HEALTH & GROOMING

6 of the best... Boutique Brands:

I know what you’re thinking - what is a ‘boutique’ brand anyway? Well, aside from a new buzzword the grooming industry has invented to sell us stuff, it’s a bit like the idea of a boutique hotel. Something a little more tailor-made, bespoke and less corporate. The advantage for us consumers is not only the feeling we’re buying a more personalised and exclusive product, but the quality control is way higher.

1. Ron Dorff:

This French-Swedish company specialises in cleanly- cool sportswear, but also do a nifty line in equally cleanly-cool toiletry essentials that fuse the best
of Nordic functionality and Franco flair. Plus, the products look great on a bathroom shelf.

2. The Refinery:

The more under-the-radar men’s arm of Aromatherapy Associates, this is a terrific all-rounder that meets all grooming needs. Star of the show is its shaving gel, which miraculously avoids nicks, razor rash and leaves your mug turbo-moisturised.

3. Elemental Herbology:

The brand name is also the mission statement with natural ingredients that aren’t too mucked-about-with as its emphasis. Using premium minerals, herbs and antioxidants to balance out the effects of lifestyle, seasonal and hormonal changes.

4. Anthony:

Frustrated by the lack of grooming choice for men in 2000 and despite having zero trade experience, Anthony Sosnick founded his eponymous brand primarily so he could use the products himself: everything is high-performance, particularly cleansers and eye cream.

5. MR:

The brainchild of award-winning hair stylist Jamie Stevens, this dual-action range cleans and thickens so is perfect for the more follicly-challenged, but even if you’re a member of the man-bun brigade this brand is a real find.

6. Escentric Molecules:

If you’re after fragrance and want something a bit different, then here is where to get it. Based on a molecular formula that works with an individual’s pheromones, you end up with a unique result every time. Their body washes are pretty special, too.

Homewood Park Hotel & Spa, Bath:

Signature treatment: The specifically-formulated Time For Men treatments. All too often, male-focused therapies are overlooked in even some of the best spas so it’s especially impressive we’re not just after-thoughts here.

Prices: For a high-end joint, the treatment tariff isn’t too eye-watering. For instance, the SPA Skin Specific Facial comes in at a very competitive 69 quid for a 55-minute session.

Service: Super-efficient without being irritatingly intrusive. Staff know their stuff, too.

The X Factor: Take your pick. The individualised treatments. The setting. The Georgian grandeur. The food and wine in the much-acclaimed restaurant. But for my money it’s the outdoor pool. Flanked by tree- lined walls and rows of sun loungers, it’s heated to 31C so can be enjoyed even as the temperature turns tepid.

Score: A luxe mix of old-world charm and modern pampering, so a not-to-be-sniffed-at 9 out of 10.

homewoodpark.co.uk

TRY AN OLYMPIC SPORT

If you’ve been inspired by Rio this summer, try one of these:

Taekwondo Combining the principles of combat and self-defence, this martial art is ideal for improving balance, co-ordination and flexibility. Luckily for us, after the success of Wales’s Jade Jones for Team GB in Rio, classes are mushrooming up all over the country. welshtaekwondo.co.uk

Handball A hybrid of football and basketball, this fast-paced team sport helps build strength, speed and agility. All you need is a ball, a field, a group of mates and a couple of makeshift goals. britishhandball.com

Canoeing If you’re on the lookout for an action- crammed sport and don’t mind periodically getting drenched, then this is perfect. Not only does it provide a good cardio workout, it’s also an all-out muscle-builder for the legs, arms, shoulders, chest and back. And, don’t forget, Wales has one of the best canoeing facilities in the world at Cardiff International White Water. britishcanoeing.org.uk

Triathlon Due to its gruelling triple-combo of cycling, swimming and running, it’s not for the easily spooked, granted, but it does guarantee maximum fitness. The variety works, too; it keeps exercising interesting so it’s more likely we’ll stick with it, which will explain why it’s currently the fastest-growing sport in Britain. welshtriathlon.org

Spa Gazing

Jason Jones has gone all boutique on us...