting healthy and clear skin, the African Black Soap deodorant helps regulate the skin’s oil production all while providing the bright scent that many of us are familiar with.
  • Indian Hemp & Haitian Vetiver – Formulated with super hydrating neem oil, this variety offers up a mild, yet herbal scent fit for both guys and girls.
  • Honey & Black Seed – One of my personal favorites, the Honey & Black Seed deodorant offers a sweet, yet subtle scent while improving skin circulation all while managing irritation. It smells so good!

Each of the deodorants boast a suggested retail price of $7.99 for a 2.25 ounce stick.  Products are available online at VitaminShoppe.com and at select Whole Foods stores among others. For more information, feel free to visit NubianHeritage.com.

 

Disclosure: Sample products for review were provided courtesy of Nubian Heritage.

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 lip balm

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.