Style » Grooming

August Grooming Guide: Melting for Beauty

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Monday Aug 1, 2011

Remember when Dorothy doused the Wicked Witch? "I'm melting! Melting!" Isn't that the refrain on everyone's lips? The August heat has you melting in your apartment and melting on the train - and then freezing in the office where the A/C is blasting full-tilt boogie.

Meanwhile, your skin is a schizophrenic mess, schvitzing and glistening - and then working double-time over-producing sebum. Let's face it, your skin needs a vacation as much as you do.

Give it a rest. Be nice to your skin in the midst of environmental meltdown. Drink plenty of fluids and lay off the fatty foods - and use some good product. Mist your face at the office with a botanical spray - and watch how your mood elevates. When your skin feels happy, so do you.

This, too, shall pass - and the next thing you know, you'll be complaining about the cold. Until then, give yourself a treat and smile in the mirror.


Koh Gen Do: Oriental Plants Skin Lotion Spray

In this weather, in the ongoing heat wave that seems to have enveloped the world, doesn’t it sometimes seem like you can almost hear your skin crying, "Help me; please, help me." You know, that little voice in the back of your head, crying out for hydration and mercy. "Please, feed me; I’m parched."

It’s kind of like when you realize you haven’t watered your houseplants for a while - and you suddenly see them draped over the sofa like wet noodles.

What your skin needs in August is a pick-me-up, a kind of vitamin water for your pores - and Koh Gen Do has exactly the product. Oriental Plants Skin Lotion Spray is a blissful mist of botanical extracts including clover and calendula, licorice root and angelica, artemisia and gingko biloba. Use Oriental Plants Skin Lotion Spray as a toner before applying your moisturizer - and then carry it with you to the office. Spritz yourself whenever you feel your blood pressure rising - or when that adorable intern gets you all flushed.

Created in 1986 by a Japanese actress concerned with environmental damage to her skin, Koh Gen Do began as a small salon in Tokyo. Since then, the company’s products have been credited in more than 200 international films. Using plant extracts from more than 3,000 federally-approved raw ingredients, Koh Gen Do’s products are unique, proprietary blends without artificial fragrances, petroleum-based mineral oil, or synthetic pigments.

The Oriental Plants Skin Care line was created in 2008, with a limited edition of Oriental Plants Skin Lotion Spray released in 2010. If you can get your hands on it, this is one product that makes your face feel like a dew-fresh garden in full summer bloom.

Now celebrating their 25th anniversary, Koh Gen Do eschews animal testing and, instead, utilizes the in vitro method for product safety testing. Save the planet and love your face.

Sold at Barneys New York

PRICE: $22.00 / 1.76 oz. (50 g)
LINK: Koh Gen Do Oriental Plants Skin Lotion Spray


Alchimie Forever: Nd: YAG Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel

The founder of Alchimie Forever, Dr. Luigi Polla, believes that beauty cannot be created if we’re not surrounded by beauty - which is certainly a sentiment dear to our collective heart. It’s all about beauty; it’s always been about beauty. Gays are obsessed with beauty.

Polla’s family-run company, Alchimie Forever, was born from his Forever Laser Institut in Geneva, Switzerland, one of the world’s first medical spas - and surely one of the few with a world-class art collection. Beauty begets beauty, remember?

The 17-product Alchimie Forever line (metaphorically named for the practice of metallurgical transformation) is highly regarded for its products packed with powerful natural antioxidants - particularly blueberry, which are created by Dr. Polla’s biochemist wife, Dr. Barbara Polla.

The company’s best-selling men’s product, Alchimie Forever Nd:YAG Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel, is a refreshing, oil-free gel that is ideal for post-shaving rituals, and particularly during summer. Formulated with antioxidants derived from green tea, rosemary, turmeric, and tomato, all of which neutralize free radicals, this multi-purpose gel is as perfect for the scalp as it is for the face and neck. Or use it under a sunscreen as a secondary shield.

Perhaps best of all, Alchimie Forever Nd: YAG Gel Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel is readily absorbed by your skin, leaving a smooth, matte finish. You walk away from the mirror looking as if you’ve been professionally shaved by a London barber on Jermyn Street.

Simply put, you look beautiful - which means you’ll be helping to create beauty wherever you go.

Sold at Grooming Lounge

PRICE: $55.00 / 3.3 fl. oz.
LINK: Alchimie Forever Nd: YAG Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel


Organic Male OM4 : Environmental Defense Hydration Complex

As much as we love air-conditioning in August, we have to admit, it does a number on the skin. Sometimes your apartment feels about as fresh as an airplane on a transcontinental flight. If you spend a lot of time indoors during August in air-conditioned environments - and who isn’t these days, as the mercury breaks records all around the world? - your skin is probably showing signs of stress.

Rich in antioxidants and polyphenols derived from red wine extracts, all of OM4’s products are microblended in small batches in the company’s Pacific Northwest labs. Polyphenols, as you probably already know, along with resveratrol, are known to slow the aging process and protect against DNA damage. The entire OM4 collection derives its bio-nutrient strength from the mineral-rich, antioxidant-packed berries, grain, and wine extracts from the vineyards and agricultural fields of Oregon.

Environmental Defense Hydration Complex is Organic Male OM4’s solution to dry summer skin. OM4’s signature blend of jojoba oil, aloe, vitamins A and C are whipped into a moisturizer that is both lightweight and effective. Formulated with restorative micronutrients found in alfalfa, as well as wild cherry, which helps minimize fine lines, and red raspberry, another antioxidant, this emollient is potent.

The four-step OM4 skin care system asks only that you take four minutes a day to take care of your skin. Four steps in four minutes? All right, so they haven’t witnessed your daily beauty regimen - but for some people it’s possible.

OM4’s products are all packaged perfectly for traveling in durable plastic containers that are ergonomically pleasing. Let’s just say that much like some other things in this world, you kind of like holding them in your hand.

As you might imagine, OM4 utilizes natural and organic botanicals of food grade quality - and none of their products contain harmful chemicals, parabens, or additives.

In short, OM4’s Environmental Defense Hydration Complex is your weapon against the ravages of summer air-conditioning.

PRICE: $55.00 / 100 ml / 3.381 fl. oz.
LINK: Organic Male OM4 Environmental Defense Hydration Complex


Caswell-Massey: 1752 Almond Calming After Shave Balm

"Newport in the summer" has a nice ring to it. Of course, Newport, Rhode Island was where the robber barons of the 19th century built summer "cottages" the size of Loire Valley chateaux to escape from the heat of New York and Boston.

Founded in Newport in 1752, Caswell-Massey has been grooming gentlemen for more than two centuries. Recently, this classic American company relaunched their signature collection, with all-natural men’s products in three distinctive fragrances: almond, sandalwood, and eucalyptus.

As the gentlemen of Newport knew only too well, summer heat can irritate your skin - and particularly during the morning shaving regimen. Caswell-Massey’s Almond Calming After Shave Balm soothes and rehydrates the skin so that you no longer look like Hannibal Lecter peeled off your face for breakfast.

Formulated especially for sensitive or irritated skin, Almond Calming After Shave Balm contains jojoba and shea butter to moisturize and soften; chamomile, grapeseed, and calendula for skin conditioning; and sea kelp, which is rich in nutrients and minerals.

Think of it as a little gift from the sea, a bit of oceanfront Newport to remind you of the pleasures of summer.

PRICE: $16.00 / 2 fl. oz.
LINK: Caswell-Massey: 1752 Almond Calming After Shave Balm


Fake Bake: Bronzing Gel

When we were young and very stupid, we lubed up with Johnson’s Baby Oil mixed with iodine and slept off the hangover on the Atlantic seashore in 95-degree heat - for six hours. Was it any wonder that our eyes were swollen shut, completely?

Only a masochistic fool bakes in the sun these days. Only someone desirous of looking reptilian would linger on the beach without serious SPF. And yet, the beauty industry (along with many of us) is still convinced that we look better with a little more color. In which case, what you need is a bronzing gel - and Fake Bake has one that won’t turn you into an orange Julius.

Formulated with concentrated blends of natural antioxidants, Fake Bake Bronzing Gel contains vitamins C and E, which help combat free radicals that age the skin. Easy to apply (gloves included), Fake Bake goes on as smoothly as your daily moisturizer, without leaving streak marks - and you can use it on your nether regions as well as on your face.

So you didn’t take a summer share this year? Slather on the Fake Bake - and tell everyone you got tan while on BeyoncĂ©’s yacht. They won’t even notice you blushing beneath that little white lie.

PRICE: $24.99 / 5 fl. oz.
LINK: Fake Bake Bronzing Gel


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.


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