When it comes to male grooming, we’ve never had it so good. Dubious marketing jargon has been replaced by science-backed credentials, which means that a healthy portion of what’s on offer now actually does what it says on the tin.
As a result, the bathroom shelf business is booming: the personal care market is now worth £848m in the UK alone, with men responsible for 31 per cent of all toiletry sales. On the plus side, that means fresher faces and flyer fades, but it also means more duds to sift through. That’s why FashionBeans has launched its annual Grooming Awards.
Our team of editors and experts has tirelessly scrubbed, shaved, slathered and sprayed to unearth the very best gear released over the last year. Some ask for just loose change and offer powerhouse results in return, while others well and truly justify their top-tier price tag. But all do enough to stand out in a crowded market and deliver performance that will help you look and smell your best, without breaking a sweat.
Best Everyday Fragrance
Winner: Boss The Scent Private Accord
Even if we could afford to douse ourselves in super expensive whiff every day, we don’t have to. Mainly because Hugo Boss continues to serve killer scents. Cocoa, coffee and something called maninka fruit makes up the backbone of the chocolatey, edible Scent Private Accord. It also has good staying power on the skin, so you can smell, well, like a boss all day, every day.
Highly Commended: Paco Rabanne Invictus Aqua
What sounds like a water polo contest supported by Prince Harry is actually a top scent from Paco Rabanne. Few even remember that Mr Rabanne started out as a fashion designer because his name has become synonymous with blockbuster fragrances. This one earns its aquatic name from a strong opening marine vibe that settles down to a warm, woody base.
Winner: Philips OneBlade Face + Body
We love any product that takes the chore out of the morning routine. Philips’ first ‘disposable’ razor, now updated for both face and body, gets thumbs up from us: smart design, easy to hold and very smooth to use. As well as giving an ultra-close shave, the replaceable heads and attachable guards allow for quick tidy-ups and styling, giving better results than most other manual wet razors.
Highly Commended: Harry’s The Truman
Giving the big boys a run for their money, Harry’s subscription razors are an attractive proposition. The Truman handle has a weighted core, excellent rubberised grip and subtle branding that lends it a high-quality feel. Choose from three colourways – strangely liberating after years of getting what we’re given.
Winner: Clinique For Men Super Energizer Anti-Fatigue Exfoliating Powder
Now that we’ve tried powder cleansers, there’s no going back. Clinique’s Super Energizer Anti-Fatigue formula works up into a lather on contact for a dual action deep cleanse and exfoliation while being good for sensitive types too. It’s a travel essential, too – chuck it in your dopp kit and expect to make it through security without any fuss.
Highly Commended: Perricone MD CBx For Men Super Clean Face Wash
One of the first brands to bring hemp into skincare, the woody herbal scent of this antioxidant-packed Perricone MD cleanser is powered by phyto-cannabinoids. Get a (legally) high cleanse without stripping or drying the skin, and a pre-shave prep that softens stubble.
Best Grooming Brand: Harry’s
Here to make life easier and cheaper, this year grooming ‘disruptors’ Harry’s convinced guys everywhere to break up with their long-term razor brand, and most have never looked back since. With products that work, look good and with an overall eye on helping raise awareness for and breaking boundaries around male health. It does an impressive line in simple skincare products, but what we’re really here for is a close shave. This is top-drawer shaving and excellent prices, all delivered to your door so you barely have to think about it.
Best Secret Weapon
Winner: House 99 Truly Brighter Eye Balm
Every man needs a solid go-to for disguising candle-burning nights and mornings stashed away in his desk drawer. We knew David Beckham’s first grooming line wouldn’t disappoint, and we’ve been won over by the House 99 Truly Brighter Eye Balm. It targets the eye area with spirulina and caffeine, and the instant refreshing effect means it practically eats hangovers for breakfast.
Highly Commended: Chanel Boy de Chanel Foundation
One day we’ll look back and wonder why it took us so long to embrace skin-enhancing products like Chanel’s first foundation specifically for men. It works like a miraculous veil for spots, dark circles, uneven skin tone and acne scars. You’ll look just like you, just, you know, better.
Best Beard Trimmer
Winner: Remington MB350L Lithium Barba
Something that looks good, is easy to clean and delivers consistent cutting is all we ask from a beard trimmer. And yet, it’s amazing that so many brands can’t get the basics right. Thank the barbering gods at Remington for the MB350L Lithium Barba. Like all trimmers, we have no idea what the model numbers actually mean, but we can tell you that this ticks all the boxes while feeling more expensive than its pleasingly affordable price tag.
Highly Commended: Braun Multi Grooming Kit MGK3045
In short, Braun’s Multi Grooming Kit is a one-stop shop for all your bathroom-based needs – especially for those who trim sometimes, style frequently and want one device that can work for head, face and body. It comes with a Gillette body razor as a bonus.
Eco Pioneer Award: Bulldog Skincare for Men
Before ‘clean’ skincare was a thing, Bulldog was busy making safe, effective grooming products that don’t cost the earth. Over the last 12 months, the British brand has ramped things up, schooling even the industry’s biggest names in sustainability. It became the first men’s skincare company in the world to begin using responsibly sourced sugar cane plastic (which takes carbon dioxide out of the environment rather than releasing it) and began using recycled cardboard stock and non-toxic ink for packaging. Not content with that, it later added a bamboo handle razor to its line-up, the only of its kind on the market, and recently introduced a five-litre refill version of its Original Shower Gel, which cuts packaging waste by 85 per cent. As far as look after the planet goes, it’s the dog’s.
Winner: Molton Brown Vetiver & Grapefruit Deodorant
With fragrance house-level detail to ‘notes’, Molton Brown’s Vetiver & Grapefruit Deodorant smells like a legit eau de cologne, thanks to cool hits of citrus balanced with warming white pepper and amber. It costs more than your average funk-fighter, but it’ll carry you through the day if you’ve left the house without a spritz of your ‘proper’ scent. We’re first in line for the aftershave version.
Highly Commended: Cornerstone 48 Hour Anti-Perspirant Deodorant
Cornerstone has helped revolutionise the grooming market with its ultra-convenient, affordable subscription service. This one-stop personal care shop boasts some of our favourite grooming heroes, such as the 48 Hour Anti-Perspirant. It gives solid protection for the whole day, contains no nasty chemicals and is ridiculously good value.
Best Haircare Product
Winner: Head & Shoulders Men Ultra Total Care Anti-Dandruff 2 In 1 Shampoo
Okay, so we’re not exactly sure what the ‘ultra’ stands for, but we can say that this: in terms of reliably busting dandruff and relieving itchy scalps, Head & Shoulders’ latest shampoo is the one to beat. It noticeably resets the scalp in a few washes and has a long-lasting scent, so the freshly washed feeling lingers for longer than other hair cleansers. Instant confidence, just add water.
Highly Commended: Oliver J. Woods Perilla Oil
Hairstylist to the stars Oliver Woods has spent over 20 years shooting fashion campaigns, magazine covers and music videos with the likes of Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Alex Turner. We love the versatility of his own multi-purpose Perilla Oil, which can tame frizzy hair, condition frazzled beards and nourish the skin and scalp all at the same time.
Grooming Icon: David Beckham
What can we say about Britain’s best-groomed man that hasn’t been said already? The OG influencer, David Beckham continues to push the Premier League of men’s style and the standards we aspire to. Over the years, he’s shown men everywhere that we’re only as good as our last hairstyle, that you can cover yourself in tattoos and still get an invite to Buckingham Palace, and that eyebrows can always benefit from a subtle tidy up. This year, he’s been no slouch, giving us hair envy again after he chopped off his long style and launched House 99, a comprehensive range of grooming products we’re getting predictably addicted to.
Best Luxury Fragrance
Winner: Acqua di Parma Colonia Sandalo Eau de Cologne Concentrée
We’ve never met an Acqua di Parma scent we didn’t love, and our feelings for Colonia Sandalo are consistent. Sandalo is a creamy sandalwood take on the original citrus Colonia footprint. Luxury is always more than just the quality of the juice, which in this case is obviously high. Here, it’s also about the iconic look of the bottle, with its hand-applied label, and the associated heritage of a 100-year-plus-old Italian house.
Highly Commended: Creed Viking
The historic family-run French house is behind a raft of cult scents preferred by the rich and famous, which is why Creed is synonymous with exclusivity and quality. As the name suggests, Viking is a spirited number with spicy notes of pink pepper, calabrian bergamot and mint for a customer who appreciates mature tastes.
Winner: Clarins Men UV Plus SPF 50
The two biggest factors in visible ageing? Sun exposure and pollution. Clarins Men UV Plus is a multi-tasking skin saviour that takes care of both. Light enough to wear over a serum without making the skin feel clogged or greasy, it goes on white but rubs in effectively and has a clean, fresh scent. Loaded with broad spectrum SPF 50 and water-resistant, it will have you covered at home and abroad.
Highly Commended: Lab Series Day Rescue Defense Lotion SPF 35
The lower SPF in Lab Series’ Day Rescue Defense Lotion makes it perfect for daily city wear. A superhero of the bathroom shelf, it also fights infrared rays and toxic particles that can lead to congested skin – all in a traceless formula.
Grooming Move of The Year: The Moustache
This year the lip-tickling moustache has come in from the fashion cold and has been romping up the style barometer to claim the gong for top grooming trend of 2018. These days, this hirsute accessory is everything from a cancer-kicking cause to a red-carpet, street style essential favoured by the hottest talent in town from Henry Cavill to the cast of Narcos. It’s time to lose the beard and let the ‘tache out to stand on its own.
Best Body Wash
Winner: Ren Atlantic Kelp & Magnesium Anti-Fatigue Body Wash
Start your day right with this energy-boosting body wash. It’s packed with botanical extracts including sage, cypress, geranium, rosemary and mineral-rich kelp, which give it an uplifting scent. It’s by eco-conscious brand Ren, so it won’t contain any parabens, SLS or harsh chemicals and it also comes in a 100 per cent recycled plastic bottle, with 20 per cent from recovered marine plastic. It’s a step in the right direction, and we approve.
Highly Commended: American Crew Acumen Invigorating Body Wash
As the makers of some of the best barber styling products, don’t overlook American Crew’s body line. The Invigorating Body Wash from the brand’s new Acumen line is a high-performance, vitamin-enriched formula with botanical essences such as ginger root, which puts the invigoration in the name. We loved this body wash for its zingy scent and for cleansing the skin without leaving it feeling dry.
Best Anti-Ageing Product
Winner: L’Oréal Paris Men Expert Vita Lift Gel Moisturiser
There’s no escaping gravity, but L’Oréal Paris Men Expert Vita Lift will help your skin put up a fight. One of the reasons we rate this gel formula so highly is because it’s soothing and hydrating without being thick and heavy – a common pitfall of anti-ageing creams. It benefits from all the tech and research behind a big skincare company like L’Oréal, but it’s easy on the wallet at the same time.
Highly Commended: Peter Thomas Roth 10% Glycolic Solutions Moisturizer
Glycolic acid is kryptonite for dead cells, open pores and uneven skin tone. Good news, then, that high-potency resurfacing comes as standard with Peter Roth’s 10% Glycolic Solutions moisturiser. It gives the face a smoother, fresher appearance and boosts collagen production to help keep fine lines at bay.
Fragrance Icon Award: Hermès Terre d’Hermès
Timeless, understated, classic: three words that describe the iconic Terre d’Hermès. To be considered successful in these cutthroat times, a scent still has to be on counter five years after launch. Almost 13 years later, and a new ‘Intense’ version under its belt, by all indicators Terre d’Hermès is one of the best men’s fragrances of all time. It’s distinctive without being showy and has all the hallmarks of a signature scent.
Best Shaving Product
Winner: Nivea Men Body Shaving Anti-Irritation Stick
For those looking to ditch the silverback gorilla look, there’s a speedy, easy and painless way with our winning shave product. The Body Shaving Stick from Nivea is designed for in-shower use and one-handed application. It makes light work of larger areas like the chest, and it’s easy to apply to contours like the underarm or around the groin – with no redness or discomfort.
Highly Commended: Heath Cream Shave
Heath’s Cream Shave looks like it costs more than £8, and it feels like it too. High-quality ingredients including Tasmanian pepper, tea tree oil and fuco gel make for a smooth, comfortable cut with a creamy lather and soft, moisturised skin as a result.
Best Hairstyling Product
Winner: Label M Professional Haircare Fashion Edition Powder To Wax
Proving that you needn’t be a model to get a catwalk-ready quiff, Label M puts its fashion expertise in your hands with this innovative product. The professional piece of kit comes out as a powder which can be warmed in the hand to create a smooth wax. It boosts root lift to give volume and texturise the hair, leaving behind a matte look to finish that can be washed out easily.
Highly Commended: The Bluebeards Revenge Sea Salt Spray
Hard-won surf hair is instantly achievable with this sea salt spray from The Bluebeards Revenge. The carefully balanced solution adds volume to limp, fine hair and texture to straight locks, all while promising to give a hold that’s tighter than the grip of Davey Jones’ Locker.
Winner: Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense
Most sunscreens smell of nasty chemicals or, worse, cheap pinã coladas. A price worth paying for protection from skin cancer, sure, but we’d still rather not. This Daily UV Defense lotion packs high protection in an unscented lightweight formula that won’t clog pores or leave you covered in sand because it’s non-stick. During the summer it’s probably the only moisturiser you’ll need. Dear Kiehl’s, please make a body-size edition, and soon.
Highly Commended: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Pocket SPF 50+
This convenient, travel-sized version of the broad-spectrum sunscreen from French pharmacy brand La Roche-Posay is made to live in sports kits, glove boxes, desk drawers and weekend bags. The upshot? You’ll never get caught short and turn up for work on Monday with a lobster beak again.
Best Men’s Grooming Destination: Byredo
It’s now possible to live and breathe the unconventional world of Swedish perfume house Byredo in its sleek new London flagship. Brand founder Ben Gorham didn’t take the classic route to become a perfumer (he’s an art school graduate who went on to be a basketball star) and he’s given his Soho space a contemporary look with achingly stylish fittings to match. Peruse the entire collection under one roof; from cult scents to home fragrances, hand and body lotions, leather goods and scented papers, or head to one of the other two floors to soak up events, talks and artist residences.
40 Lexington Street, London W1F 0LN