Monday, May 27, 2013

Travel Kits

A couple of years ago, I was able to spend the day at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and of all the many beautiful and interesting things on display there, the items that stood out most were the everyday possessions of people throughout history. At the V&A, it very quickly becomes clear how important personal care has always been to people, especially when travelling. Throughout history people have traveled with toothpicks, scissors and clippers, cuticle pushers, combs and the thankfully now out of fashion “ear spoon”, examples of which can be found in the museum in various remarkably ornate travel cases.

Modern tastes tend to run to less ornate accessories than silver and gold toothpick cases, but we still find it as important as ever to know we can take care of ourselves when we reach our destination, and most people appreciate being able to carry their personal care kit in style. The majority of modern travel kits owe something to the original “Dopp kit” created by Charles Doppelt in the early 20th century, the term colloquially came to refer to all bags in that style. Much like the safety razor’s rise to prominence in the trenches, the Dopp kit and its contemporaries became widely appreciated after being issued to GIs in the Second World War.

While the original is no longer in production, some of those World War II contemporaries are still going strong, and of those, Bosca of the USA make one of the finest travel kits around. Available in black or cognac oak-tanned French leather, the Bosca Utilikit has been in production since the 1940’s, and is a sturdily made, timelessly styled classic. Kaliandee now carries a selection of Bosca products, and with the recent sunny weather, we couldn't resist photographing the Utilikit in it’s natural environment: out of the house.

Also pictured: Edwin Jagger Sandalwood shaving soap in a travel container, Proraso’s excellent Menthol and Eucalyptus pre-shave, Merkur’s travel razor assembled next to it’s case, Taylor of Old Bond St’s travel fragrance set and aftershave cream and Simpson’s turnback travel brush screwed into it’s travel tube.

All products pictured available from and

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Some men can lather, shave, wash off and be done. The rest of us could do with a little help to get the best out of their shave, and fortunately there are products and techniques that can help. 

The easiest pre-shave prep you can do is to shower before you shave, and ensure you get plenty of warm water on your face. While doing so, make sure your shaving brush is soaking in hot water, and if you use a solid soap, sprinkle a little of this water from the brush onto the top of the soap to soften it up prior to creating a lather. This simple trick greatly improves the latherability of many hard-to-use soaps, even $2 supermarket soaps!

One of the most popular (but certainly not only) pre-shave products is Proraso’s famous Pre and Post cream, best known in it’s stimulating Menthol and Eucalyptus version but available in Green Tea and Oat for sensitive skin. Before you prepare your lather, massage a fingertip’s sized amount onto your slightly damp skin, then allow a minute or two for it to soak in. If you prefer to create your lather in a bowl, then take your time in doing so, otherwise, find another grooming task to attend to while the Pre-shave absorbs. You should find a pre-shave makes your shave glide much easier and leaves your skin feeling much smoother afterwards.

Use of a post-shave is entirely a matter of personal choice, but many people find an alum block, such as that produced by Osma, helps to reduce irritation. Alum is also a styptic, helping to seal nicks and cuts and close pores. Simply run a little cold water over the block then gently rub it over your face.
After drying, alum may leave a white residue, so you may need to rinse your face again. It is highly recommended that you moisturise at this point, as alum can be very drying.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Well-Groomed Traveller

With sunny weather finally starting to arrive, now is the time of year when people tend to look ahead to Summer, and in many cases the prospect of travelling. 

For those who like to travel light, or for the "every possibility" packer who wishes to keep their grooming tools close at hand, there are many excellent travel products available from the traditional shaving brands. The older European names in men's grooming have stood the test of time largely because of their reputation for quality and luxury, and the kind of person drawn to such reputations has always tended to travel. Obligingly, the major traditional grooming brands have created many products and accessories ideal for the well-groomed traveler, a tradition the newer brands are also following in. 

Travel shaving brushes, safety razors that disassemble and travel shaving sets have been around for a while, but with restrictions on blades and liquids in airline carry-on, solid shaving soaps are a better choice for travel than ever. Cartridge razors are now allowed on some flights, and with the right accessories and preparation, can provide a good shave even for the Double Edge enthusiast. Dovo/Merkur also offers both a travel DE razor and a travel shave and manicure set in a leather case for those willing to carry hold luggage or buy Double Edge blades at their destination.