Okay. So, I realised I missed January’s “Stuff I’ve Tried” post. This isn’t to say I didnt try any stuff, just that I was too busy trying stuff to write about it. However, we now have a bumper edition of 5 items covering everything from more hair to less hair and even something that just makes you look like you have more hair. Spoiler alert, one of these products nearly killed me! True Story!
As always, and it’s important to remind you, these views are purely my own. This is not a sponsored blog post and none of these products have paid me anything to be featured. Some of them have been product drops while others I have bought with my own cold hard cash!
Bluebeards Revenge Shaving Cream and Brush
I don’t really shave much. Mostly because, I don’t really have a beard, and when I shave it off I look 12 so I generally trim it with a pair of clippers and then shave the neckline so that it looks neat. My go-to product has been a can of shaving cream, and I usually do it in the shower straight after I’ve cleaned all my bits and the hair is softer. However, we are currently in the middle of a serious water crisis here in Cape Town so I decided to take a more water-friendly approach to getting that neckline clean and tight.
This Blue Beards Revenge Shaving kit has been lying around my toiletry stash for a while so it seemed like the best solution. The marketing story is that an almond size piece of shaving cream lathers up to a mountain of foam for your face. There are also supposed to be 50 shaves in one 100ml tub. Does it work? You bet your smooth clean face it does. The little dollop of cream really does lather up nicely, but there is a trick to it. Applying it with your hands doesn’t bring the same result as applying it with a shaving brush. The shaving brush not only lifts up your hairs and gets them razor ready but it makes sure you get an even spread of shaving cream all over that handsome face of yours.
The conclusion: I don’t think I’ll go back to shaving cream in a can after this. Between the brush and the cream there’s a real feeling of shaving like a man…also the cool skull logo helps. This stuff has won a number of grooming awards and I can totally see why. The resulting cream is thick and heavy not light and airy so you end up with zero razor burn! Personally, I loved it!
Minoxidil – Hair Growth Treatment
As mentioned above, I can’t grow a beard. I know it shouldn’t really bother me, but the truth is ever since those hipsters busted out those lumberjack shirts and packed on a full face of hair, I’ve been suffering from beard envy. It’s a real thing.
Now, usually, this type of disability is what it is and you just live with it right! Well, at least, that’s what I thought. Then (and I’m not sure how) I found myself going down a youtube wormhole that led me to clip titled “How did this 8-year-old grow a beard in just 2 weeks” – or something like that. The miracle was apparently Minoxidil.
Minox-a-what? Yeah, exactly. Minoxidil was released in the late 70’s as a treatment for high blood pressure (originally formulated for the treatment of ulcers though) but, when the drug showed side effects of unexpected hair growth it was re-released in the late 80’s as Rogaine. Now Rogaine (which you may have heard of) was and still is used to treat male pattern baldness – Apparently, its pretty damn good at it too. Up until last year, Minoxidil as a treatment for hair loss was produced exclusively under the brand ‘Rogaine’, now that the licence has run out a whole bunch of Minoxidil products have flooded the market. I guess it stands to reason that with the beard trend over the last 10 years, someone eventually put it on his face and hoped for the best! That eventually found its way on to you tube and BOOM! I found it!
I watched a couple of different reviews, read some articles and immediately started dreaming of the amazing “after” pictures I was going to share with you guys! I thought that by winter I would have a beard so strong that it would give Dan Bilzerian himself beard envy. I found a local supplier online and jumped head first (no pun intended) into ordering a 6 months supply.
The conclusion: I nearly died. Literally. Or maybe not literally, but it sure felt like it. Within a week of applying it twice a day I was feeling super weird! It felt as though someone was standing on my chest and I couldn’t properly catch my breath. I constantly felt anxious and as though my heart was constantly switched to turbo mode. No Bueno. This is when I did extensive research only to find out that minoxidil can cause irreversible damage to your heart – I won’t bore you with all the technically frighting details. Needless to say, I stopped using it immediately.
Bear in mind though that as with all medication, side effects are individual. This is an over the counter medication, so really it should be mild. Unfortunately for me, it had horrible side effects that I am still recovering from 4 weeks after stopping.
Fierce by Abercrombie & Fitch
So this isn’t really a “new” thing I’ve tried, truth be told I tried it for the first time about 15 years ago. I was in the US for the first time ever, walking around ‘the city so nice they named it twice’ when I finally got to visit my first Abercrombie and Fitch store – Bare in mind that 15 years ago A&F was a pretty big deal to a kid from the tip of Africa. Wearing an Abercrombie and Fitch hoodie back home said to everyone “I’ve seen the world people, and here’s the proof”. Yeah, I know, Pretty lame, but it was the early 2000’s so gimme a break!
Anyway, as anyone who’s ever been within 3 city block of an A&F store will know, the smell hits you long before the inflated prices do – after all, A&F Fierce is pumped through the air vents like poppers at a gay bar! The first time I smelled it I was hooked! (The fragrance…not the poppers…no idea what that smells like) It was the most unique scent I had ever smelt and I bought it immediately. 15 years later, I’m still obsessed and just bought a new 200ml bottle. Yep, the biggest one you get.
I’m always on the search for something unique and apart from Comme des Garcons 2 (and I guess the full range of Comme des Garcon fragrances), every other major brand smells as generic as the next! This perfectly blended woody fragrance is finished off with citrusy top notes that have never failed to get a compliment from the ladies.
The conclusion: Don’t let the tacky bottle or terrible narcissistic brand association fool you, Fierce hasn’t been voted the sexiest fragrance in the world for nothing. Every girl I have ever met loves it. If you want something that you can wear all day everyday with anything, this is it! Or at least it is for me.
The Tie Bar dot Com
Most of the ties and pocket squares in my collection have come from collaborations done along this five-year blogging journey. I’ve donated more than half the ties that have landed on my desk, either because they’ve gone out of style or didn’t have any, to begin with. The result has been me boring you with the same old brown tie over and over again. My apologies, but I do love that brown tie!
I decided it was time to rub a little money on the problem. Unfortunately, no matter how many fistfuls of cash I rubbed on this particular problem, there is not a decent tie to be had locally – A problem that I am currently trying to solve, so stay tuned. If you want shiny, skinny or extra shiny, you’re in luck, South Africa has them all. My only other option was to look online but unfortunately, SA isn’t the place for that either it seems. The online offering makes the in-store collections almost seem on fleeck (whatever that means).
Now I get daily emails asking me where to buy ties, pocket squares and tie bars in South Africa and I never know what to recommend. So I decided to do the legwork and find somewhere that offers a good range, ships internationally (fast) and takes care of all the customs duties. I ended up at the same place I bought my first ever tie bar from 5 years ago, thetiebar.com – Yeah, the names a little lame, but I bet it kills at google searches : ) After checking out a couple stores I settled here for the following 3 reasons:
• Price: At $19 a tie and $10 a pocket square it literally can’t be beaten.
• Range: The range is not only massive in colour, but more importantly they have multiple fabric choices so you can search for wool, linen, cotton, etc. A true bonus, however, is that most of the ties also come in different widths so you’re not forced into a world of skinny ties! Oh yes, they also do a whole bunch of other stuff like socks, shirts and of course tie bars.
• Shipping: International shipping isn’t cheap and at $26 a pop, this downright expensive. It does, however, arrive in about 3 days, so I guess you’re paying for the speed. As luck would have it my order fell through the cracks and after a week of waiting I sent a follow-up mail that was resolved immediately. To be fair though it was over the festive season so, I cut them some holiday slack! Not only do they take care of shipping, but they also let you know exactly what your customs charges will be and let you pay upfront so that it doesn’t get stopped on the way in.
The conclusion: With import duties being around 40% and VAT being raised to %15 customs generally whacks out any chance of getting something cheap. The shipping duties can also be a little steep for only a few items so I suggest clubbing together with a few friends to place 1 order and lessen the load. In the end, if you’re looking for something interesting and unique, you’re guaranteed to find it there. I bit the bullet and ended up with about 7 new ties and 2 pocket squares that I absolutely love!
I’ve gone ahead and saved the best for last. I feel that if you’ve read this far you deserve to know the secret to great hair. I don’t particularly have great hair, though I did at some stage before age and stress took its toll – it’s a real thing people, believe the hype! So for the last few years, I filled my hair with all kinds of products to get it to do what I want it to. Whenever I get asked the question “what do you use in your hair” I feel its easiest to answer with “everything”
I discovered label.men products after a routine haircut at my favourite barber – Ryno at Barnet fair on Shortmarket street is the proverbial ‘bomb’ if you’re wondering. After he was done with the regular ‘high and tight’ request he asked if he could put this new stuff in my hair. I don’t usually go for that kinda thing but he called it ‘liquid gold’ and I took the bait. A couple of sprays and all of a sudden my hair looked like it had doubled in size. Thinking this may be some barbershop sorcery or possibly trick mirrors I reached out to the team at label.men and asked for a sample.
They were kind enough to send over the whole range and I got to testing – I don’t just suck these reviews out my thumb you know. The shampoo and conditioner felt pretty standard to me, but I always find it difficult to feel the difference with that kind of stuff. I wasn’t a very big fan of the pomade as I found it a little heavy and clumped my hair together making it heavy. Maybe I was using too much but I still prefer the Johnnys Chop Shop stuff I reviewed in July. The Thickening Tonic, however, was a game changer!! I usually use a combination of volumising spray and volumising mouse to get the lift but I didn’t need any of that with this Thickening Tonic. A couple of sprays does the trick and the hair dryer activates it into giving you the appearance of thicker hair! Barbershop sorcery indeed!
The conclusion: If like me you find your hair thinning and not doing what you need it to, this is the stuff for you! It really is as simple as that, I’ve never used any product like it! If you can get your hands on it I suggest you do, this ‘liquid gold’ may have gotten its nickname from how rarely you find it.
That’s it for Jan and Feb….and I guess half of March really. If you guys have any comments or questions I would love to see them below.
Okay. Stay Fancy.