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Confession: I’m addicted to grooming products

Words by Rob Chilton

Rob Chilton comes clean

When I was at school, a man visited our classroom for careers day to talk about his job at a packaging company. While my classmates snoozed or flicked pieces of paper at each other, I was utterly entranced (I now realise why my mother sometimes said I was a strange child).

I’ve always loved packaging. Boxes of all shapes and sizes are fascinating to me. I love the satisfying click of a lid, or the insertion of tab A into slot B. This is one of the chief reasons why I love grooming products. Of course, I like the item inside too, but the packaging of men’s bathroom kit is all part of the thrill for me.

Things like colour, font and materials of boxes are a vital first impression for consumers and that’s why brands spend so much money getting their packaging just right.

Pop that lid

In my sacred bathroom cabinet at home – my personal shrine to guy’s grooming – I have boxes containing moisturisers, shampoos, serums, hair wax and many other products, stacked alongside and on top of each other within bigger storage boxes like a giant game of grooming Tetris.

When a product comes towards the end of its life, I accelerate its usage by using more than I usually would, slapping on eye cream four times a day, just so I can enjoy the thrill of opening a fresh box and trying out a new product.

It’s not just boxes either. Tubes and bottles are equally satisfying. Recently I snapped open the lid of a new face scrub and carefully squeezed out a blob into the palm of my hand, grinning like a schoolboy. What would it feel like on my face? What would it smell like? Would it do the job? Would it foam up? What would the texture of the exfoliating particles be like? Some guys love to buy sneakers and post the unboxing ceremony on social media; I like cracking open a tub of facial cleanser.

Acqua di Parma is a favourite brand for Rob Chilton

I enjoy the ritual and step-by-step process of using grooming products. I take my time to cleanse and scrub my face, rinse, apply a serum, followed by a moisturiser and eye cream, especially as (a) I get older and (b) as my face takes a hammering from computer screens, sunshine, chlorinated pool water and sleepless nights spent rocking small children back to sleep. It may only be a few minutes each morning and each night, but once that bathroom door is locked, it’s my time – my peaceful place of solace amid a chaotic time-crunched day of taxis, deadlines and toddlers. As I use these beautifully fragranced products, I appreciate the thought and expertise that has gone into their formulation.

Furthermore, I believe they are effective. I’m not naïve enough to think grooming products are going to make me look 20 years younger, but I do notice that my skin or hair looks a little ‘fresher’ when I use a good product – and so does my wife.

Psychologically, I feel like I’m doing good to myself when I open my bathroom cabinet and pull out my box of tricks, just like I would if I drank a celery juice or did 20 minutes of yoga. Self-care is important during these hectic, modern days we find ourselves in, and grooming products can be valuable tools to improve our mood. And if these products come in a smart box made from recycled cardboard with a cool logo, well, so much the better.

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