About a month ago, I heard the sad news that all the exfoliating face washes I've used with "microbeads" in them have been polluting the oceans and killing wildlife. Feeling a little like Captain Planet, I threw away my old face wash and thought long and hard about my next move. Naturally I consulted the skin-care genius, Marianne Mychaskiw. She directed me to a whole new world of face wash. Face wash that wasn't just the unisex brands you see in the drugstore, but brands that cater their formula to men's skin which is generally oilier and 20 to 30 percent thicker than women's skin.
This winter has been a disaster on my skin. My hands are all dry and cracked, no matter how much I lotion them. My humidifier hasn't been turned off since the holidays, and my face has been fluctuating from dry to oily on a daily basis. Since I have to lotion my face every day before I head out into the concrete tundra (where dreams are made of---sing it, Alicia!), I've had several breakouts. To combat this, I decided to try six different products that range in price from as little as $12 to as high as $36.
To clarify, these are cleansing face washes only. I don't want no scrubs.
I received a very manly looking box from Man Cave Inc., which is a newer brand that is now carried at major retailers like Target. I tried their Face wash ($12; target.com), which is an all-natural product made with willow bark, green tea, and spinach. Right out of the tube it smells like the great outdoors, and very woodsy. This is a man's face wash. In my experience with it, it does a great job creating a nice lather and also left my face feeling pretty well moisturized and not too dried out. For those with oilier skin, it might not be strong enough, but out of all the face washes I tried, this was clearly the most masculine-scented product.
I would be remiss if I didn't include at least one oil-controlling face wash. Clinique for Men has something for every man with their two-tiered system. You can select a range of products for two skin types; Dry to Normal Skin and Oily Skin. Even though this winter has been drying me out like an old lizard, I generally am a little more on the oily side so I tried the Oil Control Face Wash ($17; neimanmarcus.com). I was really impressed by its ability to give me that super-clean feeling, but really didn't dry me out too much. My only complaint, which some men might add in the "plus column," is that it's completely unscented. It's just a matter of preference. I'm also rocking a beard right now so I was a little nervous adding an oil-control face wash to my beard (that I am also adding beard oil to!), but never fear---Clinique claims that it will also help soften your beard as well. In my experience with it, it definitely didn’t dry my beard out and it my book that’s a victory.
I'd like to think that the bearded actor Jack Black (who had a fantastic Oscar cameo) invented this brand, but it's actually just a coincidence. They have a long history of making men's specific products, so taking their Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser with Aloe & Sage Leaf ($19; nordstrom.com) out for a spin, I really felt like they got it right. Right away, I enjoyed the scent; It's masculine, but in a different way than the outdoorsy scent of Man Cave's offering. The aloe and sage are really nice, with a fresh and slightly spicy scent, and for my skin, it did a great job cleaning without overly drying.
My friends have always sworn by the Kiehl's brand, and I have to admit, I was pretty impressed by their Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash ($22; kiehls.com). It's made with a blend of caffeine, vitamins, and citrus, hence its 'Facial Fuel' name. Even though it might not replace your morning coffee, it does leave your face feeling very refreshed and awake. Most of all, what I enjoyed about this particular face wash is the bright, citrusy scent, and the refreshing feeling it left my skin with.
We should slow it down a bit. Maybe put on some soft R&B, and let’s get sensitive. Schaf Hydrating Daily Facial Cleanser ($25; schafskincare.com) is the gentlest of all the cleansers I tried. It is a coconut based cleanser and has a scent of cucumber and aloe. What makes Schaf so appealing is that it's very hydrating as it cleanses. In the hand, it even looks like a lotion, but it's still an effective cleanser. I was noticing that I barely had a need to lotion my skin after using it in the shower. It's definitely a great option for people with sensitive or dry skin.
Lab Series is a totally unique skin care experience. They do not subscribe to the one-size-fits-all model that most skin care lines do. How many other brands have seven different facial cleansers? Naturally, I had to try their top of the line, most high-tech face wash, Max LS Daily Renewing Cleanser ($36; labseries.com). Ok, I am not a scientist, but some serious science goes into a face wash like this one. I could try to explain the importance of natural PH balance and their 'Molecular Age-Less Complex,' but frankly I graduated with a communications degree from a state school. Initially when you squeeze the tube into your hand, it looks completely different than any other facial cleanser that I tried; it has a shininess that can only be described as pearly. It does an excellent job of cleaning the skin without drying at all. I also tried it as a mask, which was kind of cool, you know, walking around your apartment looking like a ghost. The mask method felt like a much deeper tingly cleaning, and is definitely something I will try more often.
Men's skin care is an expanding market and these six options alone are a small sampling of this new movement. At this point, men and women shouldn't have to share their face wash and argue over who gets to take the last drop. Our skin and our skin's needs are different, so find the one that matches yours.
How did I go a whole article without a Jay Z reference? Shout out to Hov.