Let’s face it. It’s time we should be able to talk about things we weren't able to talk about. And I don’t mean emotions, though also that. I’m talking about how you respect the largest organ you have: your skin and its grooming.
We’re good at talking about gadgets and food, money and sports, business and even relationships. But when was the last time you overheard a man remark how great his skin felt after using a new eye serum. When was the last time you exchanged skincare tips with a friend?
We know men have different skin characteristics than women - our skin is thicker, oilier, has more pores, and sweats more. With advanced scientific developments becoming widely available, more and more men are joining (and enjoying) the benefits of the skincare market. It’s about time we stop being shy and dare to ask questions about, improve upon, and celebrate our own self care.
The road to an open dialogue about grooming is already here, paved in pomade. Man’s obsession with his hair has been around for decades and is completely legitimate. From Rudolph Valentino to James Dean, men throughout history have made it acceptable to care about hair. So why did we not develop the skills to talk about our skin? Men’s grooming is a billion dollar market and that number is growing rapidly, which means men are buying skin care products. So, why aren’t we able to talk about it?
Perhaps it’s due in part to the way men’s grooming is represented in Hollywood and by popular media which sometimes ridicules or feminizes the relationship between man and his looks. Movie scenes have had several great hair moments, but not even one serious skincare moment, not including Patrick Bateman’s OCD morning routine and Mrs. Doubtfire’s makeover.
A deeper exploration leads us to the complex mind of the contemporary man, who is known to keep his feelings to himself often finds himself confused by gender norms and changing societal expectations. Rather than excite in the possibilities of what being a man in this era could look like, admitting our vulnerabilities, and striving to improve, men think they need to adhere to outdated expectations of masculinity.
The concept of men using essential oils, moisturizing their skin, and wearing cologne, comes from 10,000 years of historical context. Men’s grooming dates back to Egyptian and Roman times, and includes the Renaissance and Baroque periods, Elizabethan England, 18th-Century France and 19th century Victorian era.
The road to an open dialogue about grooming is already here, paved in pomade.
It is part of our history as humans and there’s simply no reason why we shouldn’t be able to discuss cleansing our faces at the end of a long day, nourishing it with serums, and simply enjoy taking care of ourselves. Lest we forget, self care today is not only about well-packaged grooming products. It’s also about eating well, spending time with friends, finding work-life balance, and slowing down. “Living well is the best revenge” said writer Calvin Tomkins and now is the time for men to let well-being take center-stage without fear of judgement.
Cover Illustration by Aviel Basil