From weird weather, global uprisings, political turmoil and an incident involving Pizza Express, it’s safe to say that 2019 has been an eventful year – and we’ve still got a few weeks to go before we ring in the New Year. Still, if the news has been bumpy, we’ve got the most important stories to hit your bathroom shelf right here. It’s a good time to review the best items that landed on our desk and made it into the wash bag for keeps.
If your resolution is to smell incredible, achieve well-behaved skin and use hair products that work, we’ve got the best formulas, tools and scents – just in time to add to your Christmas list. Spare yourself another set of underwhelming-wear and opt for a better-looking 2020. Ape to Gentleman present the grooming hits of the year.
It’s been a vintage year for fragrance. Stand out launches include Montblanc Explorer, Creed Aventus Cologne, Gucci Memoire D’Une Odeur, and Comme Des Garçons Copper. To end the year, three signature scents, two from new players to the fragrance game, are dropping now and definitely worth your attention.
&Horace, an Eau de Parfum, is the initial foray into fragrance by French grooming brand, Horace. The warm, woody scent that will complement without overpowering. You can even mark your territory and personalise the bottle with the accompanying alphabet stickers.
€60 for 50ml eau de parfum; horace.co
Sunspel Oak Wood
Premium British brand Sunspel has teamed up with renowned perfumer Lyn Harris to create its first eponymous fragrance: Oak Wood. A quintessentially English scent, this unisex perfume conjures freshly-cut fields and comforting woods.
£90 for 100ml eau de parfum; sunspel.com
No.14 D R Harris x Hackett
To celebrate the opening of the Ben Pentreath-designed space at 14 Savile Row, Hackett has joined forces with D R Harris to create an exclusive scent. The new home of JP Hackett, made-to-measure and bespoke lines is set over two floors of this historic town house, which features a dazzling green members room and a fully stocked bar. No. 14 is a Vetiver and Lemon Cologne that’s as stylish as its new home.
£42 for 100ml cologne; drharris.co.uk
Jo Malone Scent To Go
In a first for the luxury home fragrance brand, Jo Malone released three solid scents to help breathe fresh air into small spaces. The Scent To Go collection includes Pomegranate Noir, Lime Basil & Mandarin, and English Pear & Freesia. They’re here to save us from ripe gym kits, stinky shoe cupboards and drive through McDonald’s – and look a lot classier than a cardboard pine tree.
The Skin Saviours
The route to good skin just got easier with a flurry of clever products this year. We don’t want a bathroom cabinet that’s stuffed to the rafters – just a handful of products that offer real benefits.
Best Moisturiser for Dry Skin: ClarinsMen Super Moisture Balm
Winter is coming – and with it rough, parched skin. ClarinsMen Super Moisture Balm is your best hope of beating the worst the season can throw at us.
£30 for 50ml; johnlewis.com
Best Moisturiser for Oily Skin: Murad Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45
Just in time for the annual ski trip; this high protection SPF will stop comedy goggle marks without leaving behind the extra gift of sheen and spots for oil-prone skin.
£35 for 50ml; murad.co.uk
Best Anti-Ageing Moisturiser: Ole Henriksen C-Rush Brightening Gel Crème
Fend off the mounting years with this best-selling cream from Ole Henriksen. The gel texture is rich without being heavy and targets fine lines, wrinkles and lends a more youthful appearance.
£36 for 50ml; boots.com
Best Cleanser: The Gentle Label Face Wash
This all-round, natural-based cleanser contains witch hazel, willow bark and green tea. It’s excellent for balancing oily and spot-prone skin types, while still being gentle to normal skin, and uses over 90% organic ingredients.
£18 for 120ml; skinspace.co
Best Body Care: Harry’s Shower Gels
With three great scents (Shiso, Stone and Fig) and a small price tag for a generous tube, we’ve been lathering up each day with Harry’s range of shower gels. Each is formulated without parabens or sulphates – so they won’t mess with your hormones or strip the natural oils from your skin.
£5 for 250ml; harrys.com
Best Eye Care: Buly 1083 Vide Poche Eye Serum
The natural eye roller from our favourite apothecary brand, Buly 1803, this organic formula is packed with nine botanical oils including arnica (a salve for bruising and swelling). Rolls on easily, dries quickly and deflates even the puffiest eye bags like a pin to a balloon.
€24 for 10ml; buly1803.com
Best Face Mask: Bull Dog Energising Sheet Mask
We’ve found other face masks often dripping wet and slimy. With Bulldog’s eco-friendly sheet masks, you control how much of the energising algae rich liquid to add to the bleach-free, biodegradable bamboo mask. And with eight masks for just £12, they are the best value too.
£12 for 8 masks; bulldogskincare.com
The Secret Weapons
We all need a few tricks up our sleeve to face off everyday challenges. But at the same time, we don’t need to reveal our hacks to the world. These discreet fixes will boost skin and confidence.
Best Spot Fix: Killa by Zitsticka
The next time there’s a volcano of pus brewing under your epidermis, grab a Killa: a smart little patch that can nip a zit in the bud using patented micro dart technology that delivers an anti-microbial punch to the source of the problem, and cover the offending facial eruption at the same time. The untimely arrival of a big, angry white head will never ruin your day again.
£27 for 8 patches; zitsticka.co.uk
Best Scar Fix: Murad InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment
What’s worse than acne? Acne scars. The vicious cycle of break outs, blemishes, and break outs can put clear skin days frustratingly out of grasp. Murad’s innovative InvisiScar uses exfoliants to help improve discolouration while the velvety smooth texture helps fill in pitted scars to give skin a smoother appearance.
£35 for 15ml; murad.co.uk
Best Skin Tool: Dr Dennis Gross Spectralite FaceWare Pro
On the tech side, dressing up like Iron Man became our obsession after the launch of Dr Dennis Gross’ game-changing LED mask: SpectraLite FaceWare Pro. This state-of-the-art mask brings a professional-level skin service to you – wherever you are, in just three minutes a day – as we begin to understand the anti-ageing and anti-microbial benefits of LED light. Sure, it’s one of the more expensive fixes out there, but it looks like we’ll be able to get noticeable, consistent results using one product without any scary needles or anaesthetic.
Best Luxury Razor: GilletteLabs Heated Razor
Gillette Lab’s luxury heated razor has taken home shaving to another level. It’s extravagant, it’s probably not hugely eco-friendly; but that hasn’t stopped us from getting onboard with the hot razor trend. With its sleekly designed handle and dock it looks great by the sink and delivers a shave that feels barbershop fresh.
Best Beard Trimmer: Braun BT7020
With 39 length settings it is fair to say this is one precision beard trimmer. It’s lightweight, cuts evenly, is quick to charge and very comfortable to use.
Raise Your Hair Game
No matter how much you’ve got up top, keep it in the best condition possible with these simple but effective products.
Best Shampoo: Horace Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Another gift from the chaps across the channel. The Horace community requested a dry, itchy scalp fix – and that’s what they got. This is as effective as the big brand chemical-laden anti-flake shampoos out there, the difference is it’s made with almost 97% natural ingredients.
€12 for 250ml; horace.co
Best Conditioner: Harry’s 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner
Economical in size and gentle on the hair, Harry’s 2-in-1 will cut down shower time, saving water and energy, without compromising on a smooth finish. It’s formulated without drying sulphates and leaves hair clean and soft.
£8 for 414ml; harrys.com
Best For Hair Loss: GroMD Follicle Acitvator Spray
Part of the highly-acclaimed GroMD stable, the Follicle Activator Spray is a topical treatment that absorbs deep into the scalp to produce long-lasting results. Its proprietary blend of DHT blockers helps minimise thinning and prevent hair loss, while a high concentration of copper peptides (shown in studies to be as effective as Minoxidil) fights inflammation and stimulates growth. Use daily for optimal results.
$69.99 for 2oz; gromdshampoo.com
Best Styling Aid: Harry’s Texturising Putty
Every man needs a versatile styling product in his grooming arsenal. Harry’s very reasonably priced, nicely scented hair putty gives a matte finish, moveable hold and a neat look that won’t feel stiff or sticky.
£9 for 71g; harrys.com