Male Skincare is Clearly a Marketing Gimmick, But Men Still Buy It?

Male Skincare is Clearly a Marketing Gimmick, But Men Still Buy It?

Male skincare products are the new champion in the beauty industry. Emma Fishwick, senior accounts manager at market research firm NPD, says that men’s skincare is growing faster than the women’s category. In the UK, sales for male skincare increased by 14% in the last six months, compared to 6% for female skincare.

Specifically, this sudden shift of behavior is partly sparked by the Covid breakout and lockdowns. “Men are much more aware of their health and wellness and are more open to having professional treatments and using skincare,” says Dr David Jack, a Harley Street cosmetic physician to Vogue. In the time when we wash hands every so often, adopting skincare does seem like a natural adjunct.

Former baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez’s recent collaboration with hims for a new concealer line called “Blur Stick”.

Why male skincare is a marketing gimmick?

The world has developed such that men are growing more conscious and aware of their own appearance. Indeed, many beauty businesses do not miss on this golden opportunity. Anyhow, how are they going to double their base? Obviously, by marketing beauty products as “men-designed” and “women-designed”.

The truth is the real difference between male skincare and the usual women-designated products lies in the fragrance. Male skincare smells woodsy and musky while women’s products have a more flowery scent. Other than that, most skincare is made up of almost identical ingredients.

For example, SK II Facial Treatment Essence contains the following ingredients:

Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate**, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Aqua (Water), Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben, Sorbic Acid

Comparing them to SK II Facial Treatment Essence for Men:

Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Water, Glycereth 25 Pca Isostearate, Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben, Menthoxypropanediol, Sorbic Acid.

The extra ingredient, Glycereth 25 Pca Isostearate, is a mixture of isostearic acid with glycerin. It is essentially only a skin-conditioning agent. Male and female skincare products are essentially the same!

The distance between men and skincare

For the longest time, men are “raised” to perceive that grooming or any form of self-caring is not masculine. Naturally, men turns the other cheek even under situations where they need help with their skin problems. Skincare has always been seen as a feminine routine. 

In an interview with the Finery Report, Fauzan, an Indonesian male says, “To be honest, I never use any skincare. I even use hand and body lotion rarely, once every five months.” Even with acne-prone skin, Fauzan hesitates to seek help because skincare is supposedly reserved only for “women”.

Just a few days ago, a Chinese actor Hu Yetao received a backlash during his live streaming for his collaboration SuNing Mall to advertise skincare and beauty products. The malicious comment says, “(Do something else) and be more masculine!” To which Hu Yetao brilliantly answers, “I earn my own living by working hard on this livestream, this is masculinity!” Yeeess, go off, Yetao Gege!

If it’s only a marketing ploy, why is this work?

Unfortunately, the reason is not simply because men are too naïve that they cannot choose what’s best for them. The “femininity wall” built around wearing skincare and beauty products is exactly why the gimmick works.

By selling beauty products with larger and dark colored containers, businesses paint “male skincare” as if they are different from the usual “feminine” products. Male skincare is just a way to get around the conundrum that is toxic masculinity.

Hopefully, as our society improves day by day, men no longer feel the need to distance themselves from any form of self-caring. This does not only mean taking care of your appearance and skin, but also in terms of other physical and mental health. 

Maybe there will be a time where we care more about sustainable skincare products, like the slow beauty movement. It is surely a more productive discussion than male and female skincare divisions.

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