Saturday, August 16, 2008

Produce Review: Nivea for Men Body Wash vs. Axe Snake Peel Shower Scrub

We are a nation of stinky people. I say this not because we need to bathe more often but because we seem to insist on putting fragrances into so many personal care products; soaps, body washes, shower scrubs, shampoos, conditioners and so on. But it doesn't stop there because we also do it with laundry detergent, bleaches, and fabric softener. When all these various scents mingle, it's not unusual to be left with some kind of funky mélange. Making matters worse, the people who develop these fragrances aren't exactly at the top of their field. Let's face it, if you're figuring out ways to make a douche smell like a garden of flowers instead of developing the next $1,000 an ounce perfume for Calvin Klein or Yves Saint Lauren or Bvlgari or one of the other big fashion houses, you're probably not that great.

Things came to a head for me when a fabric softener that was supposed to make my clothes smell like a mountain meadow instead made them smell like a mountain of rotting fruit. A couple of days of that stench and my clothes were literally making me gag on the verge of throwing up. Fortunately the makers of laundry products have figured out that not everyone wants their laundry to stink and it's possible to get said product free of fragrances.

Unfortunately the same can't be said for a lot of personal care products. There are precious few soaps, body washes, shower scrubs, etc. at my favorite grocery store that are free of fragrance. Equally unfortunate is that it seems most of the makers of these products target women. I'm a guy. I don't want to get out of the shower smelling of strawberries or apple blossoms or some other flowery scent. Thus a niche for such products aimed specifically at men has been created.

Probably the most well known name to target this niche is Axe which offers a wide variety of "manly" scents. Personally I like Axe Snake Peel Show Scrub because while it lists fragrance as one of its ingredients, the scent is too subtle for me to detect even if I sniff the top of a fresh bottle. Still I tend to be embarrassed to buy Axe because they've built their entire marketing campaign around the idea that if you use Axe, you'll get laid. A lot.

They even make the claim on their labels with has a picture of a shower head labeled "1" followed by a picture, labeled "2," of a guy with two women. Consequently I always feel like people see me buying Axe and think I'm getting it because I think it will magically get me laid. Of course Axe isn't the only company to take this approach to marketing:

So I was happy to see an ad for the new Nivea for Men Body Wash line that stressed that their product wasn't stinky and was basically a body wash for adults. So I decided to pick some up and give it a try. I was kind of disappointed to discover that it comes in two flavors; Cool (menthol) and Energy (mint). Still the scent doesn't appear to be too strong and I don't notice it after I get out of the shower. I'm not fond of the tall, thin bottle which seems prone to falling over if you bump it. I'm also not fond of the rounded cap which will make it a bit of a hassle when the bottle starts getting low and I want to stand it on its head to make it easier to get the last of the body wash out. It leaves me clean but my skin feels a little dry.

Overall, I find I'm happier with my Axe Snake Peel Shower Scrub, embarrassing marketing campaign aside. No real scent, does a good job, and the bottle is better designed since it's nicely contoured for holding on to in the shower and it's clear so you can see how much you have left. As an added bonus, Axe is made in the USA while the label on my Nivea for Men Body Wash says it was made in Germany. That might explain why the Axe also seems to be cheaper than the Nivea.

No comments: