In my opinion the grooming market is over-saturated and tough to navigate - look at any shaving cream, shampoo or deodorant isle in your local CVS. It can be extremely overwhelming walking into a drug store (or frilly boutique) to make what should be a simple purchase. Consumer goods companies continue to over-segment and cannibalize their brands with no discernible differences or benefits in many cases. Part of the reason I use the following products are to a certain degree their uniqueness and/or affordability. I find having discriminating preferences helps take much of the guess work out of deciding. I am guided by advice and suggestions of those I read or whose opinions I value. I tend to be brand loyal but not to the extent of being close-minded. Once I find something I will stick with it until another intrigues me to the point of trial. My goal is simplicity as my decisive powers are better used elsewhere in life... like assembling a timeless wardrobe.
The One and Only: Old Spice Deodorant
The smell is intoxicating, mostly with nostalgia. The original scent of Old Spice will forever remind me of my father and the childhood embraces received after his nightly saunter through the door. Upon reaching the age when deodorant became a necessity, I didn't know that other brands existed. My grandfather and father use(d) Old Spice exclusively and I will also. Although I have branched out to a different scent you'd have an easier time convincing Steve Jobs to use a PC than you would me switching deodorant brands.
Full line of products at oldspice.com
Predictably Manly: Every Man Jack
Perhaps the best aspect of this brand is its relative simplicity - basic, inexpensive and effective. I recommend the Cedarwood scented body wash as it has a crisp rugged smell - somewhere between a soft musky aftershave and a sawdust covered carpenter's bench. Although my baby face is mostly free of hair, on the occasions that a clean up is in order, the shave lotion and cooling gel are quite refreshing. Both contain a hydrating element that leaves your face as smooth as the notes from Miles Davis's horn. And the application of the cooling gel tingles like a final slap in the face - but a good one.
Full line of products at everymanjack.com
Back to the Bar: Dove for Men and Grandpa's Oatmeal Soap
Recently I decided to ditch the body washes, scrubbing loofahs and separate facial cleansers and return to a classic bar of soap. Dove's new men's line takes the emasculating aspects of femininity out of soap and leaves the beneficial (moisturizing) parts in play. The Deep Clean Body and Face Bar is exactly what I want in a soap - a strong, clean scent with a grainy texture to feel it working against the skin, without causing dryness and flaking. In addition, I was looking for something slightly more abrasive (think hotel soap) for post run sprucing. The answer - Grandpa's Old Fashion Oatmeal Soap. Too harsh for the face but a rugged, grity bar worth a good lather.
Both products available on drugstore.com
Best Kept Secret: Jack Black Blue Mark
We've all been in the elevator with THAT guy - you know the one - doused in AquaDiGio, PoloSport or *shudder* Drakar. Cologne should come with a hazmat symbol and be restricted - similar to driving... considered a privilege not a right. I spent almost a year looking for a signature scent. One that few others had or even knew about. Unfortunately, I found price to be inversely related to awareness. I sampled scents from Floris, Santa Maria Novella, and Bond No.9 but couldn't bring myself to spend upwards of $100 for a daily squirt of scented mist. At a respectably $65 Jack Black's Blue Mark is ideal. A huge departure from Aqua Velva but a significant step down from the likes of a Tom Ford Grey Vetiver. The Japanese juniper, ginger essence and watermint scent is light, crisp, understated, and not to mention seemingly under utilized. I have received many compliments and an equal number of furrowed brows when asked what I am wearing. "No, the actor Jack Black does not have his own cologne." You know what - nevermind, it sucks don't buy it... find your own.
Available at Sak's Fifth Avenue and at getjackblack.com
Fancy but Worth It: Kiehl's
Perhaps my only grooming splurge - Kiehl's Facial Fuel Moisturizing No-Shine Lip Balm. It's hard to ignore the history of Kiehl's and a connection back to the days of apocatheries. Kiehl's has a storied past in New York, with its original flagship store squatting at the corner of 13th Street and 3rd Avenue since 1851. Ringing in at $9 a tube, the expense of this balm is quickly justified after a day of use. It's like a leather jacket for your lips - expensive yet tough against the elements. While other cheap lip balms can actually dry your lips out, Kiehl's protects, heals and moisturizes. You'll never want to go back to Chapstick again.
To learn more on the history of Kiehl's and all of their products visit Kiehls.com
Magic Elixir: Lucky Tiger
|Image: Hog Mountain|
While perusing a favorite men's shop in Brooklyn, Hog Mountain (post to come) I was intrigued by their featured grooming brand Lucky Tiger. As you can see by the design, the product looks like a tonic that should be peddled by a mustached, cane twirling huckster atop a soapbox. I have no experience to date with their products but am eager to try at leas the face wash. I'll report back on relevant findings.
In the meantime, visit Lucky Tiger on the web for a preview of their product offerings.
Throw in a modest hair gel (when applicable), nail clippers, a toothbrush and razor - what more does a man really need?