BY Victoria Bakos

“I began investing in skincare when I was 21 years old, as I started having breakouts and I thought for sure there must be a way that I can make my skin feel better and protect it for when I get older” says Kirillos Mekhail, 24, a fairly recent adopter of male skin care products.

Skin care has become a personal investment for many people even more so during the course of the pandemic. All around the world, people are told to practice self care as we are navigating through one of the weirdest times in humankind, and skin care is definitely in the top 3 of that self care list. But when did men get more involved in skin care?

For women, this self care practice has been around forever, but for men it has only recently started gaining popularity.

Razors and aftershave have taken a back seat when it comes to men’s favorite grooming products, as many men who shop at Sephora are more concerned with the signs of aging. Anti-aging creams and facial sheet masks have taken the front seat in that department.A man looks at skincare products

Kirillos Mekhail, looking at skin care products. And feeling the texture of a cream on the back of his hand. Photo by Victoria Bakos.

In 2018, a study conducted by Forbes in the U.S., said that men between the ages of 18 and 44 are facial skin care users. In fact, they find it so important that 70 percent of men invest in sunscreen facial creams, as a protection against fine lines and wrinkles.

“When I first started working at Sephora, I put this image in my head that I would be mostly working with women and serving women” Nathalie Mohammad, a former skincare specialist at Sephora, says.

“That was truly a very large misconception that I had, as I did not expect to help as many men as I did in skin care. Most men would walk up to me and show me pictures of products they’ve already researched on their own for their skin type, because they knew what their type was” Mohammad says.

“At Sephora, there were also specific sections for men’s products and they would feel very much at ease browsing or buying, as if they were shopping for a cologne” she says.

Why is a skincare regime important for everyone? Video by Victoria Bakos.

“They would ask for facials and samples, some were very specific in what they were looking for. At first I didn’t think much of it, as I thought to myself I am simply helping out a client, but it soon dawned on me that I was actually helping out a lot of men browse through products, and teach them step by step skin care routines for their type of skin. Let’s just say it was more than just water and whatever soap they had lying around,” Mohammad says.

What is different today in men’s essential grooming products than a decade ago? Men have more variety in products. “Previously, men had limited access to a variety of products as their products were marketed as 2-in-1 shampoos that took care of both body and hair; unlike women, who have different shower products for their hair, body, creams and the list goes on” says skincare specialist Nathalie Mohammad.

Many men have different reasons for investing in skin care as skin care is not only for vanity purposes, but for actual health. Men will do cardio and take care of the heart, but what will they do to take care of their skin?

“I invest in skincare because I do want to stay looking young for as long as I can. I started about five years ago thanks to my sister who is very into skin care routines and beauty products” recent adopter of male skin care products, Kirillos Mekhail says.

“When I first started, she introduced me to a day and a night cream, she told me they both have a different function. I’m happy she guided me, because I had no idea,” he says.

Kirillos Mekhail doing a winter sport activity. Photo by Victoria Bakos.

It is no secret that products for men and women vary. Generally, there are more products on the market for women than for men when it comes to skincare and haircare.

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To name a few, women might have shampoo for their hair, conditioner for their hair, body shampoo, body cream, body exfoliant and more in their bathroom cabinet because each product has a different function. Men’s products usually advertise they are all-in-one: face, body, and hair. Why this limitation compared to women?

“They don’t have a huge variety of products for the moment because it’s a question of cost, but the skincare industry is growing and society is putting pressure on a man’s image even more now because of the large presence of social media,” said UQAM Marketing Professor Zandra Balbinot.

“For men it’s all about the look and the fact that they are powerful when it comes to selling products for them,” Balbinot added. “It’s all about their image, for example you will find a man in the commercial all dressed up in a suit coming from a meeting, to them being athletic and then celebrating with their friends at a bar and it’s a “Garnier” commercial.”

An example of the area in a pharmacy with all men skincare products. Photo by Victoria Bakos.

Branding and Marketing specialist of Montecristo media Elba Beatriz Vidal says she hasn’t noticed an increase in skincare products for men, but there has been an increase in marketing products for them.

“Now we’ll see more products targeting both genders—it is very rare to see skincare products just for men. I think there aren’t enough,” Vidal says. “I also believe that the reason why companies do not produce men’s skincare is because their main focus is on women, and always has been for these topics, when clearly times are now different and more men are realizing the necessity of skincare. They are realizing that skincare is not a luxury but a necessity for both genders.”

Branding and marketing strategies have also changed within the last decade, as men were inclined to believe at the time, with the limited information available to them, that their skin was just another body part—not an organ that needs to be taken care of. According to Forbes, it is said to keep an eye out for this particular market as it will only boost within the next five years.

“My budget is usually around $45 to $100, as my cheapest product is aftershave at $8. I usually invest in a cleanser and serum as well, but usually only every three months,” Mekhail says. Skin care can be expensive which is why it is an investment for most as you need more than shampoo and after shave to have healthy skin.A man rubs a skincare product between his hands

Mekhail rubbing the moisturizer between his hands before applying it. Photo by Victoria Bakos.

Digital Marketing Specialist Elba Beatriz Vidal from Montecristo Media says, “In the last four years I haven’t seen an increase in skincare products for men, but there has been an increase in marketing skincare products to men.

“Now we’ll see more products targeting both genders rather than just men which is why there is still this stigma over men, you have more skincare products for women than just for men—so it is not as common to see skincare products that is not targeting just women, but the interest is there from both genders and the companies, there’s just not enough variety in products yet although it is growing,” says Vidal.

These new options for men have changed the way men approach the beauty industry.

Learn more about your skin type by taking this quiz. Media by Victoria Bakos.

Going to a spa for example, has traditionally been viewed as a feminine activity. However, more men have been going to spas in recent years.A man puts skincare product in his hand

Closer look at applying a facial serum, first thing in the morning. Photo by Victoria Bakos.

“For me, it is important to have a proper skin care routine because you don’t want to have to hide your skin,” Mekhail says. “Especially when there are so many products that are now being advertised on the market that can help for every need or skin concern.”

Main photo by Victoria Bakos.
Published May 27, 2021.