Autumn Skin Care: Let Your Face Speak as Lovely as Your Words

by Mark Thompson

EDGE Style & Travel Editor

Tuesday October 12, 2010

During the past decade, American consumers spent five times more on men's skin care products than they did in the previous decade, totalling nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. Now, given that the population has not increased fivefold, that statistic from Euromonitor, a market data firm, means that more men are taking care of their skin (and doing more than just shaving).

Big surprise, right? Ask any gay man to open his medicine cabinet and there's enough product in there to stock an apothecary. Why? Because we know the import of first impressions - and looking good. More than ever, we're living in a visual culture and if you want to talk the talk, you've got to work the catwalk like you own it. Or as one Hollywood silver screen heroine put it, "We didn't need dialogue; we had faces."

Here's our latest round-up of facial cleansers, exfoliants, moisturizers, and - yes, you asked for it - tat cover-up. Look your best for the autumn rotogravure.


Murad: Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser

If you're like us, you can't do anything in the morning until you wash your face. There's so much lingering residue from all those inter-galactic travels, right? Therefore, it's a joy when we find a facial cleanser than enables us to face planet earth looking radiant - even after time traveling.

First thing we loved about Murad's Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser is the color. No, really - it's like the most chic pink imaginable, somewhere between pink strawberry lemonade and a ripe peony from a spring garden (and you know how much we like a ripe peony...).

Then there's the foaming action - the foam squirting out of the pump... This is dual-action foam that both cleanses and exfoliates with AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids, in case you've forgotten: they smooth fine lines and surface wrinkles, remember?), leaving your skin as smooth as a peony petal.

Murad's Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser contains artemia, which stimulates healthy cell function, and also, pomegranate extract, which is loaded with antioxidants, thereby defending your skin against free radical assaults. There's also witch hazel to tone and tighten pores, while removing excess oils.

In short, this cleanser is a one-step beauty regimen that both cleanses and tones, while stimulating healthy cell growth.

And if you don't believe us, maybe you need to know that Allure magazine named Murad's Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser the winner of "Best of Beauty Editor's Award: Best Cleanser."

Or as Kay Thompson said, "Think pink!"

PRICE: $26 / 5.1 oz.

Envie de Neuf : Gold Radiance Exfoliating Gel

Exfoliation can be stimulating - and sometimes slightly alarming. Remember when you exfoliated your face with your homemade walnut mask - but the walnuts weren't ground enough? Cat scratch face.

One of the joys of Envie de Neuf's Gold Radiance Exfoliating Gel is that it is an entirely grain-free exfoliator, so that there's none of that thistles-and-Brillo thing going on all over your face. Instead, this gel mildly dissolves dead skin cells and impurities - without any irritating friction.

How can that be? First of all, Envie de Neuf's Gold Radiance Exfoliating Gel is packed with pomegranate extract, which, as we all know by now, is packed with more antioxidants than either red wine or green tea. Papain enzyme and subtilisin (a protein-digesting enzyme that provides cleansing and conditioning and reduces scaling, flaky skin) sweep the debris right off your skin, while the pomegranate extract promotes skin cell regeneration.

Then there's the 24-karat gold foil. (And you thought gold was only for jewelry and Versace?) What's great about 24-karat gold foil is that it releases anions (negative ions) to balance and brighten the skin. At the same time, this gold foil helps to speed up cellular processes, which enables regeneration.

But wait, there's more: witch hazel as an anti-inflammatory agent, and aloe leaf extract and algae extract for soothing, moisturizing, and calming action, as well as coral weed extract, a red algae that is both hydrating and firming.

The end result of Envie de Neuf's Gold Radiance Exfoliating Gel is that your skin looks like a million bucks - and you walk into the breakfast room feeling like you're worth more than all the gold in Fort Knox.

PRICE: $63.00 / 100 ml (3.38 oz)

Borghese : Fango Active Mud for Face and Body

Who doesn't love a mask - and especially one with a pedigree? Now celebrating its 25th year (and doesn't look a day over twenty...), Borghese's Fango Active Mud for Face and Body has been beautifying the BP (beautiful people) since the days when VIP really meant something and flying was a de-luxe operation. Think of Jackie O, and Babe Paley, and all those women photographed by society photographer Slim Aarons - and think of their luminous skin.

Long before spas had become as ubiquitous as Starbucks, popping up on every street corner, Princess Marcella Borghese introduced at-home spa treatments and her Fango Active Mud for Face and Body was an instant best-seller. Using mineral-enriched Italian mud from the volcanic hills of Tuscany, Borghese's Fango Active Mud rids the skin of impurities while providing mineral nourishment for the face and body.

Imagine yourself at the Baths of Caracalla (or if you're not into the Roman Empire, how about the mud baths of Calistoga, California) and slather Borghese's Fango Active Mud all over your skin. Fortified with Acqua di Vita complex, which reduces signs of aging, Fango Active Mud also has avocado and sweet almond oils to moisturize and soften skin.

As for that intoxicating smell as the mud soaks into your skin? It's a combination of geranium, lavender, and peppermint oils - all natural botanicals that stimulate and improve skin tone. Sit back and relax; watch a rerun of I, Claudius. That tingling sensation you feel is the Fango Active Mud at work, unclogging your pores and exfoliating, eliminating dead skin cells. End result? When you shower off Borghese's Fango Active Mud, your skin will be hydrated and radiant - and as firm as a Roman youth's derriere.

Ever since 1985, Borghese's Fango Active Mud for Face and Body has been giving its cultish fan base a decidedly youthful glow; it's time you joined the mud games.

PRICE: $33.50 / 7 oz.


Murad Man : Cleansing Shave

Men are lucky: we shave every morning. No, we're not joking: it's a seriously good thing that we shave each morning, because all those clown faces that we make in the mirror while the razor glides over our skin are like an aerobics class for our facial muscles. Shaving prevents flaccid facial skin (and you know how we feel about flaccid...).

Therefore, since shaving is a maintenance necessity, it's always nice to come across a product that makes the rigors and ritual more pleasant. Murad's Cleansing Shave utilizes a cleansing formula that features Murad's exclusive Beard Softening Complex® and Mushroom Enzyme exfoliants, both of which unearth stubborn facial hairs (and if you're prone to acne or break-outs or pseudofolliculitis barbae (aka "razor bumps"), this clean-fragranced cleanser enables your blade to slide smoothly without leaving you looking scarred by Freddy Krueger).

For those of you shaving your head - or suffering from ingrown hairs around your bikini line (we know who you are...), this is the product for you. With a consistency like a granular shaving paste, and lubrication that is more like a gel than a lather, this antioxidant-rich formula contains Neem, a vegetable oil from an evergreen tree found in the Indian subcontinent, which is loaded with steroids - and which makes your skin shimmer. Serious! There's also Vitamin E, and panthenol (a plant-derived, non-irritating form of Vitamin B), resulting in a shave that is both cleansing and conditioning. In other words, you're exfoliating while you're shaving. Brilliant!

The truth is, Murad Man Cleansing Shave is more like four products in one: cleanser, shave cream, toner, and moisturizer. Go ahead, make your morning ritual as much fun as four in the steam room - and exit the bathroom looking every bit as happy.

PRICE: $28 / 6.75 fl. oz.


Bambola Beauty : Intensive Eye Creme

Ever had a boyfriend call you "bambola?" That's Italian for "dollface" - and the pet name of Bambola Beauty founder, Faith Zelenko. One of Bambola Beauty's best-selling products is Intensive Eye Creme, which focuses on those areas around the eyes that are prone to fine lines and dark circles, where moisture loss is the greatest.

As the French say, 'Les yeux sont le miroir de l'ame" (The eyes are the mirror of the soul) - in which case, you'd better treat those peepers nice. Some days the eyes need more tender loving care than usual, and that's where Bambola's Intensive Eye Creme comes in.

The natural botanical ingredients of this rich cream include avocado, which, as we all know (guacamole, anyone?), is loaded with vitamins, but equally important, avocado is deeply penetrating. There's also marshmallow extract, which reduces dark circles, as well as calendula, which heals damaged skin.

Of late, a number of products on the market, including this one, feature sea buckthorn, which is particularly effective in cell rejuvenation. Bambola's Intensive Eye Creme also contains sunflower seed oil and sweet almond oil, both of which soften, soothe, and nourish the skin.

Equally important as your eyes is the planet itself - and Bambola Beauty contributes a portion of its proceeds to Save the Earth, an environmental philanthropy that funds ecological research.

PRICE: $51.00 / .5 oz.

Obagi C-Clarifying Serum

Remember your mother telling you to drink your orange juice? Mother is always right: vitamin C is the latest wonder supplement - for your face. In case you have yet to hear, vitamin C neutralizes those pesky free radicals that damage our skin cells by breaking down collagen. And the more you're exposed to the sun (and air pollution), the more those free radicals multiply.

So - what your face needs in the morning is a healthy dose of vitamin C. Apart from protection, vitamin C also helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles, while also stimulating collagen production for more resilient skin.

Since 2005, Obagi has been producing potent serums, developed by leading vitamin C experts, which utilize stabilized ascorbic acid (the one form of vitamin C that can be absorbed topically). By using professional strength vitamin C, Obagi's serums deeply penetrate the skin, enabling greater antioxidant benefit.

Obagi C-Clarifying Serum is formulated with 10% L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), as well as 4% Hydroquinone. If you've used vitamin C serums before, you might have come to anticipate the slightly tingling sensation upon application: something similar to a light fingertip facial massage. Think of it as an army of vitamin C warriors penetrating deeply into the skin's dermal layers, ready to do battle with the free radicals.

Meanwhile, the hydroquinone works to decrease the formation of melanin, gradually ridding your skin of premature aging spots caused by pigmentation damage from environmental factors.

So, go ahead; give your face a morning jolt of vitamin C with Obagi C-Clarifying Serum. Squeeze that dropper into your palm - and massage into your skin. This powerful two-pronged antioxidant therapy results in brighter, more evenly-toned skin. Oh, all right, let's just say it: your face will be downright luminescent.

PRICE: $109.00 / 1 fl. oz.


Avalon Organics : Clary Sage & Lemon Deodorant Spray

Pet peeve: little pills of roll-on deodorant on your sheets in the morning. Come on, admit it; it's icky. And aerosol deodorants have been linked to breast cancer, as well as respiratory irritation - and often they contain fossil fuels such as butane and propane. Help! What to do? Use a deodorant spray - and particularly a deodorant spray with organic essential oils.

Avalon Organics has long been a proponent of consciousness in cosmetics, which translates to a truly natural and safe deodorant spray. Clary sage is an anti-inflammatory, both soothing and rejuvenating. If you haven't smelled it before, clary sage has an herbal aroma, with a slight muskiness. Inhale a fresh leaf of sage when you're cooking; it's distinctive and alluring.

And when clary sage is mixed with the fresh tang of lemon essential oil (with its inherent cleansing properties), the combination is a wake-up call to your sense of smell that leaves you smiling. You want to spritz the air all around you with this delicious deodorant spray - which is something Avalon Organics recommends if you're so inclined. Use it as a body spray or room freshener - and rest assured that this product is comprised of 100% vegetarian ingredients, with no animal testing and no parabens or preservatives. Furthermore, it's certified organic.

But does it work? Absolutely. Best of all, you can re-apply twice a day - and never see little pills of roll-on lingering on your bed sheets.

PRICE: $8.95 / 4 oz.

Dermablend Leg and Body Tattoo Primer

You're not alone. Everyone has one. No, not that; we're talking about a tattoo you no longer want. You know, the one with the name of that asshole who broke your heart (and stole you blind). Or the one you got at three in the morning on the boardwalk after a Jagermeister and tequila (mistake, mistake) binge. Or maybe it's the tat that causes everyone to ask, "But... What is it?"

According to a recent Harris study, 57% of respondents said that at least one of their tats caused them embarrassment. Relax, Dermablend has got you covered - literally. Dermablend Professional has been in the coverage cosmetics business for nearly thirty years. Their Leg and Body Tattoo Primer is the perfect solution for those times when you want to hide your past (or any skin imperfection, for that matter). For up to twelve hours, you can conceal that tat with this smooth and blendable concealer that is both water- and smudge-resistant, as well as hydrating for your skin. Suitable for all skin types, Dermablend also covers large surface areas.

Finally, at last, your mother no longer has to cringe when she hugs you and sees that tarantula on your neck.

PRICE: $25.00 / .42 oz


Now - go forth and let your radiance shine as bright as the harvest moon.

A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.