Men Don’t Need “male” Beauty Products

In the world of marketing, there is a gender order: products intended for women should be bought and used by women; products that meet the needs of men must be purchased and used by men. The result is a fragmented view of what is considered a socially acceptable cosmetic product. But that’s bullshit.

Or, to put it more politely, especially as our perceptions of gender evolve, it is worth discussing this old assumption of marketing hype. While certain products, such as skin creams, soaps, and topical cleansers, may be gender specific, we tend to be misled into the need for a gender-segregated world of beauty and personal care. This is why you should really just buy and use whatever product you want, whether you belong to its target audience or not.

Men’s and women’s products aren’t really that different.

It is true that some gender products – mainly from the area of ​​car leather – differ slightly in their chemical composition. Yes, men tend to have tougher and hairy skin due to testosterone and more consistent shaving, but aside from subtle differences in formula, men’s and women’s beauty products are predominantly separated by aesthetics.

My razor, for example, is shiny and metallic, with black plastic handles to resemble some kind of workshop tool. My wife has a blue one with white edging. They both have the same number of razor blades and perform the same function, but from an aesthetic point of view, they are clearly opposite.

When it comes to deodorants, the men’s and women’s lines are separated only by the perfume family and packaging, which seems to be based on market research. As explained by the BBC Science Focus , male and female antiperspirants are made up of the same chemicals:

They just have different flavors – and packaging. The chemicals that do the hard work are usually the same. Deodorants target bacteria with antibacterial agents, while antiperspirants reduce sweating with chemicals based on aluminum or zirconium.

The marketing ploy goes far beyond deodorant. As Dr. David Colbert, founder and chief physician of the New York Dermatology Group, told Bustle in 2015 :

The big difference between men’s and women’s products lies solely in how they are sold. The colors and shapes of the bottles attract their attention and, of course, the scent: leather and musk can attract men, and flowers and fruits can attract women. There are a few exceptions, but the ingredients are mostly similar.

As a sweaty person, I can personally attest to this: whenever I ran out of deodorant, I always found my wife’s stick of secret that worked just as effectively as my Old Spice. The only difference? I just smell my wife.

Gender norms are crumbling anyway

As the idea of ​​gender as a social construct gains wider acceptance, you are likely to still find more beauty products that don’t fit the gender world. A 2018 McKinsey poll found that 48 percent of Gen Z (post-millennials) value brands that avoid gender marketing. The erosion of gender norms is already beginning to emerge in the beauty market, and marketers across industries are responding to the changing tide.

Last March, for example, the Washington Post spoke with David Yee, founder of the men’s care publication Very Good Light, about Gen Z’s efforts to redefine typical male and female associations. He said his website aims to “redefine the standards of masculinity and masculine beauty,” while the broader Gen Z cohort, he says, “recognizes that American or Western culture is not everything.”

Given that the survey shows that Gen Z is overwhelmingly supportive of rethinking our existing gender paradigm, you can expect this to be reflected in products that cater less to these legacy representations and are more suited to people who identify as non-binary, have more flexible interpretations. gender or just don’t care, one way or another.

Takeaway: None of the marketing gimmicks that put people in specific groups has ever influenced your beauty routine. Men’s and women’s products basically do the same thing, so the only thing that matters is finding a product that you like, no matter who it is being sold to.


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