- Sunday Riley
- Dr. Hauschka
- Jack Black
- Alba Botanica
- Aubrey Organics
- Tom Ford
- The Art of Shaving
- Prospector Co.
I suspect that I’m not the only one who has tried and experimented with a hefty list of men’s skincare brands. Before stating the obvious challenges of choosing a product that suits ones unique conditions, it’s essential to acknowledge the vast array of companies operating in this realm.
Women have been purchasing and using brands like Clinique for decades (my own mother was one of them). Men on the other hand, have only recently begun to be the subject of marketing from an exponentially-growing number of angles.
For any need or any product category, there are thousands of possible options: drugstore and supermarket brands like Nivea and Neutrogena; higher-end cosmetics brands found in department stores or specialty stores (Sephora), like Jack Black and LAB Series, brands that sell in their own stores as well, like Kiehl’s, and an array of natural or organic products which exist on the periphery of the mass market.
And of course, there is always do-it-yourself, which for any problem there is a suggestion to be found on the internet. I once made a face mask, meant to address rosacea, out of plain yogurt, honey, turmeric, which tasted like Indian food and left my face jaundiced.
For the last few months, I have been “washing” my face with a mixture of 2-to-1 olive oil and castor oil, which is supposed to be as close to naturally-occurring and cleansing as possible. Contrary to logic, it doesn’t cause me to feel more oily (in fact I always feel moisturized without actually using moisturizer).
From my own experience, the first challenge is identifying my true skin conditions. I am oily for sure, always have been, and had plenty of acne earlier in life. Now my challenge is mostly inflammation and irritation. People say I look sun-kissed but really it’s just blotchy redness.
Perennially, I have patches of (what my dermatologist claimed is) rosacea, though I wonder if that is an accurate diagnosis. Dermatology is, like all medicine, no certainty when ailments mimic each other (like rosacea and dermatitis and psoriasis).
I never know if I should cleanse more, hydrate more, or let it be. I used to exfoliate all the time, thinking my face was just full of crud, when I realized my face was always red and dry, so I stopped that.
A further complication: visit the medical doctor dermatologist, or seek advice from a cosmetologist, who has considerably less training and qualification, both of whom are, to an extent, motivated to suggest certain products? Pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies acquire customers this way. I hope this isn’t news to anyone.
Optimally, once a problem is clear, there is the choice of product. How much is worth spending? Are high-end brands really better than drugstore ones? My aunt uses Walmart’s private label Equate face lotion that includes (key for her) alpha hydroxy acid. And her skin is pretty fantastic at about 60 (Sorry Aunt Sydna!). Well now I can’t find it online. I wonder if they discontinued it?
Italy, to my chagrin, is even more saturated in choice than the U.S. While stylish, modern U.S. brands aren’t so present, every farmacia sells products that seem high quality and scientific, developed by women chemists in white lab coats, typically from France. Mostly brands I have never heard of.
Thinking to women, sometimes, I can’t see how they decide what to buy and not to buy. I suppose it is like this: don’t find the best on the market, but simply something that works well enough until you find something better or desire a change.
I can make some general assumptions that narrow the choice funnel: I want as little chemical crap as possible. As a child of a cancer victim, I am suspicious of anything I put in or on my body made of nefarious compounds I can’t pronounce or understand easily from Wikipedia. Organic is fine, but is it necessary? Do upscale products actually work better, or just have a pretty label attached to the container?
As someone who seeks efficiency, or a sense of it anyway, playing trial and error with expensive products, even mid-level ones, feels wasteful and can be frustrating. More than other categories, “mistakes” with skincare can be embarrassing. All we all want is to look fresh and clean.
Here’s another thought: does diet play a role? I consider myself healthier than the average person, and I practice moderation. My only major vice is sugar, but even then I tend to eat high quality sugars (unprocessed, organic, dark chocolate, low glycemics like honey, etc.) rather than true crap.
OH—and what about facial treatments done by a cosmetologist at a salon or spa? Useful? I did it once and though I enjoyed the thought that she was extracting all the black heads from my nose pores, it was incredibly painful and I have since read it can be actually terrible for your skin in the long-term (breaks capillaries).
It is all quite a conundrum. Maybe you have some wisdom to impart about men’s skincare?