Category Archives: Product Reviews

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

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.

Product Review: Original Moxie

photo 1
Original Moxie hair care.

OM is a brand that I have had my eyes on for some time but unfortunately it’s one that has slipped through the cracks among the plethora of brands available for hair styling and maintenance. But when Original Moxie asked me to review their products for MANE MAN I was all too happy to oblige.

Formulated for naturally dry as curly hair, Original Moxie  boasts a slew of botanicals and natural oils. And the great thing is, they all smell great.  Read on for the product breakdown below…

Get Clean No-Foam Shampoo: if you read MANE MAN before then you probably know how much I struggle with finding the perfect shampoo (and how much I dislike most of them). I often find them too harsh and drying to my already Sahara-like scalp but the OM version was anything but. As a matter of fact, it lacked the cleaning power I am comfortable with and didn’t seem to penetrate my hair in the way that I expected. I spoke to owner and founder Rachel B and she stated that my lackluster experience is likely due to my hair’s medium to low porosity.

Intense Quench Deep Conditioner: I’m sad to say that this deep conditioner, while great smelling, also offered very little benefit to my mane in several trials with the product. The amount of slip was OK, but it was nothing to write home about.  unfortunately, I think the main culprit again is a porosity issue with my hair basically unable to absorb the product’s formulation to add any real benefit.

Everyday Leave-In Detangling Conditioner: Unfortunately, I found the Everyday Leave-In to be about as successful as the deep conditioner and that’ s not saying a lot.  My basically just refused to absorb the product at all which made it basically useless in detangling sessions. It just did not work for me.  Again, maybe porosity is to blame here too.

Luxe Locks:  I fared far better with OM’s styling products which I found surprising given the difficulties with the cleansing and conditioning products.  The curl cream worked pretty well and had a smooth and silky texture which made it great to smooth and/or take in my mane.  It offered little hold but a fair amount of moisture and it smelled pretty decadent too. The scent was not too strong but just strong enough to smell vaguely like some delicious bakery pastry.  Obviously guys, and gals, offended by this sort of scent should probably steer clear.

Flax Seed Gel: it’s almost unfair to review the styling gel because I’ve had years of buildup before trying a flax-seed based gel.  This was my first!  Well, it turned out pretty well and the gel was very moisturizing and didn’t leave me with that trademark gel crunch that a lot of us have grown accustomed to. The scent is pretty inoffensive and it comes in an 8 ounce squeeze bottle (as opposed to a tub) which makes getting out just the right amount a little easier.

Twist Mist Lightweight Shine Oil: Packing what is, by far, my favorite scent in the line up the finishing oil is a light a fragrant emollient that manages to be just the perfect consistency and weight for my mane. I’ve used it in several ways from finishing with it after just using a leave in conditioner or after packing on styling gel and Luxe Locks. Every time I was pleased how the oil performed because it always left my hair feeling SUPER soft and even if you don’t want others throwing their hands in your mane, you still want to be able to reach up yourself and touch super soft, pillowy hair. Mission accomplished.

Scalp Therapy: I don’t see how anyone with a dry scalp could not like OM’s Scalp Therapy.  A combination of cypress, andiroba oil and a bunch of other stellar ingredients, I found the scalp to actually be therapeutic!  The blend of botanical was great for my scalp leaving it feeling clean and invigorated after each use.  The handy nozzle makes it easy to apply to even thick and dense afro textured hair like me.  It also has a great soothing or calming effect which I love. I would definitely spend my own money repurchasing this for those weekly scalp massages. It really is a great product.

Overall Impression: While not geared, or even marketed, to the male population OM products offer a range of products for a variety of curly to kinky haired guys. As it stands, those who fall on the medium to low porosity spectrum might want to steer clear from the cleansing and conditioning agents and opt for styling products instead. My personal favorite would probably have to be the hair oil that left my hair feeling especially supple and touchable.

*Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Original Moxie LLC.

Product Review: Uomo by Ermenegildo Zegna

Uomo 1
Uomo by Ermenegildo Zegna

Disclosure: Samples for review were provided courtesy of Ermenegildo Zegna.

For many years cologne was not my thing.  I find myself often overwhelmed by scents no matter how pleasant I find them, therefore I was pretty skeptical that I would actually even like Uomo by Ermenegildo Zegna.

With refreshing bergamot (citrus) notes and cedarwood the cologne is distinctly masculine and potent in the best way.  In my personal opinion, the scent has a depth and sophistication that sends the “I’m on my grown man” message without being too in your face.  This is definitely not your little brother’s cologne.

Given the scent’s sophisticated depth it’s definitely not to be worn on an everyday basis, at least not in my opinion. For me Uomo deserves something a little more special like a birthday gathering, big night out on the town or an especially hot date.   And at retail price of $64 for 50 ml, I find it reasonably priced and well worth the cost.

Overall,  Uomo has a refreshing quality with a sense of rooted masculine depth that makes it a great choice for young gents as well as more mature and sophisticated guys looking for a special signature scent. The Uomo collection also offers hair and body wash, shave balm and deodorant so you can load up on it all if you so desire.  Any of which would also make an excellent gift.  This is what modern masculinity smells like and I kinda dig it.

Product Review: Axe Black Chill Shaving and Grooming

 Axe

*Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Axe.

 Designed to help you re-discover you inner cool, the Axe Black Chill line of products features cedar, sandalwood and minty notes and offers head-to-toe products to keep you smelling (and looking) your best.

The Black Chill Daily Clean Shampoo is an effective cleanser, in my opinion, but was very harsh and drying on my sensitive scalp.  SLS (Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate) is the culprit here as it is in many shampoos.  This is the one thing that also kept me from liking the Apollo 2-in-1 Cleanser as well.  The same can be said for the Total Fresh Head-to-Toe Clean 3 in 1 Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash.  On a positive note, I found that they all smelled pretty good.

I personally like the smell of the Black Chill line and the Revitalizing Shower Gel smells great and lingers a while after showering which is great.  When coupled with the Black Chill Deodorant Stick, the combo makes for a nice (and lasting) scent, making cologne completely unnecessary.  In addition, the deodorant stick doesn’t have aluminum, an ingredient well-known to cause skin irritation and long suspected to contribute to cancer development (with conflicting results).

I had a much  better experience with the face and shaving products, surprisingly enough. As I grew out of my teens and into full-fledged adulthood, I have all but given up on “drug-store” shaving products but the Axe team has clearly been working hard to give young guys efficient and well valued products.

Axe Chilled Face Wash is a pretty solid daily wash even though it does list SLS as a primary ingredient.  Apparently, my face is a bit more forgiving than my sensitive scalp, so no irritation or dryness there thankfully. It’s good enough to use daily but has a pretty strong fragrance that was honestly a little too powerful for my taste, especially with my being used to unscented (or minimally scented) products (#sensitiveskinproblems). That being said, it caused no redness or irritation to my face, at least not any that gained my attention anyway.

Axe’s Chilled Shave Gel is also heavily scented and is a pretty standard shaving gel.  Given the price, I was pleasantly surprised to see Sunflower Seed Oil, Grape Seed Extract and Jojoba Seed Oil among the list of ingredients. Despite that, I didn’t find that the formula provided a great amount of moisture or “slickness” to my shaves which is really important to me when trying to avoid those stubborn nicks that happen from time to time.

My favorite among the face products was the Face Hydrator and Post-Shave Gel which offered a refreshing end to my morning grooming routine.  It’s also great to use at bedtime as well, but be weary of the powerful scent here too.  The formula provides a fair amount of moisture but also has a lot of fragrance.  While using it you should be careful to avoid getting too close to your eyes as it can cause redness and irritation. A little goes a very long way to be sure to only use the smallest pump to get the right amount for each use.

The big (and pleasant) surprise of all the products I recently tried from Axe was the Reset Waterless Foam Shampoo.  I have always been pretty mystified by water-less shampoos mostly because I didn’t think they could work well for thick, afro-textured hair, but what I found was that Reset offers a good way to rejuvenate otherwise dull hair on days two or three post-wash.  It’s a good option for those trying to avoid completely re-washing their hair if you have little time to spare.  Reset also has a pretty pleasant and inoffensive smell so it’s perfect to use for those days when you just roll out of bed to meet your friends for brunch the next morning.

Overall, I would say that I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of products that Axe is bringing to the table.  I think young gents out there would be wise to use products like the Chilled Shave Gel that have botanical ingredients as well as those created in the lab.  The Face Hydrator and Post-Shave Gel is probably my personal favorite out of all the line up despite its powerful scent.  Unfortunately, the shampoos really were too harsh for my scalp and I won’t be using them again for that, but the good news is that they work well as body-washes so needless to say I’m stocked for a while!  All in all, these products are a pretty good value and are solid options for younger gents while guys in their late 20s and beyond may want to opt for cleaner (and calmer scents) to avoid combating with their favorite signature cologne. Axe products are readily available at most drug stores, pharmacies and big name chain grab-all stores (Walmart, Target, etc.).

 *Disclosure: Products for review were provided courtesy of Axe.