By Nick Caruso
Let’s be clear about what Duke Cannon’s Big Ass Brick of Soap is not. It’s not a “moisturizing body bar;” it is not a party catalyst for bro-types; it is also not merely soap. Each Big Ass Brick of Duke Cannon’s Big Ass Bricks of Soap is exactly what it purports to be: a big ass brick of manly soap for manly men. It was obvious from the moment I opened the package – there is simply no gray area here. It’s made expressly for men who want to clean themselves like a man would, and smell like a man should smell after doing so. With me? You see, it’s modeled after the sort of standard issue hygiene equipment our American GIs were issued during the Korean War, and it’s manufactured in the same plant that made military soap for over 20 years. So basically I now know what it feels like to be in the army. Chunky steel-cut grains forged into every brick ensure proper scrubbing, and there’s only one scent: clean and fresh and manly. This stuff smells like Clint Eastwood, James Bond, and history all got together to play poker on top of Mount Everest and I got to tag a long for the ride.
Duke Cannon is all about being a man (in case you haven’t picked up on that), and there’s nothing much more manly than wielding a massive chunk (3/4 pound each) of serious soap when you’re battling to un-dirt your epidermis. (You should see my post-Duke Cannon biceps.) I felt like I was really getting things done when I used these big ass bricks of soap, almost like I was simultaneously in a hardware store, rebuilding an engine, and drinking a cold beer – in my bathroom. The right proper scent of an unwrapped brick is strong enough to smell from across the room, like being able to smell the gun oil on my minuteman musket after firing a warning shot at foreign invaders (read: hipsters). Find these big ass bricks of soap online at http://www.dukecannon.com. As a bonus, the more bricks you buy, the more rewards you’re entitled to. Save your UPCs, and Duke Cannon will send you manly stuff – like sand paper, spark plugs, or an extendable military baton – as rewards. So, are we mice or men? Maybe the better question is, do we use perfumed, moisturizing cleansing wash, or do we use Duke Cannon?
Look, I get it. Sometimes a guy just doesn’t feel like wrestling an armadillo-sized, intimidating block of clean (see above) when washing up. Have no fear, your manliness remains intact: for men who prefer to cut the crud from their skin with liquid, Billy Jealousy Ocean Front Body Wash is a great option. Specifically geared toward men in the “urban jungle” habitat, Billy Jealousy doesn’t just clean you, it helps your skin retain moisture, and renders you one sexy beast – according to Billy Jealousy, “the only place to be dirty is in the bedroom.” Rawr. Moreover, part of the Billy Jealousy proceeds go to charities, so you can feel edgy and helpful all at once.
Ocean Front is an apt name for this body wash – when I first opened the cap and took a whiff, I was actually shocked by how fresh it smelled; what’s more, it’s a cool blue color, which definitely invokes the beach. I can smell the sea air well after I towel off, so all day I’ve been picturing myself with amazing, tanned abs and wearing board shorts, carrying a surf board and sipping a Corona (not that far off…). For men who desire healthy, clean skin, but also want a bit of bad boy-ness infused in their body wash (without feeling like they borrowed their frat brother’s soap), Ocean Front is a cool, grown up way to go about it all. Catch the wave at http://www.billyjealousy.com.
Mike Boone and Kyle Schroeder, founders of Cremo Cream, are a couple of guys who were fed up with shave creams and gels on the market who claimed to be superior, but were really more talk than they were walk. To combat the low-quality trend in the men’s shave product they saw in the status quo, the duo came up with the ultra-thick Cremo Cream, a viscous, slippery cream that includes moisturizers to actively treat your skin as you shave. Honestly, even the most nick-hungry razors don’t stand a chance against this stuff: I cleaved away stubble and there was never a nick in sight (except for that Nick in my shaving mirror – zing!). I found even the process of spreading on my face to be an experience – my skin felt protected and ready to be shorn.
The simple, high-quality feel of Cremo’s shave cream is present in the other two products from Cremo too. Cremo Wash feels as “astonishingly superior” as it claims to be – there’s no soap involved, so my face felt neither tight nor attacked, just clean. It’s a straightforward wash to prep your face for a shave. After you’ve dried off, finish off your routine with Cremo Moisturizer. It’s light and refreshing to use, and calmed my skin (shaving is always a contact sport, even if your products are top notch), and unlike some facial moisturizers, there was no greasy, unpleasant leftover slick anywhere to be found. Hell, the wash and moisturizer are so good my girlfriend completely abandoned her expensive, girly products and used the Cremo, which I put a stop to at once. This stuff is too good to just give away. After all, she can get her own – Cremo is currently available at CVS and is launching in Duane Reade on April 15th; it’s always available at http://www.drugstore.com.
It’s a good idea to use a quality face scrub before you shave: for one, scrubs remove deep-set crud and slough away dead skin, and I find a scrub really helps to wake me up and energize me on a “rough” morning. But as long as you’re committing to a good idea, you might as well make it the best idea and use Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub. I’ve honestly never ground a better-consistency scrub onto my face (disclaimer: it’s not a good idea to actually grind anything onto your face – just lightly manipulate the product around in circles on wet skin and let it do the work). The menthol cools my skin, leaving it fresh and tingly, and the other extracts in Face Buff fight signs of aging and dryness. If you are a man, or if you know a man, do yourself/that man a favor and get a bottle of Face Buff into his shower. Alternatively, if you’re an Olde English aficionado (or just need more clever advice): Don’t wait; polish your pate – with Jack Black. (If you liked that one, for the right price, I even do Bar Mitzvahs!)
Also available from Jack Black are all manner of skincare products appropriate for any man who cares a lick about his face (note: this should be every man). Of particular note is the Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser, which is a simple, thick, gooey face wash made of natural and organic ingredients that feels great to use and also tones your skin and hydrates it all at once. And check out Dry Erase™ Ultra-Calming Face Cream for powerful and long-lasting motorization of your mug. You don’t need much (really – a dab’ll do ya), the strong scientific formula quickly changed the way my face felt (softer, clearer, and more comfortable), and it’s great to use at night for a second shot of smoothness. What I really liked about Jack Black is that, unlike many other products I’ve tried in the past, I swear I could actually feel them working.
You can find Jack Black products at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue, and at http://www.getjackblack.com.
Any sensible shaver knows there’s more to the process than washing, lathering up, and scraping away. Every layer of protection I can squeeze between my chin and the blade is more than welcome, and can often make all the difference between comfort and torture. Enter Dermalogica Close Shave Oil. The many, high-grade ingredients in this shave oil work together to condition skin and lift the beard in order to facilitate a closer shave. It’s a premium, oily lubricant that felt terrific on my skin. Just spread it around on your beard before you apply shave cream, grab your razor, and prepare to feel like your face is ten again.
Full disclosure: aside form getting a tooth piercing, I think shaving is the worst thing a man can do to his body. It usually feels like a brush fire went crazy on my skin and was mostly put out. Close Shave Oil changed my mind completely – bring on the 5 o’clock shadow. In NYC, pick up Dermalogica products at Dermalogica Academy (140 Wes 22nd) and Dermalogicain SoHo (110 Grand).
Skincare isn’t just wash, shave, and moisturize, guys. That’s because there’s more to your face than just dirt, beard, and dryness. Behold: Task O2 Age Redeem For Men and White Clay Mask. Now, I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too: “I’m not aging; I’m invincible and my skin is smooth as a taut balloon and I look sixteen years old (without acne).” and “Face masks are for chicks.” Turns out only half of those thoughts represent the truth: You (and/or that man in your life) and I are getting older, and that means wrinkles aren’t far off; and, face masks are for chicks – but they’re also for men who care for their face, and, lest you haven’t been paying attention, we all should. I applied Age Redeem before my moisturizer (after scrubbing/washing/shaving in the shower), and its light consistency felt great going on. Furthermore, it absorbed instantly, and immediately replenished my skin. It felt good enough to apply that to think it’s keeping wrinkles from showing is just icing on the cake.
I used the White Clay Mask at night after washing my face, and I’m here to reassure you: the ten minutes you leave it on fly by (think of how many emails you can catch up on in ten minutes), and it feels like you’re being science-y and at-one-with-nature all in the comfort of your bathroom. The texture is great, too – not surprisingly, it’s like a mooshy, wet clay, which is to say it feels really cool to spread on your face and neck. Once I rinsed it off my skin, I felt ready to accept moisture and greet the world (the next morning, that is). Find yourself some Task products at Bloomingdale’s stores.