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Nov 25, 2014 >> Here Comes the Groom!


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The quaint Merz Apothecary in Lincoln Square packs a serious modern punch. Don’t be fooled by the polite customer service, old fashioned product knowledge and classic wood paneling, this one-stop-shop is a hip paradise for those on the hunt to up the game in their health and beauty regimen.

How can they be so cool with the times? The family-owned business—check out their feature in our Small Business Saturday story!—stocks the dusted daily shelves with over 13,000 products. Owner Anthony Qaiyum shops for hundreds of these products to find the best new items out there and since we’re smack dab in the middle of our Men’s issue, we asked owner Anthony to pick his grooming favorites. And surprisingly, even with 13,000 products to choose from, he knew exactly what to share. Stocking stuffers? You bet your bottom dollar. See Anthony’s favorites below. >>

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THE MORNING ROUTINE
From the perfect face tonic—yes, gents, you need that, too—to a Chicago-made comb that is a serious piece of art, Anthony dissects what should be in every modern man’s dopp kit these days. 

A. MEN’S GROOMING SET, $69.95, BY PFEILRING
Anthony says: For those on your list with a beard or moustache, this compact leather set is the perfect gift. It has a very sharp scissors for accurate trimming along with a 2-in-1 comb/brush. B. PURE CLEAN FACIAL CLEANSER, $18, BY JACK BLACK
Anthony says: Jack Black’s daily facial cleanser is the perfect gift for guys who need to step up their game from a bar of soap or from whatever happens to be lying around. It’s easy, effective and no-nonsense.

C. FACE BALM, $36, BY URSA MAJOR
Anthony says: This is the companion moisturizer to the toner that I love. I only need a small pump to keep my skin moisturized but not greasy. I dig this stuff!

D. BURNING BARBERSHOP COLOGNE, $106, BY D.S. & DURGA
Anthony says: Burning Barbershop from D.S. & Durga is a fragrance that I smelled for the first time and immediately knew that we must carry it. It’s sweet and smoky and like nothing else I’ve experienced.

E. FLAT FOLDING NAIL CLIPPER, $34.95, BY PFEILRING
Anthony says: There is a special thrill with using an amazing tool that looks like it was swiped from James Bond’s dopp kit. This flat folding nail clipper is exactly that. It folds completely flat so that you wouldn’t think there were any moving parts. And it fits in slim leather case. Plus it’s got a lifetime guarantee. Take in on your next international adventure!

F. WATER BASED HEAVY HOLD POMADE, $20, BY SIXTY8 PROVISIONAL CO.
Anthony says: It’s got a super heavy hold but washes out with water. Plus it’s scentless, which can be a nice change from the coconut and tropical fruit smelling products that seem to dominate hair styling shelves these days.

G. FACE TONIC, $24, BY URSA MAJOR
Anthony says: This Ursa Major toner is my secret weapon. For most of my life, I tended to get very red cheeks and have always had sensitive skin. This toner calms my skin down after a shower or after I wash my face and I don’t have redness issues anymore. Plus it is a great aftershave with aloe and witch hazel. A lot of guys don’t get what toner does.  But by using it, you will have firmer, smoother skin and if you put your moisturizer on when your face is still damp from the toner, you will have much more moisturized skin as well.

H. STAINLESS STEEL MATTE FINISH COMB, $39, BY CHICAGO COMB
Anthony says: Ted and John are two great Chicago guys who had the dream of making a really beautiful metal comb. I think the result speaks for itself. It’s a grooming must and a design object that could be on display at a museum. I’m so excited for Chicago Comb Co. and for me that I get to have such a cool comb in my bathroom.

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THE 411 ON FACIAL HAIR
Whether it’s a little stubble or a full grown beard, Merz has all the right tools to make your facial hair the talk of the town.

A. GENTS ROUND TIP SCISSORS, $29.95, BY PFEILRING
Anthony says: Every man (and probably every woman) should have a good round tip scissors in the medicine cabinet. Forget the fancy gadgets—there is nothing better for trimming stray nose, ear and other hair than this pair of Pfeilring scissors which is made in Germany and guaranteed for life!

B. PERSIAN JAR SUPER BADGER SHAVE BRUSH, $132.50, BY SIMPSONS
Anthony says: Wet shaving is all the rage these days, and I’m pretty much a wet shaving preacher. If you stop by the store when I’m delivering my sermon you will learn that when you ditch the cartridge you will get a better shave with less razor bumps and ingrown hairs. The first step to starting wet shaving is to get a shave brush. We have them in all budget ranges, but this luxury handmade brush from Simpson is one of my favorites. 

C. DOUBLE EDGE RAZOR, $58, BY EDWIN JAGGER
Anthony says: The other essential tool for wet shaving is a safety razor, also known as a double edge razor because it has two single exposed edges, one on each side of the razor. This Edwin Jagger model from the UK echoes classic razor styles but with a bit more modern lines. More importantly, it is a gentle enough razor to learn with, but it will still give a baby-smooth shave even as your skills progress. Both the razor and the brush are the kinds of tools that will last with care, and you will be passing them to the next guard of shavers in your family.

D. AFTERSHAVE BALM, $7.95, BY 444
Anthony says: 444 aftershave balm has vintage Portuguese style and a strong hit of menthol to cool you off after a shave. The tube avoids the spill factor of liquids and you can travel with it.

E. SHAVE CREAM, $34, BY CROWN SHAVING CO.
Anthony says: I love the eucalyptus and spearmint blend of Crown shaving cream. It smells like chewing Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum when I was a kid. Plus, it has one of the thickest, creamiest lathers I’ve ever seen.

F. BEARD OIL, $25, BY J.S. SLOANE
Anthony says: I have a pretty serious beard right now. It’s fun and a little crazy. The thing about having a beard is that you want it to be soft and lustrous and shiny. And having a very faint, pleasant aroma is nice too. J.S.Sloane beard oil accomplishes all of these goals. It smells amazing, but is not strong enough that people will think you’re wearing a cologne in your beard. And it gives the shine that make people ask if they can touch your beard when you are in a bar or even walking on the street. That’s a bit weird, but certainly not a bad thing!

G. 5 PACK STAINLESS STEEL DOUBLE EDGE RAZOR BLADES, $2.95, BY KAI
Anthony says: The razor blades are where you save the majority of the money with wet shaving. Check out these Kai blades from Japan. At $2.95 for 5 blades, they are a fraction of the cost of any cartridge

H. SHAVING OIL, $25.95, BY VILLAGE BARBER
Anthony says: This shave oil from Village Barber is one of the best we’ve seen. You can use it to shave, but we prefer it as a preshave oil before our brush shave. It gives a little extra glide for an even more enjoyable experience.

Visit MerzApothecary.com for more information. And opening soon, Q Brothers at 4718 N. Lincoln Avenue expands Merz’ men’s products into its own manly space next door to the Lincoln Square flagship store.

PHOTO: TIM MUSHO