Holiday gifts for him

Oh, the men and the beauty products. They won’t admit they want or need them, but if only they realized how much better their lives could be with them. Why, why, why is it manly to wash one’s face with, say, Irish Spring, but not with an actual face wash? Is it because they don’t care about getting wrinkles since wrinkles just make them look “worldly” and “seasoned” while ours make us look old?

The good news is the holidays are a great chance to sneak in some make-me-pretty presents (or, since we’re trying to operate with some finesse here, make-me-manly presents) among the snow tires and chainsaws and other burly gifts. I did some manly beauty shopping while we were in Las Vegas last weekend. Here are my picks for the menfolk in my life:

Anthony Logistics for Men A Clean Start Kit ($40 at Sephora)

Sephora calls this kit “Everything a man needs to start the day fresh and well groomed.” I’m flying blind here, as my fiancé hasn’t tried anything from Anthony, but considering this is a gift for a man who chooses to purchase $1 Suave shampoo and the Costco superpack of stinky green soap, I don’t think we can go too wrong. I wavered back and forth between this and the $35 Grab + Go Portables, but settled on A Clean Start mostly because the products came in larger sizes. This kit includes a 4 oz. Glycolic Facial Cleanser, 2 oz facial scrub, 2 oz. shave cream, 2.5 oz. aftershave balm and a lip balm. (The Grab + Go kit also didn’t come with a lip balm.) I’ll be interested to see what he thinks of the kit. Last year I got him a Jack Black gift set (facial scrub, Beard Lube, Hand Healer and moisturizer) that I don’t think he’s gotten much use out of, but I don’t know if that’s because he doesn’t love the products, because he’s too lazy to wash his face before he goes to bed, or because he just throws all his bathroom stuff in a basket on the counter and forgets about it. This year I’m going to insist he try everything for at least a week. I think that’s all it will take to get him on board.

Glögg shower gel ($8.95-$24.95 at Lush)

This was a total impulse buy made possible by a post-dinner, beef-and-beer-induced haze and some good saleswomanship. We’d just finished dinner at Burger Bar, which is right across the way from a Lush, which, for me, was almost as big a draw as all-natural beef and jalapeño bacon (although those were good too). I’d gotten attached to one of those super-eager Lush girls who just wants you to try everything and smell this and feel that and check out this other thing and isn’t this a great deal? The sneaky friendly bitch sold me on everything she touched (but, to her credit, threw in a lot of free samples at the end). This was something I would have walked right by if she hadn’t thrust the tester under my nose. I knew the fiancé would love the spicy smell — he’s way into cinnamon — and he’s already copped to sneaking my fruity Philosophy shower gels, so he can’t feign total disinterest. I think this will be the surprise hit of the stocking.

L’Occitane Shea Embrace Set ($65 at L’Occitane)

We went into L’Occitane to buy something for my future mother-in-law but also ended up walking out with this boxed gift for my dad. Dad’s a retired firefighter/paramedic in his early 60s. He just had hip replacement surgery and I’m pretty sure I inherited my skin from him: pale, Irish and dry, dry, dry (except on the face. Hello, combination). Having dry skin in Alaska in the winter means moisturization is a must, and Dad is man enough to admit he’s happier when his skin is taken care of. (He’s also been known to enjoy a manicure.) This set includes a 2.5 oz. shea butter hand cream, a 2.5 oz. shea butter foot cream, a 7 oz. shea butter Ultra Rich Body Cream, a 3.5 oz. shea butter milk soap, and a 0.8 oz. Pure Shea Butter Mini Tin. Shea butter is crazy moisturizing and doesn’t have a strong or girly smell (it just kind of smells creamy), so it’s a good choice for a guy who doesn’t want to smell like a florist’s shop. Plus it does not need to be wrapped. Which is always a plus.

Prada Infusion d’Homme and Infusion d’Iris Duo ($10 at Sephora)

OK, fine, I’ll admit this one is really a gift for me. I was waiting on line at Sephora and you know how they put all those little bins of cute little gifts and travel size items along the checkout line? They get me every single time. Every single time! This is why it’s almost better there’s no Sephora store in Alaska. The website never lures me into walking out with something ridiculous I never intended to purchase but grabbed because it was cute! and little! and there! And this time it was this Prada duo, which includes a cute little bottle each of the Infusion d’Iris eau de parfum (for me) and the Infusion d’Homme eau de toilette (for him). According to Sephora, “Infusion d’Homme works closely with the body to create a subtle yet distinctive scent. This sensuously crafted essence blends intoxicating citrus and woody notes for an understated, but lasting, impression.” My take: It smells clean, not cologne-y. Will he wear it? I have no idea. I will, however, insist that he try. While living in New York in my 20s I once got a lesson from a cologne salesman at Bloomingdale’s in how to get my boyfriend to wear fragrance. The store was dead (why was I at Bloomingdale’s in the middle of the afternoon on a workday? I have no idea) and I didn’t have the heart to tell him I didn’t have a boyfriend, so I stood there and listened to his spiel. It’s been six or seven years, but I intend to put his advice to the test after Christmas. We’ll see how it goes. I figured this one was a win-win for me, though; it was only ten bucks, and either way, I end up with perfume.

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