Man's Relationship With Self-care.. Then and Now

Man's Relationship With Self-care.. Then and Now

Last weekend, we were on a mission to find some new plants to spruce up our space. We got speaking to a lovely guy who owned the store and he began telling us about his experience working with skincare brands overseas as a photographer. Conversation grew, and he eventually asked us what we both did in our spare time, to which we responded, “we recently launched a skincare brand for men.”

When we say this line, it usually sparks one of two reactions. The “wow, good on you” response, or the “wow, I didn’t really think there was a space for that” type response. Although the plant shop owner had the first response, his follow up comment is what has led to us writing this piece.

He said, “Don’t forget about us old blokes, because young guys don’t really need skincare, right?” We proceeded to chat about our desires for the brand, stating that we want to educate men of different age ranges on the importance of adopting a skincare routine before it becomes ‘too far gone,’ per say. We shared our goal of shifting the common thought of “I only need skincare when I need it,” to “I should adopt a skincare routine now for the future me.”

Men and skincare share a relationship that has been rocky at best, but the fact of the matter is, we're seeing more and more men embracing skincare routines. Whilst women have historically been more likely to do this than men, we are noticing first-hand that the tides are changing. 

The Question Remains

It’s one thing for us to say, “Men have always been known for being rough and tough and that’s now changing” like every other brand's interpretation. The real question we need to observe is, “culturally, historically, how and why was skincare never normalised for men before, and what exactly is driving the change in attitude towards the practice?”

The Crux

When it comes to skincare, most brands will tell you that there are two types of people: those who take care of their skin and those who don't… It’s just that simple, right?!

Well, not exactly. Instead, we like to view it as this. (1) A group of people who understand the importance and are more likely to be proactive about protecting their skin from sun damage, buildup, wrinkles, and other signs of ageing. (2) A group of people who don’t prioritise this as a time-worthy health practice. And (3) a group of people who simply haven’t been educated well enough on the importance of maintaining a high-quality skincare routine to ‘get ahead of the curve.’  

To us, saying “men are becoming less tough" is a bit of a cop out. We’ve broken down the key reasons as to why the tides have turned, and will continue to do so as years go by.

Education Is King 

The increase in more targeted, relatable brands, as well as already established brands altering their tone of voice, has ultimately increased the level of appropriate education and information in the space. With more education around the importance of skincare landing in the (digital) laps of men, we're seeing a shift in how men are able to decipher the space.  The men’s skincare space has seen an enormous amount of growth over the past 10 years and this largely comes down to an increase in awareness about the importance of looking after your skin, as well as increased access to targeted products and communication pieces that can help you do so.

We could go on forever with this, but we think it’s best to keep it simple. What’s most obvious here is that, like with anything, the more something is talked about, the more normal, accepted, and ultimately adopted it becomes. 

Societal/Cultural Changes 

It’s true - now more than ever, men feel more comfortable taking care of themselves. You could argue that with this freedom comes more pressure than ever before on men to live up to physical standards, like women have for years. Is it because of the increase in pressure that men are actually doing so? Of course, but it’s not the whole picture.

There’s not one definition of what a ‘modern male’ truly is. As a matter of fact, it’s evolving, and it will continue to evolve. 

We're living in a time where people are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of their health and appearance, and how it affects everything from their careers to their personal lives. Some may disagree, but it’s certainly evident within select industries. The rise of social media has made it easier than ever for men, and women to see what their counterparts look like, making comparison more prevalent than ever before. This has led to a shift in how men think about skincare, which is why today's ‘modern male’ is so much more likely to take care of his skin than previous generations. 

We’re not saying men haven’t always cared about their appearance. What we are saying however, is that historically speaking, they've typically done so in ways that were more closely aligned with traditional gender stereotypes. In other words: men cared about their hair and clothes because the risk in practising a ‘feminine’ habit was present. But nowadays? Men, and society in general, are taking control over their own self-image by making positive steps towards achieving a more well-rounded stance on self-care, and achieving better overall skin health is part of that. 

The Self-Care Movement

Men are just as prone to skin problems as women are. Men, however, have historically been less likely to seek out solutions because of societal norms. It’s well documented that stress levels and anxiety are at greater heights now than ever before, which is why self-care routines and practices are being more readily adopted. 

You know, that old saying .. “look good, feel good.” Yeah, we’re seeing it unfold first-hand. 

It might seem counterintuitive at first—why would taking care of yourself help your mind? But it really does, and science suggests so. Studies show that performing acts of self-care sends safety signals to the brain, which limits production of Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. When you take the time to treat yourself with love and kindness, it will make a difference in how you feel about yourself and how you act toward others, too. 

Men are starting to realise that skincare is an investment in themselves, and self-care as a whole being further normalised is to thank for it.

Our Take

It’s worth noting that whilst there are many people in support of male-skewed skincare brands, there are also those who propose that they aren’t necessary - The stance of “skincare is for everyone and the options available already are perfectly fine to use.” Whilst we understand this perspective, there is still the obvious need for brands to provide men with a relatable, targeted reason to join the fray. 

As mentioned earlier in this piece, we are seeing the comfortability to enter the space increase, but on the other hand, we’ve also seen the hesitance and lack of education that still remains. Whether that is partners asking for ‘a routine for their boyfriend’ because he was too confused to even attempt to purchase products in person, to the aforementioned plant shop owner thinking skincare was only for older guys. There’s a reason why Othr Half is so passionate about providing simplified education. That’s because, through first-hand experience, we know it is still needed.

Is skincare for everyone? Of course it is. Will everyone adopt skincare? Of course not. Whilst educating an audience can be a slow and tedious process, you can’t expect the masses to jump on board. But we understand that this situation is bigger than us, with people in general becoming more aware of what truly matters most - your own health. As a brand, it is our responsibility to ensure people are armed with the right tools and knowledge to achieve the best version of themselves, and ultimately, providing men with high-quality options and relatable information is what’s most important. 

Due to societal shifts, increased education, more tangible evidence, and more tailored options on offer, men are understanding that looking after themselves isn't just about making sure their hair is looking good or that they smell nice—it's about treating yourself well from the inside out. Prioritising your own self-care, and knowing that you’ll be a better version of yourself for it. It means eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, treating others with respect, and (dare I say) taking care of your skin!