PRODUCT REVIEW: LA PRAIRIE LINE INTERCEPTION POWER DUO

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The last time I did Botox was almost 10 years ago. I enjoyed the novelty of trying it out for myself. Partly for financial reasons, I didn’t continue doing the Botox thing and made peace with my wrinkles and lines. I liked to call it my “rugged” look.

Now, aged 47, while I am not keen on an expressionless look, I am all for aesthetic assistance in the form of a product or two to help smooth out the signs of ageing here and there. After all, there is a fine line between “rugged” and “ragged”.

Created as an alternative to treatments like Botox, La Prairie Line Interception Power Duo makes very assured promises that a journalist can’t resist putting to the test.

It claims to fight all types of wrinkles – expression lines, UV- and gravity-induced – with noticeable differences within just 14 days and 14 nights of use. This is largely achieved through a combination of powerful peptides and La Prairie’s Cellular Complex.

Oh, and did I mention the price? 5 900 bucks. If you’ve ever browsed the La Prairie counter at a swanky department store, you will know this Swiss brand is premium stuff. So no surprises that it comes with a super-luxe price tag.

I have been using La Prairie Line Interception Power Duo for a few weeks. As a 24-hour treatment, it’s to be used morning and night. It comes in a very impressive-looking, dual-barrel pump bottle – shiny silver for day, matte black for night.

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While my wrinkles have not been zapped into oblivion within 14 days (and I was not expecting any such miracle), I have noticed they are not as pronounced as they used to be. I also like to think that a colleague’s recent “vampire” comment/compliment regarding my age is a reflection of the efficacy of La Prairie Line Interception Power Duo.

I will definitely continue to use La Prairie Line Interception Power Duo until it runs out. And then it’s the stark reality of affordability for me.

La Prairie Line Interception Power Duo, R5 900 for 50ml, is available at Edgars stores nationwide.

FRAGRANCE REVIEW: AZZARO WANTED

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The first BIG men’s fragrance launch of 2017, Azzaro Wanted, is here – well, in South Africa, at least. Judging by the TV advertising, massive window displays in my local shopping mall and heavy-handed influencer marketing, there’s a fair amount of money behind this one to ensure it’s one of the year’s top sellers.

The revolver-like cylindrical shape bottle has already generated reaction and will no doubt see a lot of Instagram action.

I am always intrigued by the type of man these big-name fragrances have in their sights, so allow me to share the following from the Azzaro website: “The story of Azzaro Wanted is the story of a Wanted man. He’s charismatic, talented and radiant, desired by women, envied by men. He boldly takes chances with complete confidence and dares to change his destiny to get whatever he desires.”

Okay, so Azzaro Wanted is definitely created to be a seduction scent. But the problem with hype is that we can easily forget what’s really important, so putting all of the above aside, is Azzaro Wanted any good?

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I have spent the last two weeks living with this woody-spicy fragrance. I get a strong and appealing whiff of apple after the initial opening of lemon, before it settles into a familiar-ish tonka bean and amber wood vibe. Other listed notes include ginger, lavender, mint, cardamom, juniper, geranium and vetiver. On my skin, it fades quickly after a couple of hours, but other online reviewers have reported “beastly” performance.

While Azzaro Wanted is not a bad fragrance, it’s not spectacular either. Apart from the bottle, it does not have enough personality to make it stand out. If you are keen to buy a new designer fragrance this year, I would hold out for Gucci Guilty Absolute EDP, with its sumptuous take on leather.

Azzaro Wanted EDT, R955 for 50ml and R1 200 for 100ml, is available at selected Clicks, Dis-Chem, Edgars, Foschini, Red Square, Stuttafords and Truworths stores.

ARE YOU A FRAGRANCE SNOB?

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CHEAP AND CHEERFUL… But not for public display.

If you think that the world of fragrance is just about pretty bottles and nice smells, think again. Welcome to the realm of the fragrance snob. I use this term affectionately, because I am guilty sometimes of being a frightful fragrance snob.

Of course, I am not the only one. So read through the statements below to see how you place on the snob-o-meter. Be honest. I won’t judge you…

  • If there’s one thing that gets you going, it’s the commercialisation of perfumery. You regularly vent on Fragrantica about the umpteenth flanker in a designer fragrance range and how the once mighty have fallen so low.
  • And let’s not even got started on the reformulation or discontinuation of your favourite fragrance.
  • And celebrity fragrances…
  • You speak about the masters of fragrance as if they are your best friends. Sometimes you even know their fragrances better than they do.
  • Now that everybody loves Comme des Garcons fragrances, you are on the hunt for a new niche fragrance house. Escentric Molecules, Laboratory Perfumes and Nasomatto are just some of your new faves. For now, at least…
  • You are known for your mastery of fragrance-speak, of which you are very proud. Words like “sillage”, “projection”, “chypre”, “juice”, “drydown”, “layering”, “neo-oriental” and “absolue” come so easily to you.
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FINDING A NEW NICHE: The more obscure, the better.
  • You have a soft spot for some cheap and cheerful fragrances from the likes of The Body Shop, Avon and Yardley but, heaven forbid, these would never feature on your Instagram. You would rather use IG to display your vintage Christian Dior Eau Sauvage and Guerlain Vetiver.
  • You can debate the note structure of a fragrance for hours and are adamant that you can detect the rare wild Haiti rose as a top note in so-and-so’s newest scent, even though it’s not listed in the official note structure.

PRODUCT REVIEW: LAB SERIES MAX LS POWER V LIFTING SERUM

 

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I take great pleasure in “reading” packaging. In this case I am not talking about ingredients and instructions, although I enjoy reading those too. I am talking about the subtle and not-so-subtle messages conveyed through the choice of colours and containers for a product or range.

So where I am going with this? Well, with its super-slick and clinical packaging, Lab Series is a great case study for the messages it transmits. High-Tech + High-Performance (With A Price To Match).

Founded in 1987, the American brand (part of the Estee Lauder Companies group) comes with a highly effective reputation, so this Power V Lifting Serum (from its Max LS anti-ageing line) has been on my must-try radar for some time.

As a 40-something gent, I can do with all the help I can get in fighting the signs of facial ageing (yip, that means tell-tale wrinkles and skin not being as firm as it used to be).

Apart from Lab Series’ stellar reputation, I was expecting big things from this product, as it is a serum. Unlike standard creams and lotions, a serum is packed with more active ingredients and less fillers.

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I have been using this product for well over a month now, morning and night. It gets a big thumbs up for delivering on two of its promises: a much-needed moisture boost and reducing the appearance of fine lines. It’s also easily absorbed and doesn’t leave a greasy film. While it’s a premium product, you also only need to use a little each time – another of the great benefits of using a serum.

I reckon I need to use it for longer to see more visible results on the other three promises: supports natural collagen, tightens the look of contours and lifts skin’s appearance for a more sculpted appearance. I will get back to you when I am looking more chiselled.

Either way, Lab Series Max LS Power V Lifting Serum provides top results in very sexy packaging.

Lab Series Max LS Power V Lifting Serum, R650 for 30ml, is available from Edgars stores nationwide.

PRODUCT REVIEW: FREEMAN 5-IN-1 TOTAL CONTROL CLAY MASK

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There’s nothing like a face mask for some good ol’ SOS (save our skin). If I am being particularly virtuous, I will ensure I face mask (is there such a verb?) at least once a week.

Thanks to their bright and eye-catching packaging, I have tried out a few products from this American range before, including the Cucumber Peel-Off Mask and the Acai Purifying Clay Mask. Both of these products worked very well for me.

While men are increasingly aware of the benefits of regularly using a face mask, there aren’t a lot of male-specific masks in the grooming sections of our major retailers. So I was keen to put the Freeman 5-in-1 Total Control Clay Mask with Whiskey Rye through its paces.

This masks contains a number of ingredients to address the five major skin concerns of men: bentonite and kaolin clays to absorb excessive oil; rye extract and willow bark to fight blackheads;  tea tree oil to reduce the appearance of large pores; coconut oil to moisturise skin; and aloe vera to reduce irritation.

Recognising that a lot of men now have beards or major stubble before having a clean shave (that’s me), the Freeman 5-in-1 Total Control Clay Mask is billed as beard-friendly. So I tried out this mask when I had a major five-day growth. In fact, as I type this, I am allowing this mask to do its thing. We can’t get more real than that.

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MASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE: What a messy boy.

As per the instructions, I left it on for five minutes. Call me strange, but I enjoy the tingle that accompanies the application of many masks. Unfortunately, this mask denied me that pleasure. I also found that the mask did not really dry enough in that time, so I left it on for 10 minutes. Unlike some masks, which have got stuck in my growth, this one was easy peasy to wash off with warm water.

The big question, though: Would I buy the Freeman 5-in-1 Total Control Clay Mask again after I have used all 175ml of it? While my skin felt cleaner and more hydrated after use, it did not deliver that essential boost, so nope. There are better masks, for more or less the same price. In fact, the other masks in the Freeman range, mentioned above, actually do a better job than this one. Do your skin a favour and rather check out the unisex Cucumber Peel-Off Mask, highly recommended for clarifying and moisturising. Its peeling off process is also cool if, like me, you’re into that kind of thing.

Freeman 5-in-1 Total Control Clay Mask with Whiskey Rye (R92.95 for 175ml) is available from Dis-Chem stores.

FRAGRANCE REVIEW: EAU DE LACOSTE L.12.12 MAGNETIC POUR LUI

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The last Lacoste fragrance I tried was the limited edition L.12.12 Energized, released in 2016. That particular EDT was a typically fresh expression of mint, ginger, tuberose and vetiver notes. A good spritz and go.

The latest addition to the L.12.12 range sees a simultaneous launch of his and hers fragrances, Magnetic Pour Lui EDT and Magnetic Pour Elle EDP, inspired by the legendary dynamic between tennis mixed double partners René Lacoste and Suzanne Lenglen in the 1920s. Apparently, this is the first time that the French fashion company has launched a dual male and female scent at the same time.

While I am a sucker for a good story and the Lacoste brand has a fascinating heritage to draw on, nothing like wearing a fragrance in a variety of contexts to get a feel for it.

I have given Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Magnetic Pour Lui several outings – from gym, to lunch with a friend, to grocery shopping, even to bed (yes, I do wear fragrances to bed – but that’s another post). On all those occasions I noticed how this fragrance’s initial fresh opening (juniper and bamboo notes) evolved into something warmer and more interesting (patchouli and amber notes).

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However, I also noticed how Magnetic faded fairly quickly and, with its average projection, required a few re-sprays during the day. So if you’re looking for a beast of a fragrance, best step back from that fragrance counter. It’s also not a classic, but then not all fragrances need to be for you to part with your hard-earned cashola.

Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Magnetic Pour Lui is still a good everyday fragrance, which I found best suited to casual occasions. It’s also probably best suited to younger gents. But I ain’t no ageist, so I will keep this one in my gym bag, which seems fitting for a brand with such a sporty aesthetic.

Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Magnetic Pour Lui (R950 for 50ml, R1 265 for 100ml and R1 530 for 175ml) is available from Edgars, Red Square, Truworths, Foschini, Dis-Chem, Clicks and Markham stores.  

AN EYE FOR TOM FORD

TF Main PicWhen a grooming product is expensive I have very high expectations. And when that product is from Mr Suave Perfection himself, Tom Ford, my expectations are even higher than usual.

The American designer always looks so well put together, so naturally I expected some of that TF magic for myself when I started using Tom Ford For Men Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment.

According to the Tom Ford website, this product is “infused with the Tom Ford skin calming and infusing complexes”. As good as that sounds, I wanted more details, which the ingredients list on the product box provided.

Apart from the inclusion of several dimethicones (that is, silicon-based skin protectants known for creating a hydrating barrier on the skin and their temporary skin-plumping properties), I noticed a number of natural extracts, including algae, St Paul’s Wort, sweet almond and tangerine peel. Nice! I am always for a combo of the best of science and nature.

So how did Tom Ford Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment perform? I started using it a month ago when the area around my eyes was looking particularly tired. As per the instructions, I have been applying it morning and night, using the very sexy contoured applicator.

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IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS: The very sexy contoured applicator.

Four weeks later, the area around my eyes is definitely looking perkier and plumper. And I am appreciating why this Tom Ford Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment is so pricey. I actually believe the interviews I have read in which Mr Ford makes the ultimate brand endorsement by saying he uses his own products.

Next on my grooming hit-list: To try some more products from the Tom Ford For Men grooming range. The Skin Revitalizing Concentrate sounds good. Ditto the Intensive Purifying Mud Mask and Concealer.

Tom Ford For Men Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment, R1 045, is available from Stuttafords Sandton, Stuttafords Eastgate, Edgars Mall of Africa and Edgars V&A Waterfront.

 

PRODUCT REVIEW: DERMALOGICA PHYTO REPLENISH OIL

Dermalogica 1I have been a big fan of Dermalogica products ever since I first tried their Daily Microfoliant, a highly effective exfoliator that’s gentle to the skin. More recently, their revitalising Charcoal Rescue Masque has been added to my list of grooming essentials.

If I do not prioritise it, my skin often looks lacklustre and, ahem, older than it should. So I was very keen to put Dermalogica’s new Phyto Replenish Oil to the test.

This product promises dewy skin (yes, please) by reinforcing the protective barrier through a combination of phytoactives (including camellia and tamanu oils), an essential lipid blend (including orchid flower and chia seed oils) and an antioxidant shield against free radical damage (including sunflower, rice bran and rosemary extracts).

That sounds like an impressive list of ingredients, but nothing like putting a product to the test. So for almost four weeks, I have been using Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil as part of my nightly grooming routine, applying several drops to my skin after cleansing and moisturising.

The first thing I noticed about this product is how easily it is absorbed. I have used several face oils and many of them, despite claims to the contrary, have not absorbed this well.

For the first week I couldn’t detect any noticeable difference to my skin, but by the end of the second week of use, it started looking healthier and more hydrated. Almost four weeks in, there’s no doubt this is another top-performing product from Dermalogica.

At R1 290 for 30ml, yes, Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil is a little on the pricey side and there are cheaper face oils out there. That said, this product is worth every cent.

Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil, R1 290 for 30ml, is available from Dermalogica concept stores and Dermalogica stockists. For more information, www.dermalogica.co.za.

5 OF THE BEST FRAGRANCES OF 2016

This year has been another whirlwind of new fragrance launches and personally I get a kick out of trying as many of the latest products as possible. But when it comes to the all-important purchase for yourself or as a gift, how do you tell (and smell) the oh-so-good from the so-so?

These five fragrances stood out from the crowded counters for me:

BENTLEY INFINITE RUSH EDT

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For a company that has only been in the fragrance game since 2013, Bentley keeps the quality coming. Bentley Infinite EDT and Bentley Infinite Intense EDP, both launched in 2015, were class acts and Infinite Rush is no exception. From the opening notes of pink peppercorn and mandarin orange to the dry-down of amber, vetiver and cedar, this is a fresh summer winner. Here’s hoping Bentley Infinite Rush White EDT will be launched in SA too.

R895 for 60ml and R1 195 for 100ml at Dis-Chem and Truworths stores.

DUNHILL ICON ELITE EDP

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If 2015’s Icon Absolute was Dunhill’s contribution to the fashionable oud genre, Icon Elite sees the British brand firmly back in classic territory with this deliciously woody and spicy composition that’s big on sandalwood, cardamom, vetiver, ebony wood and black suede notes. This EDP is grown-up stuff, so if you want something “shouty”, best look elsewhere. It’s the perfect scent from the office to evening cocktails.

R995 for 30ml, R1 095 for 50ml and R1 595 for 100ml at Clicks, Dis-Chem, Edgars, Foschini, Markham, Red Square and Truworths stores.

L’HOMME PRADA EDT

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Not everyone will “get” the powerful powdery iris note in this Prada fragrance, but that’s what makes this EDT so special. That and the amber, geranium and patchouli. Just like Prada’s previous big fragrance release for men, Lunna Rossa Sport, this one is under-rated and deserves a little more time to reveal its charms. From the box to the bottle, the packaging is seriously sophisticated too.

R1 060 for 50ml and R1 485 for 100ml from Edgars, Red Square, Stuttafords and Woolworths stores.

ARMANI CODE PROFUMO EDP

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Disclaimer: Generally, I am not a fan of sweeter scents, but I will make an exception for this recent addition to the Armani Code line. This EDP opens with a quick flourish of green apple and cardamom before settling into a warm, sensual and cosy (never thought I would use that adjective to describe a Giorgio Armani) rendition of tonka bean, amber and leather. Bellissimo!

30ml for R819, 60ml for R1 306 and R1 630 for 110ml from Edgars, Red Square, Stuttafords, Foschini, Woolworths and Truworths stores.

 VALENTINO UOMO INTENSE EDP

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Valentino Uomo was one of my favourites when it was released in South Africa in 2015 – and the intense version is perfume perfection to me. Yes, there’s a luxurious leather vibe here, but it’s mixed oh so seductively with iris, tonka bean, vanilla and clary sage to make this so more than a one-trick wonder. The studded grey bottle is also gorgeous. Excuse me, while I sniff myself again and again. Mmm….

R1 210 for 50ml and R1 510 for 100ml from Edgars, Red Square, Truworths, Foschini and Woolworths stores.