This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on bathroom products. Series titles and links are as follows with more pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo than you can shake a stick at.
Note: Part 6 on hair care products may never be written. I never use them and it’s a vast subject!
Part 1 Shower Gels
There I was. I had just stepped into the shower, turned on the water, reached for the shower gel and… discovered the bottle was empty. No problem, I thought. I’ll use the shampoo as shower gel. After all, what’s the difference between the hair on my head and the hair on my body other than length, colour (in places), and density? So, that’s what I did but afterwards my wife handed me a replacement shower gel and I took a look at the bottle before placing it inside the shower. Right Guard Shower + Lotion, Women, Pomegranate, Intensive Care I read. Women? Why women? What is the essential difference between men and women’s bodies that merits a shower gel specially formulated for women? Now, I know the biological differences, of course, but are there any skin differences? Do women accumulate dirt and sweat differently to men such that they require a different formula for cleansing? Would harm befall me if I used this gel on my manly skin? Would I start to develop female characteristics beyond those already accumulated? (I’m thinking moobs!) These questions raced through my mind as I realised I had 24 hours to determine the answer (I shower every day at roughly the same time) and I turned to my laptop and started searching for the answers. Included in my thoughts, of course, was what about other bathroom consumables such as soap, deodorant, shaving foam or cream (surely a man’s stronghold), toothpaste, and the one thing that must be gender-free—toilet paper? What I found will astound you. Let’s start with shower gels.
There is a whole slew of shower gel products separately targeted at men and women. For example, Right Guard offers a range of women’s products: Pomegranate, Pink Jasmine with Micro Oils, Pink Grapefruit with Vitamin C, Aloe Vera + Yoghurt Protein (!), Argan + Marula + Almond Oil (gold star if you know what Argan and Marula are without turning to Google), Coconut Water with Coconut Extract, and Black Orchid. There may be more in this particular range but already you are getting the picture, right?
What about Right Guard products for men, I mused. Where’s there’s a yin, there must be a yang. I googled “Right Guard shower gel men” and, sure enough up they popped but interestingly the word men did not appear on the bottle. Instead, we had the masculine power word Xtreme and instead of flower, fruit and oil names, I found what marketing people think appeals more to men, descriptions such as Cool, air-conditioning effect; Fresh, invigorating freshness; Energy, revitalising freshness; Recharge, reviving scent. Now look, tell me, have you ever met a man who buys a shower gel because he wants to be air-conditioned, invigorated, revitalised or recharged when he has a shower? What is happening here? Do Right Guard marketing people really think we men are influenced by such words when we buy shower gel in supermarkets or low-cost pound shops? Not me. I buy the biggest bottle at the lowest price I can find. As long as it says shower gel, I don’t care about anything else. I don’t care if it leaves me air-conditioned, invigorated (or better still, reinvigorated), revitalised, or recharged. I just want clean. I also don’t care if I come out smelling of jasmine, orchids, pink grapefruit or even argan and marula. (I must get round to looking up those words.)
They’re all at it. Look at Dove’s shower gel products. Traditionally, Dove (cue soft, white image accompanied by soothing cooing sounds) has targeted women with their “personal care” products (Go Fresh, Purely Pampering, Summer Care, and Sensitive Skin) but now we have Dove Men + Care shower gels: Clean Comfort Caring Formula, Extra Fresh Cooling Agent, Deep Clean Purifying Grains, Sensitive Clean Unscented Oil-Free, all with micro moisture (whatever that is).
Nivea’s the same. There’s a whole range of fruit and flower shower gels for women: frangipani and oil, lemon and oil, acai berry and antioxidants (called power fruit on the label), water lily and oil… The list is endless. For men, Nivea has produced the Nivea Men range: Power, Sport, Active, Vitality, Energy, Pure Impact, Silver Protect (targeted at elderly men?), CoolKick… Marketing people must devour a thesaurus every day in their desperate search for a descriptive imaging word that has not been used already. I’m not sure what Marlboro Man would think if his wife/female partner/Brokeback Mountain buddy bought female-only shower gel products.
At this point, I widened my search. What about toothpaste, I asked? Is there a his-and-hers range of toothpaste? I mean to say, teeth are teeth, surely? Not so I discovered. There is. What about soap and deodorants? As it turned out, this is where it all started—his-and-her soap, his-and-her deodorants. How about shaving foam and cream? Surely, this is a man-only product? Again, not so. Okay, what about condoms for women? Now, that must be man-only? Nope. They exist and are called femidoms. Femidoms! What the hell is a femidom and can you mix and match a femidom with a condom to get a femiconidom for extra protection and prevention? And one final personal care (I love that term!) product that surely defies any attempt to market as two separate products targeted at male and female users—the ubiquitous use-only-once-and-then-discard absolutely-essential bathroom product; the toilet roll?
What I found is amazing and will be revealed in future blogs on the subject of bathroom consumable products. Watch this space.
Now, what is argan and marula oil? Let me explore…