Growing old gracefully….or not?

You can feel defenceless against the onset of age. (Photo by Pixabay)

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “Beautiful young people are an accident of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art”.

Maturity is a double-edged sword. Yes, you gain experience, knowledge and insight, but with it you lose youthful exuberance, the sense of adventure and that“superman” feeling where nothing’s beyond you, nothing’s unachievable.

Achy heads, after a long night out, are replaced by achy bones after a long night’s sleep. The amazing becomes ordinary, as you’ve seen it all before….got the T shirt and the box set.

Growing old gracefully is an art if it isn’t to drift into a mire of frustration, regret and disappointment. Many appear (and this is a totally subjective view) to give up as they enter middle age. Losing interest in their appearance, withdrawing from the world, reminiscing about the “good old days”, whilst others embrace their lives, emphasising the positives and making the most of what they have.

I have to admit that I have struggled in recent years and in many ways I too have fallen into a negative mind-set but, with the help of an experienced therapist, changes in my lifestyle and a realisation of what actually makes me tick, I’m moving positively into a new phase of my life.

Looking and feeling good is an important part of my persona, (I’ve even been guilty of hiding behind it in my younger years), but it is an intrinsic part of what is ME, giving me confidence, a feeling of well-being and a sense of purpose.

Hence this blog!

I fell upon the name Manshands after I qualified as a Massage Therapist early in 2019…a neat way of describing my offering in a world dominated by female practitioners. Doing this was a sea change in my professional life, having always been a business owner, dare I say entrepreneur, in advertising, marketing and specialist printing for most of my adult life. I would like to say that I had experienced an epiphany, but I think it can more sensibly be described as a parting of the ways between my old and my new life. I was tired, stressed and drained from 30 years of being on-call, responding to others’ desires and needs, working to deadlines that, in the overall context of life, didn’t really matter. I’d been successful (relatively) but success came at a cost to my mental health and my relationships with those closest to me.

So now, another year on, I’ve decided that massage is not for me (although I’ll still maintain my skills with friends and relatives), but through the contacts I made during my training, I am moving into the natural skincare and cosmetics arena. I’ve travelled extensively to Thailand, India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, France, Mexico, Turkey and Spain, to name but a few, in the last year and I’ve undertaken professional training in Natural Cosmetic Formulation, Soap making, Cosmetic Manufacturing Practice and the legalities of producing and selling natural cosmetics in the UK and Europe.

I have had an interest in natural body care for many years, long before this adventure, and have imported artisan olive oil soaps and argan oil for personal use for some time.

I have also developed (since my mid-twenties) a penchant for “gentlemen’s” clothing and accessories. Jermyn Street shirts, bespoke tailoring, cashmere, silk ties, English shoes, subtle fragrances have become a big part of my life and I never feel more comfortable than when I am fully “suited and booted”.

So there it is….I intend to grow old gracefully and along the way share the experiences, tastes and products that interest and inspire me through this blog. There’ll be  few things that have you probably  never considered before, maybe some that will enhance the way you live, and definitely information and knowledge that will enable you to make considered decisions about your body and appearance.

After all, your skin, however old and wrinkled, is only a wrapper that contains the you inside….but it needs to be appreciated and cared for in the best way you can.

#matureskin #grumpyoldman #jermynstreet #bespoketailoring #manshands #maturity #middleage #style #


Sandovalis Perfumes and Soaps – a unique taste of the Yucatan

The evening skyline of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

This has to be one of my favourite ranges of artisan fragrances and soaps, simply due to the thought, care and history that has gone into their creation and the story they have to tell.

I was fortunate enough to meet Cynthia, one half of the husband and wife team behind Sandovalis, in a small bar one very warm evening in Merida in the Yucatan, Mexico. She spoke no English and I very little Spanish and, until her friend who interpreted for us arrived, we conversed uncomfortably using a translation app on my iPhone.

Having pursued successful careers in marketing this couple had no connection to perfumery until they came across some old family recipes dating from the 19th century. Fascinated by them and the traditional local ingredients that were used they undertook to recreate the aromas of the Yucatan that had been lost for years. Finding some of the flora referred to in the formulations was often difficult as they were specific to that part of Mexico and not available commercially. They were reduced to foraging and even had to build their own copper still to extract the essential oils and aromas from these relatively elusive plants.

Some of the range of Sandovalis perfume, soap and candles

Hard work and persistence paid off and resulted in the launch of the Sandovalis Perfumery in 2012 and the original range of  fragrances and the first bar soap soon followed.

However, the bug had bitten and the two of them started developing new fragrances and an extended product range based on the authentic aromas of the Yucatan peninsula and an understanding of a culture that dates back to the Mayans.

The range now includes beautiful handmade soaps, shampoo, shower gel, candles, beard treatments and body cream, all made from 100% natural ingredients and beautifully packaged (the packaging alone has to be seen to be believed!).

All the products are of the highest quality and have a luxurious feel and a subtle, although distinctive, fragrance. I was blown away when I tried them and have been trying to bring them to the UK ever since, so watch this space!

Examples of the attention to detail that flows through the veins of this brand are the shaving bowls that accompany their La Orden range of male body care products. Hand carved from Tzalam, a locally grown hardwood, by skilled craftsmen with generations of knowledge, they are a work of art in themselves.

All the products are made in very small batches with that artisan touch that can only be added by dedicated and skilled master craftsmen.

Sandovalis La Orden Soaps and that unique hand carved shaving bowl

You can more understand the philosophy of Sandovalis by reading their own description (translated from the native Spanish) of their ethos:

“Sandovalis is an independent perfumery project inspired by the history and botany of the Yucatan Peninsula, offers a revaluation of aromas and the origin of raw materials through the practice of fair trade, the rescue of Mayan ethnobotany and practice of almost extinct trades of Yucatan. 

We make aromas through a structure that is a model of our lifestyle: culture, tradition, countryside, history and the honest work of the people; They are the center of each inspiration. Sandovalis products are made by hand with raw materials that are mostly produced in Yucatan by the hands of master craftsmen, using traditional techniques that promote the customs and trades of rural communities”.

You can find a wealth of information, the history and the range of products Sandovalis have to offer at

#sandovalis #mexico #yucatan #laorden #merida #naturalsoap #handmade #artisan #perfume