Chris Salgardo is saving face (literally) for gentlemen everywhere. The Kiehl’s president and brand new author just launched Manmade: The Essential Skincare and Grooming Reference for Every Man, which is chockfull of advice sans over-sophistication. The book caters to five archetypal guys: the modern gentleman, the hands-on man, the extreme dude, the rebel artist, and the renaissance man. Following his successful launch party (1,021 copies sold already), The Daily chats with the ever-charming and charismatic Salgardo to get the scoop…
So this is book one! How’s life as an author thus far?
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, actually! I’m really excited about the feedback from people who have been reaching out and are already finding value and loving it. Regardless of anything else, I was hoping people would respond to it. And if it could help men, give them some tips, techniques, anything to elevate their skincare and grooming game, then that’s terrific.
When did you initially decide that you wanted to pen a grooming guide?
I knew that I wanted to write a lifestyle book, but I wasn’t sure which direction to go in. When I became president of Kiehl’s in 2006, all of these questions were coming up from customers, especially from men. A lot were the basics: Am I shaving the correct way, are cleansers really necessary, do I need a soap, should I or shouldn’t I use eye cream? It became clear that men were engaging in skincare. They wanted more of it, but were looking for someone to help guide them. From that point I wanted it to be a resource, something that is evergreen that men could pick up and use as frequently as they needed.
Can you fill us in on what’s inside?
The first section is really about all the basics: barber versus stylist, moisturizers, skin types. The second really dives into the archetypes: the outdoors guy, the modern gentleman who wears a suit 9 to 5 during the week. I’m also filling it in with life hacks, because as we know, things can go wrong. The last part is really just a reference. It talks about what should be in your gym bag, what you should have in the shower, etc.
How did you pare it down to five archetypes?
When I would do focus groups for Kiehl’s, men self-identified and put themselves into these categories. It was just a question of naming them. I identify with all of them, because at some point during my week, month, year I change roles—when I’m getting ready to go to an event or a gala I’m definitely a modern gentleman. When I’m racing on my Harley Davidson, I’m the extremist. When I’m upstate at my country house and putting lawn furniture together, I’m definitely the hands-on guy.
How did you land in the beauty and skincare category?
As a teenager I was somebody who really struggled with acne, and trying to find solutions to that was tough, so I became very interested in skincare. Then, the first company I worked for was Chanel. I got to deal with beauty and skincare and fashion and the epitome of luxury. It really began my love affair with beauty.
Growing up, was there someone you looked up to for their grooming style?
At an early age I was constantly looking at stars of yesteryear, and I loved old movies. A young Clark Gable—he looked amazing, even if he just fell off his horse [laughs]. Classic stars from that time always looked great. That stuck with me for a long time. Now I have a range, like Anthony Mackie who wrote the forward in my book—he’s got the skin you dream of. I love George Clooney’s style, I love David Beckham. And I love Ben Stiller. He maximizes all of his looks, from dressing up to dressing down to playing Zoolander.
How did you pick the guys you interviewed?
I tapped people I knew would have an interesting perspective. Teddy Sears is an incredible actor and in my mind he’s a modern gentleman. People like Paul Cox. I’ve seen the way this guy builds motorcycles. Riding, he’s gashed his forehead and sewed it back up again. This is the ultimate do-it-yourself man. Grant Reynolds…he is a daredevil. This guy is fearless—he rides motorcycles, he’s been a Marine, he has his own show What Could Possibly Go Wrong? The title sort of says it all. The list could have gone much longer but I felt like these men really represented those chapters quite well.
We spotted duct tape in the index—have you used that for any life hacks?
Duct tape is kind of amazing. I fortunately have not had to use it on myself for anything broken, but I have had to use it for a friend. I’ve been a motorcyclist for 30 years, and you’ve got to really improvise—you need to have something that will keep things in place, whether it’s a toe or a finger. Kind of accidentally, a long, long time ago, a friend of mine put a piece of duct tape on my leg [laughs]. And I have extremely hairy legs. All I can tell you is it did hurt, and yes, it does remove hair. Don’t do it. Just don’t.
What’s something people will be most surprised to learn from MANMADE?
Men rarely read from cover to cover when it comes to resources. We like to skip around, which is partly why my credenza is crooked [laughs]. And a lot of men think they don’t have time for [skincare and grooming] or don’t need it. The truth is you do need it, and something is better than nothing. We spend so much money on dermatologists and injectables but one of the most inexpensive ways to take care of your skin is to wear sunscreen. If you’re out there baking, you will pay a price later on. We already know that, but we just don’t believe it, and think it’s just one time on top of the roof at Soho House, so it’ll be OK. The big takeaway is you can improve your skin.
How was your experience being an author?
I have to say it was exhilarating and really fun. If you’re on your 17th title or you’ve never done a book before and you’re struggling with your topic, then I think it’s much more challenging. For me, the only challenge was to pull back because I didn’t want to make it too advanced for somebody who was just getting in this game for the first time. And I love helping people. I had a lot of fun, and I’m glad that people are liking it. It makes me feel good. At the end of the day I want to help and do whatever I can.
Are there plans for another book?
I really enjoy the writing process, and I have a lot of things that I want to talk about—I have viewpoints on women’s skincare, fashion, nutrition, and fitness. Stay tuned!
Ed note: The man himself will be signing books today (Tuesday, December 8) from 6 to 8 p.m, at the Kiehl’s Meatpacking store: 400 W. 14th St., at 9th Ave.
(Photos: Reprinted from MANMADE: The Essential Skincare & Grooming Reference For Every Man. Copyright © 2015 by Chris Salgardo. Published by Pam Krauss Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.)