Moisturizing hydratant

Gillette Foamy moisturizing hydratant


Just when you think it's safe to shave your face.

I was shocked to discover the other morning — while perched upon my porcelain throne, minding my own business, doing my own business — that the aerosol can of shaving cream sitting on my bathrooom counter wasn't shaving cream at all, but moisturizing hydratant.

Certainly when I purchased the can at Ralphs I had every intention of buying shaving cream, as I have for at least two score years. (I debated between "two score" and "several decades" and settled on "two score" inasmuch as there are so few occasions to say "two score.")

But sudddenly I was faced with the stark realization that, for who knows how many days, I had been applying not shaving cream, but moisturizing hydratant to my face.

At first glance I had been confused, mistaking hydratant for hydrant, thinking those clever marketeers at Gillette had given the can a new name, playing off the similarity between its shape and that of a fire hydrant. Come to think of it, a fire hydrant is a pretty effective moisturizing hydrant, which is convenient, that being its purpose and all.

Then I noticed that there were two too many letters in the word for it to be hydrant. Hydratant. Hello, what's this? Is hydratant a word? At the risk of sounding immodest, it's a rare occasion when I am in doubt as to whether some combination of letters is a word, or not. I do know a great many words, and I do have a reputation for knowing a great many words. But hydratant? I was flummoxed.

If that's a word, how do you pronounce it? Hydra-tant'? That can't be right. Hy-drat'-ant? Hy-drA'-tant? I settled on a three-syllable rendering, with the emphasis on the middle syllable.

And what the hell does it mean? I went to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary for help. That was no help:

word not found

There is the word hydrate:

hydrate (verb)

Combine that with the suffix -ant, meaning "agent" would suggest that hydratant is an "agent that causes combining with water."

But then, "moisturizing hydratant" is surely redundant!

It's not uncommon for new words to be invented and become part of ordinary language — take "kleenex" or "xerox" for example. Marketeers are rewarded handsomely for coming up with new words, especially if they can be trademarked and protected as intellectual property, but hydratant? That's not the least bit catchy or clever. I can't imagine men ever routinely saying, "I think I'll go put some hydratant on my face and shave."

symbol on Foamy can

As if hydratant isn't bad enough, there is this symbol on the can. Surely this is a mark of Satan if ever I've seen one! A symbol is supposed to communicate meaning quickly, effectively, universally.

Even with the help of the text on the label, I have a hard time seeing how this symbol is supposed to mean container may explode if heated (ce contenant peut exploser s'il est chaufeé).

Personally, I think it communicates more you may perspire greatly if trapped in a triangular room with protruding spikes.

Memo to Gillette Marketing Dept. It's not working for me. Next time it might be better to run changes like this past a panel of consumers first. In fact, if you're interested, I could even give you names of lots of unemployed HP people who'd probably be willing to help.