By Mike Shen
It was love at first sight – or should I say touch. They have literally thought of anything and everything the male body could possibly need. Naturally, I’m talking about Zirh, recent winner of the Best Grooming Range award from FHM magazine’s prestigious 2003 Grooming Awards. Now there are quite a few companies getting notoriety for developing a streamline of products for the average man. For example, I’m sure that many of these companies recognize that a man’s skin is three times thicker and oilier than a woman’s – that our hair composition is different than a woman’s; that we tend to just smell more than the average woman. However, female hygiene and beauty products tend to be more nuanced and tailored to specific needs, depending on the chemical makeup of the user. Zirh understands that men, like women, are not all built the same inside and out (though many women might disagree). They have four methods of cleaning your face, depending on your skin type. They have three different kinds of body bars of soap. They have various ways of dealing with skin blemishes, regardless of if you’re more prone to blackheads, whiteheads, shaving bumps, or ingrown hairs. The only way I can do justice to the product line is if I write a dissertation. I recommend that you go to the website for very detailed, yet clear and understandable, information at: http://www.zirh.com.
What I can do is focus on facial care, an area of which most men neglect and delegate to antibacterial soap (sounds drying and flaking to me). Squeaky clean on the face is not a good thing. Sure, it feels fresh, but using antibacterial soap (or just plain soap) on the face will leave it completely naked and dry, where in time you will be more prone to wrinkling and skin damage from the elements, the sun, and just the normal effects of aging. Whether you sweat a lot on the job (like me) or spend a lot of time in the sun (also like me), it is important that you understand what happens to your face. The chafing cold air is abating. Quite a few of us went skiing, hence exposing our skin to frigid cold and garish sunlight. We need to not only repair damage that has been done, but we need to learn how to protect our faces, especially since we’re starting to suntan in Central Park. Now that I’ve gotten you all paranoid, let me address a few facial products that I absolutely swear by.
Clean – Alpha-hydroxy acid is a combination of glycolic acid (from sugar cane), lactic acid (from milk), and malic acid (from apples) that works to remove the fine lines, brown spots, blackheads, dry patches, oil, and other impurities found in the uppermost layers of your skin. They also encourage the growth of healthy, new skin cells. Good stuff, right? Clean contains far more alpha-hydroxy acids than the average cleanser. Not only does it help remove dirt, oil, and acne-causing bacteria, it restores the skin’s natural pH level while delivering a cool, refreshing sensation (from menthol). You can feel it working, and like I wrote in previous articles, men like to see, or at least feel, immediate results from their efforts. Use it twice daily on both your face and neck. Now the clean does have menthol oil in it, so be careful when you wash around your eyes. When you rinse, your skin is may feel more moist than you might be used to; just remind yourself that this is a good thing – make a mantra out of it if need be. Scrub – I have a thing for exfoliants, I really do. Maybe it’s because I have oily skin, large pores, and am prone to hairline acne and blackheads. Wow, that was a pretty picture. But many guys fall in this category. For the risk of blowing my own horn, you would never really know I have these problems because of facial scrubs. However, most scrubs on the market are too weak, too abrasive, or too drying on my face. When used about 1-3 times a week, the facial scrub removes dead skin cells without any scratching sensations. It prevents blemishes and irritations by neutralizing surface oils that can cause acne. Lastly, a modest amount of good ol’ aloe moisturizes the skin to counter that drying effect of many facial scrubs. Again, keep clear of the eyes. I personally use Scrub after Clean – whatever works for you.
Correct – When I saw this little tube, I had to ask myself why I would need “vitamin-enriched serum” that’s jam-packed with over 60 – I repeat, 60 – vitamins and minerals. Zirh promotes it as a great moisturizer and a nice balm to apply after shaving. I already have a water-based face moisturizer. The immediate thought that came to mind was whether or not this “serum” would be too oily for my face, which needs to breathe or at least think it’s breathing. But I’m adventurous, so I gave it a try. I squeezed out a small amount of this thick, tannish liquid and spread it around my neck and face. Lo and behold, I became a convert after an entire day of bartending on an 80-degree day where the restaurant’s air-conditioning wasn’t working properly. My skin felt soft, not oily – resilient, not exhausted. It turns out that Correct also combats harmful free-radicals (think facial spots or worse – skin cancer) by encouraging collagen production and improving capillary health (think fresh and rosy complexion). It keeps the skin soft and moisturized throughout the day, unlike many moisturizers on the market that need to be constantly reapplied. I personally like to use it in the shower after using Scrub, then lightly rinsing any excess after a minute or so.
Shave Cream/Shave Gel – Gel or Cream? You can’t go wrong with either – it’s a matter of preference, really. I personally like the gel better because I can see what I’m shaving underneath. If you’re prone to shave bumps and ingrown hairs, the clear gel will give you a heads up if your razor is getting too close to uneven areas on your face. The gel smells fresh, moisturizes well, and doesn’t irritate the skin like other shaving products. The shave was close and clean. I personally found that the cream performed almost as well; it didn’t moisturize as well, and the shave wasn’t as clean. Regardless, shave after you get out of the shower; you’ll get a smoother and closer shave on your face and neck because everything is softer, including your hair follicles.
Soothe – Do you wince right before you put on aftershave? Soothe is refreshing, light, and has a gentle scent that’s not overpowering. Most importantly, it doesn’t sting. It works fast to stop post-shave irritation while healing small razor nicks and cuts. Unlike a lot of aftershaves that require you to pour copious amounts in your hand over the sink while splashing your face, Soothe acts more like a lotion so you get a more controlled and thorough application without wasting product.
Restore – This is one of my favorite Zirh products. Practically all women and hardly any men realize that the most delicate part of the face is right underneath the eyes. Restore is formulated to help reduce puffiness and dark circles under eyes. I’ve used it on multiple occasions after a long night of debauchery. The skin around the eyes look healthier and more resilient as the product heals collagen and locks in moisture. Use the product very sparingly after you get out of the shower. For those of us who wear contacts, put in your contacts first before applying the eye cream. Restore is perfect for men who get a lot of sun exposure or who get wrinkles and bags under the eyes with age.
Fix – I use Fix right after I apply Restore. Many people think that I look young for my age. I have the oil in my skin to thank for that – oil: the secret of youth. Unfortunately, as a result I have an oily T-zone (forehead and nose), and Fix does the trick as lemon oil and salicylic acid work to minimize redness from irritated skin and acne while speeding recovery by dissolving away dirt and oil. It also has antibacterial and antifungal ingredients for those who like that germ-killing action in their cleaning products. For those of us with very oily skin, use the product in the morning after you shower and at night, after you wash your face (you do wash your face at night, right?) and before you go to bed. I personally found a noticeable decrease in redness on the sensitive, acne-prone areas around my hairline. Pimples and pimples-to-be (those nasty invisible suckers you feel just under the skin) tend to disappear in a day or two. Plus, the tingling sensation I feel gives me the added assurance that the acids are working. Again, please keep any product clear from your eyes.
Everything I wrote might seem a lot and a bit too high maintenance for the average, busy New York male. But believe me when I say that not only are these routines necessary for long-lasting, healthy, resilient skin, but they become rote quite quickly and add only a few minutes to your morning (and night) routine. Looking at the bigger picture, the tradeoff is a no-brainer. Don’t forget, most skin damage is irreversible, but it’s never too late to start taking care of your body’s largest organ. One of the greatest things about Zirh is that it’s very, very efficient – a little product goes a long way, so conserve. Lastly, I didn’t even address the Sun Care Kit (shown above), which is an essential during our humid, garish New York summers. Again, I highly recommend visiting the website to get brief but comprehensive product descriptions of these and any other products made by Zirh (which, by the way, is made in the good ol’ USA).