The Rise of Gender-Neutral Skincare and Beauty
While the skincare and beauty market is ever-growing and dominated by large global companies, innovative brands with inclusive products and messaging are setting a new standard. With consumer tides shifting in favour of products less rigidly defined by gender, this more inclusive culture is more than a passing fad - it's here to stay.
The concept of tailoring beauty products towards a specific gender is relatively new. As far back as ancient Egypt, men wore kohl on their eyes and ochre pigment on their lips and cheeks, which continued up to Elizabethan times.
It wasn't until the advent of marketing that gendering products began. Most notable was in the 1930s when Procter & Gamble sponsored the first soap operas with advertisements for scented soap targeted at housewives. Since then, self-care products have been mainly marketed as either his or hers - think powdery scents and pretty pink razors vs black cologne bottles and heavy disposable razors.
Women's beauty products have traditionally consumed most of the market, with men's ranges rapidly gaining traction. Recent research by consumer insights firm GWI reported men's interest in beauty products rose 3% between 2018 and Q2 2021 versus a 5% decline in interest amongst female consumers.
Global brands like Dior and L'Oréal have responded with men-specific ranges. Designer Tom Ford, known for his immaculate, refined-yet-masculine aesthetic, was one of the first when he launched his male makeup brand in 2014.
This year, actor Rob Lowe launched Profile, a line of men's products ranging from shave gel to a post-shave serum. But do the sexes really need specific formulations? Testosterone gives men's skin a different structure, and higher levels of collagen and elastin mean their skin produces more oil and is thicker than women's. Yet, our skincare needs are the same – cleanse, exfoliate, hydrate.
Gen Z, one of our most curious and fluid generation of consumers, views products across all categories as self-care and expression. Inspiration is found in artists like David Bowie, Duran Duran, Mick Jagger and Grace Jones, who experimented with gender-bending makeup in the 1970s and 80s. Now, a wave of gender-neutral beauty brands is changing the game with a move in the non-binary direction that places inclusivity at the forefront of product development and marketing.
Recently, pop icon and face of gender-neutral fashion, Harry Styles, triggered a phenomenal 393% increase in searches for 'men's makeup' when he launched Pleasing, his line of binary-busting beauty products and nail polishes. The statistics are staggering but not surprising. Recent research from the World Advertising Research Centre (WARC) revealed more than 56% of men now follow a skincare regime, and the #mensskincare hashtag pegged 330,000 posts (as of September 2022).
At About Time We Met, we, too, are driving a critical transition into the gender-neutral space. Our range of cleansers, masks, moisturisers and mists is formulated for end results rather than targeted at any specific gender. We rely on clean, natural ingredients, the most pivotal being Indian sandalwood, which has been linked to beauty and skincare for both sexes for centuries as an all-natural and multi-functional ingredient.
With the lines between him and her blurring and passé stereotypes dropped in favour of celebrating people of all genders, the future of self-care looks bright. Because whether you're male, female, non-binary, transgender, straight, gay, young or old, skincare is good for everyone.