It’s OK to moisturize: Guys seek to rethink skin care

Junior+Blake+Dunkley+applies+a+cream+to+his+face.+Many+male+students+utilize+skin+care+routines%2C+but+they+find+that+products+are+not+marketed+well+toward+a+male+audience.

Matthew McGehee

Junior Blake Dunkley applies a cream to his face. Many male students utilize skin care routines, but they find that products are not marketed well toward a male audience.

Krishita Dutta, Arts Co-Editor

Through face-mask selfies at sleepovers and Glossier pink billboards that feature girls dripping serum under their eyes, the skin care phenomenon is a part of people’s daily lives. Such skin care products are largely oriented toward girls and women, but increasingly, boys and men are targets for a skin care routine, too.

Male students at U-High engage in facial skin care, yet feel limited to keep their routines at a more hygienic rather than aesthetic level. According to students, this is fueled by a lack of talk about men’s skin care and the presence of feminine connotations of more extravagant facial routines.

Students say they engage with a variety of skin care products and brands to help them feel clean and provide them with a satisfying routine to end their day. According to senior Jasper Billingsley, having a skin care routine helps him to feel more confident. 

“I would say confidence and hygiene go hand in hand for me,” Jasper said. “If I practice healthy habits, that makes me more confident.”                                                                                                                                                                                          

Similarly, junior Charlie Benton uses skin care as a way to feel cleaner and more confident.

“I do skin care because it makes me feel good, and when I feel good I feel a lot more confident. I think there is no difference between washing your face and putting on moisturizer, and washing your hair and taking a shower,” Charlie said. “I feel cleaner and better, but mostly it’s just for hygienic purposes.”

However, skin care for men in the public discussion — especially in the media and skin care advertisements — isn’t treated the same as skin care for girls at all. According to Charlie, men’s skin care is not talked about enough — and when it is, it’s not done right.

“I think there is a problem with these products that are advertised as so manly, like musky and charcoal and such terms, but in reality destroy your skin,” Charlie said. “I feel like the industry making men’s skin care products so stereotypically masculine isn’t helping. It’s not helping the stereotypes surrounding skin care, and it’s not helping your skin either.”

Senior Will Trone has had a similar experience being disappointed with how men’s products are portrayed in the skin care industry. 

“I would definitely say that the only skin care ads I do see on TikTok or Snapchat are women showing off their skin care, and it’s definitely geared and advertised towards women. I feel like I never see gender-neutral or men’s skin care advertised,” he said. “I obviously think that that’s dumb, because there’s no gender on skin care.”

According to students, this gender divide within the world of skin care has pushed men’s skin care to remain at being purely hygienic and avoid any aesthetic connotations. According to Jasper, it has also limited mens’  knowledge of skin care. 

In middle school, when I’d go to the store I would never go into an entire section of women’s beauty products, but that’s where all the skin care would be. So I just never knew about any of it.”

— Jasper Billingsley

“The products are geared toward women, which is really stupid because I also want to have nice skin,” Jasper said. “But in middle school, when I’d go to the store I would never go into an entire section of women’s beauty products, but that’s where all the skin care would be. So I just never knew about any of it.”

According to a study conducted by ACUPOLL Precision Research and Tiége Hanley, only 59% of young men believe that men need to look after their skin. Further, this limited knowledge leads to men resorting to alternate options that aren’t as beneficial or effective. For example, 80% of men surveyed simply used women’s skin care, alongside 45% who simply used bar soap.

Because of this, Charlie believes that skin care should not be seen fit for only a certain gender.

“I really don’t think gender should be associated with skin care at all unless it’s specific things like beard oil or beard care,” Charlie said. “Overall, I don’t think it’s talked about enough, and when it is talked about, it’s not talked about the right way.” 

Will believes that the way skin care is discussed among men steers it away from being about anything more than hygiene. 

“I don’t know if I’d say it’s stigmatized, but it’s definitely not talked about as much with guys because it’s seen as feminine,” Will said. I don’t think any of my guy friends ever talk about skin care, at least as much as I might hear girls talk about it as something to do for fun, so I’ve never seen it as anything other than just keeping myself clean.”