There is no bitch like Patrick Bateman. Before American Psycho was released to cinemas, the only psychopath that people knew in entertainment or popular culture was Hannibal Lecter, but while Hannibal’s brilliance was on display and through another character’s eyes, Patrick showed the cutthroat (almost literally) character as handsome on the outside and despicable on the inside. It’s spawned skincare and a damn musical.
As this isn’t a psychology blog, we’re going to deter away from the ‘inside’ part and talk about the handsome, yuppie outside.
Come on, you gotta appreciate that segway.
The Morning Routine scene is probably the most well known, and the 80s “all excess, all consumerism” banner on full display, as you’ll very much see below, so I thought it would be fun to look at that routine that – and I’m not making this up – many men have emulated over the years. It’s movies, it’s beauty, it’s fun. Bloody fun!
- Ice eye mask. “In the morning, if my face is a little puffy, I’ll put on an ice pack while doing my stomach crunches…“
The good ole ice mask! It’s been around for ages, with ice or even a cold pack helping to wake you up. For the skin it helps with puffiness, swelling and inflammation, restricting the blood vessels and with that reducing blood flow which is why it it’s still being recommended today. While we know the benefits of ‘icing’ on the body, there really hasn’t been any research into if it makes any substantial difference with eye puffiness.
2. Cleanser. “After I remove the ice pack, I use a deep pore cleanser lotion…”
Cleansing lotions are gentle cleansers that don’t foam (thus don’t use harsh ingredients that strip the skin of natural oils) and are usually more hydrating. A popular example of a cleansing lotion are cleansing milks. Can’t complain about this, it’s a good idea.
3. Another cleanser. “In the shower, I use a water-activated gel cleanser.”
Gel cleansers are good for oily skin but also fine for normal skin. When something is “water-activated” it means that beneficial ingredients within the cleanser do their thing once interacting with water, but the thing is cleansers (and most skin care) already have water in them, in fact it’s usually the first ingredient. Does that mean the ingredients are always active? Does it actually do anything? I have no damn idea but I’m leaning on the no.
Cleanse to go into the shower and cleanse again is wiiiiiildly dumb. It’s not double-cleansing, and it’s not needed. If you’re having a shower, it’s best to wait until you’re in the shower with warm water and cleanse then, otherwise you’re wasting product, time, and what would be hugely important to Patrick, stripping the skin of it’s oils and the moisture that brings, leading to very dry skin. Again, it’s a fictional film set in the 80s so we can’t take it too seriously..
4. Body scrub and… a face scrub??. “…Then a honey almond body scrub. And on the face, an exfoliating gel scrub…”
Okay, let’s start with the scrub. Don’t know what it is like most of the other products he talks about but we can assume it’s something very expensive with maybe something good in it. Body scrubs are good for exfoliating dead skin that hasn’t come off and helping any moisturiser absorb. It’s also good after workouts when you’re sweaty but isn’t essential.
So after cleansing twice for no reason other than making your skin tight and dry, the face scrub comes in.
Over-exfoliating is a thing especially when the scrub is granules of something in it to be abrasive to the skin, and while the skin on the body can take a lot of scrubbing, the face can’t. Over-exfoliating on already dry, dehydrated skin can exacerbate any flaking and dryness, and can cut the top layers of skin, and while over-exfoliating hasn’t happened here, the two fucking cleansers have made his skin so fucking dry, it’s Martiniland.
5. Peel-off mask. “Then apply an herb mint facial mask, which I leave on for 10 minutes while I prepare the rest of my routine.”
A mask every day is redundant. A peel-off mask every day is worse and will make things worse.
The selling point of peel-off masks are they are a rinseless way of putting ingredients on the skin then peeling off a binded element- if you can actually peel it off. I’ve already talked about peel-off masks before and I don’t like them. That dehydrated skin now has a perfect way of being ripped off, along with any little hairs and you’ll probably have to wash off parts that have stuck on anyway.. which looks like Patrick would have to do-
Natural oils can also be imbalanced, which at this point in his regime they would already be. Blackheads could come out but the pores would be refilled and clogged again. Sensitive or predisposed skin with eczema, rosacea or tended to with retinol will be irritated.
Of course, I can’t talk about all peel-off masks or even rubber masks like what Dr Jart do but the process and the peeling is just… not great.
I think a peel-off mask was used here for the dramatic look and the character insight as he monologues about his inner self. I mean, in the past twenty years, have you used a peel and not thought about this scene?
6. Aftershave lotion. “I always use an aftershave lotion with little or no alcohol, because alcohol dries your face out and makes you look older.”
FINALLY. SOMETHING. I AGREE WITH. Kinda.
Aftershave lotion specifically usually has a soothing element to it as well as a little bit of alcohol that is good for killing bacteria, especially after something like shaving where a sharp tool has been used and the possibility there are nicks on the skin.
The downside of alcohol is that dries the skin out and if you have dryness or in a dry environment it can make it worse and not replacing the moisture with something hydrating can bring about something called dehydration lines, which are kind of temporary fine lines which can make you look older.
This poor moisturiser has to do so much and yet nothing else is said so all I can say is this is the right time to put moisturiser on in his routine.
8. Eye balm.
Eye creams can be beneficial and a balm helps the area not only stay hydrated but also gives it a bit of a barrier against dry environments, however eye stuff is best for the nighttime as they’re heavier and if you use too much or put it too close to your eye, can actually use the channels on your skin to creep up and into your eye, which is why eye creams tell you not to put creams too close to your eye.
9. Moisturiser. “…final moisturising protective lotion.”
I don’t know if “protective” means SPF lotion like this Nivea one (for MEN), barrier cream or even an ‘anti-pollution’ thing like what Clarins do, but I think it’s safe to assume he means an SPF, which is great.
If you need two moisturisers it means they’re not working hard enough for your skin. One good moisturiser is enough, and for drier, colder times, a salve is good for spot treatment.
If I was transported back to the 80s (very important as the knowledge and products were different) and Patrick Bateman had a nailgun to my head and asked me what I think his skin routine would be, it’d be this:
Based on everything we see in the movie and his age (Did you know Christian Bale was 25 when this was filmed? Holy shit), we can see his skin is flawless, even in NYC winter, staying hydrated with no signs of flakiness, oiliness, sensitivity or redness. His exercise and eating regiment is ritualistic yet healthy, which comes across in his skin. I think we can also assume he has no underlying physical ailments.
- Ice pack.
- Morning shower – cleanser (any type as long as it’s for normal skin) or face scrub (see below), body scrub or cleanser on alternating days (or use scrub after more intense workouts).
- After shower – shave, aftershave lotion, mask (see below), moisturising lotion with SPF (possibly a moisturising cream for winter).
- Leave eye creams for the night.
- Once a week mask. Hydrating cream, clay or, if around, sheet masks. Best results after exfoliated skin.
- Gentle face scrub twice a week, careful not to scrub regularly-shaved areas too vigorously.
- NO SUN TANNING BEDS.