Like many men, especially men of color, my fiancé suffers from ingrown hairs and discoloration. It bothered him, but was never a serious issue until we sat down and looked at our engagement photos and this conversation happened:
“I look like a scarred up Geno Smith.”
“Babe, a) you look nothing like Geno Smith and b) yes, you have some hyperpigmentation, but you don’t have Edward James Olmos, Ray Liotta kinda skin. That’s scarring.”
“I look like sh•t in all of these pictures.”
For you sports novices out there, Geno Smith is the quarterback for the New York Jets and for the record, while some may say my partner bears a slight resemblance, I personally think he looks absolutely nothing like him. In any case, my self-assured man started to pout and become self-conscious about the idea of putting the images on our website.
It soon became my mission to revamp his skin before our August nuptials, which meant he had to ditch his Dial-bar-soap-as-a-cleanser-Vaseline-as-a-moisturizer regimen. He also had to get rid of the electric razor I’m pretty sure he purchased back in 1999. Of course, I was met with resistance.
“What kind of blade do you use?”
“Use a single instead. A quadruple cuts too close and is probably irritating your skin. Also, do you shave with or against the grain?”
“I have no idea what that means.”
“Do you shave in the direction your hair grows or the opposite?
“I guess the direction it grows? Why can’t I just use the ingrown stuff you use after your bikini wax?”
“Really dude? Do you really want to use my USED bikini roll-on gel on your face? We need to analyze your shaving technique first.”
“Do you thoroughly wet your face with warm water before each shave?”
“Yes. You’ve seen me shave.” [He’s getting frustrated]
[Sigh + eye roll] “Do you pull your skin while shaving?”
“I’m going to have you cleanse your face twice a day.”
“NO man washes his face twice a day!”
“You gotta work with me champ. Trust me.”
[More man whining]
After I gathered the shaving data, I raided my beauty closet. Sadly, it lacked male goods, so I pulled out a variety of lady products that I thought would do the trick. First up was Salma Hayek’s Nuance line. I attended her latest product launch in February and figured the glycolic cleanser would help slough off any dead skin and prevent his tiny beard hairs from getting trapped.
Since I had four bottles of the Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion from Kiehl’s -- yes, I have a slight addiction -- I gave my fiancé an extra. The Blue Herbal line works wonders on my occasional breakouts and after reading the website, it turns out some men use it as after-shave lotion as well. My love could definitely use a bit of witch hazel and aloe action.
Next on deck was Kahina’s Brightening serum to prevent future hyperpigmentation. My instructions were to use it after cleansing and before moisturizing on his non-shaving days. At this point I’m just passing along brands that I personally love and since the serum tackled my blemishes, why not?
His final product was a clay mask from Coast To Coast, a new Australian brand that recently made its stateside debut. I never tried the Wild Rosella & Organic Aloe mask, but since it was supposed to help reduce redness and inflammation, he could be my guinea pig.
My guy is simple, so I wondered if the new regimen would thoroughly confuse him. Plus, I had no idea if any of this stuff would work for his skin since I merely put together a hodge podge of items hanging out in my closet. Also, while I often mix-and-match brands and products, I wasn’t completely sure how this combination of lotions and potions would work together and if he had a negative reaction, I wouldn’t hear the end of it.
However, the beauty gods were working in our favor and after a few weeks, his breakouts minimized, his skin started to glow and the dark spots are fading. He has a long way to go, but the results are promising so far. Of course the male ego kicked in and I wasn’t allowed to take before and after shots to show off his fresh, new skin.
“Baby, we gotta keep this under wraps” were my instructions.
[Insert another eye roll]