Let it be put on the record that I am a metrosexual man – and proud of it. I know, this no longer has the shock value that it once did. In fact, it barely has any meaning left whatsoever. Many men under the age of 40 have come to terms with, if not embraced, the concept of men using skin care products. And those who haven’t either feel they do not need it or are still neanderthalic enough to think that such products are for women or gay men only.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the word metrosexual. I feel that it is unnecessary to have a word to classify men who take care of themselves, but the fact that a word was coined to describe those of us who use beauty products, and that it carried relatively negative connotations for such a long time, points to an underlying problem: men don’t understand what it means to take care of their skin.
In both the corporate and dating worlds, appearance is crucial. It may not be the only influential factor, but it certainly holds a great deal of sway, and anyone who thinks I am being overly shallow clearly doesn’t work in a corporate environment, or has been married for too long and forgotten the true horror that is dating. Many people I meet comment on the condition of my skin and the question that I get asked most often is what products I use. From my experience, if the question is asked by a straight man, my answer usually evokes the response, “what’s that?”.
I’ve realised that not only do men not know why they should be using basic skin care products, but they also don’t know where to start. This is probably due to the fact that it was not socially acceptable for men to do such things in the past. I also feel that the male perspective on beauty (or grooming) has been overlooked for a very long time, and there is now a disconnect between products and their target markets. This is why the Beauty Bloggess has recognised the need to have a male blogger talking about male products.
Here are some of the biggest problems I’ve noticed when it comes to the positioning of male products, particularly face washes and moisturisers. Firstly, the companies that formulate such products for men don’t seem to understand that advertising them in the same way you would a women’s product is not going to work. Showing Patrick Dempsey’s smiling face, as pretty as it is, is not going to inspire many men to buy a product with the hope that they can look like him. If anything, it is going to depress them further. Showing how important a good skin care routine is in order to have good skin, on the other hand, would work wonders.
Similarly, don’t make the products more complicated than they actually are. Telling me that a cream contains extracts of Amazonian fly-catching plant with undercurrents of stomach enzyme is not impressive, it’s gross. Telling me that this cream will remove the black rings under my eyes that plague me every day will interest me. I firmly believe that if men knew what the different products actually did and what they should be using, that more would be willing using them.
Secondly, women are very quick to tell men to try their products, moisturisers in particular, so that they can feel how great it is. An act done with good intentions, sure, but often with disastrous results. There are three key areas that, in my experience, matter to men when it comes to products: simplicity, smell, and feel. Not many men want to smell of fields of lavender or of bottled baby kisses. Surprising, I know, but that’s just how it is.
I have also found that many female moisturisers are heavier and leave my skin feeling clogged and oily, whereas moisturisers formulated specifically for men are lighter and get absorbed immediately. I always wondered if this was my imagination, but it turns out that men and women have vastly different skin types. What this means is that men and women should not be using the same products at all, and it makes it all the more important for men to find good male products. And luckily, that’s what I’m here for.
Note from The Beauty Bloggess: The writer of this blog post has been a close friend of mine for many years. Through my work in the cosmetic industry, I often come across male products that, for obvious reason, I have been unable to use myself. His love of luxury and appreciation for a good formulation has meant that when I need a guy’s opinion on a product, he is the one I go to. He is extremely vocal in his opinions on what he likes and doesn’t like and for this reason I’ve asked him to be my male product reviewer. You can follow him on Twitter at @warren_brill