Of all the insanity that constitutes the New York City real estate market, perhaps no property battle is so hotly contested than the one over bathroom counter space. Space is already a premium in Manhattan---which has one of the country’s highest per square foot rental rates---and space on the bathroom counter is a precious thing. The bathroom counter is the Manhattan of Manhattan real estate.
What’s on there? I have a lot of grooming product. I call it grooming because I’m a guy. A woman would call it beauty. That is just one of the many skirmishes facing a young couple. See, unlike some other men who are content to wash their skin, their face and their hair with the same product which seems insane to me, I delight in a panoply of creams, oils and scrubs. There isn’t anything inherently unmasculine about wanting to control the oil on my T-zone and also hydrate my orbital ridge. It’s 2015, people. Everyone should be moisturized.
This, however, has led to some, shall we say, robust dialogues in our household. Historically, my products, most of them shaving oils or creams of some sort, have occupied about 80% of the thin ledge in our bathroom dedicated to products that might---just might---rescue our skin from inevitable age and decay. At least, it’ll stay that hand for a moment. Even I know this distribution of counter space is patriarchal product tyranny. But what can I say, who doesn’t love a good woodsy beard oil. Especially this one, from Prospector Co., a Savannah, GA. based apothecary. It looks so delightfully old-timey.
But, after a long cold war, one needs a detente. I, skin-lover, have sought a just peace. I, the John Kerry of skin care, offer these terms: We shall prioritize products that can be used by both man and wife, products that don’t leave one smelling like a florist nor like a forest. We shall seek products with packaging---for a gel may yet be judged by the color of its tube---amenable to the rough-hewn and the fairer sex. Above all, these products must give to our skin a delightful sheen, capture moisture, undo the years, salve the stress of a life lived in close proximity. Thankfully, these peace-making products abound. Here are my, or rather, our, favorites.
1. Aveeno: Actually this one is my wife’s. I have no idea.
2. Initially I wasn’t sure whether to cook with it or to put it on my face. But once one gets over the butter-like consistency, this cream ($32, swbasicsofbk.com) made locally in Brooklyn, is by far the most effective moisturizer I’ve used.
3. Um, this one is only mine. [Selfish?] But since I picked it up at the Chicago Soho House---it’s made by Neville, part of the Soho House Group family---I can’t put it down. It’s a terrific smelling (Sugar Beet! Aloe Vera!) face wash and shave cream. So I guess the argument could be made it’s a space saver?
4. We’ve been a Kiehl’s house since we received our trousseau. No nonsense packaging and products like this Creamy Eye Treatment ($28.50, kiehls.com) keep it a staple. Kiehl’s has probably the one thing we’ve never argued about (ever since the brand discontinued its Pour Homme cologne, which I loved but was alone in loving).
5. Not to be confused with the Wool & Cashmere Shampoo which I recently washed my hair with (It kinda worked but why keep this in the bathroom!?!?)) this Skin Laundry Extra Deep Cleanser ($25, skinlaundry.com) works wonders for her makeup but is refreshing and gentle enough to be my go-to before bed wash.
6. Not a fan of the logo---if you have a spot for nine letters, use nine letters. If you have a seven letter brand name, have a logo in which seven seems appropriate---but I am a huge fan of this foaming bath gel ($15, us.rituals.com). With its organic mandarin and Yuzu, it smells unisexually fresh.
7. Another “maybe I can eat it?” serum from S.W. Basics ($29, swbasicsofbk.com) but rich in anti-oxidants and good for me, for I am both emotions- and acne-prone. Plus, the smells stays on your face for a long time. So you’ll be walking around and then be like, “Holy moly, I smell like a spa!”
8. I have no idea why my wife uses paste in her hair or if she does. This paste is good for short to medium hair and hers is long. But mine is short and I love that this product, from Parlor by Jeff Chastain ($24, parlorbyjeffchastain.com), straddles the line between a paste and a cream.
9. John Masters Organics is well represented on our counter. Body scrub is one of those things you keep around but, at least I, never use because, well, I always fear a day when I don’t have it. If that makes sense. But this one is irresistible because it has spearmint leaf oil and lemon and lime oil and it’s tingly and refreshing. My wife likes it because it’s organic. Meh. Also this pomegranate oil serum stuff with the eye dropper. I once made the mistake of thinking if it had an eyedropper, the oil should go in your eye. That was a bad idea. But now I’ve figured out the application, what I love in this Pomegranate Facial Nourishing Oil ($30, johnmasters.com) is how long lasting it feels and how refreshing and hydrating.
10. Oh see, Prospector Co. is my JAM. I hardly ever shave but it’s like I have a fetish for shaving product. I remember visiting the store in Savannah, Georgia recently and wanting to purchase every single offering. I settled on these shaving oils ($22) and creams ($18) with their pinesy, manly scents. Look, here’s the thing: So counter space is definitely an issue but at its root, really its about compromise. And the thing about Prospector Co. is it is part of my identity. So yeah, I have a tower of shaving products I never use because I have a beard and because you don’t completely lose your identity in a marriage.
11. Korres is one of those products without gender, which is something I like about it. Plus the refreshing creaminess of this Greek Yogurt 3 in 1 Cleaner ($24, korresusa.com), which I use to clean my face at night and which my wife uses to remove makeup.
12. These are actually bubbles for our kids.
13. Martial Vivot runs a great salon pour hommes in Midtown Manhattan where I’ve been going for years. Recently he launched a line of hair product for men. Strangely, it’s become a family favorite. Especially this gel ($28, martialvivot.com) which is strong yet yielding. Just like love is meant to be.