Here is the first post from my guest blogger James Taylor. Seems only fair to represent a male perspective on this business we call Beauty. Enjoy!
I’m an average bloke. A blokey bloke. I’m not trendy, or a poser. I’m heterosexual. I like the company of girls in bed, but not when watching football. I will probably cry if England win the world cup, but not whilst watching any movie. I like drinking lager, playing poker, watching street fights and spreading my legs wiiiiiddde when I sit down.
However, I also cleanse, tone and moisturise daily. I pluck my eyebrows to control the dreaded ‘monobrow’, shave my under arms every few weeks and trim my facial hair (amongst other places).
I don’t do this out of vanity, full-stop. And I don’t take pleasure from the act of grooming either – I don’t feel a compulsion to rub lotion on my face and whatnot. And let’s be clear – it’s not the pampering aspect of grooming which appeals – I don’t have a dedicated grooming area in my room with a huge mirror and spotlights. I don’t take long, hot baths filled with oils and bubbles. For me, the ideal would be for no-one to worry about his or her appearance at all, ever. Why apply unnecessary layers of ‘stuff’ when you can just be yourself? But it seems that skin care and cosmetics have become a necessary evil in my life.
So why do I spend my hard-earned cash on things I don’t believe I need? Well, I see it like this – these products are like drugs. Your mother warned you about them. They hang around on street corners, in school yards, nightclubs, and on the shelf’s of most high street retailers. They want your attention….just a taste…..It’s a real affliction for the modern man in a world where the danger of getting caught up in these things is EVERYWHERE. Did you know that by the time you finish reading this sentence, another poor lads freedom has been claimed by this stuff….and it’s so easy to fall into. I remember it started for me with Vaseline – my bandmate used to carry a tin around with him to lubricate his lips when playing trumpet. But it went beyond that, he used it all the time. Like a smoker needing the feel of a fag between his fingers as much as the smoke hitting his lungs…
But of course, Vaseline is small fry. Things got more serious when I started using face-scrub. I remember when I got my first ever job – washing pots and pans in a greasy hotel kitchen – and the piece of advice my spotty predecessor gave to me as he left was – ‘buy some face-wash’. That was my first week’s wages gone. And it’s a slippery slope – when I bagged my first girlfriend I sunk deeper into dependency as she had me applying moisturiser after exfoliating (which is apparently what using face-scrub is).
Now, ten years on, I’m the same user as I was back then. I’ll never be able to kick it – I feel grubby after pounding the streets of this fair city if I don’t scrub my face. If I skip moisturising after scrubbing (sorry, exfoliating), my skin punishes me with a tight stingy feeling. If I don’t scrub but do moisturise, I feel like I’m polishing a turd. Yes siree, I am hooked.
So, some friendly advice from a seasoned user. I hope it will ease the first hit for those poor confused souls who find themselves in a dazed-state as they stray from the condom shelf of Boots for the first time:
First, lips. This isn’t a regular need to be honest. There may just be particular situations where your lips get dry and a bit of Vaseline is going to help. Just buy a little tin (the green one), and keep it handy. It’s fine to keep it on you even if you don’t need it – they are a good thing to fiddle with if you’re waiting for someone, or need something to do in those awkward silences when talking to chicks (better than staring at your beer as you rip the label off the bottle). One thing I’ve realised though is that hands need to be very clean when dipping in and out of tins of lip balm. If you’re a bit OCD about such things, perhaps go for a twist-up lip balm such as Burt’s Bees. This tends to be more matte than Vaseline so if you’re a bit paranoid about having shiny lips, this is a good product for you.
Moisturiser: E45. This is the Man’s moisturiser. It falls in the great ‘neutral’ gap – not girly and also not over-masculinised like ‘Lynx’. It’s thick and multi-purpose. Nothing like a wet and runny moisturiser to put a man off. In addition, you can buy E45 in huge tubs (for the flat) AND squirty tubes to keep in the gym bag. This was all I ever used, however I have to admit my tastes have become slightly more sophisticated in recent years. It may be because I read that E45 cream contains liquid paraffin and lanolin, which is basically a waxy substance obtained from the wool of sheep and sometimes called wool fat (put me in mind of sheep sweat), and so I began a search for a more natural product range.
Bulldog Natural Grooming fit the bill nicely. As a brand they are committed to replacing man-made chemicals with natural ingredients wherever possible, and they use natural surfactants, essential oils for fragrance and powerful natural actives for enhanced performance. This benefits your skin and the environment. Got to do our bit now haven’t we? The Bulldog Original Moisturiser has a good consistency, a fresh citrus fragrance that doesn’t leave you smelling like a tart’s boudoir and is packed with essential oils and Vitamin E. If you’re creeping over-the-hill, they also have an anti-ageing variety.
Note: you do not need to carry moisturiser around with you. You moisturise after you’ve exfoliated your face – period. No moisturising when out and about. If, in a rare instance, you get a dry patch of skin on your face, you can just use a little of your Vaseline to sort it out. Finally, don’t be alarmed if when you first start using moisturiser you find rapid increases in the amount you put on – it’ll reach a natural plateau.
Now, onto the controversial subject of tweezers. We’re getting more hardcore. But if you’ve got bushy eyebrows, or a beard, it’s important to at least not look like a twat. Occasionally we grow the odd hair on our face that can only be described as pube-like, and it’s just not nice for the ladies. Don’t mess around – buy a pair of Tweezermans. Yes they’re £16, but….listen, just trust me, you need them.
Face-scrub: My advice here would be to mix it up (that is very much in opposition to moisturiser – stick with the same stuff there). You want some proper hard sandpaper scrubby stuff to keep in the shower. Use 2-3 times a week in the morning. Go for an exfoliating daily wash like Bulldog’s Face Scrub, it contains coconut and pumice particles plus 7 essential oils to soften and hydrate skin. Then, to keep by the sink for the evening wash, perhaps use something less abrasive. I really dig Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant, it comes in a large bottle and lasts forever. It’s a dry rice-bran based powder, and you dispense about a half-teaspoon of it into very wet hands to create a creamy paste by rubbing hands together. Use circular motions on the face, avoiding the eyes and rinse off. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I like how soft my skin feels after using this.
Some things you could probably do without: anything to put on or around the eyes. None of it seems to work for guys. I don’t know why, it just doesn’t. You just have to live with your dark circles. Also, we don’t need hand cream. Men’s hands should be rough and ready.
The basic rule of thumb is only use what your skin is telling you to use. Ultimately my best piece of advice is find yourself a girl who will keep you sorted with good products. And love her.