Surveying an endless aisle of personal grooming products
I’ve always wanted to live on the cutting edge, so I recently ordered some German-made razor blades that are popular with Millennial hipsters, even though most of them have more stubble than Clint Eastwood in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” So why do they need razor blades?
They said if I took a survey about my personal grooming habits, my name would be put in a drawing and I’d probably win a year’s supply of Q-tips, along with a complimentary pedicure at the podiatrist of my choice. I’ve never had a pedicure — and usually forget to cut my toenails — so this promised to be a life-altering opportunity and an unprecedented pleasure for my feet.
The first question was “Do you enjoy personal grooming?” At the risk of being charged with perjury, I answered, “Absolutely!” (I really wanted to win those Q-tips.) The truth, however, is I enjoy personal grooming about as much as I enjoy cleaning up after my neighbor’s Rottweiler and plucking nose hairs.
Actually, I don’t know any guys who enjoy personal grooming, although the younger generation certainly spends a large chunk of their disposable income at places like Sephora and the Art of Shaving, not to mention the cosmetic department at Walmart, where they wander through the aisles, examining hundreds of curious products like hydroblast shampoo, grooming oil, overnight mask, pomade, hair clay, anti-zit cream, pore cleanser, pre-shave, after-shave, and deodorant soap so overpowering it repels women.
If these guys waste so much time and money on personal grooming, why do they look like Bruce Springsteen at the end of a 26-week tour?
Usually, the only thing I buy in the cosmetics department is a tube of Colgate toothpaste and a can of unscented Barbasol shaving cream for $1.25. Unscented because my allergies go haywire whenever I smell musk, Irish Spring, Old Spice and everything ever manufactured by Yankee Candle. I’ve also been known to suffer oxygen deprivation walking past the perfume counter at Macy’s.
When I was a young buckeroo, things were different. I was preoccupied with personal grooming and appealing to the opposite sex, so I regularly doused my face with Hai Karate, Brut, English Leather and British Sterling (I thought I was James Bond). I used so much cologne my father couldn’t light his pipe for at least 24 hours per order of the Shelton Fire Marshall, who warned us the house could go up in smoke. It was too much of a good thing because now I can’t be in the same room with someone wearing a fragrance for more than 55 seconds.
I prefer going “au natural.” Don’t get the wrong idea. I regularly wash my face, floss my teeth, apply deodorant and trim my ear hairs, but I spend as little time as possible stocking up on toiletries and standing in front of the mirror.
The young generation has a different philosophy. They’re on the vanguard of a worldwide explosion in personal grooming. Countless guys are even joining “shaving clubs,” so they can go to seminars and retreats, where they learn to shave with straight razors. After they’ve sufficiently nicked and bloodied their faces, they’re so psyched they probably shave their legs, their chests and their backs.
By 2022, the personal care market for men is expected to reach $166 billion worldwide. This includes all sorts of wonder products like hair gels, conditioners, sprays, bronzers and coloring, none of which I need. (Well, maybe I could use a little coloring for the few gray hairs I have left.)
According to Groupon, American men spend an average of $3,000 a year on grooming, which comes out to $175,700 over a lifetime. That’s a lot of Old Spice.
I’m trying to look on the bright side. With my limited personal care needs, I estimate I’m saving $2,500 a year, which I can put to much better use in areas such as car care, lawn care, home care, dog care and, may I never forget...wife care.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.