Recently my boyfriend got into straight razor shaving, which means that he’s been hurtled head-first into the world of men’s skin care, me along with him.
At one time, he was content to carve his face with a plastic 5-blade that, with all its claims of precision, refused to give him a close shave no matter how furiously he hacked at his face. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of buying him a “Shavette,” or a beginner straight razor, for Christmas and now he is a man possessed. There are shaving creams, cakes, soaps, oils, aftershaves, soothing balms, straight razors, safety razors and moisturizers. The men's skin care market has exploded in the last few years, and the ads are pretty much all like this:
Hey dudes, your skin is like a high-octane car made of science and shit. It’s not weird or gay or anything to treat it real special just like your woman does – only this skin care is awesome and filled with stuff that will make your heavy machinery of a blade operate better with your kick-ass man face. Which is also a machine of some kind.
It. Is. Wonderful.
Sure, women’s advertising is insane as well, but what makes men’s care marketing so much fun is that it’s still in its infancy. Watching the ads struggle on their spindly baby horse legs is admittedly entertaining. Because women’s health and beauty marketing has perfected a system wherein companies tear apart your ego so they can promise to build it back up again if you buy their products. It’s a system that works so well that we’ve stopped questioning it for the most part. Of course a zit is a barrier for your love life. Of course wrinkles ought to be eliminated.
But these brave copywriters working on their men’s skin care accounts are still fiddling with the formula. For now, the one that they’ve settled on is a careful balance between explaining how a product works while making sure to constantly stroke the ego of prospective customers to reassure them that there’s nothing unmanly about beauty products and, if anything, it’s unmanly not to take care of your face-truck.
Every Man Jack
If you’re like most guys, you care about keeping your skin healthy and looking good. (If you’re not, well, now’s a pretty good time to start.)
That’s because your skin is a critical organ that covers and protects your entire body. But as sophisticated as it might be, taking care of your skin doesn’t have to take a half dozen steps and expensive, complicated products. All it takes is Every Man Jack.
Whether it’s cleansing, clearing, hydrating or protecting, EMJ has simple, affordable solutions that get the job done. It’s stuff that fits into your daily regimen. Not the other way around.
This pretty much encapsulates everything I’ve said above.
First, important man science: your skin is an organ. Take care of your body organs, dude.
Second, there’s nothing weird about caring for your skin. In fact, you should have started doing this way before now.
There’s also the not-so-subtle hint that unlike your lady’s skin care, which is filled with promises it can’t possibly keep, men’s skin care is going to level with you, bro.
They're all about being real.
Here’s what EMJ says about its anti-aging regime:
Will I look and feel 18 again?If you’re 18 right now, absolutely. While it’s no miracle, this light, non-greasy face lotion and hydrating eye cream will help you fight the signs of aging.
No bullshit, bro. Just the straight facts. Even though “fighting the signs of aging” is a nebulous and meaningless phrase. But would these dudes lie to you, man? Nah.
L'Oreal Men Expert skin care, meanwhile, seeks to lure you in with celebrities who represent the three pillars of masculinity with the spokestrio of Patrick Dempsy (soulful), Gerard Butler (rugged) and Hugh Laurie (classic). They want to make sure you know that using these products won't change the inner you. You're not going to start covering everything in doilies if you use their stuff. Just look at Hugh Laurie -- he's still so classic and British (in the Michael Caine way, though, not in the Hugh Grant way).
And Gerard Butler! Remember 300? That was great.
Another tactic, employed by The Art of Shaving, is basically to say: fuck the naysayers -- pamper yourself, asshole. You're a man. Why wouldn't you take care of your awesome skin?
The Art of Shaving doesn't bother with pandering to your need to think of your face as anything other than a face. It actively encourages its customers to enjoy the luxury of a good shave, not to worry about how it'll make them look to their non-luxurious friends.
You like good scotch and stuff? Then why are you using some POS shave cream?
Let's be clear: all skin care marketing is silly, and it all panders to stereotypes.
But that doesn't mean that we can't have a bit of a laugh at the expense of companies trying so hard to essentially say, "No homo." Upper-class men used to wear makeup and powder and wigs and would spend a fortune on fashion. Smearing a little bit of cream on your face after a shave is hardly going to destroy masculinity.