Category Archives: Product Reviews

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

Product Review: Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Conditioning Co-Wash

CD Hair MilkBack in December I was fortunate enough to attend fellow blogger Chary Jay’s launch party for her new Big Bold & Funky line of natural hair accessories.  Besides having a great time, I got a great swag bag which included today’s product for review, Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Conditioning Co-Wash.

Consistency: For those with thick or dense hair like mine, it can be hard to find a product that has a lot of “slip” (easily glides through strands), but luckily that is one of the best features of this product.  Co-washing with this product is actually good.  I’m almost completely out of the product now and enjoyed using it every time. The consistency and usability of this product is definitely its strongest feature. 4/5

Scent: For  my taste, the product’s scent is really overwhelming.  The co-wash has a very distinct chemical, sweet smell that is just too strong for me.  I can see how some women might find it enjoyable but it’s entirely to fragrant and unnatural for me to really appreciate it. 1/5

Price: The product retails for $18 for 8.5 ounces making it a pretty pricey for a hair product that goes quickly. 2/5

Overall Impression: I thoroughly enjoy using Carol’s Daughter’s Hair Milk Conditioning Co-Wash and I have to say that is the best CD product that I have used, bar none. The consistency makes it easy to use and it does a fairly good job of cleaning hair. Unfortunately, the addition of chemical fragrance (parfum) irritated my scalp leaving me with some periodic itching while using and after using the product. The price is also a pretty significant barrier for me and while it does work fairly well, I can’t say that I find it to be worth the investment. 2.5/5

Product Review: Seabuck Wonders

photo 2Sea buckthorn is an herb that has gained popularity in recent years due to its anti-aging and antioxidant properties.  A little while back the folks at Seabuck Wonders provided some of their skin care products for my two cents.  Read on for my review!

 

Himalayan Sea Buckthorn Facial Cream: Sea buckthorn berry oil claims to have properties that remedy sunburn, dry skin, and acne. I’ve been using this product for a few months now, and while I have no before and after pictures to share, I enjoyed using the facial cream. Thanks to slightly chubby cheeks, I have a perpetual youthful-looking face but thanks to the facial cream, I felt that the condition of my skin improved while using it.  Texture wise, I saw improvement in the smoothness of my skin and it was great after shaving to help reduce inflammation as well.  Those with mild  reddening in the face and cheeks may also want to check in to this product for a little bit of symptom relief.  In my opinion, this natural remedy is a great alternative to harsher chemical treatments.  Plus, it’s very easy to use. 3.5/5

Sea Buckthorn Deep Hydrating Serum: Paired with the facial cream, the deep hydrating serum also works well to even out skin texture and promote moisture retention.  I have to admit that the texture of the product itself is well, strange.  There is a certain slimy and (forgive me) snot-like quality to the serum which is unsettling until you get used to it. After about a few weeks or so using the serum, I settled in and moved on from my texture issues. 3/5

Sea Buckthorn Body Lotion:  The body lotion is the most similar to the facial cream with its thick consistency.  While the lotion works well, I found myself using a lot of it right after the shower which meant that it was the first product I ran out of.  It works well but isn’t quite the home run I was expecting. 2.5/5

Sea Buckthorn Exfoliating Facial Cleanser:  I’ve tried more than my share of face washes and arguably this one is the most gentle one I have ever used.  The consistency is a little slimy like the hydrating serum, unfortunately, so I can understood how some of you might be unsettled by that.  One of the best things about the cleanser, however, is the bright, citrus scent thanks to the orange peel oil.  It’s potent without being overpowering and has helped me kick-start more than a few days when I was feeling a little too slumpy (sleepy + grumpy).  I dig it. 4/5

Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil: While I have had pretty decent success with the previous products in the lineup, I have to admit that I have been more than perplexed by the straight up berry oil.  I used it one morning on my face and found that I looked like an oompa loompa and washed it off immediately.  The oil apparently also works as a dietary supplement but I haven’t quite gotten the courage to ingest it on a regular basis so I’m not sure what to make of it. 1/5

Overall Impression: By using the Seabuck Wonders products, it has become clear to me that sea buckthorn works great topically, as I saw improvement in my skin’s clarity and texture over the couple of months I used the product.  That being said, I think using both the serum and facial cream seems redundant and those on a budget may want to opt for just one or the other, if need be.  The jury is still out on the usefulness of the oil as a dietary supplement but I’ll be sure to update you if I experience any significant results.  Seabuck Wonders products can be purchased online here.

Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Seabuck Wonders for the sole purpose of this review.

Product Review: Art of Shaving Sandalwood Shaving Cream

AOS Sandalwood
Art of Shaving Sandalwood Shaving Cream

The Art of Shaving is one of the big names in the shaving and men’s grooming game which often makes it an ideal  special gift for yourself of someone else. Unfortunately, with products at a higher price point, many gents tend to ask, “Is it worth it?”

Price: At $25 for 5 ounces of product, Art of Shaving creams are well above what most guys are willing to pay for an everyday shaving product.  That being said, I think that if you feel the value isn’t worth your penny, it definitely makes a great “special occasion” product and you can stretch out its use over time.

Consistency:  The shaving cream from Art of Shaving is where the $25 really starts to make sense.  The skin feel is incredibly luxurious and by far the smoothest shaving cream I’ve used so far which is probably largely due to the high level of palmitic acid.  I found the smoothness of it to be unparalleled and it also softens facial hair amazingly well, making for an easy and comfortable shaving experience.

Scent: Art of Shaving has a variety of scents for their shaving creams which make is easy to tailor your shaving experience into a more personal one.  I chose the shaving cream with sandalwood essential oil and I love it.  Sandalwood is an earthy and masculine scent that’s classic and probably won’t ever go out of style.  The scent is warm and smooth and fits perfectly within the rich feel of the shaving cream.

Overall Impression: My experience with Art of Shaving has been a largely positive one but I had to admit that the price of the product itself is a bit of a deterrent. On the other hand, I’ve used the shaving cream quite a bit and it looks like it will last a very long time as a little does go a long way.  If the price is also a deterrent for you then I’d suggest dropping some serious hints around the holidays and your birthday to your loved ones. I honestly can’t imagine that you could use Art of Shaving products and not like them.  That’s just my two cents…happy shaving!

*Disclosure: Product for review was provided courtesy of Art of Shaving.

Product Review: Ouidad Define and Shine Curl Styling Gel-Cream

Define and Shine

I’ve been a fan of (some) Ouidad products and after reading some reviews (specifically by some kinky-haired folks) of the Define and Shine Curl Styling Gel-Cream online I thought I would give it a try.  Here’s what Follica.com’s site says about the product:

Ouidad Moisture Lock Define & Shine Curly Styling Gel Cream softens and defines waves and curls without weighing curls down.

Does it live up to the hype? Well…

Ouidad definitely delivered on the light-ness of the product which is great when you already feel like you have a ton of hair to support anyway (afros produce stronger neck muscles, right?).  But for me, in all other regards, the product failed for me.  But, let’s talk a little more about that consistency first.

The product’s consistency is great.  No, really!  But unfortunately, that’s really the only positive thing I have to offer about this styling gel-cream hybrid. While I do think it is thick enough to distribute through thick, porous hair, I found it unfortunate that it didn’t deliver on that “slip” factor which would make it glide easily through dense  strands. I assume that someone with less kinky hair would probably fare a lot better styling with this product.  On top of that, while my hair was soft after it dried, it just felt like there was a lot of product in my hair.  It gave me this sort of “coated” feeling that I really don’t enjoy.

Overall, this product is just…well, weird. It certainly didn’t deliver on my expectations but it should be noted that the product is originally designed for “wavy-loose curls”.  I knew I was taking a risk by giving the product a try but it turns out that while this product may work for someone else with a similar hair texture to mine, it totally did not work for me.

Disclosure: Product for review was provided courtesy of Ouidad.

Product Review: Suave Naturals Refreshing Waterfall Mist Conditioner

refreshing waterfall mist conditionerI say again and again that a good conditioner is the best kept secret of having awesome hair. Guys, especially, tend to focus on simple routines and 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner products but no benefit can compare to that of a good rinse out conditioner. Today, I bring my review of Suave Naturals Refreshing Waterfall Mist Conditioner, which I found at my local Duane Reade a couple of weeks ago.

Price: For 15 ounces of conditioner, the product retails from anywhere from $1 to up to $2.50 online, making it an accessible option for those with limited budgets or those trying not to splurge on their product-junkie tendencies.

Consistency: Suave doesn’t rock the boat in terms of consistency in their products and with a company as large and established as Suave there’s nothing unexpected when you open up this bottle of conditioner.  It’s fairly thick and easy to use on the whole which makes for easy distribution.  The amount of slip was OK but nothing to write home about.  Overall, there was nothing special (either positive or negative) when it comes to product consistency or ease of use.

Scent: The scent itself isn’t bad per se, but I found it to be a bit strong.  The conditioner succeeds in delivering a “tropical waterfall” scent, so if that’s your thing then you will likely love this product. For my personal taste, it was a bit too strong and soapy/artificial smelling for that to be a positive.

Overall Impression: While Suave Naturals Refreshing Waterfall Mist Conditioner is an inexpensive and readily available option, I don’t think it’s much of a good value.  It has a fair amount of slip, which eases detangling, but the conditioner doesn’t offer much else in terms of benefit.  On top of that, “fragrance” is high up on the ingredient list which irritated my scalp quite a bit.  My verdict is, skip this one if you can or only use it if nothing else is available.  There are far better products around to keep your hair looking and feeling fresh.

Product Review: Mitch Double Hitter 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner

Double Hitter, Mitch by Paul Mitchell
Double Hitter, Mitch by Paul Mitchell

Mitch by Paul Mitchell is a high performance hair care brand designed to give consumers products that really deliver. Months ago I received a full sized bottle of the Double Hitter shampoo/conditioner combo in my Bespoke Post box and I found the results pretty surprising.

If you’ve been reading MANE MAN for some time now, then you probably realize how out of love I am with shampoo. I have a dry scalp and ridiculously dense, highly textured hair so shampooing is second only to the inevitable shaving difficulties that guys go through. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Double Hitter as it has a lot of “slip” which helps make shampoo day a lot easier.

The product also opts for arguably less damaging surfactants (see: cleaning agents) and does not include SLS which irritates my scalp to high hell. It manages to cleanse well while sliding through my strands and helping in the detangling. As another bonus, Double Hitter doesn’t have any heavy fragrances which often causes scalp irritation. Not to mention that it comes in a stylish and modern squeezeable tube that’s easy to use in the shower.

Overall, Double Hitter by Paul Mitchell is likely a great shampoo for a variety of hair types given its moisturizing properties. It’s well worth a try, in my humble opinion, and in all actuality should probably be renamed “Heavy Hitter” cause it really works. I look forward to what else the Mitch line of products has to offer.

Product Review: Exfolimate

Exfolimate
Exfolimate body and skin tools.

With the cooler, and dryer, months among us I tend to have more problem skin due to my increase in use of oils in hair products. That often leaves me searching for the best products to keep my face free and clear.  Luckily, the folks over at Exfolimate asked that I give their tool a try and share my thoughts.  Here goes!

Exfoliamate is a handy exfoliating skin tool that promises smoother, younger skin clear of blockages and ingrown hairs. Each package comes with a face sized exfolimate and a larger tool for overall body use. Each tool is made of a durable plastic with a blunt metal edge used to lift ingrown hairs and remove oil buildup.

Exfoliate is a simple tool and does help remove oil buildup on skin with regular use. Following the directions were easy, however it’s a strange parallel to shaving which often made me feeling like I was shaving twice…which is definitely not a good thing. The benefit is, however, is that is incredibly unlikely that you’ll nick yourself while using exfolimate.

Overall, I think that Exfolimate is an OK product.  In my use of it, I didn’t experience any superb looking skin even with regular use.  My face was definitely not any clearer and shaving not any easier.

Personally, I still prefer an exfoliating scrub/wash which is a lot more enjoyable than spreading a plastic-metal hybird tool over your face and body.  All in all Exfolimate just wasn’t a tool that I would consider to be a helpful part of my daily regimen, despite its cool, unique factor.  I can, however, appreciate the appeal of using a tool versus using a “face scrub”.  It’s a little more akin to a loofah, which I think could really help guys get into the skin care game.  Then again, maybe my thoughts will change…who knows?

Exfolimate retails for $29.99 and more information is avialable online at www.exfolimate.com.

*Disclosure: Product for review was provided courtesy of exfolimate.

Hair Conditioning 101 for Guys

Many guys skip out on hair conditioning as a step and trust me, it was definitely something that I had no knowledge of pre-MANE MAN.  However, with a growing fro you tend to learn a lot.  Hair conditioning is key to keeping healthy, strong and stylish hair so every guy should know the basics.

Assuming you know absolutely nothing about conditioner, you should use conditioner after every shampoo.  Shampoo works to clean your hair and scalp of product buildup and oils while conditioner helps restore your hair’s vitality by replacing the good stuff while hopefully leaving out the bad stuff that causes build up and flakes.

There are three types of hair conditioners that you should know about:

1. Rinse out conditioners:  Rinse out conditioners (or “r/o” or “ro” as you’ll see on hair care blogs) are what most people think of when they say “conditioner”.  Obviously, rinse out conditioners are meant to be used immediately after a shampoo and only left in for a short amount of time (a minute or so) then rinsed out completely.  Not completely rinsing out an “r/o” conditioner can lead to product build up and skin irritation depending on the brand you are using and that product’s ingredients.  As a general rule, you will likely have less problems with natural or organic conditioners due to their simple formulas.  Rinse out with cool water after use and then style as usual.

2. Leave in conditioners:  Leave in conditioners are meant to be used after a rinse out conditioner and left in right before you use your styling products (if any).  Leave ins are meant to remain in the hair to provide moisture and definition so only a little amount is necessary.  A good general rule is to use about a quarter sized amount for thick hair while those with thinner or less coily hair may opt for a little less (like a nickel or dime sized amount).

3. Deep conditioners: Deep conditioners are meant to repair damage from the environment and daily styling.  Deep conditioners are especially crucial for curly/afro haired folks (and dryer hair types) to help give hair that extra tlc.  However, every guy (even non-curly ones) should be using a deep conditioner about once weekly.  Some deep conditioners are short on time and can be left on for only two minutes while others ask for 15-30 minutes of your time.  Ultimately,  you’ll figure out what works for your lifestyle.  After leaving in the product according to package directions you rinse out with cool water and you’re done.  All that’s left is to style your hair as normal. For extra soft and super-healthy hair, add a leave in conditioner after deep conditioning before putting in your styling product.

You’re well on your way to healthier, sexier hair and now that you know the basics to hair conditioning you have to find the perfect products to add to your regimen.  Trust me, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.  Need a place to start? Here is a sample of some product reviews that can help get you started and an infographic “Hair Conditioning 101″ that you can share with others.  Good luck!

Some sample product reviews:

Hair Conditioning 101 for Guys Infographic

Product Review: Ouidad Ultra Nourishing Cleansing Oil

Ouidad
Ouidad Ultra Nourishing Cleansing Oil

Too often shampoos leave my hair and scalp dry as can be and sometimes they don’t even do a good job at cleansing!  Well, I’ve all but almost used an entire bottle of Ouidad Nourishing Cleansing Oil and I’m finally ready to share my thoughts with you.  Read on for the full review!

Brand & Packaging: Aside from some unnecessary gold swirls, I think that Ouidad’s Ultra Nourishing Cleansing Oil is a fairly non-gendered package design. The white and gold color scheme, in my mind, supports the brand’s elevated appeal to serious hair care enthusiasts versus your everyday, over-the-counter shampoo buyer. The point being, the package itself shouldn’t cause you to worry about losing cool points, although it does read as “expensive” so it’s a quick way to show someone you really care about taking care of that mane of yours.

Consistency & Ease of Use: In my opinion, the cleansing oil has a thick, viscous consistency that makes it easy to use. It’s gold/amber in color which makes it unique from other shampoos. But, one of my favorite attributes is that the oil also has a great slippery feeling that makes distribution a breeze even for thick and dense strands. I mean, you have seen first-hand how dense my fro is, so those with similar hair types may also find that the oil spreads fairly well. That tells you those oils are hard at work.

Smell: The cleansing oil has a nice, clean scent that’s unisex and not overpowering. In fact, I think that generally as a brand, Ouidad makes products that are pretty neutral in that regard. The smell definitely conjures up memories of hair salons so you may want to steer clear of anything that smells remotely like that might bother you. That being said, it’s not overpowering and generally a pleasant smell but by no means is it worth writing home about.

Overall Impression: Since discovering the Ouidad Ultra Nourishing Cleansing Oil this summer, it has quickly become a staple for my twice weekly washes due to its mild formula. I advise any curly guy to give the oil a trial run due to its moisturizing properties. Its sulfate free formula is great for the needs of curly and kinky hair due to their difficulty maintaining moisture. It’s also great for those with dryer-than-the-Sahara scalps as it doesn’t strip away all of your scalps natural oils, leaving you feeling both clean AND balanced. Ouidad Ultra Nourishing Cleansing Oil is available online and in Ouidad salons across the country.

Get Better Sleep with Sainthood Herbs Stress & Sleep

School is back in session and for working folks the last few months of the year can be super stressful with the added pressure of holiday planning.  And let’s not forget those of us that experience chronic higher levels of stress at especially tough or challenging jobs.

While there are behavioral things you can do to help reduce stress and get better sleep, herbal and natural remedies can be a good adjunct.  Sainthood Herbs has a good lineup of natural products aimed at a variety of ailments.  The folks over at Sainthood Herbs were kind enough to sponsor this review with a 30 day supply of their Stress & Sleep supplement.

Created to reduce stress and promote restful sleep, the Stress & Sleep supplement packs lemon balm extract, chinese mint, silk tree bark, jujube seed and a host of other natural ingredients.

Designed to be taken once per day (3 caps) with a meal, I found that the supplement was easy to integrate into my daily routine as I already take a multivitamin with dinner daily.  I did find the formula itself to be helpful and pretty soothing. When paired with regular exercise it does help promote better quality sleep.  However, those who think the supplement will help you get more sleep may need to manage your expectation, at least in my opinion.  I didn’t find that I gained any extra time in bed but did feel a difference in the quality of my sleep which helped make Monday mornings a bit more tolerable.

Priced at $28.95 for a thirty-day supply, I think that you might find the supplement to be a good investment, particularly if you often find yourself anxious or under regular stress.  I think it’s most definitely worth a try and could even help improve your daily quality of life.  And, it’s natural and gluten free so what’s not to love?

*Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Sainthood Herbs.