Health and beauty products are manning up. More than a few have already beefed up their attraction to the male demographic and others are clamoring to catch up as not to miss the latest trend of testosterone-tinged marketing.
Men’s hygiene products don’t typically rate a blip on my radar but a coworker who we will refer to as Extreme Couponer brought in his bag of drugstore swag which included several bottles of Dial for Men Magnetic (how could he resist when the price tag worked out to pennies?). What the heck was that? I asked while playing the fun game of “how much did you actually pay for all this stuff?” That, it turned out, was a red-hued body wash aimed at men.
Men, it seems, are no longer satisfied dipping into whatever soap or lotion is handy in the bathroom and risking smelling like a garden of lavender or a yummy sugar cookie. Neutral scents and packaging must also not cut it for the men who consider themselves just beyond the basic bar of soap user but not quite at the exfoliating metrosexual level.
But still, the body wash seemed a little bizarre especially in that color. The only thing it appeared useful for was Halloween. A bather could pour it over his or her head and re-enact the prom scene from classic horror flick “Carrie.”
Then came the label’s kicker — the soap was reportedly infused with pheromones to make the washer more attractive to hordes of people driven crazy by this secret weapon. Like a member of the boy band du jour, the user would need to beat the ladies back with a stick. The sports editor noted that he’d never try the soap. He’s a married man after all. He’d better not risk it.
Product reinvention is nothing new. Old Spice very notably tried dusting off its middle-age image with a popular series of 2010 commercials selling its body wash and itself as relevant using an attractive man telling viewers he is the man your man could smell like. Plus he’s on a horse.
But at some point, the repackaging and rebranding seems a bit overkill. Granted, I may be missing some keen insight into the male psyche, but it’s hard to imagine a guy buying a stick of deodorant simply because he likes the container. That’s the purview of females. However, that seems to be what Speed Stick is going for with its newest variation.
Extreme Couponer’s next haul included several packages of the classic men’s deodorant, now complete with side hand grips on the container. Obviously, keeping oneself fresh is a slippery ordeal for a man who’s all thumbs.
Other goodies are also taking the plunge, throwing around words like ultimate and extreme to emphasize just how bold and masculine they all are.
Cotton swabs are the latest foray into this manly man makeover arena. Short of ear cleaning which is apparently a gender-neutral bit of grooming, Q-tips have long been seen a beauty staple for women. Touch up eye shadow. Wipe off excess mascara. Dig out lipstick remnants
But now, behold the stronger, bold Q-tip otherwise known as — and this is verbatim from the package — “Men’s ultimate multi-tool” Think of it as a Leatherman for one’s face. In case that isn’t clear enough, the diamond-plate label reminiscent of trucks and tool boxes offers possible uses: detailing, cleaning, building. The Q-tip would probably flex if it could just for added measure.
Swab-using men everywhere are rejoicing that they no longer risk being confused with somebody fixing up their face. They can now go forth with confidence in the garage workshop! Their collective relief must be similar to how us ladies felt when tool companies began offering up pretty pink power drills and girly lavender Phillips-head screwdrivers. No longer need we stand in a Home Depot aisle lamenting that the cordless jigsaw just doesn’t match anything else we own.
Clothes used to make the man. Now, apparently, clothes have nothing on the personal products beneath them.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. Follow Michelle on Twitter @michellemdurand What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.