Thursday, October 18

Men's Grooming Special

Esquire Magazine just published their list of recommended men's grooming products for the year. I typed the list out for myself so that I'd have a copy on my Blackberry when I went shopping, but I thought maybe you guys would be interested in having a copy as well.

Keep in mind that these sorts of lists are far from definitive, having more to do with keeping advertiser's happy than empirically choosing the best products.

Mostly what's important is just using a product at all. I use a cheap foaming face wash that costs about two bucks, and though the ten dollar cleanser they recommend might be better--it has microbeads, yo!--I bet it's not eight dollars better. But definitely use a cleanser and not some bar of soap, you know?

But still, it might be interesting to try a few of these newer products. I'm pretty excited to try out a few of them, anyway, though perhaps that's a deeply sad admission.

Now...prepare yourself for some of the stupidest product names you've ever seen:

Shampoo: Redken For Men Aquafy
Conditioner: American Crew Tea conditioner
Texturizer: Molton Brown Easygroom Quillaja hair texturizer
Pomade: Aveda Men Pure-Formance pomade
Putty: Matrix Men Form Putty

Texturizer is for medium to long hair, to "create separation and definition while removing fluffiness." Okay! Putty, I have no clue, but I'm not putting it in my hair.


Face Scrub: Anthony Logistics face scrub
Face Wash: Sephora Face Deep-Down cleanser
Preshave oil: Refinery shave oil
Shaving Cream: Billy Jealousy Hydroplane
Aftershave: Zegna Intensa aftershave balm
Moisturizer: LancĂ´me Men Hydrix face moisturizer

The most important item on this list is the preshave oil. It softens up the beard and prepares your skin for the shave. If you use a good preshave oil, you could get away with using Dial soap as a shaving cream. (Do not do this.)

Think about getting a shave brush, too, which lifts the hair as you spread on the shave cream. Some insufferable types bloviate on the need for a proper badger hair brush, but those types probably carry monogrammed flasks, too, for their favorite "tipple." Oh my god, fuck those guys.

Despite what we learned at the sink with our dads, aftershave isn't necessary. If you need it anyway, by all means skip the alcohol-based ones and get an aftershave cream instead, which is really just a scented moisturizer. Moisturizer is essential; you DID just scrape a metal blade across your fave.

I personally use the Anthony Logistics face scrub they recommend, and I love it. And it smells like a orange creamsicle, and the effervescent beads are a great wake-me-up. (Note: DOES NOT taste like orange creamsicle.)


Toothbrush: Ultrea ultrasound toothbrush
Mouthwash: Crest Pro-Health Night
Toothpaste: The Natural Dentist peppermint sage
Lip Balm: Jack Black lip balm
Dental Floss: Glide Whitening Plus Scrape
Tongue Scraper: Any brand, just use one.


Soap: Every Man Jack Tea Tree Body Bar
Body Wash: Bigelow Barber hair and body wash
Body Scrub: Origins For Men Skin Diver charcoal body scrub
Body Lotion: Vaseline Intensive Rescue or Kiehl's body moisturizer with
Deodorant: Burberry
Cologne: Prada Amber pour Homme

The Burberry deodorant costs $24; spending that much on your armpits is not only absurd, but a clear symptom of affluenza. (Never mind that it supposedly smells like "a pinecone in an old baseball glove.")

However, that's not to say that deodorant isn't something to give at least a little thought to. Moreso than any other product on this list, your deodorant is the one grooming choice that's most likely to be sniffed by someone else. And most deodorants smell terrible, and are marketed like sports drinks: Mountain Breeze and Extreme SportsZone and whatever.

So though I can't recommend a $24 deodorant--but for special occasions when you're pretty sure someone's gonna be close enough to smell it, why not?--I would certainly take the time to find one that has a masculine and natural scent.

As for the cologne suggestion, this reeks (heh) of Esquire giving a little back to a favorite advertiser. That's not to say that it's a bad choice...I haven't smelled it yet, but all of the other Prada colognes are pleasingly light. And, at $68, it's a great price.

No, my problem is this: cologne is probably the most overrated of all grooming products, getting a disproportionate amount of attention from people who don't know anything else about grooming. (Nothing says "guido" like a nightstand cluttered with cologne bottles.) I find cologne to be superflous in most cases...if you use the grooming products you should, you're going to smell pretty good anyway, and without the need for an extra scent.

And most guys use too much, anyway. When used properly, only two people should EVER smell your cologne: someone you whisper to, and someone you're kissing. If anyone else can smell it, you're wearing too much.

I don't wear cologne in my daily life. When I do, I favor Thierry Mugler's Angel. It has a thick and rich scent that's almost chocolatey. (The women's version is quite nice, too.) If the occasion is VERY special--a trip to a casino buffet, perhaps, or a morning in traffic court--I'll use one or two precious drops of my dwindling store of Tobacco Flower, a Body Shop scent that God at his most unknowable and cruel allowed to be discontinued. A few bottles still exist, but a ravenous online fan base has driven the prices for these beyond what your
humble correspondent could pay with a clean conscience.

(Note the comments: three years of Googlers begging for the scent.)

Adidas, believe it or not, has a very light and refreshing cologne that I recommend for daily wear. Perhaps you could decant it into a less embarrassing bottle.

NEXT WEEK: The Baby Ruthless Guide To Ascots, Cravats, And Jabots.