Foot and mouth: Tales from the men’s grooming front


mugJudge a book by it’s cover and it could be easy to conclude it takes hard work to look this good.

But after hearing this radio story Wednesday on the American Public Media business-news program, Marketplace, it’s clear that many of my younger brethren, especially those who are 18 to 34, are working much harder. They helped sales of men’s personal-care products reach $4.2 billion in 2015, Margie Nanninga, home and personal care analyst with Mintel, told Marketplace. She said sales have grown 15 percent in the past five years. Among the men her company surveyed:

  • Just over half use specialty skincare products
  • Almost 60 percent use facial skincare products
  • And 80 percent use hand or body lotion.

ListerineHearing this prompted me to assess my grooming routine — or lack thereof.

Unlike Colin Specter, a 27-year-old resident of the East Village in New York, I have never shaped my eyebrows. I’m not even sure what that means. For what seems to me to be entirely practical reasons, my grooming seems centered on my feet and teeth.

A couple of winters ago, I awoke one morning to discover I had inherited my late father’s feet. This wasn’t a welcome discovery. My feet had become so dry the soles cracked and had become sore. The calluses on my outer heals had become so sharp they wore holes through the fitted sheet on the bed.

As humor writer Dave Barry used to say: I am not making this up.

And Janet wasn’t having it. She got a tin of this stuff,  told me to liberally apply it to my feet each night before bed and then put on a pair of socks. It may have lowered my score a few points on the dead-sexy scale, but it cured my feet and I’m still doing it nearly every night. While my feet still aren’t as soft and smooth as a baby’s butt, they are much better than they used to be. At least I am no longer wearing holes through the sheets with my heels.

The other problem with my feet can be labeled with two words: Athlete’s foot. So a significant part of my grooming routine every morning is to shower, thoroughly dry in between my toes, which then get a healthy covering with this stuff.   Then I grease the rest of each foot with lotion and sprinkle my toes with some of this.

All of this helps keep my toes from chronically itching and burning.

When it comes to my teeth, let’s just say I go through a lot of dental floss and Listerine. This is the result of not visiting a dentist in my 20s and part of my 30s, then paying thousands of dollars to compensate for the neglect. Take it from me: It’s easier and more cost-effective to fanatically floss and rinse with mouth wash. And so I do.

But the rest of my grooming routine is downright boring and cheap compared to the young men profiled by Marketplace.  I even cut my own hair — or what’s left of it.

I’m way too old to use anything labeled Axe.

But not old enough for this — if they even still make it.

Even when it comes to men’s personal-care products, it’s the plight of Generation X: Forgotten in between the Baby Boomers and Millennials.




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