Category Archives: Product Reviews

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

My Only New Year’s Resolution – No More Wrinkles!

Happy new year everyone!  I hope that you all had a great holiday season. Welcome to 2017!

I know that so many of us embrace resolutions at the beginning of each year but I have to be honest and say that I’ve focused less and less on resolutions by the time New Year’s Day rolls around. To be honest, the only one I entertain is the idea that I keep pushing myself towards my personal and professional goals everyday.

Aside from that, looking professional and put together is an important step as a working professional. Here’s the thing though, I HATE ironing and preparing clothes for work. I’m the kind of guy who likes to get up, throw on a shirt and pants (and funky socks) and call it a day. I try to design my closet so that anything goes with well, anything.  But there are some days (more often than not) that I don’t hang or fold clothes right out of the dryer which means I’m left with wrinkly shirts and that’s not cool.

I was fortuitous enough to receive some samples of Downy Wrinkle Releaser which actually helps with this.  Here’s the rundown of some of my pros and cons of the product:

Cons

  • It has a sticky texture that will make you feel a little coated if the products lands on your hand or any other surface in your home. A mirror of mine has fallen prey to the residue a few times.
  • Unfortunately, this is a product that you have to plan to use. Unlike ironing, you have to spray down your shirt or clothing ahead of time to give it time to adequately dry, unlike ironing which takes 10 minutes per outfit (approximately). This means you may have to plan ahead of time, or prepare the night before, in order to have your clothes ready for the next day.

Pros

  • It works!  I took some pictures to show you but I have to say that it’s difficult to capture the progress via camera.  What I can tell you is that I felt infinitely more comfortable wearing an unironed oxford shirt when I used Downy Wrinkle Releaser. It definitely smooths out wrinkles pretty well if you follow the instructions.
  • It’s convenient for multi-taskers. I find that I always have 300 hundred things on my mind (it seems) so being able to spray down a shirt or pants and let it air dry for a little while makes good sense to me. In the morning, this leaves me time to shower or make coffee. At night, this means I can prep for the next day while doing paperwork or other things (like binge-watching Sense8!).
  • Along with the at-home bottle version, there is also a travel sized spray bottle that…travels well.  I also gave a few away as stocking stuffers for Christmas. You’d be surprised by how much people hate ironing, or maybe not. When I asked a friend for follow-up if she had used it her response was, “I have. IT WORKS!”  So there you go.
Would you try out a spray like this so you didn’t have to iron everyday?

 

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

Winter Skin Care Secrets with Dr. Brian Zelickson

It’s almost winter time which means it’s time to break out those humidifiers and extra thick lotions to take good care of your skin. Personally, I always struggle during the winter months because the air is so dry. My already dry scalp continues to suffer and if I forget to lotion right out of the shower, I get a BAD case of the itchies which is terrible for your skin.

Most of us spend winters covered up, from head to toe. As a New Yorker, it’s something I’m intimately familiar with.  Sometimes it takes 10 minutes just to gear up with a scarf, gloves, coat and hat. It’s rough!

I always look for advice from the experts on how to practice the best grooming possible, because we all need help, right?  I was able to speak with Dr. Brian Zelickson via email about some of his winter skin care tips for men. Here are some helpful tips and product recommendations that I think will help you out this winter!

Tip 1

Nothing speeds up the aging process like excess sun exposure. It’s important to wear an SPF during the winter, even when the sun isn’t as noticeable. I recommend an SPF of at least 30.

Product Recommendation: MD Complete Anti-Aging Youthful Skin Sun Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 50

Tip 2

Apply a body moisturizer when skin is still slightly damp to help seal in moisture, and avoid products with dyes and scents that can aggravate skin.

Product Recommendation: Curél Itch Defense Lotion

Tip 3

Wash your face at night, so you cleanse all of the oils and dirt from the day. In the morning, simply rinse with water and buff with a gentle cloth. If you have issues with acne, try a gentle cleanser with Salicylic Acid.

Product Recommendation: MD Complete Skin Clearing Clarifying Cleanser

Tip 4

If your skin is constantly dry, add a product that is formulated with Hyaluronic Acid. It’s naturally found in the body, and is a moisture-binding ingredient that plumps skin with hydration.

Product Recommendation: Dermarché Labs Fullfill

What are your favorite products to use during winter? Let’s share some recommendations in the comment section below!

 

Dr. Brian Zelickson is an internationally renowned board-certified dermatologist who graduated from the Mayo Clinic. He is a pioneer in laser medicine and surgery. He is also a faculty member at the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Dermatology and a member of American Academy of Dermatology & American Dermatologic Association.

3 Steps to Stache Care + A Winner!

Thank you to those who entered the Harry’s Truman Shave Set Giveaway and CONGRATULATIONS Ignaldo on your win!  Please check your email to redeem your prize!

As it is the month of Movember, and so many of us are trying to take extra special care of our staches this month, I collaborated with Harry’s to bring you a cool infographic on healthy stache care.

Harry’s is also donating $1 from the sale of each Truman Set and Handle up to $50,000 on Harrys.com for the next two weeks to the Movember Foundation to support men’s health initiatives. So even if you didn’t win you can purchase your own set and know that you’re contributing to a worthwhile cause!

Check out the infographic below!

 

3 steps to stache care harrys manemanblog

SHHH! My Summertime Grooming Secret

Everyone has a secret now and then, right?

One day when I was walking down the streets of NYC, I walked past a salon from which two women were standing outside with a small bottle asking women if they could spray them. I found this to be an incredibly odd thing to do and avoided their side of the street altogether. I mean, who sprays strangers’ faces in the streets?!  NYC is weird but that was a little too weird for me. They also weren’t targeting men at all which made me think that it was something only reserved for the ladies…go figure.

Fast forward to a few weeks later when I received a package from the folks at Wen asking me to try out their replenishing treatment mist line up.  My first thought? “WHAT IS THIS?!”

As it turns out, it was just what those strange women were spraying by female passersby only a few weeks prior on the street. It was then that I was introduced to the mid day spritz.

My personal experience with Wen products has been fantastic so I was all too eager to give the mists a chance even though I found the concept strange.  It turns out the mists would be my favorite new grooming find this summer. Let me tell you why…

It’s been hot and humid a lot in this city. This summer I often found myself sweating excessively and trying to get my hair and skin to recover from all the sun exposure. It doesn’t help that I spent a lot time at the beach too.  But hey, isn’t that what summer is for?

Soon I found that whenever I went to the beach I had a replenishing mist bottle with me. The sprays are meant to bring hair, face and body much-needed hydration and life. Each bottle has a blend of amino acids, botanicals and herbs to help soothe and rejuvenate dry or parched skin.  In essence, the perfect summer grooming product.

I was fortunate enough to try out three different varieties: 319 Fragrance Free Ultra Nourishing Replenishing Treatment Mist, Mandarin Italian Fig Restorative Replenishing Treatment Mist and 613 Lemon Rosemary Vanilla Bean Ultra Nourishing Replenishing Treatment Mist (my favorite scent).

In short, I loved them all. The midday refresh was a welcome prize and turned into an inevitable treat during my summer days.  The bottles came to the beach with me along with my latest book and beach towel. The mists traveled with me on vacation to San Diego when it seems like all I did was soak up the sun.

I know some gents will balk at the idea of using a replenishing mist, but as I’ve often learned I’m continuously better for stepping outside of my comfort zone when it comes to grooming. These mists smell good and more importantly, FEEL good.  So I ask, why not give it a try?

To learn more about these treatment mists, you can visit the Wen by Chaz Dean site.

Disclosure: Complimentary product 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.

 

Product Review: 7th Heaven Face Masks for Men

Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of 7th Heaven.

Men’s skin has special needs. Larger pores allow for more sweating and buildup than women’s skin. But how many of us actually take the time to care enough to counteract that?

Over the past several years, I’ve been much more diligent about skin care. Part of the reason is vanity but another part of this is about promoting an overall sense of wellness.  Skin care is self care, I say.

In an effort to use whatever skin care products I can get my hands on, I recently had the opportunity to try 7th Heaven’s skin masks for men. Here’s that I thought!

7th heaven men dead sea peel off mask review

Deep Pore Cleansing Peel Off Mask

Enriched with sea salt, this mask is designed to deeply cleanse the skin and help deliver a clean and smooth complexion. The first step to any mask, ironically is to start with a clean face. I’ve been using an oil free cleanser for my routine which I find keeps my skin pretty clear.  After cleansing, I then applied the mask and let it set for 15-20 minutes per package instructions. After applying I immediately felt some stinging/burning sensation that dissipated after a few minutes. It wasn’t painful but definitely noticeable. In the spirit of discovery, I forged ahead and had no negative effects otherwise. I think the reaction was a combination of the powerful spearmint, my already very sensitive skin, and a lot of recent (and significant sun exposure). Since then, I haven’t experienced any negative effects.

After a few minutes of a much nicer (and calmer) cooling sensation, I peeled off the mask like some horror movie monster, as opposed to the traditional method of washing it off. This is actually one of the best things about this mask…easy clean up!  After 20 minutes you just peel off the mask and you’re good to go. It left my skin feeling refreshed and cool.  The smoothness and moisture was on point.

Deep Sea Rescue Mud Masque

I also had the opportunity to try out the Deep Sea Rescue Mud Masque, which as you might imagine, is a bit messier than it’s peel off counterpart.  This is a more traditional product as far as masks are concerned. The rest time for this product is shorter, at 10-15 minutes, which makes it slightly less time intensive. I didn’t mind either way, as I tried it at the end of a day while catching up on some much needed Netflix.

The mud sea masque doesn’t have the same medicated/tingly feeling that the spearmint mask offers, but those familiar with face masks will recognize the feeling of your skin firming underneath the mask’s surface.  My skin felt equally as smooth nourished after this mask, even though the mess of it is a little annoying as it relates to clean up.

If I HAD to pick one over the other that I prefer, I’m not sure which I feel like is a better option. Truth is, they both work well and come housed in individual use packets, which I think is convenient and allows you to purchase just the amount that you need. At around $2 a pop, I think these masks are a GREAT investment for a once weekly part of your skin care routine. I think they’re a great way to balance otherwise unruly or unnourished skin.

To learn more about these masks, and other offerings, you can visit the 7th Heaven website.

 

Hair Loss Myths & Facts with Hair Restoration Expert Dr. Alan Bauman

It is estimated that men and women spend more than $3.5 billion a year in an attempt to treat their hair loss. That’s a lot of money!

Hair loss is a big concern for a lot of men and what has been thought of as a traditionally male issue has seen an increase in women seeking out hair restoration procedures as well.

August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month.  To make sure that you have the information you need to battle hair loss, I recently spoke with Dr. Alan Bauman, a board-certified hair restoration physician, treatment pioneer and member of the prestigious Pantene Hair Research Institute. He regularly trains other doctors in treatment techniques and is ‘recommended’ by the American Hair Loss Association.

Myths and misconceptions continue to make it harder for the estimated 80 million U.S. men and women with hair loss to get the right kind of help.

Here are some myths and facts to help you be informed about hair loss:

“Cutting or shaving your hair make it grow back thicker.”

MYTH! – Hair fibers are ‘dead’ tissue. Your follicle doesn’t know when you cut your hair short. It is an illusion. When hair is shorter is appears to grow faster because the added length over time is in greater proportion to the total length.  [i.e., adding 1-inch when the hair is 5-inches “looks” like faster growth than adding 1-inch to 10-inches.]

“Higher testosterone is linked to hair loss.”
MYTH! – It’s not the amount of testosterone, actually.  What you inherit is the sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone or DHT (a breakdown product of testosterone) that can cause hair loss in men and some women.  It is true that if you are a male and you use testosterone, this gets converted into DHT and can accelerate hair loss.
“Hair loss comes from the mother’s side.”
 MYTH! – Baldness is inherited, but it’s a combination of genes passed on from both the mother’s and father’s side of the family. Anyone who has close relatives with androgenetic alopecia (i.e., male- or female-pattern hair loss) – on either side of the family – is at a higher risk of developing the condition later in life. However, new genetic tests, like the HairDX Genetic Test for Hair Loss, can accurately predict a man or woman’s likelihood of losing hair as they age.
“Medications can cause hair loss.”
FACT! (kind of) – While medication alone might not be enough to cause hair loss for someone who isn’t genetically predisposed to hair loss – it can speed up the process for someone who is genetically susceptible. Various medications, such as certain anti-depressants and birth control pills, list hair loss among the possible side effects. Hair loss is a rare side effect, but must be taken seriously.
“You can grow back dead follicles.”
MYTH! – Medications, laser therapy, PRP, nutritionals, etc. can help stimulate hair follicles grow thicker healthier hair, but once the follicle is dead and gone, the only option for regrowth in that area is a hair transplant.
“Wearing a hat can make you go bald.”
 MYTH! – This statement is completely 100% bogus and false in so many ways, and is a great example of the myths that continue to be perpetuated by the uneducated. Hair follicles are mini-organs located under the skin which produce hair fibers. Over time, they naturally cycle on and cycle off—producing hair for years, then degenerating/resting for ~90 days, then regenerating and the cycle begins again. While you may see hair loss suffers wearing hats to cover bald spots or re-frame their face in a youthful way, hats DO NOT and CANNOT cause male pattern hair loss!
“Once hair loss becomes visible it is time to seek treatment.”
MYTH! – How early you spot your thinning hair determines how much hair you save. If you wait until the hair loss is visible to the naked eye, you’re too late – 50 percent is already gone! The best tool in fighting hair loss is early detection, making it essential for patients to seek the advice of a certified Hair Restoration Physician as soon as possible.

Dr Alan Bauman

Alan J. Bauman, M.D. is a board-certified hair restoration physician, treatment pioneer and member of the prestigious Pantene Hair Research Institute.  You can learn more about his practice and hair restoration services at baumanmedical.com.

Product Review: Victory Shampoo

When I have a really good hair day and the fro is looking moisturized and perfectly coiffed “VICTORY!” is one word that comes to mind. It’s only appropriate that I share with you my thoughts on some of the products from Victory hair care.  Continue reading for my review!

I have long had a love/hate relationship with shampoo. I LOVE the feeling of clean hair and a clean scalp but hate how many shampoos leave my hair feeling stripped of all its luster and moisture. Everyone knows that a straw like fro is not a happy fro. I’m always skittish when it comes to trying out a new shampoo for that reason.  Today, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts and reactions on Victory’s line up of shampoo products.

Generally speaking, I find that 2 in 1 shampoo products work relatively well. I generally use them more like a traditional shampoo. Fortunately for all of us, companies have become more knowledgable about how harmful shampoo can be to your hair (for the reasoning mentioned above) and have made adjustments in their formulations to minimize bad effects.

2 in 1 products can have a great benefit of cleaning and nurturing your hair and scalp. That being said, I would not use this kind of product as the end all be all in my hair care routine.  2 in 1 products are great as a shampoo substitute but not for both a shampoo AND conditioner regimen.  At least not on my hair. I learned that the hard way.

Now on to Victory…the folks at Victory sent me some product to try. I was able to try the following:

  • Hydrate & Recover
  • 2-in-1 Triple Threat
  • 2-in-1 Superior Clean
  • 2-in-1 Legendary for Men

The first product I used was the mango-scented 2 in 1 (Triple Threat) which I really enjoyed. It has a nice scent that isn’t overpowering. That being said, it should be noted that Victory products come packed  with phytherioone zinc to help with scalp care and prevent dryness and dandruff so there is a slight-chemical smell.

I tried a few different varieties of the product and I personally didn’t find them different enough to differentiate effectively, with the exception of Hydrate & Recover which isn’t a 2-in-1 at all and only a shampoo.

Overall, I experienced mixed results. There were some days when my hair loved the shampoo and other days when it felt dry and brittle after shampooing. It should be noted that this is also impacted by the heat here in NYC and my time outside which varies from day to day.  With sweating and varied water intake, these are factors to consider in the variability of my results.

Overall, though, I think that there will certainly be folks out there who can appreciate Victory’s offerings. As I don’t frequently suffer with dandruff, I can’t speak to how effective these products are at preventing or minimizing it. For those with thinner hair types and textures, I imagine that it could work really well as a 2-in-1, but for those with thick, dense hair like mine, Victory is best used as you would a normal shampoo…as a precursor to a traditional conditioner. You will still reap the benefits of 2-in-1 factor but it’s important to manage your expectations, particularly if you have very dense, coily hair like mine.

Victory products are available at WalMart stores. You can learn more about Victory hair care at startwithvictory.com.
Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Victory for the purpose of this review. 

Product Review: Oyin Handmade

Oyin handmade has been on my radar for a long time now. The natural hair care and body brand offers a variety of natural products for hair and body care. I  finally took the plunge and purchased some of their products so today I’m sharing with you my thoughts.

Let me start by saying that I am in product junkie recovery. I’ve done a lot better over the past several months, mostly because I’ve decided not to spend all of my discretionary income on grooming products. So, it’s gotten better. With that in mind, I’ve been a lot more careful about my spending habits. When I decided to try out Oyin products I made the conscious effort to try out their mini samples. I’ve had each of them for several weeks now so I feel like I’m fully informed about how these products have worked for me…and how they may or may not work for you.

Honey Wash: I was pleasantly surprised this shampoo worked as well as it did. I’ve used other honey based shampoos before (OK, maybe just one that I can recall) and this one was pretty good. I got a surprisingly helpful amount of slip which is great for thick, dense hair like mine (4b-cish, if you subscribe that sort of thing). My only real criticism is that it’s a little thinner than I would like but perhaps that works in my hair’s favor more than I know.

Honey Hemp Conditioner: While I’m usually harsher on shampoo products (because they can be SO drying), I’m actually feeling very critical of the Honey Hemp Conditioner. It worked OK, smelled good but it just didn’t live up to my high expectations. It’s not something that I would personally consider repurchasing.

Frank Juice: Frank Juice is a hair spritz designed to give thirsty hair a little bit of extra life. I’ve used this several different ways. I’ve used it as a second day refresher. In this way, it works fine, but it’s nothing to write home about in my opinion. I’ve never had great results with this kind of product to be honest. I’ve used it as a late day refresher for thirsty hair and recently took it to the beach to help my hair get a little extra protection and r&r. The sun can really dry out your hair and scalp when you’re baking with no cloud cover! All that being said, it’s not a wonder product but it’s cool for what it is, I suppose. This one’s not high on my repurchase list but I’m curious about the other scents available.

Shine & Define: I’m always looking for that one magical product that will give me just enough definition and control so that my fro doesn’t look like it’s all over the place. Unfortunately shine & define does not get me there. It moisturized my hair just fine but had a tacky quality on my hair which makes me think that it’s not easily absorbed. I definitely won’t be re-purchasing this one.

Boing!:  I’ve heard A LOT about boing! So much that I really researched whether this would be a good product for me or not. I have to say that is, by far, my favorite Oyin product. This formula worked really well for me as an all in one conditioner and styler. I just raked it through wet hair at the end of my shower and I always ended up with touchable, yet softly defined coils. I love it. The smell ain’t too shabby either. I WILL absolutely be buying this product again…and the full-sized tub at that.

Burnt Sugar Pomade: I’m not a huge fan of pomades as sometimes they can be quite greasy and just using them can help my face break out with a little extra acne  and I don’t have time for that.  I will say this about burnt sugar pomade though, it works really well. I think that the formula, while a little oily/greasy, is great for my hair. It helps provide structure and control and I think that many people could use this with good results. Whether you put in twists, have waves or just need to tame your fro’s ends, this is a pretty safe bet. I like the scent but it is potent. It smells very sugary, without a doubt, but the burnt sugar smell reminds me of fancy desserts and I can’t find much fault in that. The name really fits on this one.

All in all, I would say that my first run with Oyin Handmade was a mixed bag. While Shine & Define and the Honey Hemp Conditioner left a lot to be desired, Boing! and Burnt Sugar Pomade are stand outs. As far as Frank Juice goes, I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it but I think I kind of like it.

Until next time!

Brown Folks Do Get Sunburn!

It’s summer and that means that a lot of us are going to spend more and more time out in the sun having a good time at the beach and enjoying some sinfully delicious foods at the various cookouts we have lined up for the summer.  But, we all need to realize that brown folks do get sunburn!

It’s not OK to be out in the sun without sunblock. It’s simply an unnecessary risk to take. While black and brown folks don’t make up a statistically large portion of those who get skin cancer, that doesn’t mean that you should just opt out and be irresponsible with your skin care altogether. And I don’t know about you, but I want to look like I’m 25 well into my 40s. I know #Blackdontcrack but I ain’t trying to test that theory either!

You can also get sunburn. I learned the hard way several years ago back in college when I thought I was too cool for sunblock and spent several hours out in the Florida sun (Spring Break!).  My first experience with sunburn was not cute.  Every so often, I fail to adequately prepare and I learn that lesson all over again. I’m actually dealing with some burn right now….

Black and brown people do have more natural protection against the sun (thanks melanin!) BUT that doesn’t mean that you can’t get burned. In the event that you do, check out my collection of sunburn remedies to help you keep it together this summer.

So opt for the umbrellas, use sunblock regularly (and reapply…my mistake!) and wear big hats if you need. Here are some backup remedies just in case you’re forgetful like me and need to heal your sunburn.

Check out 9 Ways to Beat Sun Burn

by Jor-El at Mode

Recommended reading: Here’s What People of Color Need to Know About Sunburn & Skin Cancer via Buzzfeed

Product Review: Urban Exec Political Party Socks

Let’s be honest, this election season in BANANAS! The campaign season is entirely too long and folks, we’ve still got a LONG way to go.  If you’re politically minded and want to show off your party pride for the rest of this campaign season, I think that you may be interested in some pretty cool offerings via Urban Exec Socks.

Recently, the folks over at Urban Execs sent me a cool pair of their Political Party Socks. As I fall on the more liberal side of the political spectrum, I chose the Democratic Party Socks. What makes them democratic you ask?  They come complete with little blue donkeys, a symbol for the democratic party.

Urban Exec Socks are a cool, and subtle, way to honor your political party affiliation (or your general love of America).  But, not only do they have these themed socks, but they have an array of stylish socks for everyday wear as well. I find them to be pretty comfortable and perfectly thick/thin. They’re of pretty good quality and you definitely pay for that at around $21-22 bucks per pair.

I’ll definitely be wearing what I like to call my “donkey socks” again, but perhaps elephants are more your speed.  Either way, check out Urban Exec Socks, I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking. And if you’re buying for dad, these socks would make a great Father’s Day gift and were included as a bonus pick in my recent collection 19 Incredible Gifts for Dad on Father’s Day.

 

Disclosure: Sample products for review were provided courtesy of Urban Exec Socks.