Product Review: FaceLube Standard High-Performance Face Care
By Chris Haak
By and large, men are typically not complicated creatures. Most of us don’t keep our feelings bottled up, we don’t gravitate toward sophisticated, high-brow entertainment (that reminds me, what night do the new Beavis and Butthead episodes air?), and we typically don’t take care of ourselves as well as our female companions do. I don’t even know when I last went to the doctor, while my wife is very proactive about her medical care.
This phenomenon extends to skin care. Very unscientifically, I’ve seen many more men with ridiculous sunburns than I have seen women with them. We don’t like to stop what we’re doing to take care of ourselves. How many guys that you know use moisturizer? A skin-care regimen? Granted, I’m 36 years old, and have lines forming on my forehead, and I’ve had crow’s feet standing on the edge of my eyes for years, so maybe I should be paying more attention to this topic.
Actually, I probably do take better care of my skin than most guys do, even when I’m not testing a new product. I wash my face with Purpose Gentle Cleaning Wash($6.49 for a 6-ounce pump bottle) before I go to bed, use Dove bar soap ($9.59 for eight bars), and use Purpose Dual Treatment Moisture Lotion ($9.49 for a 4-ounce pump bottle) to moisturize my face a bit and protect it from the sun (the lotion is SPF 15). When I shave, I use Trader Joe’s Honey Mango Moisturizing Shave Cream ($13.95 on Amazon; I think it’s much less at a Trader Joe’s store). I have sensitive skin, which is why I use Purpose products and the Trader Joe’s vegetarian shave lotion.
So, for $15.98, I’m getting face wash and soap that work well for me. Fundamentally, I’m satisfied with what I have been using for the past several years and see little need to make a change in my regimen just for the sake of making a change. Acknowledging that I definitely have a bias in favor of what I currently use (and its price, which is considerably cheaper than a premium treatment like FaceLube’s), I set out to see if I would enjoy FaceLube so much that I would blow my monthly budget on skin care.
FaceLube prides itself in its ingredient list, and helpfully explains what each item actually does to improve your skin. For instance:
STEP 1 – CLEANER: Algae Extract – Firming, revitalizing, moisturizing, antioxidant, non-irritating, non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores). Sucrose Cocoate – Naturally derived from sugar beets and coconut oil, balance and maintain moisture level. Irish Moss – Red algae, naturally hydrating, nourishing, soothing, rich in emollients and nutrients. Bioflavonoid – Vitamin P, improve elasticity. Bitter Orange Extract – Astringent, toning.
STEP 2 – TREATMENT: Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) – Natural astringent, soothing, astringent, clarifying, antiinflammatory, purifying, toning. Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3 – Restores skin balance, reduce wrinkle depth. Palmitoyl Oligopeptide – Anti-wrinkle, smoothing, stimulates collagen and elastin production, firming, replenishing. Glycosaminoglycans – Hydrating, anti-aging, improves elasticity, firming. Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Oil – Conditioning, absorbs excess oil. Withania Somnifera (Ashwaganda) – Natural astringent, antioxidant. Silica (Micronized) – Mattifying, regulates sebum, minimizes lines. Dimethicone – Non-comedogenic, smoothes skin. Sodium Hyaluronate – Cutting edge humectant. Tocopherol/Tocopheryl Acetate/ Diisopropyl Dimer Dilinoleate/Diisostearyl Dimer Dilinoleate/Gamma Oryzanol/Ubiquinone Complex – Antioxidant, anti-aging, immediate and continuous moisturization and anti-aging treatment.
STEP 3 – PROTECTANT: Oat Beta-Glucan – Oat based active ingredient, promotes healing and cellular turn-over, stimulates collagen synthesis, protects and moisturizes. Calmosensine – Acetyl Dipeptide-l Cetyl Ester Sensory inhibitor, skin calming. Malachite (Copper) Extract – Purifying, balancing, replenishing. Rhodochrosite (Manganese) Extract – Anti-stress, soothing, relaxing. Smithsonite (Zinc) Extract – Regenerative, revives sluggish skin. Epilobium Angustifolium (Willowherb) Extract – Soothing, antiinflammatory, astringent, healing. Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate (Licorice) Root Extract – anti-inflammatory, brightening, clarifying. Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) – Refreshing, soothing, natural water binding, antioxidant. Sodium Hyaluronate – Cutting edge humectant.
An upshot is that most of the items on the ingredients lists are pronounceable (and the ones that aren’t tend to have explanations). It also appears that nearly everything on each of the lists has a reason for being there. There doesn’t seem to be anything extraneous, which I’d have to believe would potentially lead to allergic reactions.
I’ve spent three weeks using the FaceLube standard set mostly as recommended, except that I only use the cleanser in the evenings, since I didn’t see much point in washing my face immediately after exiting the shower, where I had already washed my face.
The car-care metaphor is a bit overdone throughout the product and its marketing materials, but most egregiously on the facelube.com website. The bottles ship in a cardboard box designed to look like an oil bottle, and each bottle is sturdy and seems to be reasonably well-made. The items all note that they are made in the USA, if that’s important to you, and not tested on animals. I know for sure that’s also important to many people. On an aesthetic note, I despise the fact that FaceLube uses Comic Sans as its logo font.
Step 1 – Cleaner
The FaceLube cleaner is packaged in a larger bottle than the other two treatments are (3.4 ounces vs. 1.0 ounces), probably because the company recommends that you use a dime-size blob per use, rather than a pea-size per use for the repair and protectant treatments. One pump will give you the dime-size dose of milky-clear cleaner that the company recommends. To me, the cleaner is a bit of a mixed bag. I can’t argue with the results – it seemed to de-oil my skin, which by the end of the day is pretty bad on my forehead – but I didn’t like the fact that the soap didn’t make any suds when I added water and rubbed my hands together. Maybe it’s just a personal preference, but just don’t feel like I’m actually washing myself unless I see bubbles. As advertised, though, the cleaner did seem to remove oil and grime without leaving my face overly dry.
Step 2 – Treatment
The Restore & Repair treatment comes in a 1.0 ounce bottle with a finger pump at the top, just like the other two treatment bottles. The purpose of the treatment is to effect some anti-aging magic on the male face. In just a three-week test, it’s really hard to notice results from this one. Also, I only used it once daily rather than twice daily as the company recommends, so I’m only getting theoretically 50 percent of its benefits.
Step 2’s treatment is a clear liquid similar to the cleaner, but it has no slipperiness at all. Apparently, it’s super-concentrated, because a pea-size always seems to be too small for my big face. It leaves my skin feeling exactly the same, only slightly more damp than before the treatment. That sensation goes away in about 15 seconds, but hopefully it’s working its magic beneath the surface. I do know about the benefits of witch hazel in reducing razor irritation, and that’s listed as the first ingredient.
From the outset, I encountered trouble using the pump in the Step 2 (Restore & Repair) bottle. The product didn’t consistently flow from the opening when pumped, leading me to pump it a number of times quickly, which led to splattered #2 treatment on the wall and mirror in my bathroom, and led to me grumbling about the junky pump. When I removed the pump from the Restore & Repair bottle, I was surprised to see that there is no “straw” that pulls from the bottom of the bottle (as the cleaner bottle has). Yet the Step 3 treatment has the same pump design, with a thicker substance inside, and had no issues at all with its pump. Go figure. I eventually resorted to removing the Step 2 lid and dabbing it on my palm that way.
Step 3 – Protectant
Finally, about 15 seconds after applying the treatment (which, in reality, is immediately afterward if you replace the treatment lid, put it back into the medicine cabinet, remove the protectant from the cabinet, and remove its lid), you can apply the protectant. This step in the treatment regimen is a white cream-like substance that the instructions again call for a pea-sized dollop, and which again seems a little too small for my taste (to cover my forehead, cheeks, and neckline). It goes on fairly grease-free and blends in quickly.
In all, the product does seem to be a good one (despite the annoying pump in the #2 bottle), but I can’t honestly say that I feel that the aging process has been reversed or slowed on my face. Had I followed the instructions to the letter and treated twice daily, then I may have felt a little different. Reading the reviews on Amazon.com for this product completely floored me. There are 37 customer reviews online right now, and of those, there are 32 five-star, 4 four-star, and 1 one-star review). So maybe I am missing something here.
The elephant in the room is price. The most basic FaceLube kit, the Standard one that was provided to me for evaluation, has an “MSRP” of $125.00. Yes, that’s almost eight times more than what I am paying for my current regimen. Before I had checked the pricing on the website, I assumed that the three bottles (helpfully labeled “Step 1,” “Step 2,” and “Step 3”) would cost somewhere between $25 and $30. After all, they’re premium products, right? I’ve never bought Clinique products – which I hear are some of the best – and after a quick glance at the Clinique website, FaceLube’s pricing still seems high. Clinique liquid face wash? $15. Clinique M Lotion? $21.
FaceLube has a number of discounts and promotions currently in effect (click hereto go to their promotions page). There are things like 10% off in November, free shipping on orders over $50, 10% off for Facebook fans of FaceLube, and more.
Really, I would have a difficult time accepting the value proposition of FaceLube. Is anti-aging skin care so important to me that I’d spend between $1,225 and $1,425 annually on skin-care treatments (those are FaceLube’s own figures). It also strikes me as not a great idea to make sunscreen an optional component of the regimen; in my limited experience, I have seen at least SPF 15 incorporated into other male moisturizers. FaceLube has a natural anti-aging sunscreen on offer for $30 for 1.7 ounces, and while I haven’t tried it, the Amazon reviewers seemed to love it.
Perhaps I’m just too frugal to spend this kind of money on skin care. I could afford it, but would have to make sacrifices in my lifestyle to do so. I’m not in the top 1%, but in the top half income-wise. It’s all about prioritization, I guess. Would a car guy rather spend $1,225 per year on his face, or on his car? You can buy a decent set of tires for that much money. I know which one I’d go for.
FaceLube provided a Standard kit for review at no charge to Full Metal Autos Media or to the author.