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Thursday, Feb 27 2003
Illustration by Geoff Grahn

MOST MEN'S APPROACH TO SKIN CARE IS WITH A RAZOR AND shaving foam. They may scrub their face with soap and a washcloth when they shower, but, beyond this, the vast majority of American men avoid slathering on a mud pack or taking up a regular moisturizing regimen — although the number of companies introducing skin-care lines for men and the number of men using those products has been steadily increasing over the past few years. I fall somewhere in between, with bathroom shelves full of facial products but a hit-or-miss attitude toward using them.

There's just something about a man putting on wrinkle cream that is distinctly un-masculine. Perhaps I've been put off by the image of the aging West Hollywood gent with so many high-gloss emollients layered on his face that it looks like it's painted with a bottle of clear nail polish. Even more prevalent, especially in SoCal, is the exfoliant/dermabrasion/glycolic-acid addict, whose skin is constantly irritated into a chronic bright red. But recently, I gave up my Marlboro Man ways, and took a good look at my two-pack-a-day smoke-damaged skin. It was time to get serious.

My first instinct was to layer on a mud pack — what better way to suck out the tar, nicotine and God knows what else that was no doubt clogging my pores — and launch a skin-detox routine. Harsh but effective, right? Not so, says Michael Wolfgeher, who last June launched Sircuit Cosmeceuticals, a skin-care line for men (however, women quickly discovered the line — but more on that later). Stripping already exhausted skin of its last juices was the wrong approach.

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I met with Wolfgeher, who worked for 25 years in the garment biz doing marketing and product development, at his Los Feliz house, which doubles as Sircuit headquarters. A friend of his knew a chemist who had developed a cleanser which later became the basis for Sircuit's all-organic, hypo-allergenic and polyglycolic line. Wolfgeher took his marketing know-how, worked with various chemists, and came up with a line for men, although now more than 90 percent of his customers are women. It was all word of mouth. "Our focus is on anybody that has skin," says Wolfgeher. "Targeting men or women is almost silly in some aspects." Next month, he's planning on taking the company retail (at the moment, Sircuit is only available on the Internet); upcoming products include shaving cream (get that male customer) and a professional-grade spa line.

Wolfgeher used the top of my left hand to demonstrate all 10 skin products, plus the shampoo and conditioner, and walked me through the weird science of it all. Suffice to say it involves, in part, applying chiral technology (the pharmaceutical industry's latest big buzz) to raw materials used in skin care, such as mint and chamomile. The day moisturizer, for example, uses sun-deflecting microtitanium dioxide particles instead of a chemical block. But, more importantly, my left hand felt smooth as satin.

So, letting out my inner priss, I committed myself to a full-fledged routine. First up, the X-Trap, a gentle, foaming wash made from an Arctic moss extract; then I hydrated with Molecular Mist, an anti-bacterial spray that contains hazel and myrrh extracts in a heavy water base known as D2O. I'm skeptical about misting, but D2O is used as a moderator in nuclear facilities, so it's got to obliterate wrinkles. The next step was smoothing in Addict, a firming antioxidant serum that disappeared into my skin faster than campaign donations into a politician's pocket. While the anti-aging creams seem to make my skin more supple, one dot too much — especially Dream Weaver, the night cream that's so heavy with shea butter you could fry an egg — and you end up with that clear-nail-polish face. But my favorites were the purifying scrub — which manages not to dry out the skin — and the pore-refining pumpkin enzyme facial, which smells good enough to eat. Although my pores didn't appear all that different, it did make my face feel awake.

After two weeks, the results are starting to become visible: It's not plastic surgery, but my face is looking at least a few months younger.

Sircuit Cosmeceuticals are available at www.sircuitskin.com.

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