Getting Manmade With Kiehl’s Chris Salgardo

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I’m getting grey. Should I dye it the color of my eyebrows? I can’t get rid of these dark circles. One more spritz of cologne should do it. I think. I spend my life hunting boar and drag racing. Do I really need to worry about manscaping?

Chris Salgardo, president of Kiehl’s since 1851, and men’s grooming Obi Wan, has an answer to these and other more lingering insecurities in his new book, “Manmade, The Essential Skincare and Grooming Reference For Every Man,” which he introduced at Kiehl’s flagship store in the East Village. Chris sees that every man is not an everyman, but rather a self-confirmed modern archetype—the modern gentlemen, the hands-on man, the thrill seeker/limit pusher, rebel artist, and the renaissance man, as Madmade follows suit in devoting a chapter to each profile, a novel application separating the book from a one-size-fits-all vantage.

ManMade book cover

With many years in the industry behind him as an executive for major vanity labels, he discussed his passion for beauty and skincare recalling earlier days with acne and the familiar complexes it produced. After becoming more of a public figure with Kiehl’s by first attending openings, he spotted related anxieties in men wanting to know more about grooming without any real direction existing. It came to a climax during the recession when those in his circle would clandestinely approach him about changing their style—what little they may have known about it—or grooming take-aways and industry hacks. Chris heard a voice and soon created a platform. He also drew focus to the book’s product neutrality because he wanted to give an authentic face to the content without pushing product in reader’s faces.

Rather, reader’s faces are the product. The book is divided into three sections. The first segues readers into a general setting, describing use and purpose of grooming semantics and tools with scientific rigor. Everything you need to know for the following sections is there: the purpose of a facial cleanser, exfoliant, moisturizer, toner, etc; the differences between a gel, a wax, a pomade, etc., and when you should use all of them or one of them; and general counsel on grooming issues that fall within a gradient such as manscaping, hair coloring with age, fragrance application, and tanning to name a just few in the expanding lore.

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Section two then delves into the segregated archetypes. Each chapter first generalizes the profile represented by an exemplar of that respective archetype. For instance, for the “Extreme Dude,” Chris interviews Grant Reynolds with the Discovery Channel’s “What Could Possibly Go Wrong” and inquires into what his grooming routines, daily rituals, and states of mind are to stay balanced. From here, each chapter examines the prototype in its typical workplace context, drawing attention to certain environmental hazards affecting skincare and grooming well-being. The damage is assessed before Chris applies skin diagnostics and tricks of the trade to cure the bad habits. The modern gentlemen type needs to pack certain skin care products because he might be always on the go, versus the “hands on” dude who needs extra moisturizing for his hands. Section three is a reference guide for general well being, providing more grooming tactics, universal maxims, and pocket wisdoms that transcend specific skincare rituals.

Any question I could think of about men’s grooming is answered in the book, but I took liberty in asking Chris a few questions:

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After all of your years in the beauty industry, why are you releasing a book now?

Because of evolving trends in men’s grooming. Appearance consciousness was historically only a concern for women. There wasn’t a significant transference of knowledge between father and son, like there was between mother and daughter. Over the years, trends point to more men getting plastic surgery or going to stylist versus a barber, and now the same momentum is being seen in men’s skincare, especially with anti-aging products. As the market evolves, more nuanced products will be developed catering just to men.

What broad-stroke advice can you offer to new converts just becoming accustomed to better grooming?

Essentially, pay attention. Notice the bushy eyebrows, you need to put gel in your hair to style it. Nobody wakes up perfect. Moisturize, especially eye cream. Be liberal. I got nuts with it. And sunscreen protection. Think of a car dashboard without Armor All. What’s going to happen to it?

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As you mentioned, aging is a primary reason for the market spike in men’s skincare. Any thoughts on hair loss and going gray?

You have to work with what you have. If you’re gray, be careful about dying it. If you’re not going to dye it every third or fourth day, then you’ll be left with a white ring. If you’re thinning, see a stylist. They can style it, while a barber can maintain it. There are other alternatives of course, such as transplants. Whatever it is, work with what you have, and don’t work against it.

The holiest take-away from his beauty scripture is this: moisturize. Chris genuflected to the powers of good eye cream and sunscreen protection. I’m simultaneously all archetypes and no archetypes, and I’m taking his advice.

Available now at Kiehl’s stores and kiehls.com. National release on December 1st at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and Urban Outfitters.

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