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Men's Cosmetics

Nancy Wolfson
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 2)

Antioxidants are the newest ingredients to be hailed by the skin care industry as effective age retardants. Among a group of powerful antioxidants that prevent the formation of free radicals are vitamins C, E and beta carotene, which are all turning up in the most high-tech anti-aging creams.

Topical vitamin C is one of the trendiest free radical fighters. Applied to the skin, it is said to induce skin cells to produce collagen, the skin-supporting fibrous protein that thins with age. More collagen underneath results in smoother, firmer, younger-looking skin on the surface.

Topical C is a nonprescription, unisex "cosmeceutical" (beauty product with druglike effects). It is available in serum form (Cellex-C), capsule form (Anew Formula C Facial Treatment Capsules by Avon) and in a hermetically sealed powder by La Prairie. Brandt says men like it because, unlike Retin-A, which you can't use in the sun, C comes with neither caveats nor known side effects. A study at Duke University Medical School found that Cellex-C, which is applied on the skin, delivered 20 times more vitamin C to the skin than the body absorbs when it is taken orally.

Some doctors advocate oral dietary supplements. "I don't think you can approach the skin issue just externally. You must focus on what's happening internally as well, by maintaining a sufficient level of antioxidants in your system," says Raphael Kellman, a New York internist who founded The Center for Progressive Medicine and tends to treat illnesses with vitamins and herbs. He recommends internal dosages of vitamins C, E and beta carotene, which function as antioxidants, the herb gotukola to improve skin texture and clarity, and grape seed extract to increase intracellular vitamin levels. "Taken in combination, they work synergistically to help prevent the ravages of aging," Kellman says.

Skin--the one suit you never take off--is the largest organ in the body. So it would seem sensible to treat it both ways: from the inside out and from the outside in.

Women have, of course, been pampering their skin on the outside for ages. In recent history, men have not. But there are more and more gels, balms and lotion-potions on the market that claim to enrich the washing and shaving processes.

"We must look at men as distinctly different creatures with different habits, who've been brought up differently from women," says Sharon Rader of Unilever Research U.S., speaking last November at a skin symposium in New Paltz, New York, which was sponsored by beauty product maker Lever Brothers. "Men are taught to get clean and remove the hair from their face."

The most successful companies making for-men-only products acknowledge that men are creatures of the wash-and-shave habit, and are banking on their ability to persuade men to take the next steps: moisturize and protect. Men may be won over on the necessity of using sunscreen while out in the sun, but they still aren't sold on the importance of its routine daily use. Brandt says, "I tell men to put on an SPF 15 sunscreen every morning, just like they brush their teeth."

Cosmetics industry marketers presume men want quick-fix, no-nonsense, reasonably priced, multipurpose products they feel comfortable using. Perhaps that's why self-tanning products sell well: you get a big healthy glow from just a little lotion.

The biggest slices of the fast-growing $100 million-plus men's skin-care pie belong to Ralph Lauren's Polo Sport Skin Fitness and Clinique's Skin Supplies for Men. Both offer streamlined products that fit into a simple three-step system.

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