The whole head shine debate is a weird one for sure. On one hand there is a thriving online community of people who prefer a shiny head, a group who has developed a number of different methods to enhance this effect. On the other hand there is another group (undoubtedly the largest) that actively seeks to reduce head shine. Most people who have had scalp micropigmentation fall into this category.
Why is reducing shine such a big issue? Principally there are two reasons:
- Head shine is associated with bald people, and those with SMP don’t want to be seen as bald
- Head shine makes pigment dots harder to see, compromising the SMP illusion
Following my previous post about how to reduce head shine, plus a great deal of interest from the wider hair loss community, I wanted to explore and debate whether or not matte moisturisers are really worth the premium they attract.
Shine is created when light bounces off objects. This is especially common amongst bald men and men with SMP because the combination of wet shaving the head, a moisturizing routine and a lack of real hair is usually a recipe for glare. Matte moisturizers claim to disrupt bouncing light patterns to make shine less visible.
If you’re waiting for the proper science bit, I’m sorry but you’ll be disappointed. I’m no scientist and it would be wrong of me to claim otherwise. My meagre budget consisted of just enough to buy a selection of products and test them out on myself. No science here, just the experience of a regular guy testing moisturizers that are popular within the SMP community.
For this test I will be comparing five moisturizers including three matte products, and for comparison, two standard moisturizers at completely different ends of the pricing spectrum. The aim is to find out if matte products do as they claim, and also if they do a better job than products not marketed as ‘matte’.
The matte products tested are as follows:
- Amie Morning Dew matte-finish moisturiser (75ml for £3.64)
- Bioderma Sebium Mat (40ml for £9.94)
- Headblade HeadLube (250ml for £12.75)
The non-matte products tested are as follows:
- Clinique M Lotion (100ml for £23.00)
- Basic everyday Nivea lotion (100ml for £2.40)
Prices quoted are the best I could find on Amazon UK today and are quoted in UK GBP, however I have checked and all these products are available in the United States and Canada for similar money. You may also want to see my recent review of Peter Thomas Roth mattifying gel.
This test actually started in May 2014. I used each product for a week, whilst making no other changes to my daily routine. I simply wet shave in the shower using a Gillette Proglide Fusion razor and Nivea shave gel, towel-dry my head and apply moisturizer. Dead simple. At the end of each week I noted my thoughts.
How did the matte products do?
Like I said this is not a scientific study, or even a proper scientific method. This is just one dude trying stuff out, and telling people what he thinks afterwards.
The three matte products were chosen for a number of reasons. I wanted to try a range of products from different price points, because I wanted to find out if more expensive products are worth the money. The Amie and Bioderma moisturizers were chosen because they both claim to be matte but couldn’t be more different from a price point of view, and the HeadBlade product was chosen following a recommendation by Damien at HIS Hair Clinic.
I really like Amie Morning Dew. At first glance it looks like a product for girls (and it probably is), but who the hell cares? Women have bought matte products for decades, so its nothing new. The product is light and goes on easy, has a nice gentle fragrance and leaves no sticky residue. I expected big things from Bioderma Sebium Mat, especially given that per ml it is five times the price of the Amie product. To be honest its a decent product and feels exceptionally light, but I couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed. HeadLube from HeadBlade is also a great product, but its chunky packaging and large size makes you want to chuck way more on your scalp than you actually need, so this product needs to be used sparingly.
What about the all-important matte action?
As much as I like the product as a regular moisturizer, the matte effect of Amie Morning Dew is frankly, crap. After just half an hour I noticed the return of my shiny bonce, and this was no one-off. For the entire week I noticed the same problem. As a moisturizer, great. As a matte product, forget it.
Bioderma Sebium Mat was a lot better in this regard. Lasting at least 3 hours before the shine returned, I was much more satisfied during the trial week and found I had to think about my head a lot less. Its a lot more expensive than Amie Morning Dew but if you’re concerned about shine, the price premium may be worth paying.
HeadLube Matte is a great product. It does exactly what it should with a noticeable reduction in head shine for around 6 hours after application, and costs only slightly more than Amie Morning Dew. Of these three, this is the product I would choose.
So how did the non-matte products compare?
This is the really interesting part. How does a product marketed as ‘matte’ compare against a product that is not? To ensure a fair comparison I tested two products at opposite ends of the pricing spectrum including Clinique M Lotion, one of the most expensive moisturizers for men, and regular Nivea lotion, one of the cheapest available.
Unsurprisingly, Clinique M Lotion was an absolute pleasure to use. It is light, has a great texture and makes your skin feel fantastic. It is every inch a premium product but at £23.00 for 100ml, it should be. Despite the fact that this is not a matte product, I noticed a big reduction in scalp shine for at least 5 hours after application, sometimes for much longer.
Believe it or not, I really enjoyed using the Nivea lotion too. Although it is undeniably cheap, this does make you feel less guilty about slapping it on enthusiastically which probably meant I used more of it than I needed, but for this price why not? The matte effect was reasonable at around 4 hours duration, which is impressive for a non-matte product at this price point.
Are ‘matte’ products really more matte?
From my experience, no. Some products were undoubtedly better than others, but this bore no resemblance to which category they were from. I can honestly say that whether or not a product was marketed specifically as a matte moisturizer had no bearing on either my enjoyment of it, or the matte effect I experienced.
What should you buy?
Of course everyone is different in this regard regardless of whether or not they’ve had scalp micropigmentation, in particular when it comes to attitudes towards spending a lot of money on mens cosmetics. For this reason I would make three recommendations as follows:
If money is no object, buy Clinique M Lotion. It really is a fantastic product and although expensive, it performs like it’s expensive so you never feel short changed. I promise you’ll be hooked pretty quick and although I won’t buy it again as I don’t want to spend that sort of money on a moisturizer, I will thoroughly enjoy using the rest of the tube.
If you’re looking for a decent product but like me you don’t want to spend too much, I would buy HeadLube Matte by Headblade. In my opinion this is the product that offers the best overall value in terms of performance versus cost. It is a pleasure to use, does the job well and I love its no-nonsense packaging. Buy it, you won’t regret it.
For those on a tight budget, I would not hesitate to recommend bog-standard Nivea lotion. Its cheap and cheerful and performs well for a low cost product. The skeptics among us may say that all moisturizers should be this cheap and that the rest is just fluffy marketing, but that is a subject for another post, and another day. 🙂