Health & Grooming: Saving Face

Eric Malka has a confession to make. “I used to use my wife’s skin care products secretly in the bathroom,” says Malka, who, along with his spouse, My-riam Zaoui, created The Art of Shaving line of shaving products in 1996. Malka no longer performs his skin care regimen behind closed doors now that the couple has introduced a line of hair and skin care products for men. Certainly, the stigma once associated with using hair spray, moisturizer, and other grooming products has abated considerably, even if manufacturers still feel the need to print the words “For Men” (or the subtler pour homme) on the packages. But widespread accep-tance is a fairly recent development.

Combining essential oils and other botanical ingredients, The Art of Shaving collection includes shampoo, conditioner, facial wash, scrub, moisturizer, and lip balm. But will men take the time to apply a morning and evening eye gel, as well as an aftershave mask? “The ideal here is American Psycho,” says Malka with a smile, referring to the über-narcissistic, upwardly mobile, murderous protagonist of Bret Easton Ellis’ popular novel. But these days, even modest well-to-do guys are attending more to good grooming habits, which is, needless to say, a good thing.

Recognizing the growing demand for quality men’s skin care products, other companies are also looking to corner the grooming market, some investing years in research and market studies. La Prairie, the Swiss skin care company that traces its heritage and its scientific cellular approach to the Clinic La Prairie in Montreux, Switzerland, has formulated five products specifically for men. One of the most impressive elements in the line is the Cellular Anti-Puff Eye Gel that uses rosemary, ivy, burdock, algae, and vitamins A, C, and E, which are said to increase circulation and firmness while providing antioxidant protection against further damage. The Cellular Treatment Fragrance refreshingly combines a juniper and vetiverscent with plant extracts such as ginseng and horse-tail that provide moisturizing and invigorating properties for the skin.

But before you even get to all that slathering and spraying, there is still the most important and universal ritual of the day: the shower. Molton Brown of London has introduced a new line of luxury soaps, hydrators, and shampoos for men. The standout is its Re-Charge Black Pepper Body Wash. According to the company, the black pepper oil used in this gel formulation warms the skin, boosts circulation, and dilates blood vessels, which aids in the removal of toxins, making it the perfect follow-up to either a vigorous workout or a spirited bacchanal. Now if they could only develop a cream for the soul.

The Art of Shaving, 800.696.4999, www.theartofshaving.com

La Prairie, 212.506.0840, www.laprairie.com

Molton Brown, 914.741.6551, www.moltonbrown.com

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