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Frontline

Unnecessary Hypermasculinity in Necessary Actions

This month on pointlessly gendered products: skincare

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 Skin is the largest organ of the human body, averaging twenty-one square feet per adult person. Skin types vary from fine, dry, oily, combination, sensitive, and mature. While different and diverse, all skin has a simple commonality; it must be cleaned.

  The majority of people today desire to achieve perfectly clear skin. People post skincare threads across social media platforms to help others develop their own routines to discover what works for their skin.

  There’s only one problem with the positivity surrounding skincare. Why do skincare companies rarely attempt to appeal to men, and is society still acting like men don’t wash their faces?

  From a young age, most girls are exposed to the idea of femininity, a concept that goes hand-in-hand with the timeless rhyme, “sugar, spice, and everything nice.” Companies catch the eyes of young girls with soaps, lotions, oils, and all kinds of makeup in the color pink (a “girly” color) with the goal of convincing them that it will enhance their beauty or physical appearance.

  In contrast, young boys are usually seen as dirty, a trait that compliments hard work, masculinity, and toughness. So what kind of soap are the men using?

  Since skin care is feminized, and being feminine as a man is seen as gay, soft, or weak, facial soaps and lotions must be marketed directly at men in order for them to make a purchase. Facial soaps used by women are never labeled at us, and the feminization of the soap comes from the attempted outcomes like glowiness or softness, not the packaging.

  That brings me to loosen a secret about soap; mens-labeled facial soaps and feminine-esque soaps work exactly the same and will usually produce the same results. The real difference is the packaging and the message on the bottles.

  Mens-labeled soaps will typically boast a manly scent and softened skin, two attributes used for attracting women. Feminine-esque soaps prove real results for softened, cleaned, and eventually (with consistent use) clear skin.

  Two details worth mentioning are the minor differences between men and women’s skin. Mens skin is about 25% thicker/tougher and grows facial hair. But would this subtle inconsistency change the way a soap works? No, it really doesn’t.

  I have a message for men and boys who are hesitant to buy facial soaps that aren’t marketed directly at them: buy skincare products that work for your skin, not ones that match your identity. Whether it’s pink grapefruit scrub, rose-scented witch hazel, or cocoa butter moisturizer, I promise you that when people call you gay or weak for washing your face, they’ll be stunned by the fact your skin is much better than theirs. What’s more important, your health or your ego?

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Unnecessary Hypermasculinity in Necessary Actions