There was a time in my life when I only used to go into a chemists for five things. Shaving foam, razors, toothpaste, deodorant and Durex.
Now, I just scroll through the best “Age Management” bundles and haemorrhoid essential combat kits on-line.
Once my skin regimen comprised solely of dabving toilet tissue on razor nicks. For a long time I didn’t care what I looked like. But now I care more about what I look like. I want to look like a healthcare worker, a policeman or a first responder. They get some good deals these days.
It’s a difficult look to pull off. The “I work for a non- profit organisation and have piles but haven’t got any ID on me, ” Look is difficult to master. But persistence pays off.
My whole self-care attitude has changed and lately the cause serious marital tension.
My wife has begun to question my metrosexuality. And has accused me of being a secret skin brightener.
She knows I’m not a narcissist because I haven’t got anything any more, if I ever did at all, to be narcissistic about and she knows my only real vanity is wearing a hussar’s Busby in all weathers everywhere . Even inside, in restaurants and at the theatre. Because I am bald and ashamed of it.
And active or retired servicemen, particularly present or past members of the Royal Household Artillery receive generous discounts from some West End theatres as well at Boot’s.
I have never really cared very much for my skin. As long as it wasn’t badly punctured I was fine. I was very Old School. It was just something to push a razor over now and then and wash when it was dirty and began to smell. Skincare meant a sponge and any old soap. I didn’t know the meaning of the word, “regimen”.
However, recently, my wife has become very suspicious. My behaviour worries her. She suspects me of moisturizing and has started finding skincare products hidden around the house.
“What this?” she asked, holding up Auden Age Defence face cream she had found at the back of the cupboard under the sink. I said I didn’t know. When I knew full well it was my multi-tasker.
The poet WH Auden – who described his own face as like a cake left out in the rain – didn’t invent London’s Auden Age by the way. The founder of Freya + Bailey, Abbie Oguntade did.
“The plumber must have left it. Zoran has great skin!!” was my defence, hiding behind a bisexual Montenegroan.
“And this?” She lifted up some Clarin’s Hydra Sculpt. Then some Aesop Parsley Seed facial toner and a half-finished jar of exfoliating scrub which she had come across under the stairs.
“It must be one of the boys.”
No man wants to be considered a hopeless narcissist. Even if that is what he is. Even if all men are.
We have two sons who have their mother’s alabaster skin. I blamed them because they spend a long time in the bathroom. “You know how concerned they are about oxidative stress and hyperpigmentation.”
“And this?” she asked, showing me Shiseido empowering cream.
“David must have left it behind,” I shrugged.
“In your golf bag?”
Then she confronted me with a receipts for some Blu Atlas volcanic ash cleanser she had found in my trouser pocket. I took the Second Amendment. She started thinking the worse after she found Hyaluronon on my collar.
“You’ve been seeing a dermatologiost, haven’t you?” she asked, her eyes glistening.
“How could you?” she asked, referring to all the lifting and firming I was doing when I said I was working late.
I was in denial for a long time.
It had started – as it always does- with the recreational use of Dove and Nivea and then innocently experimenting in the shower with my wife’s L’Oreal and , before I knew it, I was buying Clinique For Men’s Intense Hydrator kits , experimenting with Retinol and spending far too much money on auto-replenishing crèmes and Hawkins & Brimble.
I used them at work and when my wife had finished in the bathroom. When the kids were at home , they used to knock on the door and ask, “ How long will you be with the re-juvenating?”
It got ugly. I was accused of stealing their Kiehl’s Fuel and using their Vitruvian Man Resurrection, epidermally-energizing and rescuing creams. Kids and women don’t have a monopoly of premium organic skincare and boosting the skin’s architecture. So what if I have developed a nightly snow mushroom habit?
It even spilled over into work where a colleague accused me of bronzing. It got out of hand.
My wife caught me making my own avocado, cucumber and yoghurt gel and pouring Acqua di Parma into an old Old Spice Bottle.
I came clean.
“It’s not vanity, the menopause or the 27-year-itch,” I pleaded, finally admitting I was a self-groomer and may be a user but I wasn’t an abuser.
“It’s the pollution. Its my shield against this age. This is how I cope with green light. I’m not scared about losing my looks. But I am scared of losing my elasticity.
A friend put me onto Dr Dennis Gross who helped me as much as ferulic acid can.
I attended group therapy sessions, sitting in a circle of prematurely-aged Gen-Z+ males with tight , matte finish complexions and well-nourished foreheads, bewailing societal norms, venting our facial frustrations, bewailing our pores and discussing how important it was for others not to be judgemental and allow us to self-groom and to empower us to take ownership of our skin health.
One man broke down when he confessed how dependent he has become on impactful yet simple skin, body and hair products.
Another showed us photos of his carefully-curated bathroom cabinet. Another told of a mortgage default after spending all his money on ionized cleansing water. Another said his children were concerned about the number of Drunken Elephants and Mancaves in the recycling bin.
One said he contemplated suicide because of his oily skin. Another was divorced when his wife was convinced she could smell Liz Earle on him.
The noticeably unwrinkled counsellor and group leader was a reformed V-blogger with an abnormal interest in renewing mousses and lip protection.
The man-to-man dynamic helped.
We shared our own skincare journeys. We learned that while looks may not be the most important feature a woman looks for – that’s a kitchen island – people still have to outgrow the outdated notion that skincare is just for women. And of men of a certain age.
That’s how I became a Pelgrim.
The idea may come from Bordeaux but the products and the radiance they bring are Kentish.
Sommelier-trained former tech executive Jerome Moisan was born in Brittany, studied business at the University of Northumbria and now lives in Maidstone, walking his dog every day around the Chapel Down vineyard in Boxley.
He had discovered Caudalie who pioneered the concept of vinotherapy and working with grape based extracts. Mathilde Thomas and husband Bertrand, who founded Caudalie, discovered that grape seeds contain the most powerful antioxidants in the world and that grapevine sap, usually thrown away after harvest, was packed full of viniferine, which is 62 times more effective than vitamin C.
Pelegrim’s uses by-product ingredients from wines made at Adrian Pike’s Westwell vineyard, Charing near Ashford, to create antioxidant-rich skincare. The name is inspired by the old English name for the Pilgrims Way. Pike founded the Moshi Moshi record label.
Alex Verier, former director at Margate’s Haeckels skincare, helped Jerome formulate, trial and manufactured the Pelgrims line in their lab at Aldington, twenty minutes from the vineyard.
Their first capsule collection was made from Westwell’s 2020 harvest of Pinot Noir and Ortega grapes and includes a facial oil , nourishing facial balm, an exfoliating hand cleanser and hand pomade.
The facial products contain grape extract, which contains high levels of polyphenols such as resveratrol, flavonoids, xanthophylls and carotene.
My wife has accepted my metrosexuality and, although I may smell like I have been drinking, my complexion is radiant and my hands noticeably softer thanks to Pelgrim’s hand pomade.
My wife still blame herself for leaving around her charcoal purification masques.
And the hair re-growth formulas are still safely hidden around the garden.