An Open Letter to Men Seeking Skin Care Advice
You don’t need special treatment – and that’s a good thing
Please note that this post is relevant to anyone who feels like they don’t fit the stereotype of who skin care is “for” – not just men. If you’ve ever felt the need to justify yourself for caring about skin, or caring about anything at all really, this is for you.
There’s a movement coming and I can feel it in the air. We seem to be waking up to the idea that self care is vital to our wellbeing and that’s absolutely fantastic. But I think that a large portion of people feel left out of the discussion when it comes to building a skin care routine and learning to look after themselves – men.
So, I’ve decided to write an open letter explaining why all skin care is for everyone and why you don’t need to dramatically set yourself apart from women to enjoy it. Here it is:
I know that skin care has for a long time been very polarising, where women have been the target market and men swept to the wayside. In the past decade or two, products marketed towards men have taken their place on shelves and many of us fell into the trap of believing that men’s skin and womens skin were intrinsically different. You know the drill – women need floral fragrance, pink packaging and many different steps, while men need powerful chemical smells and 2-in-1 menthol-style icy moisturisers made from volcano ash and charcoal.
I personally am of the belief that products should be stripped down to their bare minimum and considered in terms of “does it work” being a main priority, and my relatively ‘unisex’ routine reflects that. The truth is that skin care should be the same for men, women, and everyone. There are no special reasons to be limited in any way when choosing personal care. Yet I often see men, frequently teens, visiting online forums (shoutout to r/skincareaddiction) and being very careful to let their interactions make clear that they are a MAN and need MAN skin care products and advice for MEN.
On the most basic level, female and male skin is practically the same. It all works in the same way. Don’t buy into the idea that you, as a rugged man, need “tougher” products – it’s all marketing. You might be more oily or acne prone thanks to having more androgens, but that doesn’t require anything far outside the realm of ‘female’ skin care. Trust me, I’m biologically female and could run a deep fryer off my forehead in the morning. Focus on working out your skin conditions and skin type, finding products that give you good results and then run with it!
Skin care products – like almost everything in life – don’t have a gender. It’s not inherently feminine to purchase toiletries beyond deodorant and toothpaste. You don’t need that men’s face wash to justify cleansing – most mens products are pretty garbage anyway! Just use plain, unisex-packaged products if the appearance matters to you. They’re probably better because they’re usually fragrance free and less expensive – it’s a win-win!
And lastly, you don’t need an excuse to care about your skin. Though many men do suffer from bad acne, you don’t need it to give a shit about ageing well and healthily. Caring about yourself isn’t girly, and if it is, why is that such a bad thing? Normalise it. Learn that it’s healthy to want to keep yourself healthy.
I’m not discouraging you to look for skin care advice. But don’t start every question with “I’m a man looking for skin care advice…“. It doesn’t matter. You’re just as welcome as any other person here. I want to reassure you that being a man is no obstacle to healthy skin. No need for special treatment, excuses or validation. Better yourself a little bit at a time, no matter who you are. You absolutely can enjoy the same products and interests as people who are different to you, and that’s a good thing. Don’t explain yourself, justify yourself, excuse yourself or define yourself. There’s no need for an invisible, made up line separating all these people who literally have the same skin.
Keep breaking down barriers!