By Bir Ganguly
My dear Metrosexuals, Metrosexual-Wannabees, and Girls scheming to metrosexualise their men-folk, Shakespeare said “what’s in a name? That which we call a rose” blah, blah, blah… Forgive my flippant way of quoting; for in spite of my disagreement with the above statement, the bard is actually very close to my heart. To give you an idea of the degree of closeness, he sits somewhere in between my mother’s cooking and my Acqua di Parma C. A. But just imagine, one fine evening, you are at the theatre and, all of a sudden, it is Justin instead of Romeo who is wooing Juliet – a bad case of midway-through-play-director-bitten-by-mad-mosquito. Would you remain unperturbed? Of course not, right? You would do stuff…for instance, to start with, you could demand that the director, the mosquito, and the confounded Justin be stoned to death or publicly hanged in Times Square, just as they would have done in Shakespeare’s own times.* Names do matter.
With the blessings of my publisher, I have done away with the old “Men’s Section.” In its place, voilà¡, vous avez the Metrosexuals’ Corner with its promise of new and exciting things to come. If you have been a Beauty News reader for a while now, you can take this as an official acknowledgement of your graduation from a mere man to a metrosexual. The world has higher expectations of you and your new title.
Let us get down to this month’s business. Around mid-November, it was already sufficiently wintry, and I set upon to write about cold weather skin care for this issue. However, I was wondering if a precious lot of info about what to do and not do with your winter skin without any specific product tips would be of much help. At this point, Beauty News informed me that Clinique would be sending me a press package to evaluate. Hmm… I have usually skipped Clinique counters because I found the dull grey packaging for it is men’s line a bit boring. But, since the stuff was at my doorstep, I decided to check it out. I was very pleasantly surprised.
Men and women are certainly not created equal as far as the nature of their skin is concerned. Men’s skin tends to be stronger, thicker and oilier due to higher levels of androgens, and more prone to sweating. It has denser hair growth, on the face and in all kinds of other places on the body. Clinique wanted to create a separate line that would address these specific issues, hair and all. This vision led to the birth of Clinique Skin Supplies for Men in 1976.
Clinique separates skin into four categories and offers a range of products based on these skin type variations. Type I : Dry and/or thin; Type II : Average skin, not exceedingly dry or oily; Type III: visible pores, a good supply of natural oil, not overly sensitive; Type IV : strong, oil-rich, often with large pores, and prone to clogging and breakouts. People like to add two more types to the above standard categorization – sensitive and combination. But these are not distinct from the above skin types and usually span across two or more of these four groups.
The call of winter is more perceptible if your skin is either type I or II because of the lower levels of natural oil production. Nonetheless, all skin types need to set up a customized routine appropriate for the season and stick to it. Your skin, by nature, tends to normalize to its environment. However, sometimes there is a lag. Which means the skin can go a little too far in its reactionary response. With skin types III and IV, the onset of winter often results in an over-production of oil after the initial dryness. Think of it as the swinging of a pendulum trying to come to rest at the central point. Your duty is to help it get there as quickly and as smoothly as possible and help it stay there. Consistency in following your regime is crucial. Otherwise your skin gets thrown off equilibrium once again.
Hydration and exfoliation are my keywords for winter skincare, whatever be your skin type. Try to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day. As for exfoliation, think of it as an extension of the cleansing process.
The regular soap or cleanser does away with most of the dirt and excess oil. The soap molecules chemically bond with the dirt or oil molecules which then float up and wash off your face when you rinse. Now your dead skin cells have a much more complex organic structure and refuse to cooperate so easily. Also they are more closely attached to your skin. Yes the rubbing and washing does something, but you need a more structured approach to deal with these stubborn. This is where exfoliation comes in.
I simply cannot stress enough on the importance of exfoliation, or scrubbing, or scruffing. These are all more or less the same process, working in slightly different ways, to achieve the same end. Exfoliation is particularly important for the winter months, when the upper layer skin cells die out faster because of the dryness, the cold air outside, and heating inside. The dry dead cell build up not only hides your more robust and younger looking skin but also tend to clog your pores, which can in turn cause or worsen acne problems. If you are trying to compensate for the dry taut feeling by using excessive moisturizers and creams, you are all the more headed for trouble. You are hydrating and feeding the dead stuff, helping it sit tighter on your skin and clamp off your pores.
Clinique’s 3-Step Skin Care System provides an ideal solution. It is an integrative 3-step (Cleanse, Exfoliate, Moisturize), 3-product, twice-a-day system designed for the male skin. Facial Soap forms the first step. The chunky brick shaped bar feels good in your hand and comes in Regular and Extra-strength. It offers efficient cleansing and rinses of easily without leaving residue. In step 2, the Scruffing Lotion applied with a cotton ball exfoliates, unclogs pores, and puts a check on excess oil. It also aids in the absorption of moisturizer, so skin looks fresher and healthier. The scruffing process also prepares the skin for a nice close shave and really helps with ingrown hair problems. The lotion comes in strengths of 1½, 2½, 3½ , 4½ , the numbers going up for increasingly oily skin. In the final step you moisturize using the M Lotion, a quick treatment that replenishes moisture in dry areas and soothes just shaven skin, eliminating the tight feeling. If you need to shave you fit it in between steps two and three. The whole 3-step system is wonderfully affordable at less than forty dollars. Items are individually available as well.
For shaving in these dry months, skin types I or II should consider Clinique’s Cream Shave. The cream contains a unique blend of primers, emollients, and skin soothers that soften and lift hair to glide not drag along the skin (great for dry, sensitive skin). It also contains an agent that decreases nicks and cuts, and if there is one, works immediately to heal! If your skin falls in type III or type IV, go for the oil-free M Shave Aloe Gel. The aloe-rich gel moisturizes before, during and after shaving, to give a smooth, close shave. The products are $10 and $12 respectively.
For the drier skin types, I and II, the M Lotion makes for a great step 3. However, If you are a type III or a type IV skin owner, I suggest that you pick up the Moisture Surge Extra Oil-Free Gel for overall (facial) application and use the M Lotion for particularly dry areas only. The Moisture Surge Gel is one of the two Clinique products that have totally swept me off my feet (the other one being the eye formula). All skin types actually can and should use the gel, even when M lotion is your primary moisturizer. Fit it anywhere in your daily skin routine or make an emergency resource out of it – a quick fix after a night of hard partying, or a refreshing lift at the end of a long flight. It instantly cools, firms and freshens your skin to get rid of the tired, stressed and dehydrated look. While a moisture shower quickly hydrates the skin, delivering comfort and erasing fine lines caused by dryness, polysaccharides and humectants set themselves up to help retain the moisture. A protein-signaling agent stimulates natural production of collagen, a crucial skin supporting and tightening element. Finally, powerful anti-oxidants and anti-irritants set up a shield against daily environmental aggressors. What more can you ask? And this new best friend comes at a very reasonable price of $31. I personally thank Clinique for this product.
Keeping the skin around your eye area moisturized is not just a wintertime or a dry-weather issue but something of a year round concern. This skin is one of the most vulnerable spots on our body. It is much thinner than the rest of our facial skin, contains fewer oil glands and is subject to constant stress from squinting, laughing, winking, and whatever else you have. The result is fine lines and saggy skin over time. Then there are those dark circles and puffy look that can happen from lack of sleep or two much merlot. Clinique’s Eye Treatment Formula takes all of this in its stride. I fell head over heels in love with my first application. Having tried and tested a plethora of eye creams, I was convinced that they were all mediocre at best and creamy and heavy. Don’t be fooled by this puppy’s quick disappearing act. It means it is actually being absorbed unlike those heavy concoctions with their big fat molecules. And now a multitude of hi-tech and natural ingredients are hard at work so that people won’t know how hard you have been working (or playing for that matter). Dab a little bit around the eye area twice a day, morning and at bedtime. The results are both immediate and long term. The tube sells for $26 and will last you many months.
We have now, more or less covered your essential daily skin regimen. However, your exfoliation should not end with the scruffing lotion from your twice-a-day 3-Step System. The Face Scrub is a more thorough treatment with both physical (micro-beads) and chemical exfoliants and can be employed 2-4 times a week, depending on your skin type. The oilier your skin the oftener you use it. Highly sensitive skin types should do scrub exfoliation no more than once a week. In any case, be gentle with the scrubbing. Oh, I forgot to mention earlier that in addition to clearing away dead skin cells, oil, and dirt build-up to reveal younger looking skin, exfoliation actually tricks your skin to behave younger. As the skin gets used to the process, it regenerates itself at a quicker rate. Isn’t that amazing! The face scrub is a total bargain at $10.
Also, try spending 20 to 30 minutes in the steam room at the gym at least a few times a week. It helps with exfoliation, detoxification (ridding free radicals harmful to your skin, internal organs, and muscles) and feels plain good and refreshing. Physical exfoliation (scrubbing) is always more effective after you have steamed. But if your skin is over-sensitised, give some in-between time.
Along with your eyes, the other facial feature that attracts most attention are your lips. And beautiful lips look good not just on women and Brad Pitt. As vulnerable as the eye area, it is just as often forgotten in terms of specialized care (and no, lousy chap sticks don’t fall in that category). No melanin and lack of a natural moisture barrier make your lips highly susceptible to dryness and environmental damage. This can lead to loss of lustre, firmness and elasticity. All About Lips takes care of these problems from two angles. For immediate impact, botanical hydrators soothe and control moisture while optical diffusion polymers create a smooth and natural matte look by softening out the appearance of fine lines and cracks. I personally like the polymer technology, for I am not terribly fond of the glossy look. In the long haul, the treatment works to neutralize the activity of free radicals and collagen destroying enzymes, and encourages cellular turnover. You get fresher, smoother and more resilient lips. The baby comes in a totable bottle and is yours for $20. Use it twice a day by itself or, if you want, you can dab that Chapstick on top of it. I won’t disapprove. Not terribly.
All Clinique products are allergy tested. And they are 100% fragrance free. Now here is a brand that does not believe in the culture of sensory overload of our days! Clinique Skin Supplies For Men are available at Clinique counters in department stores nationwide. For more information please contact Clinique at 212.572.4480.
Happy winter and take care.
Until the next time…
* For the record, yours truly strongly opposes capital punishment and speaks only hypothetically.