Originally published on MACs Magazine London

An article on how to maintain beards/stubble

24th August 2013

A survey has shown that women prefer hirsute men as they are appear “tough, mature, aggressive, dominant and masculine” while men with the five o’clock shadow(the re growth after a shave) are seen as the best partners for marriage or a night of unadulterated passion. Scientists are unsure as to why women are partial to puberty’s whiskered present but experts on evolution suggest it may be seen as a sign of aggression as it creates the illusion of a bigger lower jaw which emphasises the teeth as weapons. Ooh, caveman.

Whether or not beards can be seen as an adequate measure of the threshold of masculinity is debatable, but one thing is for sure, the right amount of stubble or length of beard can make a man irresistible.

Before deciding whether you want a full on beard or stubble, contemplate the look you wish to achieve. Are you trying to add years to your angelic cherub face or are you simply tired of endless hours glued to the mirror shaving? Both require maintenance but not as frequently as being clean shaven.

Pick either of these trends if you suffer from pseudofolliculitis barbae, which is caused by shaving as the razor sharpens hair, meaning that as they grow, they curl back into the skin, causing painful bumps better known as ingrown hairs. By opting for a beard or stubble, you abstain from shaving the hair close to the root, which aids in minimizing the chances of those unsightly razor bumps.

Avoid growing a beard or stubble if you aren’t willing to upkeep maintenance, your other half has a tendency to break out in a stubble rash after a smooching session or Mother Nature has forsaken you in the hair follicles department. There is nothing worse than the semblance of sparse facial hair, it evokes thoughts of scrawny teenage boys. Cringe.

Maintenance!

Maintenance is the number one rule with this look, you don’t want to emulate a pre-historic cave man or be too precise with ridiculously thin chin straps (à la … ok mentioning no names). Aim for looking natural but not scruffy. To accomplish this style correctly, concentrate on eradicating stray hairs around your cheekbones and your neck that are outside the area of your natural growth. This will sharper edge to your beard/stubble.

Before shaving, do not skip exfoliation. Men’s skin is very different to women, it contains larger pores, more collagen, elastin, a denser supply of blood vessels and produces more sweat. A combination of these factors equals a multitude of dirt. Exfoliating unclogs pores freeing your skin of impurities; grease and dead skin build up. This process sheds dead layers of skin will allow new healthier looking skin to surface and exposes hair follicles allowing for a better shave and eliminates the likelihood of pesky ingrown hairs. Try Clinique or Nivea for Men. Look out for products with mechanical abrasives such as granulated pumice and sea salts or chemical abrasives like glycolic or salicylic acid to loosen and slough off those dead skin cells. To maximise exfoliation, use exfoliating gloves or a loofa and rub in circle motions into a rich lather. Alternatively, if you’re feeling particularly metrosexual, try an exfoliating mask to remove not only build up, but whiteheads too. A good old fashioned pumice soap will also do the trick. Wash lather off with warm water which causes hair to expand, making it softer and easier to cut. Don’t perform this skin shedding process more than three times a week as it will irritate your skin, causing it to lose collagen and elasticity resulting in thinner and more sensitive skin over time. Refrain from using bar soap, although it may seem like a cheaper option that will keep your skin clean, it can clog pores leading the rougher skin in the long run.

Secondly, apply a shaving gel or oil. Water is an essential softening agent but quickly evaporates leaving hair in its original state – it has been proven that dry beard hair is as rigid as copper wire. Gel or oil prevents this evaporation keeping your beard or stubble soft during a shave. Additionally, its lubricating benefits reduce friction between the blade and skin for a smoother shave. This way, you’ll be able to see the areas you want to shave and the adequate amount. Leave on for 30 seconds to allow hair to soften before you begin the shaving process. Shave the trickier places last to allow the hair in these areas to soften further. Steer clear of products with high alcohol content as the burning sensation tends to dry out skin rather than prepare it for hair removal through the hydration and conditioning of hair. As exfoliation dries out skin, you don’t want to further dry out of your skin. Canned foams or gels contain more air which affects the ability for your hair to stand upright which decreases softness, the thoroughness of your shave and increases the likelihood of razor burn. To shape and maintain length, take your razor or trimmer and shave carefully in the direction of your hair growth in gentle strokes to allow full control, thus decreasing the chances of removing too much hair. Gillette’s Fusion Proglide Styler Razor and Wahl’s Groomsman Trimmer Set are amongst the favourites this year. Furthermore, the most important thing to do when Maintaining a Straight Razor is to clean it once in a while because it tends to get dirty. Even small dirt particles can deform and damage the cutting edge of your straight razor.

Set your trimmer and go over the majority of your beard to tidy it up, as you go towards your jawline and neck, reduce the trimmer to a lower setting to enable a natural blend for a well groomed look without looking completely clean shaven. Finish by rinsing your face and using moisturiser to replenish your skin.

An accentuated jaw line teamed with stubble is the perfect amalgamation of indisputable sex appeal in my opinion, arguably because of all the positive connotations this appearance arouses from masculinity to maturity, although I can appreciate a clean shaven man as well as a fully grown beard. It is solely dependent on the individual. Whether it’s a full beard, goatee or chin strap, proudly exhibit your facial hair but make sure it’s suitable for your occupation – nobody is going to take a wizard looking businessman seriously. If you’re intent on following this latest trend, channel the look of David Beckham, Russell Brand, Shia Labeouf, Christian Keyes, Gary Barlow, Lance Gross, the gorgeous Hugh Jackman or Idris Elba. Exterminate any thoughts of idolising the beards of Brett Keisel and Kimbo Slice and you are guaranteed to be the epitome of the perfect Alpha male causing ladies to swoon and become putty in your hands.

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Feature for Stylist Magazine online

Originally published December 2020

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Client requested an edit and additional ideas on their short comedy film script inspired by Home Alone involving bandits and marijuana, as well as ideas for possible locations and casting advice.

First script: 30th December 2019

[Available upon request]

Client requested an edit and additional ideas on a second script they’d been working on autonomously.

Second script: 12th May 2020

[Available upon request]

 

Exploring age dynamics and relationships

March 2018

Originally published on White Noise

September 2018

As someone who battled with acne for over a decade before finding a peaceful resolution, skincare is one of my biggest passions. I’m very eager to meet someone who loves it just as I do. As Jin Kwon walks over with a warm smile, I notice how flawless her skin is, a vivid testimony to why Korean beauty has become so popular across the globe. Jin is the CEO of Tonic15, a company that scouts for the best Korean skincare brands and brings their products to the UK.

Korean-born Jin’s love of skincare was passed down from her mother. She gives me some contextual background on skincare in Korea, explaining that going to a dermatologist is part of everyday life in thFe Far East. Just like my own, her journey with skin cosmetics has been an on-going one. “I realise how important skincare is as I age. I’m 34 now, soon to be 35. A face isn’t just a face. It isn’t just about what brand you put on it. It’s how stressed you are, how you manage it and what you eat. Your lifestyle shows on your skin.” It’s true. Processed sugar, dairy and hormonal changes turn my skin into an angry, bulbous battlefield.

Much like myself, Jin has always had her heart set on starting a business; she tells me that she originally wanted to set up a Korean fried chicken place when immigrating to London, but her husband wasn’t so keen. Graduating with an MBA from the London Business School last year gave Jin the kick that she needed. “I felt it was my last chance to start up a business.”

She decided to take the plunge and utilise her network of beauty magazines, spa, professionals and friends in the beauty industry. Jin explains how the scouting and on boarding process works. “If I find an interesting brand, I’ll reach out to them and help to bring them into the European market. It’s quite difficult because we have to go through regulations and compliance,” she says. I’ll work with the brand on their branding and marketing in the UK using services like Scaffolding Wrap Advertising and others.

Finding a routine that works for you is a game of Russian roulette with your visage, which Jin knows all about. Her business partner in Korea works alongside a number of Korean beauty brands, meaning Jin always has plenty of samples to try out. “I’m the master guinea pig. I have panel including people with different types of skin. Everyone has different skin so you have to test it on a lot of different types.” She compares her skin to her husband’s. “He has oily skin with acne. I have dry combination skin. I can’t promo what I don’t believe in. My goal is to share high quality products that I like and that works.”

I’m interested to know Jin feels Asian beauty has become so popular in the West.

She says, “The quality of Korean products is outstanding. Korean beauty is such an interesting space and its customers are super demanding when it comes to beauty. They’re really well educated. People are always checking the ingredients of products. If a brand has really harsh ingredients like parabens, then people never buy it.”

Ever the eager beaver, I want to know more about the ingredients in skincare products from the East.  “In Asia, horse oil is very popular. It has a lot of vitamin E. I’ve seen seahorse as an ingredient. Korean products are known for ingredients like snails and those are good, but now you see a lot of plant-based ingredients. I’m more focused on that. I make sure there are no harsh ingredients in it.” Harsh chemicals are a no-no for me too. They can mess with the skin’s natural barrier, causing inflammation, breakouts, dryness and rashes. I steer clear of products with benzoyl peroxide, which make my skin dry and itchy.

Korean skincare is infamously known for its 10-step routines, which Jin doesn’t abide by. “It’s about making sure you clean, nourish and protect your skin. You don’t need to use 10 products. It’s about finding the right skincare routine that you can use within a short time and keep it simple.” That’s exactly what Tonic15 does with its 15-minute fixes. “Everyone’s busy. No matter how busy we are, we should have those 15 minutes of taking caring of ourselves.”

With autumn on the way bringing with it dry and cold air, it’s time for a skincare overhaul, but not all at once. Jin says it’s important to build a relationship with each product to see how it reacts. She gives me some more tips “You shouldn’t exfoliate seven days a week, but it’s good twice or three times a week to make sure you don’t have dead skin cells piling up.” She says, “It’s good to moisturise and mix a little bit of oil for a good hydration level. During the changing season, you need to use products that are thicker in texture.”

With enviable skin, I’m dying to know about Jin’s routine. “If I have make up on, I’ll use an oil cleanser and then I’ll use a foam cleanser and toner,” she explains. “It depends on how lazy I am, but I’ll use a sheet mask and moisturiser, or Essence and cream moisturiser. Twice a week I exfoliate. When my skin feels dull, it’s a bit of a psychological thing, I’ll use a sugar polish or mandelic acid.”

If you feel like jumping on the Korean beauty bandwagon, here’s a rundown of Jin’s favourite products.  “Black sugar polish from Klairs.When you use it, it’s such a treat. It exfoliates really well. You feel the difference. It has the oil in it as well as shea butter. After you exfoliate, it keeps your skin moisturised and balanced.” Toner? “The mandelic toner is milder than your typical AHA or BHA toners. It works for sensitive skin.” Serum? “Huxley has such good quality prickly pear seed oil. It’s not sticky but has a velvety texture.” What if you’re looking for a quick fix? “We have the Huxley sheet mask.” What’s the last step? “Mist with oil is important. Essence with lotus leaf extract by the Lotus is lovely with a lovely scent.”

Jin sends me away with my first taste of East Asian beauty. It’s a mini pamper kit including a scrub, a selection of masks, as well as a chemical exfoliator (to slough off those dead skin cells and clean out my pores). It’s too early to see the effects, as you should really commit to a product for at least 28 days (it takes roughly that amount of time for your skin to regenerate), but the difference in quality is obvious. I’ve completely fallen in love with sheet masks and I’m eagerly awaiting my next batch of Korean skincare products.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m officially a K-Beauty convert.