Review | Context: Skincare for Human Beings
All skincare is unisex. It is true that men and women are predisposed to having different skin qualities. Men can have larger pores and women can have softer skin. These differences, however, are minute and negligible as I have encountered large-pored broads and peach-faced lads. It is because of this that skincare is inherently gender blind. Context markets themselves as “unisex skincare.” It is such an integral part of their branding that GQ wrote about them having an “interesting demographic.” Riddle me this, GQ– what makes “all of mankind” so interesting?
I tried the Essential Daily Kit ($150) as well as the Micro-Derm Regenerator ($35) for a few days. This tallied up to a cleanser, toner, daily moisturizer, eye cream, night cream, and exfoliator. Here's what I learned.
Less is more
The packaging is photogenically minimal and utilitarian. White tubes and black caps. The packaging was calibrated to the simplicity level of “military surplus granola bar” or “Helvetica.” What could be more gender neutral than black and white? The packaging is so vague, in fact, that if a stranger was to enter your restroom and see them they could infer that you were a communist.
They all seem to not contain any additive fragrance and thus smell like the ingredients. The Intensive Daily Moisturizer had the most pleasant (but serviceable) scent: shea butter and SPF 15. The Vitamin C All Day Eye Cream smelled largely like citric acid. Its proximity to my eyes was both thrilling and distressing. The Daily Facial Cleanser evoked a nonspecific floral scent. It reminded me of Johnson’s Baby Cologne.
Nose feel, continued
The Restorative Night Cream and Micro-Derm Regenerator smelled like rubber gloves and poison.
I’m fairly sure the Micro-Derm Regenerator’s had microbeads amongst the aluminum oxide crystals it uses as an exfoliant. It felt archaic and rare like finding a tube of lead lipstick at an estate auction. (I later found a microbead in my hairline.)
Gentle, to boot
The Daily Facial Cleanser didn’t leave behind a stripped or squeaky feeling on my skin. Top marks!
seeing witch hazel in toners.
I'm talking to my own reflection
Both moisturizers left an oily finish on my skin that reminds me of when my mother would use Pond’s cream before bed. She would have this makeupless sheen like a beautiful courtesan and always looked so ethereal in the incandescent glow of her vanity mirror. I attribute this to why my mother still doesn’t have any wrinkles.
Context’s Essential Daily kit felt like a tickling minimal addition to a bathroom shelf. It’s a thorough addition for someone looking to build out their skincare regime with a single definitive purchase should you ever lose all your belongings at once. While they “forge new ground” (GQ’s words, not mine!) into the realm of “unisex skincare,” I posit that they should brand themselves as “unscented skincare” instead. It’s the only part of themselves that hasn’t quite been distilled down to its simplest form.