There was an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy a while back in which a straight man, after briskly shaving with some of the fiercest and most torturous strokes of a razor ever to grace the Bravo channel, was strongly criticzed for using the blue-and-white bottle of Nivea brand After Shave. One of the gay consultants – probably Carson – berated the straight convert off-screen, shouting something like ‘eww, what is that bright blue stuff?’
But if they were straight they would have recognized the bottle of Nivea *Men After Shave lotion; it’s the stuff you see for ~$7 on the shelves at Wal Mart, K Mart and Shopko. And it’s not that bad.
Nivea was never meant to be a classy after shave. In fact, the title itself displays its utilitarian purposes: it’s a ‘fresh cooling balm’ with ‘menthol and vitamins.’ Although I doubt the nutritional values these vitamins may contribute to the straight man’s open wounds, the balm’s action may help to ease the pain – and the redness. It may ‘revitalize, sooth and moisturizes,’ or so the bottle says at least, but really this is the lowest of the low in terms of facial freshness.
Any man knows that a good after shave must be alcohol-free. Alcohol, despite its antibacterial properties, ages the skin; it dries it out, and eventually adds to premature facial aging. Nivea knows this too, as does any other company in the after shave market. So why not aim for the lowest common denominator (price) and appeal to the average consumer? He may be some kind of rugged, half-educated penny pincher with a mean razor; someone whose been targeted in corporate meetings and cornered by demographics.
In Nivea’s defense, any man knows that a good shave goes far beyond the after shave lotion. It starts with a good hot face wash. Then there’s the manner of shaving (of course), which must be delicate and timely. And, finally, it ends with another cleansing that usually involves more face-washing and moisturizing.
So were the Fab Five correct in their [borderline-libelous] persecution of Nivea After Shave for Men? No – but they weren’t wrong either. It’s an after shave, which is better than no after shave. Anything that helps men shave, well, helps men. We can’t have a bunch of bearded weirdos running around America – it’s good business for neither Nivea nor queer guys alike. Nivea After Shave, ugly bottle and all, is a good after shave that gets the job done: it comforts the face, the mind, and the pocketbook.