Men: comfy in the skin they’re in?
If the fragrances section of the duty free store can be daunting for men, the skincare and cosmetics counter has them breaking out in a sweat. That is really a cliché these days because it’s a fact that the skincare business is growing fast, and that men’s products are growing even faster • albeit from a lower base than women’s.
Although men hate to admit it, they often get introduced to skincare by trying their female partners’ products in the bathroom. And the research shows they will indulge in creams and serums • even if they are packaged and marketed for women • if they are doing it in private, and they like the effects on their own skin. The effect most men seek is moisturising.
But in the duty-free shop that all goes out of the window! Generally men will not touch Estée Lauder’s latest Repairwear Laser Focus cream if it is clearly aimed at women or Guerlain’s Orchidée Imperiale • though that may have as much to do with the price [£235 in Harrods for the 50ml cream] • as the packaging.
Which is why all the big cosmetics houses from Clinique to Clarins and L’Oréal to Lancôme have created dedicated skincare lines for men that essentially use the technology and ingredients from their women’s products but packaged for men. To be fair, the houses do say their formulations also take into account the difference in male and female skins in their product development.
The point is that men have more choices now than they ever had before when it comes to skincare. Not just with dedicated men’s ranges, but also with pricing. Today, for example, you can find Nivea for Men at several airport duty free stores or move up a peg or two to the luxurous Lancôme Men Renergy 3D lifting franchise for example, and spend four or five times more and see if you notice the extra facial benefits.
But don’t forget that as well as ranges that are specifically targeting you, ie those that say ‘men’ on them, be a little more metrosexual and examine some other brands in the store • even if they are in the women’s section.
Many houses pride themselves on their laboratory and clincial testing, for example Biotherm, Clinique, Dermalogica and La Prairie, while others take an apothecary approach like Kiehl’s. All these present themselves as serious formulations and use unisex, or at least not overtly feminine, packaging • so why not try them out.
For natural skincare REN is a strong contender while male brands such as Nickel and Zirh often have a cool ‘in the know’ following. Fashion led and more traditional men might opt for Hugo Boss Skin or Aramis Lab Series respecively.
Whatever your existing fragrance preferences, the skincare from that brand may not deliver to your expectation so be sure to try the products in the store and take away free samples when they are available • if you like them you can always buy duty free on the way back, or the next time you fly.
And if you don’t really know what you are looking for, plead ignorance and ask a beauty consultant about the types of products available for the skin issues you want to address. No doubt they might try and upsell to you • that’s their job after all, but don’t be afraid to say when an item is over your budget. One trick I have learnt over the years is to approach the absolute top-end skincare beauty advisers in the store, for example from Crème de la Mer or La Prairie. Often they are extremely well trained about the skin and its needs and are only too willing to give you the benefit of their knowledge as they tend to have more time on their hands because theirs is a niche, high end business with fewer customer to service.