OMChristmas: Dudes

I guess guys must think we think they smell bad, given that’s the majority of what we give them at Christmas … nah, just joking. Nothing like a fragranced male to keep the yuletide bright! Herewith are several gift sets for yer fella, a list which betrays my own personal bias towards the snuffle factor, and some skincare bits that are fairly burstin’ with testosterone.


‘Snuffle factor’ being an actual industry term, which is a measure of the degree to which a lady wants to rub her nose on a man’s post-cologned neck. I could get a PHD in this, I am such an excellent calibrator of snuffle-ocity.
Zegna Uomo Classic Set High Res

ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA Z Zegna Uomo Classic Set {€55} contains Z Zegna 50ml EDT and a 100mls of  Hair & Body Wash. The scent dries down to yummy vetiver, patchouli and musk. I don’t know when we started calling cologne Eau de Toilette? Are they different things, or what? No idea, but I do know that causing your man to smell like a sexy Italian is no bad thing. If your man is already a sexy Italian, does he have a brother?


NIVEA MEN Regime {€12.99} is a great way to get your man into skincare without making it come over all girly. This set includes Deep Cleansing Wash 100ml; Moisturising Shave Gel 200ml; Rehydrating Moisturiser 75ml. It looks suitably masculine and as with all Nivea products, smells fresh and clean, so he will, too.


L'OCCITANE CEDRE & ORANGEL’OCCITANE have a gorgeous box of South of France goodness in the form of their Cèdre & Oranger range for men {€73}. Included in this Star Gift Set is 75ml Cèdre & Oranger Eau de Toilette; 175ml Cèdre & Oranger Shower Gel and 75ml Cèdre & Oranger After Shave Balm.

I, er, made the mistake of cracking into it, and I really like it for myself — so if you, like, mistakenly use the shower gel, say, it won’t be that terrible of a mistake.


ZIAJA €7.99The macho-looking ZIAJA‘s Men Set {€7.99} is a full-sized wonder for a travel-sized price. The cream absorbs superfast, and dries matte, so there’ll be no sign of the pampering that has just ensued. The rest of the line is as competitively priced as the lady stuff, so you could throw a few more products in, and if you spend €20, I’d be surprised.


HUGO BOSS FRAGRANCE SETI would buy this for a grown-up nephew, or a brother or brother-in-law. The BOSS Bottled Gift Set {€60} is a modern, fresh, masculine combo of 50mls of Eau de Toilette and 100mls of shower cream. It is sexy, but not in a way that ‘s going to annoy your sister because you are giving it to her husband, or freak out your bro.


007 FRAGRANCE SETThis is perfect for a medium-grown nephew, as I have heard that 11-year-olds are now giving themselves a splash of cologne before getting on the school bus. The JAMES BOND 007 Quantum Gift Set {€38} contains 75mls of EDT and Refreshing Shower Gel. The cap is a nifty twisty thing that adds interest, and the size is just right for those fickle tweensters, who will no doubt go about robbing their dad’s cologne (above.)


Yon-Ka Men GiftSauce for goose meets gander: YON KA PARIS for the ladies is sublime, so surely it is the same for the mens? This For Men Gift Set {€40} come with Anti-oxidant and Energising Nutri-Moist creme and a travel-sized Lotion YK Aftershave in a fancy toiletry bag. I mean, a manly toiletry bag.


Dude Week Q&A: Peter Brennan of Ziaja

PETERFirst of all, repeat after me: zeye-ah. Wait, okay, wait: shzEYEa. Argh! The name is hard to pronounce, but the products are easy to use, and even easier on your wallet. Irish distributor, Peter Brennan recommends we rhyme Ziaja with ‘buy-a’. But with a shushy zed sound in the front. Or something. 

Even if you can’t quite get the hang of how to say it, Ziaja as a brand are comprehensive, top-to-toe brand that has the added attraction of being extremely affordable. In my personal experience, I found the Natural Grapeseed Oil Moisturising Body Butter to be as good as, and in many ways better {coverage, absorption, and cooling qualities} than many other, pricier brands I’ve tried, and for close to half the cost {€7.99!}

I chatted with Peter about how he went from swinging hammers to promoting skincare.

How did a dude get into the beauty business?
I’m a carpenter by trade, and was trained by John Sisk and SonLltd back in the days of the Celtic Tiger. I saw the construction market slowing down years before the crash and figured it was time to look at doing something different that would be buildable through the tough times ahead. I set up a small distribution company and started  buying small amounts of Ziaja products. I literally went cold calling  to pharmacies and pitching in the brand – now years on we have approximately 500 pharmacies.

At the start, when I was dealing with the buyers I was asked regularly “what did you work at before selling Ziaja?” I always said I was a carpenter! Most found it funny but interesting, and it definitely kept the conversation going, and that’s an important part of any sale. Today, I really enjoy working in the beauty industry because it changes so much — it makes it very interesting to work in.

What makes Ziaja so special? What does provide that separates it from other brands?
Ziaja  is a Polish beauty brand with a 20 year heritage of developing naturally inspired face and body care products. Launched in Ireland four years ago, I believe the brand has done well in Ireland as Irish women are very savvy about skincare, and in these cost-conscious times, we have built a loyal  customer following, women who trust the brand, love the products and  actively recommend them. Ziaja also offers a fantastic choice for a variety of skin types and conditions: with over 500 products formulated with the same high quality ingredients found in more expensive skincare labels. All the products are skin friendly, Ph-balanced and hypo-allergenic and protect the skin.

Are you a fan of the product yourself? Which ones would you use, to help my readers choose some samples for the men in their lives?
Yes, I use Ziaja products — the olive shower gel and natural argan body lotion are firm favourites! Ziaja has a range for men called Duo Concept, which was developed to address men’s specific skincare needs. I really like the Men’s Moisturising Cream SPF6 (RRP€4.79) It protects, moisturises and delivers a mattifying skin finish – that’s important for blokes.

Given that you are out and about, meeting beauty professionals, can you pinpoint any upcoming trends in skincare that readers may like50+ Jasmine anti-wrinkle serum 30ml copy to know about? Any inside knowledge?
Woman are buying intense DIY dermatology treatments to use at home, from  glycolic peels to hyaluronic acid anti-ageing treatments. Ziaja’s jasmine-based skincare range is fortified with potent anti-aging ingredients like micro-collagen and hyaluronic acid. The Jasmine Serum Anti-Wrinkle 50+ and tinted eye cream have sold out twice on shelf since launch.

There is also a lot of talk out there about micellar cleansers, which based on microscopic molecules that trap and breakdown oil, allowing it to be removed easily from the skin. Ziaja are pioneers in developing micellar water cleansers, having launched them on the market over 2 years ago. Ziaja have three micellar cleansing products: Marine Algae Spa, Rose Butter Water and Jasmine Micellar Water — they are priced at only €4.50 for 200mls.


Ziaja price range from €1.99-15.99. Shop online @


Dude Week: This La Roche-Posay Vid Will Always Be Relevant!

I saw some dudes selling the paintball experience out in Henry Street, when we had summer last week, and I was like, dudes! You are burning yourselves to a crisp! The foreheads, they were scarlet! So may I sorta reblog myself: a post from last May. Bears repeating.

{I was going to edit the part about the sun seeming ‘a distant, wistful memory’, because it is out, this very second — but that will probs change the minute I post this. Doesn’t matter! ABSPFing!*}


Chase Your Dude Around the House with SPF!

Because one in eight Irish dudes will get skin cancer.

Yeah, I know, I’m looking out my window, too, and the sun seems a distant, wistful memory. And frankly, the last three {four? Five?} ‘summers’ haven’t exactly inspired any of us to even think twice about UV protection.

Picture 6I am bad enough, me with all my samples and knowledge, about being ambivalent as regards the SPF, but dudes? How many dudes do you see sloping around with their shirts off, the minute the mercury creeps above anything that seems even remotely warm? And, as it says in the video created by La Roche-Posay for their Save Our Skin campaign, some Irish dudes do think that sunburn is hilarious — I’ve seen them, laughing at their poor, lobstery mates! — but the long term ill effects of a right roasting can be life threatening.

So, you know, if you want your man to take care of his pelt, it might be up to you to get the routine started. And, uh, apparently like, clothes don’t really block out the UV as much as you’d think, so if you are chasing your dude around the house with SPF, well, it could be fun. Because you can’t really apply the stuff effectively when those clothes are on? Right?

Sun protection can be sexy.


*Always Be SPFing!


Dude Week Q&A: Jules Heptonstall of St Tropez Tan

Jules head shotJules Heptonstall started his career in fashion, but knew all along that beauty was his true calling. ‘I really believe in beauty products and services,’ he says, ‘and love the “feel good factor” they give to the user.’

He’s been with powerhouse tan brand St Tropez for six years, and using the product is one of the perks of the gig. ‘I have the kind of skin that just needs a tan,’ he explains. ‘Without it I look totally grey!’

I tend to tan when the sun shines, but now that it’s disappeared again and I am sad, I feel like I will keep up the bronzing to make me feel better. Jules loves a good tan because it makes us look better, too. ‘I was drawn to specialising in tan and skin finishing because I like how it draws everything together, from hair, make up and fashion, to create the perfect canvas for all the other elements to work on. It’s that touch that really makes a difference.’

Are you tan averse? Never had a spray? Jules will calm your fears, and shares some tips and tricks!

Okay: I have just landed from Venus, a planet which does not have spray tanning facilities. What is so great about this beauty technique?
Haha — welcome! Spray tanning is a quick treatment that gives the skin that just-back-from-holiday glow. It disguises signs of fatigue and can even make the body look slimmer and more toned — what is not to love?!

Seriously, though: I think that there are many (many) people who would benefit from a good spray, if only to show them what not to do when self-tanning at home. What’s the best thing about getting a salon tan?
A salon treatment is great for those who are nervous about tanning results. Don’t get scared about getting naked in front of your aesthetician — chances are they’ve seen it all. Like a nurse, nothing will shock them. I’ve bumped into some of my clients on nights out and I don’t recognise them with clothes on — its something a tanning expert gets used to very quickly!

Prior to your treatment your tanning expert should moisturise your hands, elbows, knees and feet as these are the areas of the body where the tan tends to cling to. Usually you will receive two coats of St. Tropez Self Tan Mist from top to toe, and afterwards your nails and palms will be wiped to remove excess colour.

A tan should be dry within five minutes and you can put on loose dark clothes after. You will need to allow the tan to develop for eight to twelve hours and you should have colour for five to seven days.

I find that I am not so great at maintaining my tan. How can I get the most out of my self-tan?
So many clients believe that once you’ve tanned, there is nothing else more you need to do. To get the most from your tan, and to keep it topped up for longer, I recommend using St. Tropez Tan Optimiser Moisturiser. This aloe vera rich moisturiser has been formulated to work with Self Tanned skin and is clinically proven to keep your tan going for up to three days longer.

I also find that I don’t have much patience for gradual tanning, but feel like I would like to change that this year. How long should it take St Tropez Gradual Tan  plus anti Aging Face 50mls €24.99to develop, in general? Do all gradual tans work for all bodies? Is it good to build one up as a base for a professional spray tan, or is that a big no-no?
With gradual tan, it’s great to keep your options open, as the product is extremely versatile. The more consecutive days you apply, the darker you will go. Our gradual tanners work on all skin tones — we have two shades, Light/Medium and Medium/Dark. It’s not a big no-no with a spray tan, but I would only apply it once or twice after a tan.

How do you see the world of spray tan evolving? For example, most products have improved so much in the scent department — in what other ways do you think the industry is trying to moving the process forward?
There are so many innovations happening in tanning: we’ve recently just launched our Gradual Tan Plus range, formulated with firming and anti-ageing benefits, giving a four-products-in-one approach to tanning.

We’ve also formulated our new sensitive range, one that has no guide colour, that naturally develops over 8 hours to deliver a tan. There’s no colour left on your clothes or sheets, and the product is formulated with a melanin activating ingredient so that your skin reacts with the tan to deliver the most natural looking tone possible. Tanning is only moving in giant leaps forward now!


I’m going to get stuck into the Gradual Tan Anti-Ageing; its RRP is €24.99.


Dude Week: Q&A with Simon Duffy, Founder of Bulldog

Simon Duffy is 36, and lives in North London. He’s married (soz, ladies) with a baby daughter, and a dog called Bruno. With a background in advertising and product development, it seems natural — no pun intended — that he’d know how to work with a new and big idea. Along with business partner Rhodri Ferrier, he conceived a line of skincare products for men that were akin to the good stuff that women were able to buy for themselves.

Bulldog rolled out in the UK in 2007 in Sainsbury’s, and whilst the business has grown, Simon is keeping it real. ‘We’re certainly a lot bigger now, and are currently operating in 12 countries,’ he says. ‘However, we’re still learning, and by no means do we have all the answers yet.’ Here as some answers! Simon very kindly talked to B&B! about ideas, fundraising, and follow through.


What was the ‘ah ha!’ moment that lead to the start up this business?
The idea for Bulldog came about when I was shopping for skincare products for my wife. All the products she used were natural, and when I went to buy my own I realised that there were just no natural products out there for men. A few days later I met Rhodri and told him about my idea for natural skincare products for men. By the end of the night we had agreed to become business partners. In 2006 we decided to quit our jobs and create Bulldog with no experience in the sector.

Can you talk about the learning curve involved in the start up, and how you’ve grown since then?
Once we had the idea, we did an enormous amount of research into all aspects of product development. Our main considerations were that we wanted to make the highest quality natural skincare products for men, manufacture everything in the UK, and offer great value to consumers.

Personally, I would never spend €30 for a moisturiser, so value was always going to be key. Our Original Moisturiser has a RRP of €8.75 and comes in a 100ml tube, making it considerably cheaper than the smaller sized alternatives from L’Oreal and Nivea. We’re really proud that we can make this affordable without any compromise on our commitment to using the highest quality natural ingredients or delivering great performance. This took an enormous amount of work in the upfront stage.

How did you get the whole thing off the ground?
Initially Rhodri and I combined our life savings and maxed out our credit cards. I think we scraped together just under £37,000. However, once we started talking to large retailers like Sainsbury’s, we realised we were going to need additional funds.

Raising money is a very hard thing to do. We spoke to hundreds of potential investors and got knocked back more times than I care to remember. Ultimately, we found a group of people who loved our concept of removing controversial chemicals and replacing them with the highest quality natural ingredients. The people who invested in Bulldog are as passionate about Bulldog as we are.

What’s the best piece of advice you would give to anyone looking to go out on their own in business in general, and skincare in particular?
Don’t conform to industry conventions, and make sure you work with great people.

It’s been a really steep learning curve, especially at the beginning as we were total outsiders to the industry. Nothing is insurmountable however, providing that you approach every challenge with an open mind, and actively look to seek out people more experienced than you to help at critical stages. We’ve learnt a great deal through collaborating with great people.

I am struck by the packaging design — most dude stuff has very macho names, and the containers are black or silver with like, racing stripes all over them. Can you talk about the approach that you took to designing the line’s appearance, and the ethos behind it?
We compete with massive multinational companies who spend tens of millions of pounds on marketing their brands. There’s nothing unique about them as they pretty much do everything the same. They all use very similar formulations, market their products in exactly the same way, and really are just repackaging traditionally female products for men.

Their packaging all feels very similar and derivative. People have grown used to this sea of sameness on the male skincare shelf, which is typically, as you say, a blur of blues, black and greys.
Bulldog Group Pack Shot

We wanted to bring something exciting and fresh to the skincare category and we wanted our packaging to reflect this. We set ourselves the challenge of standing out rather than blending in. When you can’t afford to run massive advertising campaigns, you have to let your products do the talking for you. We like to think that the shelf is our opportunity to catch people’s eye.

Last year I got some samples of Bulldog’s products, and very boldly used them myself instead of passing them on to the dudes in my life! Turnabout is fair play!

Seriously though, I thought they were great, especially the face scrub. It’s not as if there’s not enough product for women out there, but have you thought about applying your principles to lady product?
Great to hear this! We do know that our face scrub, face wash and moisturiser have something of a female cult following, which is great. However, we have no plans to launch a new range or a sub-range in this area. There are just so many ‘For Men’ version of female brands, where men know that they are being treated as something of an afterthought. We only want to focus on men’s skin, and unlike pretty much 100% of our competition, Bulldog is 100% focused on men and their skincare needs.

Any new launches we should look out for?
Watch out for our brilliant new roll-on deodorant, coming later this year. We are also working on some great gifting sets and you should start to see some new options in the later part of this year as well. We’re also working on some new face wash products, but we can’t quite reveal any exact details in this area just yet!


Look out for Bulldog at Sam McCauley Chemists, McCabes Pharmacies , and  selected pharmacies nationwide; see for more information.


Coming Soon! Dude Week on B&B!

In honour of the above, here’s a link to a thing about dudes. Added bonus: that link within the link, via La Roche-Posay, is still live and kickin’.

Dude Week on B&B! will include Q&As from:
> Simon Duffy of Bulldog Skincare for Men.
> Peter Brennan, the man behind the distribution in Ireland of Polish skincare brand Ziaja.
> St Tropez’s celebrity tan man, Jules Heptonstall.
> The man behind the colour of The Hair, Andrew Dunne of Mane Salon — which will come as a surprise to him because I haven’t even sent him the Qs yet. Hi, Andrew! See you tomorrow!
> … and one more dude of some stripe, any ideas? Any dudes you want to hear from? That is within the remit, like. Like, don’t say Obama, or Aaron Paul who plays Jesse Pinkman. Soz, bitches.

In closing, here’s a screengrab of my Vichy Dude, from my personal video message.
My Vichy dude. Mine. No matter what this wan thinks.


Carrots and Bulldogs and Teeth Foam — Oh My!

I almost called this post TMI, because I received so much info today, I feel like I need a lie down. This is good! and also my job to process it for you, dear readers. I’m just going to do big picture right this second, and get back to you on the details.

Premium hosted a whole lotta products and services today in Residence in Stephen’s Green, a venue that is swiftly becoming a second home. It’s as lovely as a home from home can get: have a look at this…
FLOCKED CEILING PAPERThat there is flocked ceiling paper. Ceiling paper? Is that right? It didn’t look like it was tiles — I couldn’t see any seams. How did it transpire that I had such a view? We’ll get to that. {Nothing saucy involved, more’s the pity.}

The Yes To… line have a big launch coming later in the year, adding Grapefruit, for dark spot and dark circle correction. I’ve got a sample of the Correct & Repair Dark Circle Correcting Eye Cream, I’ll get back to yees on this.

I blogged about Bulldog Natural Skincare back in September, when it was total crazy talk to be posting about stocking fillers. I bet you were rushing round like an eejit, trying to but for the d00ds in your life, hmmm? Don’t be caught short this year, and be sure to keep an eye out for the new additions to the line, in the form of Sensitive Shave Cream and Original Shower Gel. I’ll be Q&Aing with co-founder Simon Duffy in the near future.

Sharing space with the boy’s stuff was St Tropez, who have a new Gradual Tan Plus Anti-Aging for Face lotion; Lytesse, whose Shapewear is meant to firm up yer bum and take off inches {ah, sure, I’ll give it a go}; and Seche, whose one-coat wonder nail varnish was applied to my World Famous Supermodel Thumbnail™ and looks pretty amazing:
SECHE one coat

I didn’t get the rest of me fingers did because I was all like, Oh I don’t have the time — but then I got dazzled by the promise of Pearlys Teeth Brightening Treatment, and I just had to go for it.

Brightening, not whitening, which is what made it attractive to me: too scared of peroxide, and not so sure about lasering, I was happy enough to be convinced into giving the three part, roughly twenty minute procedure a go. Which was why I ended up flat on my back on a plinth, looking like The Silence of the Lambs.


Ahhahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa. I just don’t care. That is totally crazy, that picture. Don’t. Give. A. Toss. It’s funny.

And my teeth look brighter! And now I am encouraged to use the brand’s Daily Teeth Whiten Foam {€25}! And… yeah, no, that picture is totally insane.

Too much excitement! I deffo need that nap.


For even more information, go to


Okay, Don’t Kill Me, Okay? Stocking Filling Ideas for Christmas 2012

{Stop screaming at me!}

Come on, seriously: there is nothing worse than trying to buy for certain dudes. The dude you get in the Secret Santa at work? Your younger sister’s rando boyfriend? {My younger sister married a lovely man, so this in no way applies to me.} An uncle who is sort of youngish but not really — like, he thinks you think he ought to be receiving the latest in sk8r wear but, uh, no?

Not to say that Bulldog Natural Skincare is a last ditch attempt to buy a decent gift — rather, it is perfect for every dude, no matter their relation to you, and is a perfect gift to yourself should you treat your significant male other.

The line launched in Ireland earlier in the month, and I met brand co-founder Simon Duffy round about that time. He and business partner Rhodri Ferrier came up with the idea for this line of non-man-made, but made-for-men face stuff, for the kind of guy who cares about his pelt.

Non-man-made, that is, as regards nasty parabens and artificial colours and such. These two men came up with the idea and started the brand from their own initiative, without having had any experience in the skincare line previously.

I liked what I tested, even though it was only the usual test-it-on-the-back-of-your-hand launch behaviour. I really like the packaging*: it’s clean and fresh — like the stuff inside! — and also a relief from the stupid chrome and black default that most men’s lines fall into.

I hope to get some proper dude feedback, but I may keep the Original Face Scrub for myself.

Prices range from €4.99-€12.99, so, I mean, come on. It’s a natural stocking filler, and it’s win-win, for everybody involved. You could go to the chemists this weekend and get so much holiday shopping done! Can you imagine?!? {Me, neither.}


Available McCabes Pharmacies , and  selected pharmacies nationwide.


*There I go again.