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IF THERE is one thing Chris Salgardo knows, it’s good skincare. How could he not, when he was president of Kiehl’s for 18 years and under his tenure grew the brand into one of the best-selling grooming brands in history. Chances are, you’ve seen and probably used products he was responsible for bringing to your bathroom (or gym or hotel room). He learned so much about what men want and need to groom with that he literally wrote the book on it. And now, nearly three years after leaving Kiehl’s, he’s once again coming to a medicine cabinet near you. This time as a brand founder.
Enter Atwater, a new men’s skincare brand developed from start to finish by Salgardo himself. Named after his father’s hometown of Atwater, CA, the line comprises eight straightforward products at launch (available at Nordstrom and Atwaterskin.com). Salgardo brought his keen knowledge of skincare and formulation, not to mention his strong opinions, to every single tube and bar in the collection. The tight edit features two moisturizers based on skin type, an eye cream, a face scrub, a shaving cream and three cleansing bars.
Read more: Best Grooming Products for Men
Above all else, Salgardo set out to make Atwater simple. You won’t see extraneous products that you don’t know how to use. Salgardo drew on his years at Kiehl’s, not just developing products, but talking and listening to men about what they actually want to use. “Men always said, I want healthy skin, I just want to look better,” he remembers. “Most importantly, it needs to be a routine you’re going to stick with. That’s why I kept it simple with only the steps that are going to give you the best skin you can get.”
The second pillar of Atwater is clean formulations that are not going to wreck your skin. “It’s 2022—you should not be putting alcohol on your face. You should not be putting fragrance on our face,” proclaims Salgardo. Even though they don’t contain harsh ingredients, the products are still packed with active ingredients like niacinamide, salicylic acid, and botanical extracts and oils, all of which focus on brightening the skin and revealing a healthy complexion. “Whether you have dark or light skin or if you have wrinkles or fine lines, brightening ingredients will always serve you best and have the most honest claims,” he says.
But what really stands out among the products is the textures, which Salgardo took great pains to get perfect (we’re talking three years of development). From both his personal experience and years of customer conversations, he understood that you, me, and all men really, really care about texture. “Men don’t want to feel moisturizer on their skin,” declares Salgardo. And he’s right, of course. That’s why Skin Armor, his hero moisturizer for all skin types, sinks into your skin quickly and effortlessly without any sort of greasy feel (and for the record, so does Oil Regulator, the version for oily skin, and a forthcoming formula for extra dry skin).
What sets Atwater apart is the unfussy yet straightforward approach to skincare. You won’t see any brotastic marketing, hard-to-back-up claims, or crazy ingredients in the Atwater wheelhouse. “I didn’t need to climb some mountaintop to find some flower that only blooms on every second day of every fourth year,” he says. “I just wanted to make the formulas better and power up what I knew really worked. And that’s what I did.”
And while the product he may be most personally obsessed with is the Eye Armor Eye Moisturizer (“I am an eye cream fanatic,” he admits), his biggest skincare advice is way more simple. “You have to moisturize,” he says. “Not enough men do it. Think about your car. If you left your car outside and never took care of it, never polished it, and never cleaned it, it would dry, crack and fade. That’s what happens to your face. You might not care now, but one day you will.” Thankfully, with Atwater, avoiding that fate has never been easier.
Read more: Best Skincare Routine for Men
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