In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, for which my boyfriend will most likely get me something impressive and expensive and elaborately romantic and I will inevitably get him something that I really just want for myself but that I am masquerading as a gift for “us” (cough cough ROOMBA cough), I thought I’d switch it up for a sec and focus on man products, because men need skin love too, love is in the air, whatever.
I also think that in a world (the beauty world, I mean– though wouldn’t it be great if that really was a separate world, though? And you could live in a house made entirely of beauty products? That’s my Hansel and Gretel fantasy, step into my brain for a sec) where beauty products are marketed almost exclusively to women (using a distinctly heteronormative marketing system that places value judgements on women’s faces and bodies as if they are a commons to be governed and critiqued by the masses) I think maybe it’s good to remind people of the fact that these so-called “beauty” products can be co-opted by men, for their use, without stigma that “beautifying oneself” or “beauty” in general is inherently feminine, and therefore emasculating.
THIS dude know’s what’s up.
Anyway. My friend Chad sidled up to me recently and sort of covered his mouth as he asked me: Shmuufh dspfml dosshh shmuudle shmuff shhhhh?
And I was like, Chad, what are you saying, I can’t hear you, stop covering your mouth.
So he took his hand away, dropped his voice to a whisper and said: “What are some good products for guys to use?”
And then my heart exploded into a thousand pieces and it rained sparkles and candy for three hours, because do you know how hard it is to get the men in my life to even CONSIDER using a face product? Do you know how hard it is to get them to even use the WORD product? It’s impossible. I have tried and failed and whined about it for a long, long time, until people drop their eyes and mutter about having to go home and feed a nonexistent cat and then slowly back away from me until they can break into a run.
BUT I DIGRESS.
Chad spends a ton of time outdoors because he is a crazy cyclist. So he’s constantly putting tons of sunscreen onto his face to avoid developing a giant melanoma spot across his whole forehead and over time that gunk cakes up and clogs his pores. Universal beauty problem that transcends gender.
My boyfriend, like every other dude here in Florida, would trade in his legs for waterskis if it meant he could spend every moment of the rest of his life out on the ocean, chasing some big fish and terrorizing it half to death. So he gets a TON of sun as well, and while he will haphazardly slap some sunscreen on his mug every once in a while, he already has enough sun damage to make me worry about a future scary mole situation. (Never mind the fact that he may one day resemble an actual leather handbag– he’s not concerned about that shit.)
And even though he may not care about getting skin cancer, he DEFINITELY still gets self conscious if he gets a honking zit, and he is always complaining about the ingrown hairs he gets after shaving. UNIVERSAL BEAUTY PROBLEMS TRANSCENDING GENDER AGAIN.
There are, of course, a whole slew of amazing men’s products out there. (Those of us with gay manfriends may have even gotten drunk and snuck into the bathroom to smell their products longingly–so much menthol! So much sandalwood! But I’ve definitely never done that. Ever.)
But most of the dudes I know can’t be bothered to mess around with anything more than a scraggly shard of Irish Spring, and while Details magazine may insist that 7 out of 10 dudes are using women’s products in secret or whatever, I do not buy that. I do not buy that for a seeeeecccccccoooonnnnnd. I think most guys are too lazy to really get into facial products, and while they wouldn’t technically mind using one that made them look better (as long as it smelled neutral, looked like it was for men, and was supremely uncomplicated to apply) they are more concerned with things like which razors don’t shred their cheeks, or which hair wax keeps their hair spiky through the very last fist bump.
Also, hello, men’s skin is hella different than women’s. It’s thicker, fattier, it binds water better, produces more sebum and it occasionally sprouts massive amounts of hair. So they need different stuff than us.
We’re looking for products that multitask, look slick, smell manly and get shit done. (Oh, and they can’t be expensive because show me the straight man who is willing to spend a ton of money on products when he could be buying beer. I would like to meet that guy and shake his sweet-smelling, well-moisturized hand.)
Here are a few that are, in my humble opinion, pretty bitchin…
This is a unisex product that is inexpensive compared to many of the Men’s aftershave-type products that you see on the market today. It’s excellent for stopping ingrown hairs, and while it stings like a motherfucker if you apply it right after shaving or waxing, its worth the 10 seconds of pain. Dudes who are especially prone to ingrowns (red, inflamed, occasionally white-tipped bumps that seemingly crop up overnight and wreck your whole game) should apply to the shaven area once a day. It doesn’t smell, it comes in a nice blue bottle, and it works.
Givenchy has come out with a men’s skincare line that tickles my ribs for two reasons: one, it has quality ingredients, and two: the person writing their copy is a batshit maniac, and I love me some crazy. They talk big game about how their products have HIGHER CONCENTRATIONS OF INGREDIENTS, which means HIGHER EFFECTIVENESS (not necessarily but we’ll let it go) and how you only need to USE IT ONCE, SO YOU SAVE YOUR MAN TIME, but the best part by far is that all their products descriptions begin with the question– literally– “Are you man enough?”
Are you man enough to use a face cream, dude? Are you man enough to PUT THIS FUCKING CREAM ALL OVER YOUR FACE LIKE A MAN AND THEN PRIMAL SCREAM AND EAT SOME MEAT? AHHHHHHH! MAN CREAMS!!!!!!
But seriously. This is a great daily moisturizer.
It has one of my favorite acids, Hyaluronic, which will keep his skin soft and exfoliated. It’s got some nice vitamins, it absorbs quickly, and it can help to combat some minor fine lines which no one is going to complain about.
This product is EXCELLENT, and while it’s worked for me in the past I know a lot of women for whom the 10% Glycolic was just too drying or harsh. The men I know who use this, however, have never had a problem. This is an excellent option for guys who are suffering from clogged pores, acne, or overall dullness. I’ve also seen it even out patchiness, fade acne marks, and heal the sick.
That last one might be untrue but it’s really a wonderful product that isn’t going to break the bank, can be bought online while one is still in one’s flannel pajama pants, and brings dramatic results in a reasonable time frame. Great choice for dudes who use sunscreen daily and need to strip their face down at night– and it should only be used at night, since it makes you sensitive to the sun and interacts with sunscreen.
This one is mine, and I use it weekly– but somehow I’ve also convinced my obliging other half to try it out (maybe because it’s black and looks a little bit like corpse paint?) and it’s just such a great product, for both men and women. Great for clearing out pores, bringing an overall tightness and clarity to the skin. Contains both charcoal and clay, two absolute heavyweights when it comes to face masks, plus it’s natural and relatively cheap. If you’re ever going to convince your dude to do a face mask, this one might be it. It smells medicinal, not floral, and you look like a member of KISS when you apply it.
Ditto this other luminizing mask by Boscia, which is also truly great and even BLACKER so you really look like you’re in Halloween costume and can scare the shit out of anyone who decides to swing by to visit.
The Origins mask gets washed off while the Boscia mask gets peeeeeeeeeeeeled off slowly (which is great for exfoliating the top layer of the skin while drawing out any impurities that are easily extracted) so if your guy was a fan of peeling elmer’s glue off his hands back in grade school you might convince him to try this mask just on the basis of that alone.
Truly all of the above products can be used by women as well, but some may be a bit harsh for sensitive skin and are better left to the burly lumberjack (who still pines for radiant skin! I KNOW YOU EXIST) in your life.
Happy Valentine’s Day, guys– I wish you love, happiness, and totally rad skin.