Our Resident Grooming Expert Reveals The Grail Products He Can’t Do Without

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Our Resident Grooming Expert Reveals The Grail Products He Can’t Do Without

Words by Ms Molly Isabella Smith

19 May 2021

When the MR PORTER team worked, you know, in an actual office, there was always one place you’d go to for a spritz, spray or splash of something grooming-related: Deputy Editor Mr Ashley Clarke’s desk. Not only is he the go-to guy for trialling experimental menswear trends, but he’s also our in-house grooming god, with an ever-expanding product haul to prove it.

As fate would have it, I was lucky enough to sit next to him, witnessing the queue of colleagues who would approach asking for skincare solutions and spilling their bad-hair-day woes. You see, it wasn’t only the lotions and potions our colleagues were after: his expert advice was always in high demand, too. And who are we to keep those confidences to ourselves? Here, he comes clean on the products he considers his secret weapons.

111SKIN’s serum packs a punch: infused with peptides, antioxidants and collagen-boosting ingredients, consider it your first line of defence against the signs of ageing. It’s also lightweight and sinks in fast, making it very suited to summer. “This is hands down the best serum I’ve ever used. It’s also, admittedly, the most expensive, but the results are worth it,” says Clarke. And judging by his year-round, almost ethereal glow, we can’t help but wholeheartedly agree.

Don’t knock two-in-one products. They might have acquired an unsavoury reputation in the past, but the skincare industry has come a long way since then. “Despite the popular belief in the MR PORTER office, I can be pretty lazy with my routine, so a cleanser that doubles as a toner? Sign me up,” Clarke says. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare’s hydrating tonic is fortified with green tea and a bevy of vitamins to guard against free radicals.

Is it slightly ludicrous that something you put on your face can attract a cult fandom, but that’s precisely the level of hype around Augustinus Bader’s The Cream. “It’s a simple name for a product, sure, but this needs no bells and whistles,” Clarke says of the famed lotion, which is touted to aid cell repair and renewal. “It’s a reliably brilliant moisturiser. It has a following for good reason.”

While SPF is absolutely crucial at any time of year, you’ll need to up the ante during sunnier spells. The trouble is, finding high-factor sunscreen that won’t make your skin greasy and sticky in the heat is a fair feat. One solution is to arm yourself with Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Sun Drops. “As far as sun protection for your face goes, there’s nothing better,” says Clarke. “This one is designed to be mixed in with your regular moisturiser, so it doesn’t feel heavy in the slightest.”

It sounds paradoxical, but your skin can actually get drier in the summer months, largely thanks to the proliferation of air conditioning, which saps moisture from the skin. A few spritzes of a hydrating mist – like Tata Harper’s Floral Essence, which is made with natural ingredients such as rose, lavender and neroli – can really do the trick replenishing moisture levels. “I keep this on my desk as a pick-me-up to use throughout the day,” Clarke says. “It’s particularly refreshing in summer and it smells great, too.”

Good haircare starts with your scalp but it’s more complicated than buying anti-dandruff shampoo in bulk. Prevention, we think, is always better than the cure. A daily regimen of Sisley’s Revitalising Fortifying serum can keep flakes at bay, as well as add body and shine to dull or thin hair. “This is one of those products I didn’t know I needed, but now can’t do without. It keeps hair looking healthier than any shampoo or conditioner can compete with,” Clarke explains.

Proponents of face rollers – which were traditionally made of jade and have been used in China since the seventh century – swear by their de-puffing wizardry. Skeptical? The general idea is that the act of massaging improves blood flow and increases tone and texture, as well as reducing the telltale signs of tiredness. “A face roller is another thing I never thought I’d use, but this one is great for getting rid of what I call ‘morning face’ before an early meeting or Zoom call,” Clarke says. He also recommends storing it in the fridge or another cool place for maximum benefits.

Chasing The Glow