‘We would wash every 2-3 weeks with some snow and only change our underwear once a month’
With winter weather well and truly upon us, we’ve enlisted a seasoned pro to advise us on how best to beat the cold. Who better to point us in the right direction than pioneering polar explorer and record-breaking long-distance skier Ben Saunders?! Not only does he hold the record for the longest solo Arctic journey by a Briton, but he also successfully completed Captain Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova expedition for the first time. It’s not difficult to see why Land Rover have appointed him their global brand ambassador! From frostbite to face scrubs, Ben is in the know.
You have a fast paced life, which sees you crossing the globe for work, which products go everywhere with you?
My hands are pretty beaten up after a few brushes with frostbite so I always need a good hand moisturiser. A good face moisturiser is also important as I naturally have very dry skin. I like Clinique but my favourite is Ren (they also have a cracking Seaweed and Sage Body Wash). I also like products by Jason, they do a great 84% Aloe Vera Moisturiser that I used to rescue my skin when I was clobbering it with twice-daily showers whilst training last year. My go-to fragrance is Penhaligon’s Endymion Cologne, it’s a subtle and mature scent!
How would you describe your approach to grooming in your everyday life, (when you’re not trekking though the Polar Regions we mean), are you wash and go kind of guy or secretly a bit high maintenance?
As it goes, I’m very low maintenance but also weirdly fussy about the products that I do use. I like to use organic products like those by Ren.
Bath or shower?
Baths are a luxury for me, I have one about once a week. I’m really into old school Epsom Bath Salts. I order them in bulk, which gets me some strange looks when they arrive on my doorstep! Many of us are deficient in magnesium and sitting in a bath full of Epsom Salts is a great way to replenish your magnesium levels.
In terms of preparation for an expedition, the training is obviously incredibly strenuous, what do you do to relax post workout?
In the lead up to an expedition I would get a massage about once a week by an amazing sports therapist called Kellie who uses unscented, natural oils. I like leaving the oil on and letting it all soak in rather than washing it off straight away, it’s very therapeutic.
We’re guessing life in a tent is pretty simple! What grooming luxuries do you miss the most while you’re away on an expedition?
We would wash every 2-3 weeks with some snow and only change our underwear once a month, which wasn’t as horrendous as it sounds as it’s actually a very clean environment! I did miss my clean sheets though. I also missed putting on a suit and dressing up, I really enjoy that, and using a good face scrub as I love the feeling! I tend to use one by Bulldog as it doesn’t contain any parabens.
What are you able to take on an expedition by way of products? How easy is it to take care of yourself while your trekking through the Polar Regions?
We did have moisturiser! We used a Dermalogica one, which was essential as it’s oil based rather than water based which is important for such cold conditions and also means you don’t need as much as a little goes a long way. We also had hand sanitizer. The lighter the better!
Do you just let your facial hair go wild? We’ve noticed you alternate between stubble and rather spectacular beard/moustache combo. Is the beard more due to necessity than personal choice?
Yes the beard was more of a necessity, you can afford to look a bit rugged as an explorer but I trimmed it off pretty quickly when I got home! I used to wet shave using King of Shave products, which are good but I have sensitive skin which didn’t always react well to a wet shave so now I just use a trimmer.
What about before you make a speech? Do you find looking and feeling good helps your perform?
Definitely, it’s the same when I’m on an expedition. You don’t want to wear a ridiculous clashing outfit you want to look and feel good, the gear is important. I have also come to find short hair quite empowering, the shorter it is the stronger I feel!
Who are your ultimate style and grooming icons?
Cyclist Eddy Merckx is definitely up there with his retro style and great hair, as are the explorers from the 50s and 60s with their signature circular glasses. I would also have to say my friend, fashion designer and tailor, Patrick Grant, I’ve always been jealous of his beard!
Olivia Buxton Smith
1. Dermalogica Barrier Repair (Waterless) Moisturiser, £36.50 for 30ml from www.dermalogica.co.uk
2. Ben Saunders
3. REN Seaweed and Sage Body Wash, £14 for 200ml from www.renskincare.com
4. Penhaligon's Endymion Cologne, £65 for 50ml and £85 for 100ml from www.penhaligons.com
5. Ben Saunders
6. Jason Soothing 84% Aloe vera Crème, £7.49 for 110g from www.jasonnaturalcare.co.uk
7. Epsom Bath Salts, £9.68 for 4kg from www.intralabs.co.uk
8. Bulldog Original Face Scrub, £5.79 for 100ml from www.meetthebulldog.com
9. Eddy Merckx
10. Clinique for Men Moisturising Lotion, £25 for 100ml from www.clinique.co.uk
11. King of Shaves AlphaGel Shaving Gel Sensitive, £3.39 for 150ml from www.shave.com