Beauty panel

Axe Skin Contact

Smoothing shower scrub and hydrating shower gel $4.79, available at drugstores

The tester: Ron Pascuzzi, 40, sales executive from Raleigh

The marketing: Both products ask me if I "want skin she can't wait to get her hands on!" The shower scrub claims it contains cactus milk that exfoliates your skin, leaving it smooth and energized so she'll keep coming back. (What is cactus milk?) The shower gel states it has aloe vera that moisturizes your skin, leaving it soft and feeling strong, irresistible to touch. Cool, right? In a nutshell, use this stuff and you will be fighting off the girls!

The test: I gave both products a couple of weeks in the shower. The scrub has a pumice texture so it feels like it is cleaning you. If you have ever used industrial cleaners with that texture, you know that they are great for removing grime and grease but very difficult to rinse. This seemed to be just the opposite, easy to rinse, not so good at the grime. Given the pumice quality, I had to test the cleaning power. I occasionally compete in triathlons, where they mark your race number on your arms and legs in permanent ink, and your age on your calf. Cleaning permanent ink off is not easy; you have to let it wear off for a couple of days. I thought maybe this was just the product I needed. It ended up working no better than bar soap and time. Had it passed this test, I would be a loyal consumer.

The gel is smooth, like a lotion, so it does feel like you are being moisturized; however, it does not feel like it cleans. I also tried it in combination with the scrub. I felt clean and moisturized, but who has room in their shower for all this? While the products say nothing about the scent, as soon as I saw them, I assumed that I would smell like a breath mint. I was pleasantly surprised. They left a clean, neutral smell. But it took about three to four handfuls to wash my body. The products also lengthened my shower time considerably (not good for drought-stricken Raleigh).

Final thoughts: These products are all about marketing and little about substance. For me, I'll stick to soap. Hey, Unilever, where are those girls I am supposed to be fighting off?