First: A HUUUUUUGE thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. Thank you thank you! You've given me so many ideas about where I can go and what I can do.
exotikittenx: Yeah, I thought I was starting to come off way too negative. X_x I also like to browse in peace, but when someone looks right at me then turns/walks away it can disappoint me. But yeah, I do need to learn to speak up, especially in the stores that probably get a ton of lookie-loos. I'm not inclined to search/hunt down a sales associate (our Barneys has a very small amount of staff, and is not busy/crowded), but I need to change that. It's like you said...I really have to advocate for my manly yet luxe skincare needs! After all, no one is going to voice my concerns for me!
I've heard good things about bluemercury...there's one a very far drive away in a high-end mall that I'll be sure to visit if I go there. From what I read, I like.
When I first started trying out Kiehl's I visited Nordstrom a lot, and had both good and not-so-good experiences. Several different saleswomen were very patient with me, explaining various things (terms like toner, matte, etc.) I do LOVE that they are super close to me. Their return policy is great, but Kiehl's as a brand holds Neiman Marcus to the same policy (return within a month if it doesn't work out, even if used), and NM has better gwps and my favorite SA. I'm wondering if I can ask my NM SA what other brands of skincare she likes and/or would recommend. I mean, she is a brand specialist, but it never hurts to ask.
I've also recently discovered that there are a -lot- of spas in the area that stock skincare/grooming. There is a new Bliss spa (are they good?) with the full Bliss line. The bigger, fancier Nordstrom here has a Nordstrom Spa that has more specialized brands that they have on the beauty floor (i.e., MD/Dennis Gross skincare)! It was a fun little surprise when I discovered that (I was on a deadline and couldn't really browse/shop extensively).
There's probably a ton more (I know there's a HUGE newly remodeled Elizabeth Arden spa too, for example) if I search.
((I'm trying to convince myself to go and see a dermatologist first before diving into a new brand or pricey product though...I've never ever been, but am so sick and tired of acne...))
^ Good idea about visiting spas and dermatologists! I think you will be just fine. :) As long as the SA is not being rude or blatantly ignoring you, it doesn't hurt to ask.
I'm sure people give them mixed signals all the time... I am the type that likes to shop in peace without being bothered, and go for help only if I need it. Usually I am not one to like to make small talk with SAs. And then there are people that like attention as soon as they walk in. So you never know!
Good luck, let us know how you do. If you plan to stock up, the drive to BlueMercury would probably be worth it. Check their website online to see what brands they offer, and give it a try sometime.
I am not sure if the dermatologist I am thinking of going to sells product as well...that will be interesting to see! They probably do, as it's a very large practice.
Ah, I really wish Bluemercury wasn't a two hour drive away! Oh, but I just realized that I -do- have to head down that ways later this year, so I'll put that on my "to see while in town" list! I do like their website's selection, and I've read several positive yelp reviews too.
I am not too fond of Bliss skincare products. Probably because I worked at the W Hotel and was bombarded with samples both from work and whenever I stayed at the hotel. They seem to be more focused on scents and marketing than quality. Their body care products on the otherhand are divine -- especially soaps and lotions. But my friend's boyfriend who is about 45 has been using Bliss skincare for years and swears by it! Definitely wouldn't hurt to try.
I am thankful that, while not in an uber "metro" area, I am in quite a...sophisticated? modern? I don't know what word to use, as it's not "fashion forward"...anyways, it's OK for normal somewhat-scruffy-looking dudes to buy their own grooming supplies! The NM here makes BANK with their Kiehl's.
Every single mid-tier and upper-tier department store (Macy's/Dillard's/Nordstrom/NM/Saks/Barneys) carries a Mens section (though sometimes minuscule) with Lab Series, Jack Black, Art of Shaving, and the like, jumbled together with their mens cologne department. I'm doing my part to encourage a better, broader selection, and to encourage more gender neutral brands to be marketed to the guys!
I wonder what it's like to shop for skincare and grooming items in the UK or Europe...hmm...