Not often will you find honesty and marketing sharing a sentence. At its most fundamental, salesmanship is a process by which brands dupe you into feeling like you need to buy things that you do not require, then convince that to stop using them is even worse than having never started.
With grooming things are no different. Are you sure your bathroom cabinet should be squeaking its protests against the amount of products inside? Can a cream really give you abs? It’s enough to make Chuck Palahniuk punch, well, probably himself.
So consider us the Tyler Durden over your shoulder at Boots. Just, y’know less fighty, and with a six-pack earned, not slathered on. Your creams and ointments of course have a place in your cupboard. Carry on buying the fragrances you like. Three blades probably are better than one.
But keep your wits about you: there exist some grooming fraudsters who want to half-inch your hard-earned pennies for little more than promises. Marketing can’t always be trusted. Consumerism has gone haywire. Charmers abound.
1) SPF Moisturisers
We’re starting soft here: this isn’t so much a con as a misunderstanding. We’re all for SPF. Without it you’d age faster, no doubt. But a small squirt of SPF 15 on the nose and cheeks does not give you carte blanche to sizzle on the Costas in nothing but your Speedos. The sentiment is virtuous. But the application can be dangerous.
(Related: How to pick the right SPF)
You need to apply a proper sunscreen as well as the one in your moisturiser or you run the risk of skin cancer. Your daily moisturiser is useful as an everyday top up if you’re out and about. Useless as your only line of defence.
Now here’s a good old fashioned con trick. Fragrances were not categorised by sex until hyper-consumption became our way of life. Originally, you wore what you wanted depending on your taste; it was nothing to do with your gender, says legendary perfumer Roja Dove.
With commercialism came the sexualisation of products. Now, society says you run the risk of being lambasted if you hit the club with your mates and you’re caught wearing a complex fragrance underpinned by notes of lavender and neroli.
We say if you want to smell like flowers, smell like some damn flowers.
(Related: What your fragrance says about you)
3) Age Correction Products
This is perhaps social commentary as much as playing Watchdog. Looking anything older than 40 now appears to be a crime. Just think of the term, ‘age correcting’. It sounds like the plot to Logan’s Run. And this idea is perpetuated by brands ad nauseum.
Besides, using collagen products too early is likely to do more harm than good; some experts suggest dosing your skin at too young an age can weaken your natural production over time. Irony, eh?
4) More Blades Than Three
Few products are preceded by as much commercial clout as razors. Which is why it’s hard to cut to the truth when TV gives you everyone from sports stars to actors in white coats advocating more blades this or pulsing handle that.
More blades than three? Belongs in the bin, mate. A controversial notion, for sure. But trust us on this: an old-school single or double blade safety razor will likely give you the best shave you’ll ever experience.
(Related: The cut-throat and safety razor shaving guide)
Alternatively, you can keep your trusty three-bladers going for longer with a product likeRazorpit’s Shaver Sharpener. No matter what the cool tennis man tells you.
5) Body Sculpting Creams
Let’s be honest with each other here: how fat are you? Like, really fat? Dangerously so? It’s time to sort your diet out and do some exercise.
Body toning creams are marketed in a way that suggests you can lather a tuppence-sized blob onto your belly and wake up looking like Brad Pitt in the movie adaption of that transgressional novel we keep referencing. Not so.
(Related: Everything you need to know about body-sculpting products)
Where they do have some efficacy is in toning up the skin and smoothing out some lumps and bumps near the surface. “With regular use, certain skin-tightening gels and serums have been shown to tighten slackened skin,” says award-winning beauty brand proprietor and co-founder of The Guild of Health Writers Liz Earle.
Perhaps useful if you have a little cellulite. But one bottle does not a beach body make.
6) Peak Beard
Does anyone actually know where this idea came from? The vacuous echo chamber that is elitist media, perhaps. Or your mate down the pub. Both are mere puppets. Instruments of the all-powerful Man Behind the Curtain.
So who’s pulling the strings? That would be the folks who sell those many-bladed razors. Survey enough biased men and you can claim truth in anything.
Look around you, beards have gone nowhere. We’re all still climbing the hirsute mountain and there’s no peak in sight.
7) Home Teeth Whitening Kits
Approach these with caution. While many deliver results safely, you are taking on a job previously held by professionals only. The comparatively low cost is appealing, of course. But you are applying chemicals to your mouth and should keep that in mind.
If nothing else, ensure you’re anal about prescribed timings so you don’t run the risk of damaging enamel. At best, go see a professional and get better results. You should have some more money in your pocket after heeding all the preceding advice.
If all else fails we can start some sort of group – a club maybe – with rules. Perhaps just one rule. And we’ll get really angry about all the consumerism. Especially the marketing. And we’ll meet up in someone’s house and vent our frustration. Then maybe we can blow up some banks and swap moisturisers.