I was in the Kiehl's offices this past winter, when I was drawn to three upcoming products in sporty, red packaging. They were surrounded by carabiners and mountain-climbing rope and I was immediately curious. They turned out to be the new Cross-Terrain Collection, the company's first line of active body care products for guys. True performance products aimed to cover you head-to-toe, they were put through "adventure testing" in extreme conditions—cliff climbing, ocean diving and arctic trekking. The collection consists of an All-In-One Hair & Body Refueling Wash, a UV Skin Protector with SPF 50 and a "Dry Run" Foot Cream.
And while it might provide more function than most men need on a daily basis, this is the epitome of aspirational marketing. Maybe I don't need my sunscreen to withstand cliff-diving, but if I decide to go for it, it's nice to know I'm covered. Kiehl's found their extreme product testers through a partnership with The National Geographic's Young Explorer Program, which funds the next class of promising explorers. They selected three men who have dedicated their lives to traversing the globe with an ecological mission. I caught up with one of the National Geographic Young Explorers, Ben Horton, a 26-year-old photographer who's working on showing the decimation of shark populations throughout the world.
Ben getting in the river to photograph the ecosystem that supports the juvenile bull sharks. (Photo: National Geographic Young Explorer)
In 1988, Kiehl's sponsored the first successful ascent of the Mount Everest's East Face without supplemental oxygen.
I was. I never really had thought of myself as someone that would be asked to work with a skin-care company. My line of work is about roughing it. So I found the partnership to be an interesting connection between taking care of yourself and beating yourself up. This project made me realize that it's possible to be comfortable and clean even while spending a month in the jungle.
Absolutely. For one thing, it takes a while getting used to constantly feeling salty. And going from my home in the Mountains of Colorado to the humid heat of the jungle throws my body into a bit of a loop. Not to mention the bug bites, the cuts and scrapes, the stinky clothes and the burning sun.
If I'm in the jungle, I just hop in a creek, run around in the rain and put up with the constant sweat and stink. In the arctic, I'd take snow baths occasionally. On islands, I'm in the ocean so much that I usually don't feel dirty, just salty.
Every day, I basically cover my whole body in the Refueling Wash, then rinse off however I can. If I have clothes that need cleaning, I just wear them into the creek (or if I'm lucky, the shower). It's refreshing, and having the 'Dry Run' Foot Cream and Face Protector really allows me to stay in the environments longer. The biggest bonus is that I smell better, so the bugs take longer to find me!
Sharks strike a natural fear in people, like any wild predator. And that fear is what fascinates us. TV and movies play off of this fear but I appreciate when the program helps people transition from fearing the animal outright, to having a healthy respect. The more we can change the media's perception of this animal, the more people will see sharks as they really are.