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Grooming Wisdom from C.O. BIGELOW CEO Ian Ginsberg

It’s good to be the head of the oldest apothecary in America. C.O. BIGELOW CEO Ian Ginsberg was raised (literally) in the company’s original Greenwich Village storefront. Despite being surrounded by tinctures, salves, and compounds, he wasn’t originally keen on joining the family business. However, his parents convinced him to get his pharmacy license and, after graduating from school in 1985, Ginsberg returned to Bigelow. We caught up with him to ask him what he did and didn’t learn from his grandfather, the European roots of the non-commissioned assisted cell, and what it means to run a pharmacy that’s so old it used to sell leeches and opium.

The Inspiration

“I looked to Europe. I started by studying them. We had the aesthetic, but not the experience. In France, skincare is bought from a person in a white coat. You ask them questions and they provide solutions. At C.O. BIGELOW, if you want medicine, you ask for it. It’s the non-commissioned assisted sell—genuine, honest, and trustworthy.”

A Guy’s Routine

“Guys do nothing, and they need to do something. Not nothing. The bare bones is cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize. And next step is something for your eyes. Did my grandfather exfoliate? No. Most guys never exfoliate. And if they do use a moisturizer then it’s just on top of dead skin cells.”

Have You Been on Vacation?

“I probably have 1,000 products in every nook and cranny of my bathroom. It’s a lab in there. I tell most guys, let me give you a few products. Do this everyday for a week, and I promise someone will ask you what you do. Someone will ask you if you’ve been on vacation.”

Tricking Guys into Moisturizing

“Guys ask me, ‘What’s an aftershave balm?’ And I say an aftershave balm is a moisturizer for guys who don’t think moisturizing is cool.”

The Popularity of Beards

“I’m not a big shaver. These days everyone wants a scruffy beard. The ones who don’t are the ones who can’t because of their job, or because they can’t. Everybody wants the three day stubble look.”

Heritage and Tradtion

“Our shave cream is based on a process that has been around for 40 years. Some things change. Some remain the same. We used to sell leeches. I have old opium bottles. All that stuff. I’ve got Mark Twain’s charge account. We have his ledger. He paid his bills on time.”

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