Men, go Deep to be Actively Clean

'Deep is packaged in black, so it appeals to Men like me — existentialists, Johnny Cash fans and anyone with a secret inner Goth.'

'Deep is packaged in black, so it appeals to Men like me — existentialists, Johnny Cash fans and anyone with a secret inner Goth.'


In the old days (up to five years ago, that is), the Mail & Guardian used to get a fair amount of freebies — gifts, corporate promo stuff, and so on. We received enough of this kind of thing to be able to stage an in-office auction that raised money for our year-end party. Nowadays, we get barely enough promo gifts to buy a half-jack of brandy.

Hence, when Nivea and their PR company sent a gift pack to me recently, I didn’t put it in the office storage space pending the auction.
No, I appropriated the package unto myself, as they say in the Bible. I needed some fancy shower gel, shaving goo and other articles of chemical cosmesis.

I don’t remember now what the occasion was for Nivea’s generosity — Father’s Day? Men’s Day? Bad Uncle Day? — and, of course, I mislaid the paperwork. But I do feel much cleaner after working my way through this product range.

“Product range”, as any sociologist can tell you, is the term for when a company repackages goods with new colours, logos and names, giving this selection of wares a special identity to entice new buyers.

As will be noted by anyone who showers sober, the word “Men” has been added to the “Nivea” logo part. This indicates the product’s gender preference and appeals to those who consider themselves to belong to the category “Men”. And here I thought these products were gender-fluid — except, obviously, for those packaged in pink and pastels.

I realise, too, that I was already part of Nivea Manhood: I was using their Active Clean shower gel, which contains “active charcoal” (as opposed to passive charcoal, presumably). This goo comes in black packaging and the gel itself is an oily black with a slightly industrial, or perhaps panelbeating-workshop, odour. I liked it, and after using it I felt Actively Clean.

The shower gel in the new range, simply called Deep, is by contrast a sickly blue, reminiscent of a time when “lanolin” was a key word for anyone aspiring to nice-smelling cleanliness. I’m not mad about it; it makes me feel more like a little old lady than a big, butch mechanic or panelbeater, however Deep. But I’m gonna use it because I’m all out of Active Clean.

Deep is packaged in black, so it appeals to Men like me — existentialists, Johnny Cash fans and anyone with a secret inner Goth. I’m thrilled to be able to diversify my packaging tastes. Until I got Deep, I was a slave to anything packaged in blue or red, but now I have options.

The Deep “after-shave splash” (I insert the necessary hyphen) is not bad, though perhaps not much more than a rip-off of the classic Acqua di Giò baume après-rasage, as Armani is pleased to call its product (and at least it knows how to hyphenate).

The Deep shaving gel is a pleasingly dark-grey hue when it emerges from the can, and I’m assured that it contains “black charcoal”, which is surely better for the Man face than white charcoal. In my view it could be darker, but it’s a worthy attempt. Thanks, Nivea Men.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and put some charcoal in my hair.

Shaun de Waal

Shaun de Waal

Shaun de Waal has worked at the Mail & Guardian since 1989. He was literary editor from 1991 to 2006 and chief film critic for 15 years. He is now editor-at-large. Recent publications include Exposure: Queer Fiction, 25 Years of the Mail & Guardian and Not the Movie of the Week. Read more from Shaun de Waal

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