Urban Male

A modern man's survival guide to city life.

Kyoku Brand Review

So this week I thought I’d do something a little bit different and review a brand of men’s grooming products. Now Kyoku is branded as a premium range of men’s grooming products and is one that until this week I’ve never tried before, so I thought it’d be a good brand to review.

To review the brand I bought a sample of four products from its range and rated them out of 10 for effectiveness. I did this by taking a before and after picture and comparing the results based on the supposed benefits of these products. So let’s begin…

20140720-111842-40722456.jpg

1. Kyoku Lip Fuel:

As many of you know I don’t view lip products for men as being essential, with Vaseline doing the same job without any nasty side effects. In the name of research however, I swapped the Vaseline for Kyoku Lip Fuel for a week and compared the results. In terms of the overall appearance of my lips, I’d say that there’s not much difference; however being summer, the SPF factor of the Lip Fuel obviously has the upper hand on the Vaseline.

Effectiveness Rating: 7/10

2. Kyoku Pore Reducing Serum:

Now I have to admit this week was the first time I’ve ever used a pore reducing serum and I would recommend incorporating one into your moisturising regime. The Kyoku Pore Reducing Serum, has definitely improved the appearance of my pores over the week; however due to the price tag of this product, I recommend finding cheaper alternatives.

Effectiveness Rating: 8/10

3. Kyoku Oil Control Lotion:

Kyoku’s Oil Control Lotion, is in essence an oil controlling moisturiser and this is great because I use an oil controlling moisturiser in my day to day life, so I had something to compare it to. Now in my day to day grooming regime, I use Loréal Men Expert Anti-Spot moisturiser, which is comparatively a lot cheaper than the Kyoku product. Furthermore it performs just as well as the Kyoku product, which regrettably means that this Kyoku product is a waste of money. Now by this I don’t mean that it’s not effective as a oil controlling moisturiser but that you can buy a much cheaper alternative that performs just as well.

Effectiveness Rating: 8/10

4. Kyoku Razor Repair Balm:

Finally we come onto Kyoku’s Razor Repair Balm, our final product. From using this product after shaving over the course of the week, it is clear to see that the adverse effects of shaving have been reduced. My skin is lacking the clear signs of irritation caused by shaving and on the whole looks refreshed and supple after every shave. In comparison with my usual Nivea Men Post Shave Balm, I’d say the Kyoku product is a clear winner and although more expensive, is worth the money.

Effectiveness Rating: 8/10

So that’s the end of this week’s post gents, I hope you’ve found the content useful and that it helps you pick the right products for your grooming regime. Good luck!

Resting is Key

Over the last two weeks I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the gym, you know sorting out the summer body and all that and one thing I’ve learnt from a PT friend of mine is that resting between sets is not only essential. It’s quite an exact art.

During the rest period between sets, our muscles are allowed a brief time recover and get ready for the next onslaught of reps, however if we exceed over a 45 second rest period our muscles start to stiffen up again. This is not good gentleman.

So what to do about it? My best advice to you gents is to set a timer either on your phone or watch to monitor the amount of time you rest between sets, this way your muscles will be optimally prepared for your next set. Meaning you’ll be able to do more reps and in general get a better workout out.

Thanks again for reading gents, remember the lucky number 45 and good look with the gym. I’m off to go drink another protein shake…

Out of the Dressing Room

This week’s post is going to be a little different, instead of me passing on my advice to you about fitness, grooming and the like; it will give you the advice of an actor, by giving an insight into his grooming and fitness regime. So gentleman, you always wanted to mirror that silver screen image? Here’s your chance.

First let’s begin with a little background information on our actor.

Is acting your only job?

No.  I acted as a child and loved it.  |I always wanted to go to drama school but it just wasn’t an option for my parents financially.  I act because I love it, my career is in the civil service.  I tried giving acting up once when the day job got too demanding. I think I managed eight years and then could stand it no more.  I felt too miserable without it.

What made you want to become an actor?

I’ve never sought the approval of others, or so I thought.  At school I moved from one group of people to another and never really cared for peer pressure.  I did my own thing, never wore designer labels but opted for things I liked and enjoyed my own company.  But I suppose everyone at that age feels a little bit different.

But…when it came to drama classes and improvisation in particular I realised the audience reaction did something for me.  It’s only now at the age of 42 I accept we all want validating one way or another.  I had convinced myself I didn’t need other people to tell me I was good but indirectly their laughter or shock was doing just that.  I felt extraordinarily confident on stage.  Never felt nerves (and haven’t to this day) though I do get the symptoms of nerves.  I remember coming out of infant school aged 6 or 7 and my mum saying all the other mums were talking about how amazing the evil gnome was in the school play and she had wanted to go over and say I was her son.  For all I know she could have been making it up but it really changed something in me.  At 8 I auditioned for a role at the Palace Theatre in Manchester in Romeo and Juliet.  I realised with horror as the kids filed on stage in groups of ten that they all had pieces prepared or things to do.  I was new and hadn’t thought about it.  So I made something up.  I got through to the last 10 from about 400 kids and then was told I was too short.  I remember saying (gobby even then) ‘Well I’m the same size now as I was a few moments ago on stage when you put me through’. 

I’ve learned to be a little more diplomatic as I got older.

What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on to date?

Hmm – I’ve done feature films, TV projects with people I admired (and loathed) and theatre.  I don’t like ranking them.  They’re all really special in a variety of ways.  I did a project recently where the big scene involved a bit of a breakdown.  I knew the framework but had the script in hand and before I knew it the clapperboard was up, sound and cameras was rolling and I just had time to drop it before they said ‘action’.  I did the take and on ‘cut’ there was an eerie silence.  I thought to myself ‘Hmm, I need to ramp that up a bit and be a bit more broken’.  Then the sound guy said ‘The hairs are standing up on my arm, that was amazing’, and there was a quiet ripple of appreciative feedback around the room.  That was one of the best moments.  When something you think isn’t good enough affects people who are involved in the project you know you’ve done a good job.

Now onto the grooming…

What does your daily grooming regime consist of?

It is like a snowball as I get older – it’s getting more and more hard work.

When I was young I had very dry skin, so I moisturised from the age of about 10…daily.  Something I am very pleased I did. 

I never use soap on my face, or shaving foam.  I just wash with hot water and use a three blade razor with the water.  I never cut myself and I don’t dry out my skin.  I wash my hair daily.  An OCD perhaps but I can’t abide the feeling that it isn’t clean.  Once out the bath I have to moisturise and fast.  It’s like I am working against the clock.  If I leave it five minutes my skin dries and looks like the Giants Causeway.  So I moisturise, then maybe conceal any red bits on my cheeks or purple bloom under my eyes and I’m good to go.

How does your grooming regime change when faced with an acting role?

It’s specific to the role.  So on my last film I died and a few weeks later had to return to haunt the lead actor.  So I have to maintain facial hair as it was that day.

On another I was meant to be a survivor of some post-apocalyptic world.  You’d think I could let myself go to pot, but I can’t.  I need to give the makeup artist a good canvas so I make sure my skin is especially hydrated and even use baby oil.  It’s not good when they start doing the makeup and you’re flaking it off before their eyes.

Have you got any grooming tips for our readers?

Drink lots of water.

Get plenty sleep.

Try the shave without foam and give your skin a rest from having its natural oils stripped from it.

If you’re gonna wear makeup, use it to even out skin tone – not to make yourself look like a bad day in the house of wax.  The idea is to enhance how you look, not put on a mask.  Leave that to the very accomplished drag acts.

Finally gents, it’s time to talk fitness.

How do you stay fit on a daily basis?

I used to be a personal trainer.  Back in the 2000’s when I first got the gym bug I was going 10 times a week.  Very unhealthy but we all do silly things.  I took a course to learn how to train others then worked in three different gyms. 

Now, it is harder to get the same results, but I look a lot better than I did then.  I go in, do what I have to do and get out. A mix of cardio and weights and I try to limit it to an hour and around five visits a weeks.

Does your fitness regime change depending on the acting role you’re undertaking?

Yes.  I know now I need to trim down.  I have a 51 inch chest, which is great for the action hero type role but I want to be a little more diverse.  I don’t want to pigeonhole myself as ‘bouncer’ or ‘bodyguard’.  It will be hard work, and hard mentally to go smaller, but I think overall I need to lose some size.  

Have you got any fitness tips or secrets that our readers could take on board?

Get a training partner.  Preferably one who has strengths you don’t.  I used to train with a colleague who had the most amazing arms and chest.  He would effortlessly bench-press twice what I could.  Rather than frustrate me it spurred me on and he was encouraging.  When it came to legs, I could squat over 600lbs (though I did often black out afterwards) and he got the same kind of push from me.

Make use of the gym staff – they hate cleaning and have to do it all day until someone asks them for help. They really are happy to help.  Ask for a programme or some new things to try. 

If you miss a few days, as I have this last two weeks with a bad wrist, don’t beat yourself up.  Because then you’ll get down and even less likely to return.  The break will have done you good, allowed little injuries and niggles to sort themselves. 

But most of all have specific goals.  I hate the phrase ‘tone up’.  It means nothing.  Muscles get bigger or they shrink back down.  So what is it you want?  If it is to lose some body fat then say so.  Get it measured and then set a plan for what you want to lose and by when.  Make it achievable.  Plot your progress.  When you can see it you’ll achieve it.  If you just say ‘Oh I wanna tone up’ you’ll drift in and out and never make any real, long lasting, progress.  If you want to put on muscle get a tape measure and write down all your starting measurements.  Then…train like your life depends on it and eat well.  Go to bodybuilding.com for amazing diets, workouts and tips.  Then after a fortnight measure yourself again.  Then start to plan how much you want to build each body part up and work your ass off.

Any final words of wisdom for our readers?

Essentially, we ALL want to be validated.  Be that through our work, our appearance, or whatever we do that matters to us.  So, knowing that, why give anything less than your best. Decide what you want, establish if it’s possible and if it is there is no reason you can’t have it.  It may be hard, but anything worth having is hard work and if you don’t work hard, maybe you never really wanted it at all.

So there we have it gents, the grooming and fitness tips of an actor. I’d like to thank him again for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us and until next time gents, good luck!

The Dutch Initiative

The one thing that ultimately stereotypes Dutch life is the bicycle and this week I’ve experienced first hand how this stereotype can benefit the modern man.

Basically over the last week I’ve been staying with a friend in the Netherlands and that ultimately means that I’ve been cycling quite a bit. Now what I’ve learnt is that cycling is not only a great way to get around the busy traffic involved in the daily commute but it’s also a great lower body workout. Cycling works your calf and leg muscles along with your glutes, so if you have a flat ass gents cycling can help.

Now apart from the health and commuting benefits, bicycles are also a relatively cheap method of transport and therefore you’ll not only be getting fitter and beating the traffic but you’ll also be saving money. Which is always a good thing.

So gentleman what can we learn from the Dutch? Cycle, cycle and cycle. It’s an easy adjustment to our day to day lives, which has many benefits for both our health and wallets.

Good luck gents and I’ll see you next week.

Scrub a Dub Dub

First of all I want to apologise for not writing a post last week, I was in the middle of moving back home for the summer from university and so I didn’t have much spare time. Nevertheless that’s all over now and it’s time to get back to writing this survival guide, which this week will all be about how to look after your skin.

Now I know I’ve already discussed moisturising as the essential factor in maintaining healthy skin but there are a couple other things we can do to enhance our skin’s appearance, we need to wash and exfoliate.

I can just imagine you thinking now is he being serious? Does he honestly think we don’t already wash? Well no gentleman I do believe or at least hope to believe you do wash but what I’m referring to is using face wash every other day and exfoliating with mitts at least once a week.

The fact is gentleman soap isn’t as good for our skin as it’s made out to be, in fact it is one of the worse things you can use on your face. Soap will dry out your skin and in general make it appear well unhealthy. So the idea instead gentleman in order to maintain healthy looking skin is to use a mild face wash, it will help cleanse away any impurities but will do so without causing irritation to your skin. I recommend a mild face wash here gentleman as a stronger face wash can cause irritation and lead to skin imperfections.

Regarding exfoliation gents, our skin is in a constant cycle of shedding and growth and exfoliating once a week just helps the shedding process. Leaving your skin looking more radiant and not to mention a lot smoother. Buying an exfoliating mitt is also relatively in expensive and therefore I cannot recommend incorporating this into your grooming regime enough.

So there we have it, two easy ways of maintaining healthy skin. As always gents, good luck and I’ll see you again next week.

How to Tame the Beast

So last week’s post was all about maintaining your facial hair and doing that’s all well and good but it got me thinking. What about the rest of our bodies? What are we supposed to do with the multitude of hair growth that engulfs the male form? Do we simply leave it to grow? Do we trim it like our facial hair? Or do we just remove it completely?

Honestly gentleman I can’t give you an answer it’s all about personal preference. Some men view body hair like facial hair as the epitome of the masculinity and others, just view it as a nuisance.

Now personally I have two views on the topic of body hair, depending on whether you’re wanting to keep it or remove it.

Firstly if you’re wanting to keep your body hair I’d recommend regularly trimming it with clippers, as I recommended for facial hair. As personally I like having some body hair but if you don’t trim it, it just looks wild and messy. Trust me on this one gents, the ladies will appreciate the effort.

Secondly if your going to remove your body hair, do it right. By this gentleman I mean don’t just get your razor and shave, all this will lead to is patchwork body hair, razor burn and itchy stubble. Instead gents, either get the hair waxed professionally (don’t do it at home unless you’re prepared for one of the most uncomfortable experiences of your life) or use a hair removal cream such as Veet. Both methods, will leave your skin not only hairless for longer but smoother, without razor burn and without itchy stubble.

So keep it trimmed or lose it gentleman, there’s no one answer to the question of body hair. Like I said it’s all about personal preference but never just leave it to grow wild, it’ll just make you seem unkempt and you don’t want that stigma attached to you. Best of luck gents.

Taming the Face Jungle

Should we shave or should we grow the manly beard? This question has plagued the male race since the beginning of time but what is the answer?

Now I’d say the clean shaven and fully grown out facial hair looks both have their appeal to men worldwide, however according to women worldwide neither are desirable.

Instead women prefer men to have the well groomed designer stubble look, which can be achieved by clipping your facial hair down to an equal length once every three to five days.

By clipping the facial hair we create a well groomed yet manly look, which contrasts the wild look of the full grown beard and the baby faced nature of the clean shave. Let’s face it gentleman we all want to portray this manly mystique but at the same time we don’t want to resemble Chewbacca and we definitely don’t want to look like we haven’t hit puberty.

So the answer to the question gentleman is simple, keep the facial hair but trim it regularly. It couldn’t be any simpler.

The Bank Holiday Hangover

The sun has been shining, the days have been long and the beer has been flowing, yes gentleman it is the last day of the bank holiday weekend and that means only one thing, we’re gonna have a hangover in the morning. Definitely not what we need on the first day back to work, university etc. So the question is gentleman how can we beat this hangover, and this post is going to tell you all the answers.

We’re going to look at two aspects of beating the bank holiday hangover, the physical appearance of the hangover and the internal side effects of all that alcohol.

First let’s deal with the physical appearance of the hangover. When consuming alcohol in any quantity it has a dehydrating effect on our bodies, which causes a dull fatigued look the morning after and of course the tell tale baggy eyes that epitomise that hungover look. Now to beat this dull and baggy eyed appearance gentleman the solution is simple, simply moisturise your face and body before going to bed and apply again in the morning after showering. This will reduce the effects of dehydration by by adding moisture to your skin, making the baggy eyes less noticeable and your skin generally more vibrant. An extra tip for beating the baggy hangover eyes, is to use an anti-fatigue eye gel that will add caffeine to the eye area and in doing so reduce the visibility of baggy eyes.

Now to deal with the internal side effects of alcohol, I know there are numerous hangover remedies out there but honestly guys the easiest method to reduce the internal effects of a hangover is to just drink water and have some food before going to sleep. By drinking the water you are rehydrating your body, which will counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol which causes most of the common hangover symptoms and by eating some food you’re making sure your stomach has something in it other than alcohol, which is often the cause of nausea the following morning.

So there we have it guys, an easy way to beat the bank holiday hangover. I hope this post helps reduce the toll of all the partying this weekend and makes getting up tomorrow just a little more bearable.

Lighten up

Ok guys so since it’s Easter Sunday I’m gonna keep this week’s post short and sweet so we can all get back to eating that Easter chocolate. I’m sorry to say this post has absolutely nothing to do with Easter or chocolate but instead is all about highlighting your hair.

Now I know some of you will have mixed views on any form of dying your hair, however by adding a few subtle highlights to your hair, you can add a whole new dimension to your hairstyle. The key though gentleman is subtlety. Your best option for achieving the desired look with highlights, will always be to consult a hair stylist and get the highlights done professionally.

Otherwise you may end up with completely contrasting highlights to your hair colour, remember what a skunk looks like gentleman? That could be you if any DIY highlighting goes amiss.

So that’s this week’s short and sweet post about highlighting. I hope you guys find this post useful and remember, don’t end up like a skunk.

 

Big Green Tree

So earlier today I went to Wortley Hall in South Yorkshire for a Spring fair and while I was there, I discovered a great natural skincare brand called Big Green Tree (see the link at the bottom of the post) and decided to buy one of their lip balms to test their products out. Now as you know from my post on lip care, one of the main problems with commercial lip balms is the presence of chemicals that gradually peel your lips over time. Yeah remember that big conspiracy theory.

Anyway since I’ve gotten back and tried my lip balm, which tastes very nice by the way; I’ve looked into the brand a bit more and discovered not only are they a local brand to me being based in Derbyshire but also they don’t use any of the harsh chemicals found in commercial products. Meaning that my lip balm along with tasting great, is also not going to peel my lips and therefore I thought they deserved a little shout out for the good work they’re doing. Especially since I found out they have a male range of products called Virtus.

According to their website, virtus is latin for manliness, excellence, character and courage and personally I couldn’t think of a better term to describe the modern urban male. So here’s a quick look at the Virtus range and what it can do for you.

The Virtus range can be divided into two main categories, shaving and bath care. Big Green Tree are providing a three step shaving solution for men with the Virtus range, a pre-shave oil, shaving soap and a soothing aftershave balm. This three step solution will not only keep your skin looking good post-shave but also healthy, as it will dramatically reduce the undesirable effects shaving can have on your skin and let’s face it, nobody wants undesirable blemishes on their face. The bath care range consists of an all over body wash and body scrub, which will leave your skin smelling masculine and as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Sounds good right?

So the Virtus range is masculine, great for our skin and reasonably priced and therefore I can’t recommend it enough, so click the link below gentleman and experience this great brand.

http://www.biggreentreetrading.com/virtus-mens-range