Gear Shed

Ingredient Spotlight: Microcrystalline Wax

Your winter gear and grooming goods have something in common.

These products all use microcrystalline wax—the same thing you put on the bottom of your skis.    

The stuff that makes your snowboard glide is also what gives your lip balm grip—microcrystalline wax. This biodegradable petroleum byproduct is used in board and ski waxes because it’s stickier, more flexible, and slower to melt than paraffin or beeswax. That’s why it’s also used in products for hair and skin, where it locks in active ingredients and seals out the elements. A few of our favorite examples:

Neutrogena Men Razor Defense Face Scrub

A good pre-scrub makes for a closer shave, but it can also weaken your natural defenses against irritation. Neutrogena Men Razor Defense Face Scrub sloughs away blade-dulling debris and lays down protective conditioners. Your razor won’t carve quite as smoothly as a fresh-tuned pair of skis, but your skin will appreciate the endurance boost.

$5.99, neutrogena.com

Bumble and Bumble Sumowax

There’s nothing dignified about cowlicks—or shellacked helmet hair. Bumble and Bumble’s Sumowax puts things in place and keeps them there while remaining nearly undetectable. Don’t let the rock-hard texture fool you: just let the warmth of your fingers (or a quick hair-dryer blast) soften a dime-size dollop, coat fingers, run through hair, and pretend you rolled out of bed looking this good.

$28, bumbleandbumble.com

Jack Black Lip Balm

For epically chapped lips, nothing beats this little blue tube of Jack Black Lip Balm. The vitamin-E-enriched formula infiltrates even the craggiest skin and SPF 25 protects against irritating rays. It comes in a handful of tempting flavors, including Black Tea & Blackberry and Grapefruit & Ginger, though only Shea Butter & Vitamin E and Natural Mint & Shea Butter can be called unobtrusive. A word of caution: don’t lay it on too thick unless you like it glossy.

$7.50, getjackblack.com

Degree Men Clinical+

Heat and moisture will inevitably conquer any antiperspirant, but Degree Men Clinical+ holds its own for longer than most. Apply before bed, when sweat is least likely to interfere with absorption, then spend the day playing hard without stressing about odor or pit stains.

$7.99, target.com

IcyHot Pain Relieving Stick

We love a good ache-soothing muscle rub, right up until our fingers inadvertently apply it to our eyes. IcyHot sidesteps this painful user error with its no-mess Pain Relieving Stick. Menthol gets right to work on sore spots and the nongreasy formula keeps it there—and off your clothes.

$6.99, walgreens.com

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