Tuesday, 12 April 2011

L'Oréal Men Expert, Mr Bonkers, And The Slippery Slope To Male Grooming

Back in February, I wrote this post, marvelling at how Wikio's mysterious searchbots had seen fit to award me the ranking of No 44 Beauty Blog. At the time, I was No 3396 in the "General" category, which doesn't have nearly the same ring to it...I have just checked, and I have now slumped to a shaming 4122! How did that happen, I wonder? Could it be due to the hiatus during my recent US work trip? Or perhaps my rather leisurely blogging frequency even when I am at home simply doesn't cut it anymore in today's increasingly fast paced, media-rich world. But I will try not to be unduly concerned by things like rankings, and carry on blogging when the mood takes me about random stuff loosely related to perfume, even if it does prompt the occasional backlash from an outraged reader:

"I find it absolutely fascinating that we have someone like Mark Zuckemberg and then we have someone like you who seats around and smells fragrances and state her opinion...wow! And they say GOD doesn't make a mistake. Boy were they wrong; How it must feel to live in your head."

So you never know, the slip in rankings could be due to the uncompromising whimsy of the Bonkers "house style". As it happens, the editors at Cafleurebon considered including my first piece for them along with their other submissions for the FiFi awards, but quickly ascertained that it wouldn't have fitted the entry criteria. I am, however, delighted for the team that three Cafleurebon features were amongst the five finalists for the category "Editorial Excellence Fragrance Coverage/Blog".

And then for a while now I have been meaning to report on a recent surprise development in Mr Bonkers' personal grooming routine. In choosing to write about this topic now, I would like to stress that I am in no way attempting to arrest the decline in my Wikio Beauty ranking, though to the cynical observer I realise it may look suspiciously like it!

But before I get on to Mr Bonkers' skin care issues, there has been a change in my own thinking on moisturisers. For every January my New Year's Resolutions look something like this:

Eat more fish
Drink more water
Drink less alcohol

And of course each year goes by with me signally failing to do any of the above, though I have at least taken up Pilates once a week. I remember reading a blog post by Josephine on moisturising routines (which I couldn't find again, or I would have linked to it), and thinking that I never actually feel the need to apply body lotion ie my skin never feels dry - except possibly after shaving my legs - though not always even then.

Then in the last few months all that changed, and if not every day, certainly every other day or so, my shins feel taut and dry and I do now apply body lotion - sometimes even on the rest of my legs - and if I am feeling very conscientious, my stomach. Sadly, my stomach never ever feels taut, (though arguably it might if I upped the Pilates classes), so I am applying the moisturiser to that area just for the hell of it! Fortunately I have a huge collection of moisturising lotions to choose from: a mixture of unused gifts down the years to mineswept toiletries from hotel rooms.

And so around the same time as I was starting to adopt a moisturising régime - even one that is only partial / intermittent - Mr Bonkers also complained of dry skin one day, and actually said that he wondered if he should use some kind of cream on his skin. Well...needless to say I nearly fell off my chair at this, as he has resolutely eschewed all forms of "added value" toiletries for as long as I have known him, preferring to stick with what I believe is now rather coyly termed a "cleansing bar", but which you and I know is just a lame attempt to sex up soap.

Yes, Mr Bonkers is a major advocate of soap and water - a combination as natural in his eyes as vegetable jalfrezi and vegetable pilau rice. In fact one of the few household chores for which he is happy to assume complete responsibility is the dying but important art of "soap joining", as in pressing the slivers of several cakes of soap together, rather than just throwing them out at this point.

I don't wish to give the misleading impression that soap is the only toiletry he uses, for Mr B will also engage with basic versions of shampoo, anti-perspirant and shaving foam, however, he favours "functional" toiletries as opposed to any that might be construed as having a "vanity" dimension: things like moisturiser, hair putty, guyliner etc, namely all the grooming products that fall towards the metrosexual end of the spectrum.

For till now Mr Bonkers was proud of his sandpapery, salty seadog complexion, and associated moisturiser with urbane posers wearing messenger bags (or would have done, had he known what a messenger bag was). In the end, though, the sensation of physical discomfort eventually won out and he asked me to find him a moisturiser that would make his skin feel hydrated (not his exact words), while being non-greasy, easily absorbed and preferably unscented.

A couple of hours' intensive googling led me to L'Oréal Men Expert Hydra Energetic Daily Anti-Fatigue SPF 15 Moisturising Lotion Active UV Defence Vitamin C + Antioxidant(!). It seemed to get a pretty good press on review sites and men's magazines like Men's Health, so the next day I popped into Boot's and presented Mr Bonkers with his own tube of this wonder goop! He said he would use it after shaving...

....a week or so went by...

....whereupon the by now lightly bearded Mr B finally decided it was time for a shave, following which he broached the product for the first time.

On the plus side, he declared that it didn't smell of anything in particular to his nose, but it stung slightly and was a bit "slimy". Now, I think that someone not used to applying any kind of unguent is bound to think a moisturiser is slimy, even though to most people it might just be "smooth" or even "silky". So Mr Bonkers has agreed to use the gel sparingly after shaving, but that is probably the extent of his new metrosexual skin care routine for now. I was quietly hoping that thanks to its "hydra energetic" properties Mr B might mow the lawn a bit more often, but the early signs are not promising. Maybe it takes time for the cumulative effects of an occasional session to build up and have an impact. Much like my Pilates sessions indeed.

So on balance the L'Oréal Men Expert moisturiser probably isn't a slippery slope to male grooming in the sense of the thin end of the wedge, or an inevitable trajectory on which Mr Bonkers is now embarked. More of a slimy slope that he will tread as lightly and infrequently as his parched skin permits. So I sense that he won't be relinquishing his soap joining duties any time soon...

Photo of L'Oreal Men Expert from binbin.net, photo of mutant tomato from pinktentacle.com, photo of vegetable jalfrezi (minus the rice!) from crackinggoodfood.org, photo of salty sea dogs from theclubhouse1.net, photo of green slime from chemistryland.com, other photo my own


Angela Cox said...

I recognise this type , in fact I have been living with one !! I havn't managed a facial moisture product yet but he eats up hand creams. I caught him with my Une Rose Beurre , my Amouage Gold body lotion . He wouldn't recognise one from another so hide them. I bought him a huge tube of something from T.K.Maxx. A miracle happened on Saturday when he let me massage his back with Coudary Esperys body oil !!

Michael said...

It took me a looong time to try moisturiser. I finally caved in about 3 years ago but find that I am too lazy to apply it. Which doesn't really make sens as I am not too lazy to wear perfume.

Speaking of new year resolutions and exercise, since I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago I feel a pressing urge to get back into shape. For the time being I'll think about a little bit more. Over a glass of wine or two!

Undina said...

The only inhabitant in my house who doesn't get to use my moisturizer and my sunscreen is my cat and only because he is an indoor pet - otherwise I would have been researching pet-suitable SPF products ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Angela,

How interesting about your chap's predilection for hand creams - it is a rather localised approach to moisturising - though I note that he is now branching out to other body parts, to wit his back!

Vanessa said...

Hi Michael,

Am pleased to get a man's perspective on this, and to learn that laziness may also be a factor here, not just a no-nonsense approach to grooming. You may think your reluctance to moisturise on a regular basis is illogical, but it may simply be a case of something having to give!

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Just as well your cat stays indoors, as I am imagining him going through a hypothetical catflap with his fur sticking up in well lubricated spikes thanks to your ministrations with the old Factor 15! : - )

Cymbaline said...

Seems like the only difference between Mr B. and my SO is that those slivers of joined soap and shaving foam must be UNSCENTED! Grrr...

Vanessa said...

Hi Cymbaline,

Am pleased to hear that soap joining is alive and well in your household, albeit with strings attached!

Ines said...

I like your new year's resolutions. If I thought it might work, I'd go with fish and less alcohol but experience so far showed that I never stick to self-imposed resolutions. :)

Btw, I can't believe that a reader was so rude to you.

P.S. Can anyone ever remember the name of that cream? I mean, it's reeeally long. :)

Rose said...

Well I love a chap who is old fashioned and rugged... but then I like one who is new and metrosexual too... there are good things about both- I think they definitely need to use SPF and things though as that is important for everyone.

For myself I am forever saying from this Sunday night I will moisturise and all the other gubbins every morning and evening and forever failing- but I never leave the house without perfume!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

The full name of the Men Expert gel is a little long, I agree! Glad to hear I am not the only one lacking in resolve every January...

Regarding the commenter, this was the gist of my reply:

"Bonkers about Perfume is a little left field, I'll be the first to admit (there's a bit of a double entendre in the title...). Perfume sniffing is of course a subjective matter and I certainly don't claim to be an expert. I hope, however, to stay the right side of monster and mutant...."

Vanessa said...

Hi Rose,

I agree that both "styles" of bloke are attractive in different ways.

:- )

And like me and Michael, it seems you are another person who is religious about perfume application, but a tad erratic when it comes to keeping up a moisturising routine!

Mals86 said...

After 15 or so years of spending every summer in the sun, with minimal sunscreen, The CEO finally turned to me last summer and asked if I knew of anything that would help his wrinkles.

He's 44. But farmers do spend a lot of time in the sun, and it does show on his face. I bought him a container of Garnier Fructis Ultra-Lift Pro Deep Wrinkle Cream, with SPF 20. He uses it every day. It's helped, at least to some degree.

Incidentally, he looked me up and down the other day and said something to the effect that clearly I'd never spent much time tanning, because my... (he gestured)... was smooth and not leathery.

"My decolletage?" Yeah, that.

Carol said...

"I was quietly hoping that thanks to its "hydra energetic" properties Mr B might mow the lawn a bit more often.." Bonks!! I almost fell off my office chair laughing at this!

Mals, too funny about your 'decolletage' not that your decolletage is funny, but what the CEO said or didn't say!!

And I too am shocked that a reader wrote that - I hope you banned her/him.

Vanessa said...

Hi Mals!

That's interesting about the CEO requesting help with his skin care regime, and I am glad he is being so conscientious about applying the Garnier.

Like Frida, I loved the story of the CEO's elliptical reference to your decolletage, and congrats on having an unlined one after the age of 40, which is something of a triumph!

Vanessa said...

Hi BF!

Glad I gave you a chuckle - poor Mr B is laid low with a cold at the moment, and lawn mowing couldn't be further from his mind.

I didn't ban that reader, though I have clocked where they are from, so I will know if they pop up again. Mind you, what could they say next time? - it is hard to top calling me one of God's mistakes!

: - )

Anonymous said...

Oh, Vanessa, you've got one of those lads as well?

My OH is someone with a beard and 'tache because he was so prone to razor rash/bloodletting when he shaved. Some chaps have beards and trim them evenly and neatly - not my OH! Random fits of facial hair butchery with blunt scissors are what he indulges in: looks like a badly scorched lawn after the neighbourhood dogs have had a field day. Poor misguided soul.

What to do? I've been dissuading him from shaving his hair off (dear God, no!) and trying to persuade him to lay off the random beard assaults ... I wish I knew how best to assist him (other than by sharpening the scissors, which may backfire).

A tube of "Men Expert (extensive blurb)" is languishing in his bedside drawer, alongside other Masculine unguents that I've bought for him, unused. Sigh. Such is life.

Wish Mr B better, please. I'd like to think there's a chap somewhere using the stuff his wife bought him, when he's well enough to do so:-)

cheerio, Anna in Grey Edinburgh

"Outraged reader", aka the numpty, may well need their toys back in their pram, but crayons should be substituted for internet access, in my opinion. (And a dictionary might help them out too.)

Vanessa said...

Hi Anna,

"Random fits of facial hair butchery" is very good - or rather, not very good, but very funny! Sounds like your OH could use lessons from my brother - who is just a postcode away - on "leaving a beard to lie fallow, for decades if necessary". He could also offer tuition on eyebrow non-management.

I will pass on your good wishes to Mr B, whose symptoms did not dull his powers of prize drawing, at least.

And thanks for your support vis-a-vis the "outraged reader". You can't win 'em all!