A stroll through your local chemist’s grooming section quickly reinforces the idea that men should smell of leather and whisky. And where the (rather fuller) women’s section abounds in natural shades and white packaging, the guys’ shelves are dominated by black and blue.
The male cosmetics industry has boomed over the last decade, but in order to get us embracing lotions and potions, manufacturers have erred butch. The idea that it’s effeminate to take care of your skin still lingers in some quarters, hence why marketing defaults to the lumberjack and his unruly beard. But times are a-changing.
We’ve had the rise of the metrosexual and, most recently, debates around ‘manscaping’, all of which have questioned why men should be made to feel weird for wanting to look good. The tide is turning slowly, but to get ahead of the wave, the fairer sex’s aisles boast a plethora of products that do what the Y chromosome-targeted won’t.
Lush Ocean Salt
If you deem a splash with ice cold water decadent, it’s time you treated your skin to a more considered morning routine. From what you eat, to how you commute, to your choice of booze, can leave your skin dried-out or greasy. Which either means stubborn, bristly facial hair or oily breakouts.
Enter Lush’s Ocean Salt. As the name suggests, salt is the key exfoliant to buff away dead skin cells, while vodka-steeped limes balance excess oil to leave your complexion brightened. It’s an all-round product, so suits the man who doesn’t know quite why his skin looks so haggard.
Even better, it’s not daily use, so you can still skip a few days. The self-preserving formula is all natural too, loaded with coconut oil and avocado butter to ensure your skin isn’t irritated or dried out by the salt. You can even use it on your body to stay silky smooth all over.
Available at Lush, priced £7.95.
Sanctuary Therapists Secret Facial Oil
When your mug needs an overhaul, Sanctuary’s ‘Therapists Secret’ facial oil rejuvenates your skin thanks to the inclusion of rose hip, which is used in sunscreens and after-sun lotions to repair sun damage and rehydrate the skin.
“Slather on your skin overnight,” says make-up artist Megan Hurrell. “You’ll wake up with revived, soft skin.” It’s an intensive treatment, rather than everyday, so reserve it for Sunday night. You’ll hit your desk with no signs of Saturday.
Available at Sanctuary, priced £17.50.
Lush 93,000 Miles Shower Jelly
The shower jelly is a concept that Lush came up with to make more products solid, to save packaging. Though it’s not actually jelly, it’s packed with seaweed that will make your skin just as soft.
Coupled with peppermint and cinnamon oils, it’s like a rather more fragrant take on Deep Heat, to salve aching muscles. Toss in your gym bag to make sure you can stride into the office after leg day.
Available at Lush, priced £3.75.
Eau Thermale Avène Eye Contour Cream
Your eyes are where the years show first. The skin around your peepers is extremely thin, so it cracks and wrinkles more readily.
The best fix is early prevention, as you’ll protect delicate skin while balancing out dark shadows and pigmentation. The right cream will also fight burst blood vessels and swelling you get from burning the candle at both ends.
Eau Thermale Avène’s eye contour cream is the perfect antidote for irritated skin. “It’s the only eye cream my pharmacist will let me go anywhere near because it’s so natural and gentle,” says Culture Keeper’s Jonathan Randall Grant. “Plus it comes in tiny tubes, so it’s perfect for travelling.”
Available at Boots, priced £10.
A Helping Hand
Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer
We’d understand if you didn’t fancy plastering concealer on in the rugby club changing room, but with Tom Ford and Lab Series among the brands pushing male make-up, you should feel no qualms about dabbling, says Hurrell. If your other half can hide the effects of a late night, why shouldn’t you?
“NARS Radiant Creamy Coverage is not too heavy on the skin but still gives medium to full coverage,” says Hurrell. “It comes in a wide range of shades, blends well, covers spots and brightens under the eyes perfectly.” The key is to match your skin tone and use sparingly, to ensure you’re more Tom Ford than Lily Savage.
If you’re subtle, you’ll suddenly realise why that one colleague always looks suspiciously better than everyone else.
Available at NARS, priced £22.