Screenshot 2014-11-10 19.15.07My latest contribution to Mr Porter is now live! To read the full feature, click here.

Whichever way the precarious life-work scales tip, it’s sleep that always seems to get the boot. We are designed to spend a third of our lives sleeping and yet 43% of the American workforce say they “rarely or never” get a good night’s sleep on weeknights. Thirty per cent of Brits claim they are sleep deprived or verging on insomnia, which suggests that some 19 million of us are not getting to sleep, or, if we are, we’re certainly not staying that way for long.

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My contribution to this month’s edition of Mr Porter is about how to transition from Summer to Autumn. To read the full story, click on the image above…

The change of seasons has long been known to affect the animal kingdom. The Arctic fox, sly and fashion-conscious creature that he is, changes the colour of his coat to match his backdrop (white for snowy winter, a dusky brown for summer). The poor Siberian hamster, which only mates in spring and summer, sees its gargantuan testicles shrink as the days get shorter. The change of light signals a series of hormonal changes that make the little guy look like a completely different animal by the time fall has set in. Some animals hibernate; others come to life – all have an internal understanding of time.

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No doubt you will have heard the word ‘mindfulness’ bandied about of late. The form of meditation that was once associated with new agey folk and tree huggers has suddenly become very trendy. Large companies are hosting workshops and there are features cropping up in the press about high-powered CEOs that depend on a meditation practice. Billionaire Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund firm, swears by it as do a whole host of unlikely practitioners from Russell Simmonds and 50 Cent to Bill Ford (chairman of The Ford Motor Company), if the coverage is to be believed.  In an effort to boost productivity, companies from Goldman Sachs to Farmers Insurance now hire people to host mindfulness workshops for their employees.

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It seems unlikely that Jay-Z, hip-hop veteran-cum-entrepreneurial mogul, would miss a business opportunity as ripe as this. With successful ventures including Rocawear clothing, Roc-A-Fella Records and the Roc Nation Sport agency, the only oversight in his commendable portfolio was a signature fragrance. Indeed, a celebrity is scent is usually the starting point for A-listers looking to diversify  – and, more importantly, supplement – the income from their creative pursuits.In an age where movie deals are not quite as ludicrous as they were in the 90s and album sales are at the mercy of online bootleggers, celebrities now need to think beyond their primary medium. And it appears that the surest and most lucrative revenue stream is a celebrity fragrance, the likes of which account for $1.3billion in sales per year (the entire industry is worth $5.2 billion in the United States).

Celebrities at the top of their game can now pocket in the region of $5 million up front with a maximum of 10% royalty on sales for a bottle emblazoned with their name, according to a recent (and highly recommended) feature on Stylecaster. Given the low manufacturing costs (some 25% of the retail price), a fragrance is a relatively low-risk venture…and yet it is one that can single handedly take care of your retirement fund if successful. Get the formula right and everyone is laughing all the way to the bank.Look no further than Jay-Z’s prettier half for a prime example of someone who has cracked the market in recent years. Beyoncé’s signature line of fragrances includes Heat, an international bestseller, thanks to her innate ability to self-promote at any given opportunity (she, rather cleverly, gave away samples at her sold-out concerts and has since made perfumes part of tour merchandise). The only person to overtake Bey is J-Lo. The Latina pop star has made more money from her line of perfumes (18 in total) than off her questionable musical endeavors (which, in the grand scheme of things, probably isn’t too surprising).Ms Lopez has banked an alleged $80m for her fragrances, a sum that dwarfs the paycheck she gets for American Idol. In fact, you could credit Ms Lopez with starting the trend. Her eponymous line of perfumes were so successful that it was only a matter of time before the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Madonna, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera et al followed suit. Clearly, the market is not only led by female celebrities but it is also fuelled by young girls.

So what of the men? Where do they fit into all this? For the most part, male celebrities tend to be ‘faces’ for fragrances rather than the celebrity creators. Jude Law has lent his face to Dior, as has Robert Pattinson, while David Gandy is the personification of Dolce & Gabbana’s eaux. Alternatively, it’s ’men’ marketing to women (see Justin Beiber and One Direction who have basically sold crates of cloying liquid candy floss  to teenage girls around the world).

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If the regular roundup of man moisturisers and shaving accouterments featured on this stie is anything to go by, there is no shortage of ‘men only’ brands vying for your hard earned cash. Were you to look at the figures, the men’s grooming industry – which Mintel last estimated to be worth a hefty £805 million – would appear to be alive and kicking. With the social stigma attached to male grooming fading at an alarming pace, there is an increasing demand for skincare products that deliver real results.

But while men account for a sizeable 47% of products sold, not all guys are buying ‘men only’ brands. In fact, many men deliberately dodge the overzealous claims of men’s products and opt for unisex or ‘gender neutral’ brands instead. Those with a modicum of business acumen – or just common sense – would assume there’s little difference between men’s and women’s products anyway. After all, isn’t it just the same stuff repackaged and re-branded in a vaguely macho fashion? The manufacturers just make the men’s stuff smell of gasoline and leather rather than rainbows and daisies, surely? Well, yes…and no.

Lauded Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr Sebagh, whose unisex cosmeceutical line is as popular with men as it is with his female clientele, points out “The essential ingredients that preserve and protect the skins natural lipidic barrier are essentially the same.” So if you’re in the business of trouble-shooting serious skin conditions or fighting the signs of age, the key actives worth looking out for – retinoids, peptides, AHAs, antioxidants and so forth – work equally well on both sexes.

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Hair loss is easily one of the most potent fears among men of a certain age. In fact, recent research has shown that a quarter of men aged 25-29 are more concerned with losing their locks than they are with other age-related inevitabilities like skin ageing or going grey.
This is primarily because we have come to associate a full head of hair with virility. The prospect of going bald, therefore, is often felt as a loss of masculinity or power, a deficit that can usher in a crisis (see your local neighbourhood for prime examples of ‘male menopause’ in action). This subconscious fear is so pervasive that it has created an industry now worth over £1.2 billion. Men seeking to treat their scalps can now select from a variety of ‘solutions’ ranging from topical treatments and drugs to transplants and, worryingly, wigs.

And yet, for a fear that is so common, the actual science of hair loss remains shrouded in mystery, myth and patent misinformation. Many of us have been raised on the belief that washing your hair daily will speed up the shedding process or – equally insane – that standing on your head / having a cow lick your scalp will jump start lazy follicles. The internet doesn’t help either: the supposed ‘cures’ for hair loss out there are often as questionable as the causes they cite.

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The Exfoliator is probably the only grooming blog online that’s deliberately avoided jumping on the Movember bandwagon this year. And there’s a good reason for that. Rather than copy and paste a rant I posted over at Get The Gloss, here’s a direct link to our sister site, where I explain how and why Movember went off message.

Oh, and remember to visit at some point this ‘Movember’. Better yet, get a check-up.

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 Following Johnson & Johnson’s long-overdue – but highly praiseworthy – announcement this week that it would ban all harmful chemicals from its products by 2013, I felt compelled to write a rather lengthy post touching on the ubiquity of toxic ingredients in skincare.

J&J produce baby products in addition to skincare (Neutrogena, Aveeno, and Clean & Clear) and their decision to clean up their act came after persistent pestering from the The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics  (and not least because J&J have been loading their baby shampoo with potentially carcinogenic chemicals. “No more tears“, indeed… have you ever got that stuff in your eyes?).

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There’s more to the old adage about the truth being written all over your face than you may think. Not only do we get non-verbal signals about someone’s true wellbeing from unconscious facial expressions, but the state of your skin reveals a great deal about what’s going on inside, both physically and emotionally. In fact, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine have used facial analysis as a diagnostic tool for centuries, marrying facial areas and features  with specific organs and emotional states.

So when you get a recurring zit on the same part of your chin or have a perpetually congested or flaky forehead, your skin could be trying to tell you that there’s a deeper health concern in need of attention. Facial diagnosis is not an absolute science, but it could certainly point you in the direction of a healthier lifestyle.

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The Exfoliator was the proud recipient of a P&G Beauty and Grooming Award this week. Now, before you roll your eyes in mockery, I should point out that P&G products rarely make an appearance on this site…incontestable proof that the system isn’t rigged after all!

This blog was born out of the frustration that came with pandering to  advertisers while working at various men’s magazines over the years.    It’s  somewhat ironic / delicious, therefore,  that one of the most influential multinationals (and a major advertiser to boot) is finally acknowledging a format which it does not influence or control.

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