Kiehl’s President Chris Salgardo Literally Wrote the Book on Grooming and Skincare for Men

The predominant male attitude on grooming and skincare is that they are optional. At least that’s what we hear from president of Kiehl’s and noted beard-wearer Chris Salgardo.

chrissalgardoBut imagine if Rob Lowe thought that way. There would be no Rob Lowe.

So in the interest of correcting this gross misunderstanding, Salgardo wrote Manmade, a book with grooming and skincare tips men can and should use right now–and which will keep them looking younger, longer. Perhaps you know a man who could use this in his life?

Salgardo told us all about the book on the phone. The conversation is below.

And if you happen to be in/near Seattle on December 11, meet up with Salgardo in our flagship store to talk about his book and knock back a cold one. The event is called, tantalizingly, Beards and Brew.

Shop: Kiehl’s

Nordstrom blogs: This is your first book, correct? Do you have history with writing books that I don’t know about?

Unless you want to include my high school journals, which were never published–probably a good thing–this is my first time writing a book. I knew I wanted to write about skincare and grooming, and I knew I wanted to write for men, initially, before I started thinking up concepts for women. It really started with me struggling with bad skin early on. It affected my confidence back then, especially getting into the workplace, dating for the first time, all of that. Growing up in the ‘80s, there weren’t a lot of options for men. You had to control your acne but it wasn’t socially allowed to cover it up. So you had to be on your game. Eventually my skin cleared up, and fast-forward to working at Kiehl’s, men had begun to recognize me at the gym, working out. They’d seen me on television or read an article. I started getting a lot of questions in 2006. It became obvious that there were consistent topics: How do I shave? Why an eye cream? Is a cleanser really necessary versus a soap? And it was like, Wow, all this information is at your fingertips with the Internet. But men were still looking for guidance. With that in mind I took a meeting with Random House, and Pam Grout, who has her own division there, and we collaborated, put the ideas on paper, and lo and behold, Manmade has arrived. It’s a useful resource for men to get those answers in a single, safe place. It’s uncomplicated. The first section separates gel, moisturizer, shave cream, barbers and stylists: what are these things? And in the middle of the book I created five archetypes men can identify with, as a way to guide guys through what kind of skincare and grooming is right for them. And there’s a reference section where it’s all there again. Fragrance, exfoliators, et cetera. What are these things and what do they do? It’s intended to be as useful as possible. So that’s the very long-winded answer for your simple question about whether I’ve written a book before.

What do you think are the most common mistakes that most men make as far as grooming and skincare?

The biggest misapprehension is that most men don’t think they need it. That’s the first issue: I’m too lazy; I don’t have enough time; or, I’m a guy, we don’t have to do that. But we all want to look the best we can at whatever age we are. For a long time, there wasn’t the permission to think about yourself. It would be vain. Or too feminine. All those barriers have been broken down. Men are realizing that. Even with sunscreen. You think about melanoma, and it’s just something you cannot neglect. Or as you get older, you notice your eyebrows are bushy, new hair in new places, or your hair is receding or whatever. Little things but one day you notice you don’t look as tight as you did. And it’s not that drastic, you don’t have to lock yourself in the bathroom all day, but put some moisturizer on your face. Comb your eyebrows down. Brush your beard. You’ll feel better and look better. It’s those basics that men neglect. You know, I’ll have those friends who finally break down and use a moisturizer. But they’ll wonder why their moisturizer isn’t working so well. Or they start wearing a fragrance and wonder why it doesn’t last. And I always ask: What are you bathing with? Nine out of ten times they’re using a deodorant soap. That’s going to kill any fragrance, good or bad. And soaps can be a little dry on the skin. So you’re moisturizing your face but using a bar cleanser. What I tried to get at with the book–which is product-agnostic, because I wanted to give advice–is basic advice like that.
What are the most common mistakes men make while shaving?

They don’t prep their skin well enough. If you apply a hot washcloth first, it’s just going to make those hair stand up a little more if you’re a straight razor kind of guy. That one step will keep you from nicking yourself. And I gotta tell you, there’s nothing worse than nicking your face. Sure enough, the time you do that will be the day you have to get your photo taken or speak in a meeting. So prepare. And use sharp blades. Dull blades nick skin. And the product you’re shaving with. Foam has a tendency to create air pockets on your face. Cream gets better coverage.

What can guys do at night to look better during the day?

Oh my god. This is probably one of the trickier steps and one of the best steps. In the day time, you’re running around. Like me in New York, I’m in my air conditioned apartment. I get in a cab, I’m hit with another weather condition. I get out of the cab, it’s another one, get into the office it’s another weather condition. Your skin is always getting bombarded. And then there’s the smog; free radicals can damage the skin. At night, your body and skin are ready to receive good ingredients. You’re resting and you’re ready. I love a good moisturizer and I love, love, love eye cream. You’ll wake up and say, Wow! Night time is the best time. Keep it simple. Eye cream. Put it by your bed.

What should guys do to care for the skin under their beards?

First, remember that you do in fact have skin under there. I run with a bearded crowd. Everyone has a beard. There are a couple things you can do. I love sonic technology and started using a Clarisonic years ago. I find it really gets under my beard and helps to cleanse the skin really thoroughly. Then, I like to put an oil on my beard. I put it on in the morning and evening, and boy, does it keep the beard tight. And when I wash my face I really make sure I hit my beard. With those three steps it always looks tight and clean. Generally beards are a little coarser, but if you take care of it, the beard softens and won’t scratch anyone who gets a little close. I always comb my beard. I comb my eyebrows and comb my beard. It’s my last step before I leave the house, and my beard looks great all day.

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