Wednesday, December 15, 2010

essie's manly man-e-cure

by frédérik sisa

It’s a good thing the word “metrosexual” has quietly slipped out of our vocabulary, if not to die a dignified death in obscurity than at least to stay out of trouble. The word is just too silly, sounding like a fancy term for urban dandy. Of course, there is some substance to the underlying gender-defiant concept. The fashionista with an eye for detail isn’t just a woman or gay man anymore – but was it ever really? After all, even a man can’t look like a million bucks without first racking up the thousand-dollar details, and the best dressed guys have always put themselves together down to the last hair. Looking good, in other words, is always in style no matter who you are. The rest is just the result of too much thinking and way too much judging.

So this week’s post is about one of those little details that do make a difference: nails. As a fashion anarchist who firmly believes that anybody should (be able to) wear whatever they want to wear, whenever and wherever, I’d say kudos to those bold men who choose to paint their nails. After all, colour doesn’t have to be just for women, rock stars, and counterculture subversives. But let’s get back to reality, which is that coloured nails and men, at the moment and for various reasons, make for an uncomfortable or simply unappealing pairing for many people. That’s not an excuse, however, for guys to ignore their hands or settle for giving their nails the odd clumsy bit of filing and trimming once and while when they want something with more polish. There’s an added benefit of ritualizing nail care; it offers a means of overcoming any self-destructive habits one might have.

So what’s a guy to do?

The option for something beyond the basics is typically a clear base coat, something that protects and hardens the nails. But there’s a catch: shine, which can be snazzy or ghastly depending on what you’re looking for. Along comes essie – a brand Aqua swears by; she won’t get a French manicure unless it’s with essie’s “Mademoiselle” – with a product designed especially for men who want to take care of their nails but not get fussy and, ahem, “metro” about it. It’s called Man-E-Cure, and essie’s PR director Arlene Benza kindly answered a few questions:
What led essie to develop Man-E-Cure?

At essie, we love our men! There was no product on the market that would give a man a semi-gloss finish – everything that existed was too shiny.

To address men’s grooming needs, we created Man-E-Cure, a product that would give a subtle, matte finish for well-groomed nails. The packaging even has a soft suede touch brown cap so men can see and feel that the product is just for them.

Does essie have plans to expand their men's product line?

Our Cuticle Pen and Apricot Cuticle Oil are two great products – we recommend them for men as well as for women and children. The award-winning formulas leave cuticles nourished and softened for nicer hands overall. Best of all, it’s easy and fast to use – use a cuticle product at your desk, on the train, at home, etc.

Matte About You, our mattefying nail treatment product, is another one men love. It instantly creates a matte finish, leaving nails cleaner and more groomed.

What are essie's ambitions and goals in terms of men's nail care?

Our belief is that men should be pampered as much as women, and we always encourage men to enjoy the benefits of a manicure and pedicure.
So there you have it; hear, hear! The brand that started in 1981by Essie Weingarten and grew to offer a line of colors, treatments, accessories, spa products, and lip glosses – now offers a matte nail protector for men. How does it measure up to real life?

To answer the question, Arlene kindly sent me over a bottle of Man-E-Cure to try. I admit I was bit worried that it would be too shiny. But no; it’s definitely matte, with just enough reflectivity for a natural look. You could, in principle, achieve the same effect by buffing your nails. Man-E-Cure is less time consuming though – it’s very easy to put on and it doesn’t gloop – and your nails end up with a nice protective layer that does look natural. Key, of course, is the fact that it doesn’t look like wearing nail polish, so for guys who don’t want to look advertise their nails will enjoy the product.

So all and all, essie scores a victory for men’s nail care – Man-E-Cure is easy, looks great, and is a worthy addition to the conscientious man’s arsenal of style. (How’s that for a purple turn of phrase – “arsenal of style?”) My only observation after four days of wear is that it seems to chip off around the edges, but I can’t rule out user error. I’ll follow-up in a future post on my experiments.

Essie sells a ½ ounce bottle for $15 directly from their website, but you can get it for half the price at Amazon.

Many thanks to Arlene Benza for the sample and her time in answering my questions.

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