At the risk of getting my Man Card revoked, shredded and incinerated, its ashes buried in some unmarked grave, let me make the following confession:
I have taken to using “product.”
You know, “product.”
The euphemistic term used by and among men to describe the various unguents (a fancier way of saying ointments, instead of my preferred synonym: “goo”) that they use on their face, body and hair.
Lest you think this is some passing fad, consider this: Spending on men’s grooming was estimated to generate $21 billion in 2016.
To put that number in context: That’s a lot of unguents.
The Independent reported that 2013 was the first year men spent more money on male-specific toiletries than on shaving products, and the market was growing.
I have contributed to those statistics but I was not always like this.
In fact, I once openly mocked those guys who spent as much time on their skin care as some do buffing their cars.
Once upon a time, my idea of a beauty treatment was spritzing on some Brut or Old Spice aftershave or Canoe cologne.
And then I’d squeeze into my Jordache jeans, and I’d be prepared to take the world by storm. (Hey! Don’t judge. It was the ‘80s. Everyone was doing it.)
Fast-forward decades, and there was a cable television show called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”
The premise: Five openly gay men offer tips on fashion and beauty for straight guys.
I found the show entertaining but I strongly resisted the pull to become a “metrosexual.”
Go to a salon for a haircut and shave? No thanks. I’ll just go to a barber.
Dye my graying hair? Are you kidding me?
Use fancy shower gels? I’ll just stick to my bar of Irish Spring.
But over time I’ve given greater consideration to taking better care of my skin and hair. I’ve been exercising regularly for 15 years, so maybe this naturally follows?
Maybe my newfound vanity also comes from turning 52 and realizing that Yoda is the only one who looks good with wrinkles.
And then there’s the pressure of the young folks: My younger son (who is 18) and even one of my nephews (10) have so many hair products, they could open their own salon.
So, slowly I’ve been changing my habits:
Out with the bars of soap, and in with “refreshing” shower gels.
Out with mere water after I shave, and in with a soothing balm.
And most recently – gulp – I dropped 100 bucks on things like (and I swear I am not making these up):
Black tea age-delay eye concentrate, rose deep hydration face cream, black tea firming corset cream (with goji fruit extract!) and, my favorite: Umbrian clay mattifying face exfolliant.
I truly am not sure what any of these things are doing for me, and maybe it’s just a placebo effect, but I do, in fact, dance around the house singing like Maria from “West Side Story”:
“I feel pretty/Oh, so pretty…”
Now, what the heck did I do with my loofah?