THE BLOG
08/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Beauty on the Beast: Is It Now Okay For Men To Use Skin Products?

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I ran out of shampoo this morning. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is to me.

You see, I bought the industrial-sized "salon-style" shampoo eons ago. When I first placed it on the shower ledge, I thought to myself: Where will I be when this runs out? Which white male President will we have next? Will My Two Dads still be on the air? Will Britney and Justin still be virgins? Will humankind have evolved into big-eyed, hairless creatures with super-sized brains (and if so, what would I do with the remaining shampoo?)

Then, another thought: what kind of shampoo should I buy next? I've always been the kind of person who believes that shampoo and conditioner could legitimately coexist in the same container; that soap should come in a bar and be called soap, not shower gel; and that natural sponges belong in aquarium exhibits, not shower stalls. In other words, I'm a guy. A traditional sitcom stereotype-reinforced guy.

But things have changed since I last bought something that belongs in my hair. More and more, regular guys are starting to consider "product" for hair, eyes, and skin. Depending on where you stand in the country, male beautification is now either a vital life necessity or a family-values abomination. Perhaps we're becoming more self-conscious. Maybe we're jealous of the attention some women lavish on themselves and their bodies.

Or possibly we just want what's rightfully ours: more medicine cabinet space.

Regardless, it was clear I needed some expert insight if I was to make the right decision. Enter Illyne Anidjar, owner of a local beauty boutique in my neighboring town of Summit, New Jersey. If anyone can give me a beauty awareness makeover, this former executive manager with Frederic Fekkai in New York City can.

Anidjar tells me that modern men, particularly in their 30's and 40's, are extremely interested in taking care of themselves. "These days it's considered okay for a man to express an interest in grooming -- almost cool to be versed in different types of products," she said. Men who come into her store, she told me, are not afraid to ask for what they want, be it anti-wrinkle cream, something for thinning hair, or something that can help them smell differently than the inside of their cars.

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Among the most popular men's grooming items at her store are "anti-oxidant skin moisturizers with age-inhibitor complex," "eye moisturizers with rice bran protein," "thickening shampoos," and "fragrances like Rum Tonic or Lotus Root".

It's important to keep all these names straight, because you won't impress anyone by saying you enjoy rice bran, smell like rum tonic, and have a thickening age complex.

As for philosophy, Anidjar said, "I believe in prevention. The earlier you take care of your skin, the longer it will hold out. Men usually don't realize this until they see the first line and then panic." She dispelled the myth that all shampoos are the same, and told me "a man that smells good is a man to have around."

Some might think such grooming is a pointless exercise in narcissism. "Joel, you're so vain," you might say. "I bet you think this blog is about you. Don't you? Don't you?" To you I say, you're listening to too much soft rock. Also, there's nothing wrong with being indulgent from time to time. If you can do something that makes you both feel good and look good, not to mention smell good, then... more powder to you.