Skin care may be all the rage amongst all concerned skin-wearing citizens, but for the most part the lot of it is marketed, bought and used by women. This comes as no surprise — women have always been pressed to make sure they look their best, starting in the face. Men on the other hand generally speaking are (hetero-normatively) encouraged to look neat and groomed without indulging too far into vanity. It seems to be going fine for them since it appears that mainstream dudes are totally cool with using bar soap all over their body, face and hair. If they wish to decorate their faces, they generally grow hair out of it, rather than apply a serum or color to it.
But now with more men in beauty than ever, be it cosmetic or just buying into self-care, the definition of masculinity has stretched to include product indulgence as an evolution of the modern man. I’ve been noticing more and more dudes I know buying non-bar-soap products to handsome-ize their man faces. It is as though they are taking pride in their appearance, pleased with the effects of what a little bit of dedicated effort does for their faces!
As a beauty editor, I’ve converted a handful of men in my life to the ways of the multi-step skin-care regime. And I can’t say I’m not a little bit smugly proud, gazing upon my newly christened skin-care sons, bounding into the world with the fresh-faced self-esteem from an AHA glow-up. And as I’ve discussed with many other beauty editor colleagues of mine with dudes in their lives who have become increasingly overzealous about their complexions — the gateway skin-care product almost 100 percent of the time is by Kiehl’s.
This is unsurprising. Kiehl’s has been a legacy brand forever, and their straight-forward apothecary-like packaging and clinical formulations leave little to be suspicious of. Plus, they offer ace grooming products for face-shavers. Get your man some quality shaving cream, then throw in a nice soothing toner and suddenly he realizes… skin-care products… make the face… better?
Allure‘s digital editor Sarah Kinonen, cohabitates with her partner, saying that he loves Kiehl’s but would never admit it. “Convincing him to add in a moisturizer here, an SPF there, into his non-existent routine was no easy feat. After what felt like years of begging, he finally caved , and now his nightstand is stocked with Kiehl’s creams and serums.”
Hot on this trail, I grilled the rest of the Allure staff as well as friends of mine. Even the mere suggestion of my Kiehl’s theory had my colleagues’ eyes widen, followed by fervent nodding in agreement.
“I bought my little brother a few Kiehl’s products for Christmas several years ago,” Allure contributor Kara Nesvig told me. “He loves grooming and ‘fancy’ clothes and shoes, so I figured it would be a good fit for him. It’s cool and timeless and not threatening, even for a farmboy who moved to the city. He’s obsessed with the Ultimate Man bar, and I still get him one every X-mas.”
Other Allure staffers made mention of how their boyfriends, brothers, and dads were all hooked on at least one Kiehl’s product if they didn’t go whole hog with skin care from there on out.
What is it about Kiehl’s that’s so appealing for the men in our lives? Maybe it’s the refreshing eucalyptus-y scent of the Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion, or how soft their freshly-shorn faces feel with their shaving cream and a slather of the Ultimate Facial Cream (of which I’ve heard Justin Timberlake is a fan, and he has a pretty good face, no?). Perhaps the clinical packaging allows one to indulge in an otherwise socially-unacceptable male cosmetic vanity in a discreet manner because he’s just “grooming,” nbd!
Maybe it’s when a dude goes from only using bar soap to suddenly using targeted skin-care products, the effect is immediately noticeable, and it’s some skin-care virginity-loss moment.
A year ago or so, I gifted a set of the Facial Fuel and some shaving products to a former live-in partner after he had been curious about all the tonics and balms I routinely slather on my face twice a day, somehow spending 25 minutes in the bathroom each morning and evening.
To say that I had created a monster is not technically an overstatement but also it was a very poreless handsome monster, so you know what, you are welcome, ex-boyfriend with the good skin (the perks of dating a beauty editor, I suppose). Soon the surface of his dresser was teeming with essences and serums, toners, moisturizers and colognes. The medicine cabinet also became very crowded. We routinely did face masks together and it was often remarked upon how we were the couple with the best skin of our friends. I don’t know what ex-dude is up to now, but I’m sure he’s loose on the streets of NYC, breaking hearts with the glow-up of a former lover. Don’t say I never taught you anything, buddy!
This ought to go without much saying but I’m not pushing skin care on dudes. Telling people what to do with their faces isn’t cool. Also not everyone is open to suggestion about what to put on their faces, if anything at all. BUT if ever I’m asked for grooming advice from a man, I’ll usually direct his concerns with a push in the direction of “try this product and let me know if you like it.” Any time that product has been a general non-gendered skin-care product, I can see the hackles raising and I just know it’s going to sit on some shelf somewhere, collecting dust. So to skip the tragedy of a good product recommendation, I’ll just say, “Have you tried Kiehl’s?”
What if Dorian Gray had a YouTube beauty channel?
- You Need to Read This Man’s Story About His New Love for Makeup After His Wife Put It on Him
- Makeup for Men Is Having a Moment
- The Men’s Beauty Site Redefining Masculinity: Very Good Light