When it comes to shopping for a man or a woman, there are actually three categories to consider: products formulated specifically for him, stuff that is definitely feminine, and unisex goods that will appeal to both sexes because of packaging, scent (or lack of), and general all-purpose use.
FALL FASHION: DUET
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• Indie designers restate their claim on Seattle's T-shirts. MORE
• Nine shops with fall finesse. MORE
• Must-have products. MORE
CoQskin lotion ($20 for a 4-ounce jar, www.antioxidant-lotions.com or 800-659-8055, ext. 5251) is good for all, with simple packaging, organic ingredients, and no scent. It's great for dry, rough hands, but not so greasy that you'll slide all over your yoga mat. It's also made locally, with antioxidants to fight free radical damage.
Marketing "guy" appeal means using straightforward, simple, and supposedly masculine language like "active" or "tough guy." (Subtle.) Items are either unscented or, if there is a fragrance, they're "minty," "citrusy," "peppery," "woodsy," or "spicy." Check out the manly Afta Pre-electric shave lotion with skin conditioners ($2.79 for 3 ounces at Bartell Drugs, 1407 Broadway Ave., 206-726-3491). It's oil-free, doesn't clog the razor, won't sting, and (like many men) it's so cheap!
Selling stuff to her, meanwhile, allows for packaging and display that are more girlie, and scents that are floral or even vanilla sweet. The lines can involve more steps (i.e., ampoules after toning and before moisturizing) and be extremely specific (eye masks, lash conditioners, exfoliators for the lips, etc.). And, unfortunately, just like at the dry cleaners, the cost can be higher. Di Santa Maria Novella's Crema Viso Décolleté ($62 for 3.3 ounces at Essenza, 615 N. 35th St., 206-547-4895) is for softening and toning the delicate skin on the neck and smells like rose and geranium.
There are, of course, goods that women steal from men, like shaving products made for a man's face that women love to use on their legs and underarms. You can find a gem in a jar in the very large men's section of the Body Shop (Pacific Place, 600 Pine St., 206-624-4925). Look for the very originally named For Men Shave Cream ($12.50 for 6.6 ounces), which is rich and ultracreamy, with sesame oil to condition beards—but it also leaves legs feeling soft and moisturized. A little dab makes a lot of lather and won't leave the tub smelling like men's cologne.
A cleanser that he mooches from her is Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash ($17.50 for 5 ounces at Origins, Bellevue Square, Suite 230, 425-452-9344). Men love this cleanser because it smells minty (again with the minty!).
If you really want to go both ways (so to speak), why not shop for hair products at a salon owned by a guy and a gal? The just-opened Salon Circa (1417 Fourth Ave., Suite 500, 206-223-0457) has a fun retail shelf that helps both sexes have good hair days. Check out Michael O'Rourke's Sexy Hair line, and his Big Sexy Hair spray Flip It Over Full and Wild ($16 for 4.4 ounces). It gives a girl more volume faster than she can say its name. Guys will love O'Rourke's Short and Sexy styling aid called Play Dirty Wax Master Dry Wax ($13.50 for 4.4 ounces), a good way to get that Ethan Hawke look without actually being filthy. It promises two days of hold in two minutes, and sprays directly into hair—so no gooey hands!
The ultimate his-and-hers store in Seattle is Mario's (1413 Sixth Ave., 206-223-1461 men's, 206-622-6161 women's), which is known for clothing but has a his-and- hers skin-care line by Cellcosmet. Cellcosmet skin care is based on the "hormonal identity" of the skin and uses "bio-integral cells" (we did not make this up). One of the store's staff said that Cellmen ($175 for 1.7 ounces), Cellcosmet's men's moisturizer line, actually has testosterone in it—how manly can you get?—and the face cream promises to hydrate and restore the skin. The Cellcosmet line for her ($190 for 1.7 ounces of the Preventive Day Cream) is divided by age—under 35 or over 35. (But we thought 40 was the new 30, so does it still work?)
There is a behemoth of a new cosmetics counter at the downtown Nordstrom (500 Pine St., 206-628-1769) that, with a name like Armani, you might think is for men. But this grand station—Estée Lauder was moved to make room, and Paula Dorf went poof!—is almost all for women. If you need a fab fall cheek color with the perfect amount of shimmer, the Armani Cream Blush #1 ($43 for .14 ounces) is a natural when the clouds roll in.
One of the best high-end barbershop products for his acne-prone skin is Sharp's Kid Glove Shave Gel ($12 for 5 ounces at Red, 1925 Third Ave., 206-256-6214). Aloe leaf gives it glide and a healing, hydrating effect. But the directions on the back steal the show: Alongside a picture of a goat is the commandment, "After massaging a thin layer onto damp skin, wait 30 seconds —contemplate the Goat." (We also like that it is barber- tested on men, not on animals.)
L'Occitane (University Village, 2629 N.E. Village Lane, 206-529-0801), with its fancy packaging, French titles, and scented soaps, may not seem like a place for men, but these shops have not one but two dedicated men's lines, with shaving products, colognes, and skin care. The best seller in the L'Occitan line—just drop the "e" and voila! it is pour l'homme—is the L'Occitan Eau de Toilette for men ($38 for 3.4 ounces). This fragrance was inspired by the original way the company distilled lavender: a wood fire under a copper distiller. Burnt wood and black pepper give it a masculine scent. The unisex—and limited edition—fragrance Eau de Toilette Thé Vert à la Menthe ($40 for 3.4 ounces), or Green Tea With Mint, is all the rage with celebrities like Kate Hudson and was inspired by the Green Tea Ceremony in Morocco. Park Avenue ladies who lunch, in the meantime, love to drink up the Eau d'Azur Mimosa ($40 for 4.2 ounces), which has a fresh, floral and grassy scent.
Keep rogue brow hairs down with Paula Dorf's Brow Stay ($18 for 1 ounce at www.pauladorf.com), a light wax you can use with brow powder to groom your arches. This is not the same wax used to remove brow hairs—it's like a hair product for the eyebrows.
Men of all skin types can use Clinique's M Lotion ($18 for 3.4 ounces at www.clinique.com) to soothe skin after shaving. It works as a very light moisturizer and can help calm the sensitive beard area.
Go femme fatale with a brand-new line of cosmetics by Lip Lingerie ($22 for .194 ounces at Olivine, 5344 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-706-4188). With names like "Frilly Thong" and "Padded Push-up," these supercute gloss and lip treatments are packaged like tiny cupcakes—you must see to believe.
Protect your man with Jack Black's Black Diamond Formula Sun Guard ($16 for 4 ounces at Burnt Sugar, 601 N. 35th St., 206-544-0699). This oil-free, ultralight, SPF 20 sunscreen can be used all over, including on the scalp. It is so light that you will not have greasy hair—or sunburned bald spots! Use it even on cloudy days.
Definitely for her is the generous "mommy-to-be" set by Erbaviva ($60 for 20-ounce Milk Bath and 4-ounce Stretch Mark Oil at Les Cadeaux Gourmets, 1629 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206-283-2270). It includes a giant jar of Milk Bath with softening milk powder, sea salts, and oils. After the bath, the Stretch Mark Oil with almond oil, wheat germ, and vitamin E can be smoothed on breasts, thighs, and an ever- expanding tummy during pregnancy.
It's a boy! Save your lampshades, walls, ceilings, and yourself with the Pee-Pee Teepee ($12 for a pouch of five at PW Kerr's, 610 W. McGraw St., 206-285-2467) for the sprinkling wee wee. These are machine-washable, cone-shaped cloth covers placed strategically over the little bishop during diaper changing. This might just be the best male product on the market.