When Julie asked me to review the Matte for Men line of skin care products, I jumped at the chance. After all, I’m a man and I have skin so I satisfy both of the system requirements. Add into that a search over the last 18 years for skin care products that would spare me from the acne and shiny skin with which I’ve been cursed and there was no way I’d refuse. Of course, being the first to write such a review on a site dedicated to all things technology, I’m on unfamiliar ground with no real guide on how to approach this sort of thing! I’m not sure if I should feel like a trailblazer or a canary in a mineshaft about this, but let’s go for it anyhow, shall we?
Skin care products may seem like a rather odd feature for a site like this, but let’s take a moment to think about this from a tech standpoint. Do we have a product requiring years of research and cutting edge technology? According to the company, yes we do. Do these products have specific features and functions? Yup, each and every one of them. Might this product help you attract the opposite sex? I must say that while a Motorola Droid just might make that certain woman at the bar do a double take, the glow of that 720×480 screen reflecting off your nose might just seal the deal – and not in a good way.
How would I know about such things? Well as I said in my opening paragraph, I’ve had skin issues for years. I have Type I skin. That means that my skin tends towards oily and shiny. Being a redhead, this is not unusual and is in fact the rule more than the exception for my complexion. This is a tough skin type to work with as you’re always fighting a battle between oil production and removal. I’ve used products ranging from $1 an ounce to $35 an ounce to address this issue and I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do to keep from blinding people nearby when I step into the sun. Dry out the skin too much and it responds by freaking out and over-producing oil. Leave it too oily and you will live in shiny skin land forever. Know what this is? It’s chemistry, folks- isn’t that gadgety? That must be why I’m reviewing it! That and an utter lack of shame.
The fact of the matter is that this is a niche product. Targeted for men in general and bald men (at least in a few cases) in particular, the Matte products are unapologetically male centric and fill a specific set of requirements. What are they? Well that depends on the individual product. Here they are accompanied by my experiences with them.
Complete Headcare Lotion (OR: I shoulda been bald)
Matte’s official line on this product is that it acts in several ways to keep you healthy and looking good. The product is a non-greasy cream with SPF 25, a moisturizer and “antioxidants.” I’m always slightly leery when I hear that something has antioxidants thrown in. Is there a bottle available wholesale that says ANTIOXIDANTS on the side that manufacturers can just tip into the vat so that they can add another line to the benefits section of their ad copy? If there is, should we not just buy a big honking bottle of it and slather it on daily? I’m probably just being cynical here so I’ll stop.
The Complete Headcare Lotion goes on smoothly and doesn’t leave the skin feeling greasy. This is very important as I tend to be very sensitive to that sort of thing, especially on my face. Ideally I would have been struck by complete baldness at some point my life so as the enjoy the full benefit of this product, but sadly – aside from a small thinning patch on the top of my head – I’m cursed with a full head of hair. To further complicate things, I’ve got a full beard and not a WHOLE lot of face space to apply such a cream but I did my best which is all we can be expected to do, or so my mom told me.
I applied the Complete Headcare Lotion to my cheeks, neck, ears, forehead and nose daily and never felt as if I was applying sunscreen (which tends to leave me feeling like I’ve just had a dip in a Friallator). I can’t say if my face was any more or less oxidized than usual but I was pleased with the experience overall. Had I been a little more Picard like and slightly less Riker I would have been able to report on how the product kept my head from getting that Destro-like shine and how I never burned on the top of my head. Instead I am left to dream. The lotion features Mattection (TM) which is described as “a proprietary blend of natural antioxidants.” I can’t say how natural the antioxidants are, but it’s in there! At $12.00 an ounce, it is pretty expensive – a theme that will continue down the line – but I would say worth it for men who burn easily yet don’t want to apply traditional sunscreen all day and like the smell (kinda citrus-like but in a manly way).
Complete Cleansing Cloths
OOOOH convenience! Ladies seem to have all the fun when it comes to high priced convenience based cosmetics. Thankfully, Matte has provided us with a solution that is both prohibitively expensive and utterly useful! The Complete Cleansing Cloths are advertised as being able to refreshingly clean the skin and scalp (again – this dammed hair is messing with my mojo!). With Vitamin A, Retinal and collagen, they offer one-step cleansing and toning at a cost of $.90 a piece. I’m including shipping at the lowest priced online outlet here, but even bare without shipping, they are $.73 a pop. For what is essentially a disposable cloth soaked in cleanser and a couple other unpronounceable chemicals, this is a steep price. I found myself resisting the urge to use them whenever possible, instead saving them up for some potential shine emergency in my future that would require their immediate emergency application. After my 30-day review period I found that I still had nine of the thirty left. To their credit, the resealable package does a very good job of keeping them hydrated as they are just as moist now as they were when I opened them the first night. Having two children, I’ve dealt with enough “resealable” packages to know that the adhesive generally wears off after about the third opening, leaving the remainder a dusty, dry mess.
Enough harping on the price. The cloths work as advertised though they left my skin a little more oily than I would have liked and more so than the cleanser (see below) did. I know it’s unrealistic to expect these cloths to work as well as a dedicated cleanser used in a shower but really now, at $.90 a pop I should also expect them to rid me of personal odors and potentially block small arms fire. Not going to be buying these.
The man powder is a mixture of cayenne pepper and the white stuff that comes off the end of batteries that have been ignored too long in your closet. Intended as a replacement for pepper spray, it’s a strange addition to a personal care line, but I have to say that it’s effective. In the month I’ve been reviewing the Matte products, the Man Powder has helped me foil a bank robbery and utterly eradicated the snail infestation in my garden. Of course I’m kidding… It was a convenience store, not a bank.
In all seriousness I’ve been having a hard time deciding how to broach this topic and write my review of the Man Powder without also requiring an 18+ disclaimer and forbidding my friends from forwarding it to my mother.
The Man Powder is advertised as “The perfect finishing touch to both protect your skin and absorb excess moisture. Matte For Men (TM) Man Powder contains 100% natural cornstarch for greater absorbency, keeping a man’s skin feeling dry and fresh. You know where to use it!” Well… I didn’t QUITE know where to use it until I read that copy on their web site. The canister doesn’t come right out and say “keeps your junk dry” and it’s been a long time since my posterior has seen baby powder. Application can only be described as “embarrassing to write about on a blog with wide readership” and tended to leave the bathroom mat looking like someone with terminal dandruff had been by. While not having had (I’m not writing this, I’m not writing this) any particular problems in this area (omg omg omg my mom could read this), I can report that this product seems to work as advertised and that it smelled fresh (Mom, I’m so sorry. Don’t show this to Aunt Jeanette) and that the Antioxidant “Microspheres” did not become sentient and form an advanced nano-colony bent on world domination. Can you tell I crack jokes when I’m uncomfortable? At $22 per canister I can say that it’s a steal- mostly because you shouldn’t use too much and the canister, after using it daily for a month, doesn’t feel any lighter. It might last me well into my 80′s.
Antioxidant Daily Facial Cleanser
By now, most of you will be noticing a trend. Oxidation is the enemy of humanity and every product we use should have antioxidants in it. I am going to come right out and admit that I’m a little skeptical as to the necessity of these additives and as to their real life benefits, but since I’m not a dermatologist, I’m in no real position to cry foul. Smart people seem to be saying we should be eating blueberries at the rate of about a pound a day and the acai berry seems to be so popular as to be wiping out entire native populations’ food sources. Antioxidants appear to be very popular right now so I can’t really blame Matte for including them in their products, I just wonder how much these additives add to the price.
The Antioxidant Daily Facial Cleanser is quite nice. It goes on easily, you don’t need to use a whole lot of it, and it rinses away cleanly. The “Microspheres” (their quotes, not mine) are, while perhaps a little sparse, good in their role as a manual exfoliant and apparently deposit vitamins directly into the skin. Not having whatever meter is used to detect microscopic vitamin deposits in my skin, I was unable to confirm the veracity of this claim so I’ll give them a pass on this one. After using the cleanser, my skin felt SLIGHTLY more oily than when using products from Dermalogica and Proactiv but both of those are cream based cleansers that are more likely to dry the skin. A couple days of use left me feeling like it wasn’t doing a very good job as my skin was more oily than I was used to in the early hours of the day. Fast forward a week and my mind was changed completely. Remember at the beginning of my review when I said that having my skin type meant a battle between too dry and too oily? Well I think that over the last several years I think have been leaving my skin too dry out of the gate and have been paying for it in breakouts and other troubles. The Matte cleanser did a perfect job of cleaning my skin while leaving enough natural oil so as not to trigger later overproduction and issues.
The cleanser is the best smelling of the lot. The scent is not overt and doesn’t bother anyone while still staying around long enough to remind you that you’ve been using SOME kind of product. Of all of the products, this is the one that I will buy again. It does a very good job, is no more expensive than other products I’ve been using for the same purposes and has little colored balls floating in it. This reminds me of Orbitz which scarred me badly when I first tried it but like many things is totally AWESOME through the lens of nostalgia.
The Missing Link
As I said before and as you will have noticed from my glamor shots, I am a manly man with a lumberjack style beard. While I don’t shave my whole face, I shave the toughest PART of the face, namely the neck. Don’t argue with me about including the neck as a part of the face, I’m using my imagination which my mom said was good.
The neck really is a tough place to shave every day and enjoy and I am consistently in a search for good quality shaving products that will free me from some of the pain involved in the process. The Matte Web site lists 5 products but only 4 were sent to me for review. The missing product is the Matte Antioxidant Shave Gel. Just read the awesome description from their site:
The superior alternative when it comes to getting a close, smooth shave! Unlike traditional creams and gels, this lightweight, transparent formula gives maximum visibility allowing you to experience a new sense of control while shaving. The easy to rinse off gel helps maintain the proper moisture balance to minimize dry skin.
Perfect For Men With Facial Hair and Men That Shave Their Head.
Our antioxidant formula is safe for sensitive skin and will:
* Leave skin moisturized and nourished while providing the closest shave possible
* Provide soothing relief from irritation caused by frequent shaving
* Allow for easy “shaping and defining” of facial hair
* Protect against damaging “Free Radicals” and other environmental pollutants
* Mildly exfoliate
I can’t tell you how long I’ve been afraid of “Free Radicals.” When I was a lad and other little boys were scared of the boogeyman and Santa Claus, I used to cower under my lead sheets and shake knowing that the moment I left my place of safety, “Free Radicals” would bombard me and take away my youth.
I think I might buy a tube of the stuff just as soon as my home equity line comes through.
My month with Matte (soon to be a Ken Burns documentary) was ultimately successful, leaving me with a positive feeling for both the products and the company. I know I’ve poked fun at the ad copy and expressed a healthy skepticism for some of their additives and claims but I feel like I did get a premium product for the premium price they are asking. In my experience, men tend not to spend nearly as much on skin care products as women do. In some ways there are good reasons for this. The beauty double standard that leaves men like Sean Connery (bald, wrinkled Sean Connery) labled “sexiest alive” and women expected to fight tooth and nail against the effects of time is in full effect. I have a practical reason for using skin care products like these – my skin requires them. If you find yourself in a similar situation, consider these products. ANTIOXIDANTS!