Category Archives: Product Reviews

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

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.

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?!

Product Review: Shea Moisture Tahitian Noni & Monoi Smooth & Repair Nourishing Hair Masque

Shea Moisture - TahitianIt’s been a while since I’ve featured an actual product review here for you on MANE MAN so the last time I went to the pharmacy I picked up one of Shea Moisture’s newest products, the Tahitian Noni & Monoi Smooth & Repair Nourishing Hair Masque.

Many of you out there know by now that I pretty much love anything that Shea Moisture puts out there. The brand has a commitment to heritage and legacy that I find endearing and not to mention the affordability of their products and awesome ingredients lists.  Their bath products are all high performers as well.

Admittedly, I’ve had less success with the hair formulations for reasons I can’t quite put my figure on, but I have to say that this hair masque is a move in the right direction.

The hair masque is formulated to smooth hair cuticles thus reducing frizz and breakage, which are key issues for kinkier hair textures.  The botanicals are also supposed to help protect your hair from heat damage but as I don’t typically blow dry my hair that’s not something that I can adequately comment on.

Here’s what I like: the ingredients are awesome. The masque touts shea butter, monoi and Tahitian noni oils (among others) which have a host of anti-oxidant and hair-repairing properties. I did a little internet research and found out that noni juice actually has a host of other super important health benefits like reducing high blood pressure. That being said, don’t eat this masque, I’m sure it’s not worth the risk.

My biggest qualm about the masque, and with a lot of Shea Moisture’s hair masque’s is that there is virtually no slip.  “Slip” is a property that gives you that feeling that makes it super easy to glide your fingers or come through your hair.  One excellent over the counter hair mask that does this is the Pantene Pro-V Smooth Therapy Masque Deep Conditioner.  It has a crazy amount of slip but obviously more synthetic ingredients so it’s a toss-up.  I think it all depends on what your hair’s needs are.  If you’re doing a fair amount of damage and need some deep healing properties I think Shea Moisture’s option is a great way to go.  If not, there might be some other options out there that you find you like better, and that are a little less costly.  But then again, they say that you get what you pay for.

Shea Moisture’s Tahitian Noni & Monoi Smooth & Repair Nourishing Hair Masque is available online via the brand’s website.

 

Disclosure: No samples or compensation were provided for this review.

Product Review: Nip+Man

nip+man

Living a healthier lifestyle usually means that you also have to take a holistic approach to that type of change.  That can include things such as new workout gear, running shoes and even new grooming products that are equipped to deal with your specific needs.  That’s where Nip+Man (Nip and Man) comes in handy. Read on for my review!

Designed with the active man in mind, Nip+Man products are designed to be easy to use and high performers so that you don’t have to worry about your grooming products failing you at inopportune times.  But, does the brand deliver on their promise?  My experience was a bit of a mixed bag.

I’ve been using Nip+Man products for well over a month now and there are definitely some hits and some misses.

First off, let’s hit the high notes.  Every man should have a good daily face moisturizer in their regimen.  Fortunately Nip+Man served me pretty well in this area.  Both products I tried, the Daily Power Moisturizer and the After-Shave Power Lotion are great post-shave products.  They both have a creamy, yet not greasy  consistency that has served me very well in this dry winter air so far. The great thing is that the products are virtually interchangable, although the Daily Power Moisturizer is most ideal for mornings as the addition of caffeine helps “wake up” your skin  while jojoba helps provide non-greasy moisture throughout the day. The After-Shave Power Lotion, however, is great because it has a slight cooling effect which helps skin irritated by the shaving process.

On the other hand, the Ab-Fix and Power Workout Fix products were not my particular cup of tea.  Granted, I’m not the target audience for Ab Fix products.  I don’t work out 6 days a week and have always been known to be more bookish than active so their daily toning gel for abs really isn’t my jam.  Needless to say, I didn’t really see any benefit to the product although it seems like a perfectly interesting concept to start with.

The Power Workout Fix is a whole different beast altogether.  These days my workouts have only consisted of running so usually there is some heel or ankle issues that come with that periodically. To help soothe those areas, I applied the Post Workout Fix and within seconds, I was breathing like I had just eaten 6 habanero wings.  It was potent!  I got so hot that I tried to wash off the product to no avail, so there I sat tired and with what felt like burning feet.  I vowed to never use it again.  Flash forward a few weeks and thinking about my desire to write a fully fleshed out review for you guys, I tried it again ready to ice the burn away.  Alas, only a mild burn came.  I used it again after that and basically got no burn at all. What’s up with that?!  All in all, I got no consistent results from the Power Workout Fix but it was, at times, soothing to achy muscles and joints.  It definitely helps with dry skin spots.

So, how do I feel about Nip+Man products overall?  Well, for one the UK-based brand is reasonably priced, but I don’t thinks folks in the US would be jumping at the chance to order grooming products from across the pond.  Secondly, Nip+Man’s target audience (according to their website) is someone who plays sports on the weekends and regularly enjoys a beer after work, so if that sounds like you, you will probably find refuge in the brand’s line up.  But, if you’re more like me, then Nip+Man might not be best fit for you so you may want to look elsewhere.

 

Disclosure: Sample products for review were provided courtesy of Nip+Man.  All opinions listed herein are mine, and mine alone, and have not been created under the influence of Nip+Man or its representatives.

Bison Socks by United by Blue

united by blue bison sock review

 

 

These days the weather seems like it’s as unpredictable as ever, so you can imagine my surprise when I suddenly found myself pulling out my winter coats in the middle of November. Thankfully, I was also graced with some great socks by United by Blue that turned out to be a big help.

I shared an Instagram post of the socks recently and they are even more luxurious than they look. The bison-made socks are super thick, tightly woven and very warm. I appropriately wore my bison socks on one of the coldest days this fall in NYC. It was barely 30 degrees out of nowhere!

I got some more information about bison down and it turns out that it is stronger and softer than the traditional merino socks we are all used to wearing in the cooler months. I won’t bore you the specifics but I will say that these socks are definitely holy grail quality footwear for the cold weather. I’m definitely looking forward to wearing them more and more this upcoming winter.

And if that wasn’t enough to sell you on them, these United by Blue socks are also made from American Bison, created in Iowa and packaged in Wisconsin. That means with every purchase you’re also contributing to the maintenance of American jobs across the country. I happen to think that’s pretty cool, especially when most companies outsource much of their process to other countries internationally. I think it’s pretty cool to support local businesses whenever possible. Somehow it just leaves me feeling a bit more connected to the brand.

In addition, I’ve learned that United By Blue is also a “mission driven company,” which means that for every product sold by United by Blue the business removes one pound of trash from the U.S.’s coastlines and waterways.

In this day and age, I think it means something special for a brand to produce good merchandise, have a commitment to the environment and invest in the people who make their business run so effectively. It’s a great testament to a unique brand and its commitment to stay united by blue.

You can view more products by United by Blue or get your own bison socks (they would make perfect gifts for your friend who toughs out cold winters), at unitedbyblue.com. You can also learn more at their Kickstarter page!

 

Disclosure: Product for review was provided by United by Blue.

Unilever Unveils New Deodorant Innovation

unilever espace

Last week I got the chance to attend a special event in NYC’s espace announcing the launch of Unilever brands new deodorant technology…dry spray antiperspirant.

What exactly is dry deodorant?  Well maybe we should begin with the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant as the terms are often used interchangeably. Plainly put, deodorants technically only offer odor protection while antiperspirants typically offer both wetness AND odor protection.  In my experience spray “deodorants” (as they are commonly called) don’t usually offer wetness protection.  Usually they only smell good and usually there’s way too much fragrance involved, but then again that’s just my personal opinion.

Well, Unilever has developed the technology that makes it possible for your favorite spray on deodorant to become dry almost instantly. That means no more accidental white streaks on your black shirt or wetness just before you head out the door.  It’s definitely an unexpected innovation that I wouldn’t have imagined before.  It turns out Unilever knew better all along!

Degree men dry spray

 I’ve had the chance to use a few of the brands’ dry spray antiperspirants and they really work.  On top of the products’ ability to dry almost instantly, the scents are excellent and well-balanced too.

I should also say that Unilever is a family of brands and in the coming weeks the new dry spray antiperspirant technology will be released across the Unilever family of brands: Axe, Dove (for men and women), and Degree (for men and women).

Dove Men Care dry spray

 

 

 

 

 

To date, I’ve only tried a few a sample of the new product line up: the Degree Adventure and Dove Men Care’s Clean Comfort.  Both are awesome in my opinion.  I’m someone who doesn’t particularly like strong scents and both seem to have managed to find a balance between helping you smell nice without being overwhelming or overpowering.  The Degree Adventure antiperspirant spray has a nice woodsy citrus scent that I think a lot of you will like.  And true to the Dove Men Care line, the Clean Comfort dry spray antiperspirant is exactly as it says…clean and comfortable. From all the experiences I’ve had with Dove Men Care, I have to say they’ve really outdone themselves in offering quality products at a great value.  And with this innovation of dry spray antiperspirant, it looks like Axe is getting a little reboot too.  In fact, the upcoming Axe White Label Dry Spray Antiperspirant line is going to be exceptional and a complete game-changer for the brand if the first scent, Night, is any indication.

Be on the lookout for a whole new line up of dry spray antiperspirants from Axe, Dove, Dove Men Care, Degree and Degree for men in the coming weeks.  You won’t be disappointed.

Product Review: Wen Men Hair & Body Cleansing Conditioner

By now, most of us have seen those late night infomercials of hairstylist Chaz Dean (with his luscious locks) showing off how wonderful his products are for women of every hair type.  Well, now he’s branched out and launched Wen Men!

Launched in September 2014, Wen Men is a hair and boy cleansing conditioner meant to be men’s version of the ultimate all-in-one product.  The product is infused bamboo, amber, and ginger root to offer a gender neutral scent that can be used from head to toe.

Now, we’ve all seen Dean’s infomercials at least once (if not more), and if you’re like me you’ve been a little skeptical about Wen’s ability to provide cleansing and conditioner properties to kinky-textured hair.  Mainly because their model with “coarse hair” has hair like this:

wen coarse hair

 

Seeing this woman’s somewhat loosely coiled hair didn’t leave me, and I’m sure many others, with a  lot of confidence that Wen was a good fit for afro-textured hair.  If you thought so, then you may find yourself increasingly surprised by this review.

Full disclosure, I have never used Wen hair care products before this review and obviously came in with all of my prejudices about who likely it Wen Men was going to work for thick and densely coiled hair such as mine.  Well, it did!

For me, Wen Men quickly became what the natural hair community likes to call a “holy grail” product.  The ingredients list is filled with natural extracts and oils which makes it an especially ideal cleanser for the colder and drier months.

wen men 2

 

The directions on the massive 32 oz. salon quality bottle encourage a minimum of six pumps for short hair (8 for medium and 10 for long) and I pretty much followed those to a t.  When I first tried Wen Men, I had a medium-sized afro and used about 8 pumps which was more than enough.  Luckily for you, I also got a pretty good trim recently and tried with the standard “short” 6 pump amount and found it equally as impressive. And yes, trust me I have super coily, kinky hair and Wen Men slid through my strands like Nancy Kerrigan at the ’94 Olympics.

 

The formula is creamy and luxurious, which is what you might expect from a 32 oz. bottle that retails for $72.  No, it’s not cheap, but man is this stuff good.  The formulation of oils and extracts helps make Wen Men one of the easiest to distribute products I’ve used since I started rocking a fro years ago.  Within a minute or so after application, the product melted into my 4b-ish type hair and it became incredibly easy to finger detangle.  As this is an all-in-one sort of product, I also took the step to “shampoo” my scalp a bit.  To my surprise, Wen Men cleanses AND moisturizes very well.  And trust me, that’s not something you usually get from products that claim to do it all.  This one actually does deliver on its promise!

My one big negative about Wen Men is its ability to be used as a skin cleanser.  Because there’s no real lather factor, I found it hard to take the product seriously as a good “soap”.  The consistency is so thick and lotion-like it’s hard to imagine that it actually cleanses skin. I know that doesn’t make much sense given how I raved how it cleansed my scalp (which IS skin), but I guess I just still expect tons of suds and bubbles from my body washes and hand soaps.  So as a body cleanser, I can’t say that I truly value Wen Men in that way, even though it smells pretty damn good.

Overall, I have to say that I am incredibly surprised by how well Wen Men works.  It just goes to show you how making snap judgments about products (and people) can often be a terribly inaccurate slippery slope. Truth be told, once I run out of Wen Men, I’m going to be incredibly sad and I might even seriously consider making it my go-to hair care all-in-one product.  At this point, it certainly seems worth it.

For more information and to order Wen Men visit ChazDean.com.

 

Disclosure: A complimentary sample of Wen Men was provided for the sole purpose of this review. The opinions listed herein are mine, and mine alone and have not been unduly influenced by any third party.