Gentlemen’s Tonic: It’s a Tough Life
I’m not going to lie, I literally have no excuse for being badly groomed at the moment. First I was off to the barbers at the Bulgari hotel for Quintessentially, then a few short weeks later, Penhaligon’s, and only a week after that I went to check out Gentlemen’s Tonic.
It’s a tough life, but some poor sod has to do it.
Gentlemen’s Tonic has been a bit of an institution in my book for some time now, and I’ve always wanted to go and check it out. Sitting just off Berkley Square in the heart of Mayfair, Gentlemen’s Tonic was an air-conditioned haven away from the thirty-three-degree heat that almost certainly marks the end, not the beginning of British summer.
By far the largest of the three barbers I’ve recently visited, it’s set across two floors and will cater to whatever your grooming regime may demand. The barbers is on the ground floor, and the basement dedicated to treatments.
Beard Trim & Hot Towels
I started off with a beard trim. Now, my past two shaves have used two rounds of hot towels: one before, and one after the shave. Gentlemen’s Tonic was different. He started in the same way, with a hot towel to open my pores and soften my beard, but then rounded things off with a cold towel.
Now, I’m sure you’re all going to find this utterly anodyne and inane, but I was intrigued. Why was he doing it differently? I must admit, I’ve always believed that when shaving you should splash icy cold water on your face when you’re finished to close your pores and soothe any nicks or irritation afterwards. I couldn’t help but ask. It turns out that my belief was correct – cold is better.
He sort of rolled his eyes when I told him about the ‘twice’ hot towel treatment; it sounded very much like he was frustrated at these ‘bad habits’ as he called them becoming endemic around the high-end barbers in London.
Beard trimmed and what’s left of my face that’s not covered in beard shaved, it was time to head downstairs for my treatments.
Two First Times: A Manicure and Facial
I was taken down to the basement by my therapist for the day, Louise, a lovely Irish lass with whom I spent the afternoon chatting about everything from how Anna and I met to how Gentlemen’s Tonic have developed their new skincare range.
First up – a manicure. Now, I’ve never been particularly good at looking after my nails. I don’t bite them, but I do have a nasty habit of gnawing incessantly at any little bit of dry skin around my cuticles. It’s a horrible compulsion, and I apologise. However, it’s now some 5 days after my manicure, and I’m chewing-free. I’ve been making a real effort now that my nails are in such good condition not to ruin it by indulging in some casual autophagy.
I’m not ashamed to say it. I had a manicure. I enjoyed it. I’ll probably get another one. It didn’t feel girly, more just a recognition of a simple fact: your hands are almost always on display. It’s important that they look good.
Onto the facial. Starting off with a quick cleanse, it was then time for a peel to remove the dead skin cells that lead to dull skin, to make room for the bright and shiny cells below to give me that glow. Next up was a deep moisturising mask, making use of hyaluronic acid to penetrate the top layers of the skin and deliver moisture to where it can have a real effect. As the mask did its work, I was given a short neck and shoulder massage, before being given some time in the room to relax and generally come back to earth. It was magnificent.
One interesting thing did come up. My good wife Anna wrote a guest piece for me a while back encouraging men to shop in the ladies’ skincare aisle, as the range of products is often better and of higher quality, on the basis that all skin is skin. Louise has a slightly different view on this, in that men’s skin tends to be thicker and more prone to oiliness than women’s. Therefore, whilst there’s absolutely no reason men shouldn’t shop in the ladies’ aisle to get the better products, they may actually not be as effective as they could be for the male skin type.
Put simply, because of our thicker skin, we need more potent (or higher concentrations of) active ingredients to penetrate down to the sub-dermal layers. In addition, as we’re more prone to oiliness, we need products that are formulated to control this. It was really interesting to hear this perspective, and I’m hoping that I can write further in a separate piece about Gentlemen’s Tonic new Derma-Care range.
Much like my manicure, this facial will not be my last. It was relaxing and invigorating all at the same time. My skin is now bright and smooth, and I’m going out of my way to keep it as such.
I think it’s fair to say that my visit to Gentlemen’s Tonic was probably the best of my three-fold tour of London’s groomeries (yes, I’m making up a word). It took the luxurious surroundings of the Bulgari, coupled with the friendliness of the staff at Penhaligon’s and brought it all together into a single cohesive offering.
If you’re in London, and you’re looking for a quick treatment or something a bit more comprehensive, Gentlemen’s Tonic has got you covered.
Gentlemen’s Tonic Mayfair
31a Bruton Place