Some male grooming gifts in this Christmas’s post: umpteen preparations for the maintenance of hipster beards; at least three skincare ranges that smell like a boys’ secondary school changing room; a cream for smoothing and deodorising one’s testicles. I’ve no idea why there’s a pervading assumption that, for men to ablute, they must first be seduced by novelty products emblazoned with humorous “bants”, or packaging got up to look like motor oil, but here we are.
Since this customer bears no resemblance to my husband, any of my four brothers, two sons or dozens of male friends, I’m inclined to keep things simple, elegant and useful. Among my favourites in the luxury category are Aesop’s gift sets, such as the Boston (£50): gender-neutral, but reliably loved by men, these contain several of Aesop’s wonderful products (in this case, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, body balm, shower gel, cleanser, face tonic and moisturiser), all in aeroplane-friendly doses, very stylishly packaged and arranged in a black travel pouch.
A less expected, but nonetheless big hit among men are Bliss Glamour Gloves (£39). The name is a bit off-putting, admittedly, but these blue gloves lined with skin-softening and soothing gels and oils are brilliant for anyone whose hands suffer at this time of year. Just pop on for half an hour (the gloves are stretchy, so fit most sizes, and can be used 50 times), then apply the accompanying heavy-duty hand cream to finish.
An easier sell is a subscription to a shaving club. Harry’s is particularly good, since the German blades (five per cartridge) come up at less than two quid a pop. You could start him off with a razor to house them, and some nice aloe shave gel, for £14. Jo Malone’s English Oak & Hazelnut Cologne (£45) is listed by the brand as strictly female, but I’ve no idea why, since it’s as sexy, refined and appropriate on men as it is on women. It’s an outdoorsy type of scent and perfect for this time of year: spicy, warm and soft, but sufficiently green and uplifting to remain jolly. To my nose, it lasts a lot longer than most colognes, including its Jo Malone stablemates. In fact, I recently chose this very fragrance for my groom on our wedding day, and could still detect it at 2am, as we passed out in a drunken heap.