Staff Picks: Our Summer Grooming Favourites
The products the MR PORTER team turns to during a heatwave
Summer is by far our favourite time of the year. The sun, the holidays, the endless boozy lounging… It is quite delicious. But it isn’t without its challenges. While the sun is lovely for lolling around in – outside the killing midday, of course – it also poses its own challenges. It burns your skin, it dries your hair and it sometimes makes you smell like a zoo keeper’s boot after a short time on the London Underground. You can guard against such misfortunes by following the lead of the MR PORTER team. Here we present our picks of the grooming products to get you through the heat in one piece.
“Horses sweat, men perspire and women glow,” is what they say. Well, “they” have clearly never travelled on the Central Line in July. I dread to think what would happen if a horse got on because I don’t so much perspire as burn up. That’s why I use Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant. When I am back above ground, I smother on the world’s best sunscreen, Sisley – Paris Sunleÿa SPF50. The other great danger of summer is the booze, of course. Booze leads to late nights, which lead to painful mornings. At least I can hide the evidence as I crowd out the dark bags with this 111Skin Sub-Zero De-Puffing Eye Mask. It makes my eyes look shiny and new rather than a Waitrose self-serve bag dispenser.
The search is officially over. I have discovered the Holy Grail. NIOD’s Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex is the best hyaluronic acid I have ever used. I love the fact that the brains at NIOD (or Non-Invasive Options in Dermal Science, to get technical) have created a formula that is light in weight yet strong in result. I was surprised at how quickly I noticed a difference. It worked so well that it often doubled up as a moisturiser – the perfect balm for sun-sore skin.
Tomato reds belong in Caprese salads and not your complexion. Sunburn is never a good look; long-term skin damage is even worse. So, it pays to invest in a great SPF for your summer wash bag. Enter Aesop’s SPF50 Protective Body Lotion. Aesop has developed the formula to provide up to four hours’ water resistance. It is perfect for the beach, roof-top pool or any other aquatic adventure of your choice.
Diptyque’s Tam Dao fragrance is a luxurious, modern take on the summer scent. I love how it works beautifully in the day – the heat brings out the lime and coriander notes – but takes on an evocative feel after nightfall with the sandalwood and cypress. So much so that on a recent outing, one of my close friends confessed that I smelled “bloody lovely”. You really can’t ask for more than that.
TOM FORD BEAUTY’s Brow Gelcomb helps keep your wayward eyebrows in check no matter what you’re up to. Just be sure to comb your brows upwards (once out of the shower) and lightly trim the excess hair above your natural brow line first. I also use the brand’s gel bronzer because it’s the right amount of colour and matt. Try mixing it with your moisturiser if you’re wary at first.
If you’re looking for a fresh summer scent, then why not sample a few? The Les Eaux collection from Frederic Malle is, counter-intuitvely, a good way to discover blends.
I have three keywords for summer grooming. The first one is “hydrate”. When it is very hot or if your office has air conditioning, your skin can get dry fast. That’s why I bring a spray or liquid hyaluronic acid serum with me. My favourite at the moment is the Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster by Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. I apply it directly onto my skin, but you can also mix it with your moisturiser.
“Protect” is my second word. I am lucky to have olive skin (thank you, Dad), but this doesn’t mean I do not protect myself from UVA and UVB rays. I have tried so many creams and the best for me is Sisley – Paris SPF30 protector. The formula is non-greasy, non-whitening and shields the skin from the effects of photo-ageing, including lines, dehydration and dark spots.
Last but not least, “smell amazing”. If I close my eyes and think about summer, I can smell the fig plants in my parents’ garden back in Italy. Since I can’t bring a tree into the MR PORTER office, I spritz myself with Diptyque’s Phylosykos perfume instead. The 30ml bottle is practical and perfect for my carry-on luggage.
When the sun finally arrives, your grooming regime needs to step up a gear. Fewer clothes mean more hair and skin on show, so it’s important your bathroom cabinet is also beach-ready. For me, it starts with a fresh scent and Samphire from Laboratory Perfumes is this year’s winner. The combination of verbena, juniper and lavender (among others) creates a wonderful floral scent that is both light and lasting.
When it comes to my skin, I’m all about a soft and smooth moisturiser that gives my face a boost every time I apply, so I always reach for Aesop.
Finally, I’ve been blessed with good hair and when I say good, I mean thick, so I rely on Patricks pomade to ensure a glossy but firm finish when the heat really kicks in.
Fun fact: while tanning leaves you with a so-called “healthy” glow, it also causes premature ageing and may possibly kill you. It is a profoundly silly thing to do, then, especially when you can get most of the benefits without any of the risks – which, to be clear, include death – by using a self-tanning product instead. This one from Sisley – Paris might be on the expensive side, but it’s unlikely to leave you looking like an Oompa Loompa, and you’re getting an excellent moisturiser thrown in for good measure, too.
As with any self-tanning product, you should exfoliate properly before you use it. Patches of dry or flaky skin will absorb any excess tanning agent, leading to an uneven, streaky finish. Another tell-tale sign of a poorly applied self-tan is when it settles in your pores – follow up your exfoliating scrub with a good astringent toner, such as La Mer The Tonic, which cleanses and tightens pores. A cooling moisturiser can help with this, too.
I shouldn’t really be writing this because I don’t want you to know my secrets, but here goes. First, a confession: the only reason my skin looks halfway healthy at the moment is because of Lab Series’ tinted moisturiser. I’m wary of calling anything a “miracle product”, but this genuinely makes pores look smaller and gives skin a wholly natural glow. I’m also undead-level pale, even in summer, so something with SPF in it is crucial. Another product I’m really enjoying using at the moment is Christophe Robin’s Ceansing Purifying Scrub which, weirdly, is an exfoliating product for your hair and scalp and works as a kind of detox agent to combat any scalp itchiness or sensitivity. It leaves my hair feeling much cleaner than a standard shampoo.
On to fragrance: I’m addicted to Jo Malone London’s Myrrh & Tonka cologne, which is a deliciously subtle scent. I’ve recently been pairing it with the brand’s Lime Basil & Mandarin fragrance, which gives it a summery hit. I wouldn’t call myself an olfactory maximalist, although you might if you saw my desk, but this is a case where two fragrances are even better than one.