When I started off as a beauty journo we were in our early stages of dating and I started to throw products Damien’s way. He took to being my grooming guinea pig like a duck to water and was soon requesting “oil-free sunscreens” and “anti-redness concealers”. Nearly two decades on and it’s a constant battle as we jostle for space in the bathroom cabinet. I fully accept that I’ve created this monster and I feel lucky that I’m able to continue to cater to his whims. As we prepared for this Father’s Day story we had a ball testing all the latest men’s fragrances and while there were some frontrunners (Carven Paris-La Havane and Givenchy Gentleman), it was a boutique local fragrance house Goldfield & Banks that stole his heart. The luxury fragrance house has only eight fragrances, all of which are inspired by different places around Australia. Their bestseller Pacific Rock Moss is inspired by the South Coast of NSW and Damien had an immediate emotional connection to it. “It reminds me of the fresh salty coastline of Gerringong, where we were married.” Awwww. He’ll keep.
Other things that took his fancy? Evo Box O’ Bollox is a smooth paste that has a good strong hold for his short textured ‘do. A heated razor from Gillette, which purports to give you the experience of a hot towel shave with every stroke. He said he liked it (especially the little stand it comes with) but would like it even more if it “vibrated as well.” See? Total grooming monster! Also (don’t tell him) but I’ve organised a couple of surprise presents on the side to gift him on Father’s Day. The Byredo Woods Candle is a firm favourite of his (oh, okay, and mine. Selfish present!) It smells like a wood fire, smoky and delicious, perfect for lighting when you have friends for dinner, it doesn’t overpower the food. The final touch? A gorgeous personalised black zip top pebbled wash bag from The Daily Edited so that he has somewhere else to store his products when he runs out of space in the bathroom cabinet!
Of the Ultraceuticals Ultra B2 Hydrating Serum, my husband tells me: “This is by far the best serum I have ever tried.” He also shares that in the seven years we’ve been together, his skincare routine has evolved, at my encouragement, from a quick splash of moisturiser to a many-layered affair, and so he has had the chance to put this claim to the test. He rates it for its gorgeous texture and the deep hydration it provides his dry skin.
For a fragrance pick, Thibault recommends Ralph Lauren’s Polo Deep Blue Parfum. His criteria for a beautiful scent require a dose of ‘subtlety and refinement’, which this fragrance certainly provides. “It’s a really ‘grown man’ smell that I could imagine James Bond wearing,” as Thibault describes.
A chic shaving gel is an easy way to elevate a boring chore out of the quotidian. Evo’s Überwurst Shaving Crème is a gorgeous option that looks elegant in your bathroom cabinet and smells fresh. Thibault’s verdict? “You don’t look like Father Christmas after applying it” (always a plus, right?).
I’ve personally loved Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani for many years, as it was the scent Thibault regularly wore when we first were dating. He would give me his jumper doused in the scent for when we spent months long distance years ago, so it has great sentimental value for me, as well as just being a beautiful, classic scent. Their new Profondo flanker is a deeper and intenser take on the original, that I can imagine most men (and, importantly, their S.O.s) appreciating.
Men’s skin can easily get irritated with shaving, so a high quality moisturiser to help boost the skin barrier is a must. Avène’s Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream is designed to soothe sensitivity, being rich in copper and zinc sulfates to help repair compromised skins. Thibault appreciated its speedy absorption, which makes getting out the door (or rather, ready for his first Zoom call of the morning) that much quicker.
I have a theory about men – be it friends, family or lovers – that when it comes to Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, (if you know, you know) my observation and lived experience tells me that the vast majority of them give and receive love via Acts of Service. Case in point: my wog dad still cuts up fresh fruit and brings them, along with a warm cup of tea to my room every night that I am home, regardless of how cranky he is. And my boyfriend, Nick, will always drive to pick me up no matter where I am and regardless of what ungodly hour it may be. This was why on a lazy Sunday arvo last week, I decided to treat him to a mini at-home facial. Armed with an arsenal of lotions and potions from my own personal skin care stash, there was only one product in there specifically tailored to men’s skin, the Tony and Munro Revive Hydrating Eye Gel. A great product to use if you also want to treat the special man in your life to a home facial.
Nick takes a very laissez-faire (read: practically non-existent) approach to beauty/grooming, and try as I might, no doubt he won’t be joining me on any 10-step Korean skincare routine anytime soon. Another beauty product made especially for men’s skin is a cleanser such as 26′ Deep Men’s Face Wash, packed with gentle vitamin and mineral enriched ingredients, offers an easy and necessary gateway drug into skincare for your beau.
The one grooming step my partner approaches with genuine enthusiasm? Fragrance. After sampling a number of new releases, I couldn’t go past the elegant, classic scent of Beau de Jour by Tom Ford. A new release for 2020, the aromatic, fresh spicy and green fragrance was a hit, both with him, and myself (v important, being the one that orbits said man.) His eyes lit up as he recognised the maker, and vowing to wear it on date nights and special occasions only, something I’m still trying to convince him out of.
For the man that is good with his hands (be it lifting at the gym, using power tools, golfing, or something else entirely…) a luxe hand cream is an approachable and sweet idea. Nick loved the, and I quote, “Ohh, zesty!” scent of this Grown Alchemist Hand Cream in Vanilla Orange Peel, a non-greasy formula infused with cold-pressed orange peel oil, for hydrated hands and cuticles.
Taking the saying ‘partner-in-crime’ quite literally, after seeing that I have not one, but two Beysis water bottles, he promptly proceeded to steal the second from me. Blokey-beauty aside, this practical gift features a lightweight, stainless-steel design that keeps cold liquids cold for 24 hours, and hot liquids hot for 12. With a stylish navy satin finish, it’s the perfect accessory for keeping hydrated at the office and the gym, all whilst helping the environment. A winner in both our books.
Worlds away from the lurid options lining your supermarket shelves, Dior’s woody, citrusy Sauvage spray deodorant (also available in a stick format) emits soft, short puffs rather than a continuous mist. Such a subtle approach means you can still experiment further with fragrance for your day or night ahead, either layering with Sauvage Parfum, of course – now available in a special edition 200ml midnight blue bottle, which Dan feels is very ‘I am a man who has my life together’ – or looking to a lighter option as the weather heats up. Tom Ford’s Sole Di Positano Acqua is an easy, though never boring, choice; think an olfactory boat trip on an Italian lake. Plus, the frosted blue green bottle is a winning upgrade to any bathroom shelf.
Now to get the visage to match the high-quality scent. Malin+Goetz’s Vitamin E Face Moisturiser makes skin look plump and healthy, though without shine or grease. Extra points for its simple, user-friendly blue and white packaging. Those in the know make sure to never moisturise an area of the face that is also home to facial hair. Instead, look to a product designed specifically for the job. Le Labo’s Beard Oil has left a certain COVID-project beard (currently approaching Abe Lincoln levels of glory) noticeably soft and shiny. Some might prefer a pump be added to the glass bottle, but I am assured is something oh-so-gloriously old-school apothecary, with a little hint of danger, about pouring out just enough into your hands.
Finally, for non-beard hair, you can’t go past Kevin Murphy’s Free.Hold Medium Hold Styling Paste. It has the texture and scent of good, thick buttercream and with little effort gives a groomed look that isn’t overdone. Also, it comes in a pleasingly utilitarian, army green, snap-shut plastic case, lending it the feel of an item which a 2020 G.I. On-Trend Joe might consider as essential as a Swiss Army knife.
“I don’t do anything to my face and I’m still attractive,” my dad crooned, when I asked what moisturiser he used. I received a similar response from my boyfriend: “I’m naturally good looking.” Confidence is great, but who can honestly say they object to looking even better? Slight changes can make a big impact on your appearance and give you that little more oomph in your step. Let’s face it: men also get cosmetic enhancements, and the male skincare industry is booming – but admitting to self-care is still slightly taboo. So, I set about hunting for products that had unisex packaging, but powerhouse ingredients.
For my dad, who’s in his late 50’s, I selected a cleanser and moisturiser duo infused with superstar anti-ageing ingredients. He wanted a simple, no bells and whistles cleanser, that cleansed thoroughly without leaving the skin taut. CeraVe’s hydrating cleanser is jam-packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid and is especially formulated for sensitive skin. Because the cleanser was so gentle, I wasn’t worried about picking a more active moisturiser. Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturiser contains low-strength retinol – a clinically proven ingredient to tighten and firm the skin.
For my boyfriend, who is in his mid-20’s, with dry and highly sensitive skin, I focused on less anti-ageing intensive, but still deeply nourishing, products. The Ordinary’s ‘The Daily Set’ skincare fit the bill perfectly – active, salon-quality ingredients that delivered real results. The set includes a gentle, squalene-based cleanser that hydrates the skin whilst removing impurities. Then a hyaluronic acid 2% + B5 serum that has the multi-depth molecular weight to penetrate all three skin layers. As the final step in the system, there’s a gorgeous Natural Moisturising Factors cream enriched with urea, fatty acids, amino acids, skin boosting lipids, and hyaluronic acid to deliver a gulp of water to thirsty skin.
With winter finally departing, their lips are still ravaged and will continue to take a beating well into the summer. I’ve decided to purchase the product that has always worked to counter flakiness: Elizabeth Arden’s 8 Hour Cream. But the warmer months are descending upon us, and I know they both need stronger deodorant (no shame in being up front and honest!) – so I purchased the Weleda MEN 24h Roll-On to safeguard their armpits from odour. Bonus: The deodorants are organic and smell like the fresh countryside.
Holding shot of Sean Connery in Goldfinger