You take your supplements, treat your face well, you drink water and eat right. One of your friends asks why you’re doing that - How long have you been on your health kick? What are the vitamins for?
You tell them that you want good skin.
Then your pasty friend’s expression changes.
The thick film of grease on their face highlights new wrinkles, their faces are covered in old pimples that people mistake for cold sores or worse:
“That’s kinda girly, isn’t it?”
We’re all struggling against this view. Yes, all. Evidence shows that more and more of your closed minded friends are taking good care of their skin, they just don’t want you to know it.
Really, look around you. Men have good skin these days. Movie stars, rock stars, even the stars we can’t mention. Most of the men you’ve seen on talk shows were wearing makeup. Why do you think they looked so good in summer while you were thirsty and sweating?
And yet the skincare industry often has to fight stigma about men’s grooming, and so do men.
How did this happen?
This idea that looking good is for girls probably started after WWII, when women joined men in the factories. Cosmetics became an easy way to tell women from men. That’s when lipstick, foundation, rouge and all the otherworldly things in your girlfriend’s cabinet stormed the working class. Men were rough, women were smooth. Skin was no exception.
Now it’s 2017 and men’s skincare has become wildly popular. Like with women’s grooming, it seems to be clever marketing that started it. Male stars endorse anti-acne products and most famous faces are well groomed. Even cosmetic companies have been opening up to men since at least 2012, calling their wares urban camouflage or face fuel.
According to Joseph Grigsby from Estee Lauder’s Lab Series Skincare For Men, the male skincare market has done better than the women’s market lately. At times, men’s products earned double. Like women, men are discerning customers.
That could be the problem, though. Most grooming products are gendered. On one hand, few men want to open up delicate pink packaging and then be seen in a face mask. Don’t the movies show women doing that to relax? On the other hand, women’s products are often more expensive, for no apparent reason.
Men love a bargain too. Getting everything for cheaper is a great reason to join in.
Me, I love pink. It’s a personable colour. My B6 supplements come in a bright pink bottle labelled Women’s Health, which means I might just be a woman. It could also mean that B6 benefits all humans but men buy it less. Who knows these days?
Still, we’ll always have SkinB5’s gender neutral white packaging. Skincare is a lifestyle. Your body wants you to eat right and get plenty of the nutrients you can find in our Acne Control Caplets, or topically with the 5-Minute Skin Purifying Mask. A good body needs to be controlled, cleansed, moisturised and maintained.
The internal body lets you know how healthy it is using your skin. Improve your body and you’ll improve your skin. To take care of your skin is to be good at living. That’s what we go for when we lift weights or work hard.
Men’s grooming, a unique trade
Men’s cosmetics are really trying to make us feel comfortable. Remember those wildly viral Old Spice commercials, where the man you could smell like rides a horse and turns concert tickets into diamonds? Well, that was a rare success.
Even though the amount men spend on grooming increases by 5% every year, we’re fickle customers. It’s hard to sell us handsomeness. Word of mouth isn’t so reliable for men’s grooming because so many men hide their habits. Everyone grooms, everyone’s afraid to be seen grooming. It’s our secret that doesn’t have to be a secret.
We’ve kept up with the trend - half of SkinB5 users are men. Many use SkinB5 to treat acne on both the face and the body. We sell in many countries, which remind us that acne affects all ethnicities.
In any case, that 5% rise shows we men are opening our minds. The skin routine that haters tease you for doing? If market trends keep on this way, there’s a good chance they’ll be doing the same thing in five years - if they’re not already.
You probably never meant to be the cool guy among your friends, but here you are. You’re setting trends.
Why the discomfort?
Every now and then, not often, someone might make fun of our grooming. But we think about it and worry so often. It’s not smart to worry what people think about you, but it’s so natural.
Here’s the thing about fear though. It’s meant to prepare us for something that almost never happens. Messing up at work, bar fights, tiger attacks. Those are things we fear and if we live well, they are all rare. Rational fear has made us think about it and come up with a plan before it happens. Irrational fear insists that an uptight friend will burst into the bathroom while we’re naked except for a purifying mask.
It’s admirable to take care of yourself.
Being around strong people makes some humans squeamish. They’ll tell you to stop exercising, ditch the vegetables, forget about your skin and stop making your body happy. But you’re stronger than that because you take care of yourself.
And wear something pink if it’s your colour. Pink is awesome.
Peter Matthews is a runner, weightlifter, lifestyle journo and radical tea drinker who has lost more than 100 kilos in his lifetime. His favourite vitamin is B6, the one that may give you vivid dreams.