Rachel Marie Walsh looks at the latest beauty launches for men. The highlight? David Beckham’s brand new line, House 99.
David Beckham has entered the men’s grooming market with House 99, a L’Oréal-backed brand with a luxury barbershop vibe.
‘House’ expresses the star’s inclusive aspiration for a line aimed at making the everyman adept with his appearance, supporting him with tips and advice as well as products.
‘99’ is the year he became a husband, began a family, and won the treble.
His 25 “tools” span hair styling, shaving, and face and body care. It is an extensive roll-out for a first season. The barbershop theme inspired the pervasive amber-vetiver scent and is a savvy business angle.
In an October male grooming-market report by Kline, the analyst noted that the barbershop market in Europe and the States grew by more than 10% in 2016, fuelled by beard-wearing trends.
Unsurprisingly, given Beckham’s famous head-game, haircare is the best of it. The Smooth Back Shaping Pomade, €19, is especially good, boosting strands with quinoa protein and providing medium hold with a matte finish.
The House99 fragrance is pleasant but very strong and there is alcohol in all of the leave-on products, even the eye and tattoo moisturisers. There are good buzz-worthy natural extracts — charcoal, spirulina — in the mix too but those aren’t redemptive when perfume and alcohol are both useless to your skin and harmful with regular use.
Better to separate care from scent, buy your cologne bottled, and treat skin with top-notch ingredients alone.
Men often ask about eye and face creams but antioxidants and sun protection are more important for great-looking skin than moisturising daily.
You can always choose more emollient options if your type is extra-dry. Antioxidants do come in moisturisers but are more highly concentrated in serums.
It is sort of an Americano vs espresso situation: In a moisturiser the antioxidant effect is diminished by the more substantial amounts of water and fats in the mix, whereas serums are less or even non-aqueous and deliver more active ingredients per shot.
The purpose of these actives is to repair damage to existent cells and promote the healthy production of the new.
Serums are abundant in women’s skincare but absent from most male-targeted lines.
Still fewer offer a solid basic serum, by which I mean one that provides of substantial amounts of one or two antioxidants established by lots of independent research (for example, vitamins A,C, E, and green tea) while remaining free from non-fatty alcohol (aka SD alcohol, alcohol denat) and fragrance.
Happily, the rise of gender-neutral skincare means there are serums focused entirely on issues. The Ordinary, for example, offers stripped-down formulas entirely devoted to the good stuff.
Its Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, from €6/30ml, works to refine pores, reduce redness, and balance excess oil.
Try applying The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + Hyaluronic Acid Spheres 2%, from €5.88/30ml, for improved brightness and less noticeable lines.
Sun protection is essential in doing all you can topically to keep skin youthful. Non-genetic darkening of the under-eye area, for example, as well as wrinkles and loss of elasticity are all promoted by UV-damage.
You’re exposed whenever you step into daylight, regardless of the weather, so broad-spectrum SPF25 or higher is a must.
Anthony Skincare for Men Day Cream SPF30, €29.85 at thehut.com, is a particularly good option as it is lightweight, irritant free, and rich in Vitamin E, soy, and hyaluronic acid.
Pores and Polish
Large pores and dullness are best tackled with gentle lotion exfoliants.
These remove skin’s surface keratin in a more even, effective way than scrubs. PC4Men 2% BHA Exfoliant, €29.75 at paulaschoice-eu.com, decongests pores, prevents razor burn and leaves skin soft and calm.
Shaving is a form of exfoliation, making it smooth but vulnerable.
Aftershave balms and lotions are moisturisers by other names and tough to recommend.
From those that promise to soothe to those that “energise” (read: stimulate redness using ingredients that make your face cold or tingly), there’s none I’d recommend above the advised serum and/or SPF (depending on time of shave), especially as common occlusives like mineral oil risk pimples or keratosis pilaris bumps where the follicle is blocked with a mix of trapped oil and dead cells.
Moisturising and soothing shave products leave skin conditioned enough to go without aftercare.
Lab Series’ new The Grooming Oil, €30, available online from April 19 and in stores May 15 (left), is a triple-blend of sea buckthorn, jojoba, and sweet almond oils that you shake up to either shave or treat your beard.
It goes on transparent, allowing for a more precise, well-cushioned shave.
The formula contains additional vitamins and water-binding ingredients and is irritant-free.
Men wearing a little foundation at work is no news at this point, but adoption still has its challenges.
Colour-matching, while time-consuming, is key to achieving the best look possible without highlighting the cosmetic. John F Kennedy did not look more presidential than Richard Nixon in the 1960 election debate because he wore wore sweat-curbing makeup. Nixon elevated his look by trying to hide his own evening shadow with cake-y tan makeup (Max Factor’s Lazy Shave), which looked super-odd streaked down fair skin.
More recently, when George Osborne and Tony Blair shared a stage at a summit on education in Dubai last month, it was not age that made their looks contrast so much as Blair’s yellow-toned makeup (a rare stumble in his solid grooming record).
Foundation in moderation can neutralise redness and make you look well-rested but a clashing shade is distracting. Male-specific foundation (as distinct from tint, tan or cover-up) exists but colour and undertone limitations make the unisex route more appealing.
CoverFX is the nonpareil of imperceptible makeup. Originally conceived to conceal burns, vitiligo and other sensitive skin issues without trace, their complexion products always look authentic. CoverFX Power Play Foundation, €42.50, is especially skin-like texture-wise and very lightweight.
It has a natural, sweat-proof matte finish and comes in 40 full-cover shades. Getting swatched at a counter (CoverFX is available at Arnotts, Harvey Nichols and SpaceNK) is ideal but the brand website offers both live advice and shade samples to help find the shade that is truly you.