Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Rituals Urban Samurai For Men

As a guy usually proud of his own manliness, I have always been suspicious of having (let alone using!) skin and body care products. Creams, lotions…heck! Even the after shave seemed a bit “girlie” to me! 

However, sometimes, only sometimes, a brand surprises you with a refreshing mix of innovative products, daring approach and superb customer care. That’s the way I felt with the recently launched Rituals Ancient Samurai line, inspired by the exquisite and strict beauty criteria adopted by the legendary Japanese elite warriors. No, I am not kidding. What, haven’t you seen the meticulously groomed beards and the dreamlike topknots they wear into battle? Being a bad-ass and kick asses was important for the samurais, but the dedicated beauty care also constituted a crucial aspect of their code of honor.

But enough with the History lesson. In my case, this brand didn't have a "surprise factor" for me. I knew it was good. Rituals has been an old friend since my days back in Spain, a perfect source of gift ideas and an unique oasis of peace and relax amidst the most crowded malls. Even at Christmas! That is why I was delighted to attend the Ancient Samurai exclusive event that Rituals  recently held in its New York City’s SoHo shop.

From the moment I stepped in, I was treated with the most attentive and courteous care. No wonder why my wife loves attending events! A professional hairdresser groomed my scruffy beard with the Ancient Samurai products while I sipped a Heineken beer and nibbed some of the nicest sushi in Manhattan. A few minutes later I felt completely reborn, with my chin smooth and my facial hair neat and clean. I told my wife I kinda liked it, but the truth is it was one of the most relaxing experiences in my life.


The Rituals Ancient Samurai line consists of 22 products catering to men's three basic needs: skincare, shaving products and body care. All of them treasure in their core powerful botanical components oriented to satisfy the most demanding standards. The Japanese Mint, for example, refreshes and revitalizes both mind and body, whilst the Organic Bamboo, Ginger and Tiger Grass protect and nourish the skin. Every aspect of the daily care is covered, with products like Samurai Cool Scrub and Samurai Cleanse Face wash for exfoliation purposes, Ice Shower Gel for body washing and Cool Deo Spray for a 24 hours odorless protection. The objective: To provide you, the average urbanite wage-earner, with the same sense of confidence and inner strength that the Samurais of the past felt knowing that they were not only the best at what they did…but also pretty damn handsome.


I'm not very good at admitting that I like cosmetics, let alone creams, but I found a new bestie in the Samurai 24h Hydrating Face Gel. My skin felt supple, hydrated, and even my wife appraised its new softness. Kinda deal for 29 dollars, in my opinion. IMHO, the shaving cream is the second best product of the line. It is perfect for achieving great shaving results without dryness or redness. It actually makes shaving my strong beard easier.

To sum up, using this line is not only a treat to your skin, but a debt of honor to your personal appearance. Thanks to Rituals, now it’s easy to prepare for your daily battles with the proper look!

Disclosure level 1: The above author was fed during the event and given samples of the products to try at home. There was no paid compensation. This post doesn't contain affiliate links.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Celebrate a Beauty-Full Earth Day

Yes, I am against animal testing. And yes, I love PicMonkey.

Earth Day is approaching, and many of my favorite beauty brands are creating special initiatives to remind us the importance of recycling and becoming eco-conscious consumers. Scroll down for my curated selection of treats, special editions, and recycling programs to celebrate beauty in the upcoming two weeks:

Kiehl's Rewards its Eco-Conscious Customers

Kiehl's ongoing program Recycle and Be Rewarded!, is one of my favorite in-store recycling program. Available only in Kiehl’s free-standing stores nationwide, it allows eco-conscious customers to return their empty Kiehl’s bottles, tubes and jars for recycling, in exchange for product.

Kiehl’s retail stores  will also be celebrating Earth Day with the following activities:

Recycle & Be Rewarded!: From April 22 through April 26, at all Kiehl’s retail stores, customers can receive 5 stamps for every 1 Kiehl’s empty returned (normally, it’s 1 stamp per empty), AND customers who bring in an empty skincare jar or bottle from ANY brand will receive a deluxe sample of Kiehl’s skincare.

Complimentary Lip Balm!: From April 14 through April 27, while supplies last, customers spending $65 or more will receive a complimentary Lip Balm #1.

20-Minute Seated Facials & Dehydration Skin Tests: From April 22 through April 26, at all Kiehl’s retail stores, customers can experience a 20-minute pampering facial, and full healthy skin check, including skin analysis with Kiehl’s new Dehydration Analyzer Tool.

 Switching to Plant-Based Cosmetics Without Breaking The Bank

Using green cosmetics is another responsible step towards respecting Mother Nature. Good for your body and good for the environment, their formulas deliver amazing results without negatively impacting health with nasty chemicals. In the past ten years, the natural cosmetics industry has, literally, exploded. I still remember the first attempts reaching the Spanish market when I was still a teenager. Those creams were all right for me, because I only needed hydration. But more advanced features, like potent and quick anti-aging properties, were still under development or extremely expensive.

Nowadays, it is possible to find natural and affordable formulas (just take a look at the Whole Foods cosmetics aisle!). Although not all of them are organic (which I strongly recommend after my experience of many years), many of them are at least stripped off nasty chemicals, which makes them a win-win option.

Here are a few brands that won't break your piggy bank and can be a great introduction to the natural cosmetics world:

Salon Grafix Healthy Hair Nutrition Collection ($7.99, Duane Reade): An alternative to harsh shampoos and conditioners. The multi-purpose sulfate and paraben-free cleansers are formulated to rebalance natural oils with pure ingredients and leave hair clean and soft. An all-in one formula, it's a good solution for those who, like me, are allergic to SLS.

Agave Healing Oil Treatment ($40, Advertised as the only plant-based oil on the market, it is formulated to smooth, restore and transform unmanageable frizzy hair. Unlike traditional nut-based oils, the oil contains extracts from the Blue Agave plant, and the non-greasy, lightweight formula is ideal for all hair types. Amino sugars from the plant are included to hydrate hair and preserve color. Just a few drops are needed in each application.

Oil Essentials ($12.99, Target): A collection of natural beauty oils that can be used on hair, hands, and nails. These oils are free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic colors and are safe for sensitive skin. The collection includes the 6 following combinations: Argan and Wheat Germ; Omega 3,6, 9 and Evening Primrose; Neroli and Avocado; Seabuckthorn Berry and Borage; Sweet Almond and Macadamia; and Lavender and Rose Hip.

Hairiette (12.99 to 15.99, at the brand website shop) is a new soapless haircare line by Tanya Wright, actress of Orange is the New Black and True Blood. Hairiette is made with amazing natural ingredients  like Kokum Butter and Marula Oil. Curl Creme for defining, Oil Blend for Moisture. I am particularly intrigued by  her co-washing solution, which seems to be ideal for fine, curly manes like mine. 

Garden Apothecary Bath Tea ($12 at the brand website shop) is an all-natural, herbal remedy to soak in after a workout in the gym or a particularly hectic day. The natural minerals in the formula, based on a combination of Epsom salts and botanical ingredients, help support the skin and body. They are ideal for an instant and effective boost of hydration and relaxation.

Come Clean Pop Culture Soap for humans and pets ($14 at the brand Etsy Shop) is a handmade glycerin soap bar from New York with all natural, vegan ingredients. It is paraben and sulphate free, and has neutral pH, for both humans and furry friends! The Detox Monkey Soap contains one of the hottest beauty ingredients this summer: Activated Charcoal.

Get the Earth Day Look!

For the conscious fashionistas, the new eco-conscious collection at H&M ($18 to $350) is a must-have. Created as a sustainable clothing line, its collection features elegant pieces that are a sure fit for your business and your party wardrobe. Tailored with organic materials like linen, silk, hemp and cotton, recycled wool and sequins, this collection uses volume, a Japanese inspiration and ruffles so consciously it's the epitome of effortless-meets-eco-chic.

How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day?

Disclosure level 0: I did not get paid nor sent samples for this article.

Friday, April 10, 2015

John Halls es la imagen de Desigual Dark Fresh

El lanzamiento de una (buena) fragancia suele ser la culminación de un esfuerzo colectivo que puede prolongarse meses, incluso años. Y es que no es tan sencillo encerrar en un frasquito una idea, una sensación, o una impresión.

Desde que Desigual lanzó sus primeras fragancias supe que sus creaciones formaban parte de un proceso muy cuidado. Quizás porque es una marca muy particular con una filosofía muy marcada, su incursión en el mundo de la perfumería no pasó precisamente desapercibido.

Desigual acaba de lanzar Dark Fresh, su primera fragancia masculina, y ha escogido como imagen a John Halls, el modelo y ex-futbolista que en palabras de la marca encarna todo lo que Dark Fresh representa. Sin leer mucho más y tras ver la imagen promocional, empiezo a entender el "Dark" en el nombre de la fragancia. Será que la primavera, la sangre altera.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Burt's Bees #28DayFaceChallenge starts today!

I love natural cosmetics. Because I have extremely dry, and too-often-itchy skin, I have tested every single thing on the market to alleviate my symptoms. In my personal experience, by keeping my beauty care simple and using high-quality products, it's possible to enjoy a clean and healthy-looking skin. Natural cosmetics have always worked very well on my skin, and because they usually don't contain nasty fillers or chemicals, I tend to privilege them in my beauty routines.

Burt's Bees is one of my favorite natural-care brands. I accidentally stumbled upon it in my first trip to the USA a few years ago, and ever since then I always keep a Hand Salve tin and a Beeswax lip balm in my handbag.

The brand is now launching a new Renewal Collection that works in harmony with the skin's 28-day natural renewal cycle. Formulated with a new Apple and Hibiscus Rejuvenating Complex and packed with botanicals, the Renewal line aims to fight the signs of aging and reveal more youthful, healthy-looking skin.