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- Advertisers and marketers want you to think that there are differences in skin-care products for men and women. In reality, there are none.
- In fact, you shouldn’t choose skin-care products based on gender. You should be looking for products that suit your specific skin type and concerns instead.
- There are a ton of gender-neutral products out there that are efficacious and beautifully packaged. There’s also the added bonus that they can help reduce the number of products constantly tipping over in your bathroom cabinet because you and your partner can use the same things if your skin types and concerns are similar.
Despite what a skin-care product label says or looks like, or where the product sits in the drugstore aisle, there’s no real reason they need to be in outdated binary categories for “men” and “women.” It’s just a marketing tactic to create more products and charge different prices (no thanks, pink tax), and you are too smart to be fooled by that.
In reality, skin-care products can largely be used by either gender for the simple reason that skin is skin.
“Men may have oilier skin, in general, but there is no medical reason that a product for oily male skin can’t be used by a woman with oily skin – and vice versa,” says Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Curology.
Instead of choosing a skin-care product or regimen based on your gender, choose one based on the type of skin you have like normal, combination, oily, sensitive, or acneic, as well as products based on issues or concerns, like cleansers that remove waterproof makeup or serums that brighten dull skin. “What counts is what your unique skin needs and tolerates, and that is gender-blind,” says. Dr. Lortscher.
Here are seven gender-agnostic skin-care lines that anyone with skin can use.
The first thing that catches your eye about Aussie brand Asarai is the bright yellow packaging. It’s definitely a slick trick but the color also aims to make you feel happy about the products, which are efficacious and easy to use, and the brand, which donates 1% of sales to the 1% For The Planet organization.
Most of the products don’t include water, which can dilute formulas. Instead, they’re created with Aussie botanicals like Kakadu Plum (the most potent plant-based form of vitamin C) which helps smooth and brighten skin, red and white clays to detoxify and fight inflammation respectively, rainforest lime fruit extract for a burst of antioxidants, and tons of oils to hydrate and protect from free radicals.
This line of happy-hued products is also well-curated, so your bathroom won’t be drowning in products. There are only six products on e-commerce, not counting the little clamp that helps squeeze every last bit of product out from the mask (an Instagram-friendly favorite for $29) and cleanser ($30).
One of the OGs of gender-neutral skin care, this Australian brand has been low-key creating cult-favorite products since the late ’80s. People are hardly shown in ads or on social media and products are shown front and center – which should always be the case when the packaging and formulas are amazing enough to hold their own.
The amber glass bottles and white-and-cream labels resemble something you’d find in an old time-y apothecary as if the chemist is creating custom tinctures, while the formulas themselves are mostly plant-based but always efficacious and based on skin’s needs, not gender.
Albeit limited, products for combination skin called In Two Minds launched in early 2018 after three years of R&D. And standout products that just about everyone seems to love are the Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Treatment ($59), an oil that nourishes and protects skin from harmful free radicals, and B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel ($120), a lightweight gel moisturizer that includes aloe (it’s listed as the first ingredient, which makes up a large part of the formula as ingredients are listed in order of dominance), witch hazel, parsley seed oil, and more to hydrate.
With only three products in this K-beauty collection, Panacea is the modern minimalist’s dream lineup. Its site and Instagram (which oddly hasn’t been updated since mid-2018) prominently shows men and women using the products, all of which are also made without parabens and sulfates. The creamy Daily Facial Cleanser ($24) washes makeup, dirt, and oil, and cleverly also includes hyaluronic acid to hydrate and prep skin for the Daily Facial Moisturizer ($36), which has a lightweight, almost gel-like texture that sinks in really fast. Men have thicker skin in general, so they might need a few layers to fully hydrate.
As with all good skin-care regimens, sunscreen is super important and Panacea comes through with a lightweight, non-greasy SPF 25 formula ($32). It’s a chemical formula, though, with ingredients like avobenzone and octinoxate, so if you’re looking for a mineral pick, this might not be the best sunscreen for you.
Acne is gender-agnostic; it’s going to happen to everyone. And it doesn’t just mean pimples either. Acne can come with a whole host of issues like dark spots, flaky patches of dry skin, and even inflammation.
Curology aims to help clear acne and all the other subsequent issues with a monthly subscription to a customized acne-fighting “superbottle.” You fill out an online form with your skin type, issues or concerns, and medical history, and the brand will mix up a custom formula. You can choose to get only the superbottle each month ($19.95/month), or grab the new cleanser and moisturizer for a full routine (2 month supply of 3-step Curology set for $59.90). They’re not customizable but are vegan and cruelty-free, and won’t clog pores. The three-step formula is meant to be used together to help clear skin, fight fine lines, and whatever else you’ve indicated in the sign-up poll.
Non Gender Specific
Indie skin-care brand Non Gender Specific sold 5,000 bottles of its Everything Serum ($65) within 48 hours when it launched in spring 2018 – and for good reason. The serum contains 17 all-natural ingredients to fight seven skin concerns anyone might experience including free radical damage, wrinkles, dull skin, and uneven texture. It’s a little thicker than most serums so I’ll rub a few drops between my fingertips and pat it on my face for faster absorption. The orange color was initially surprising but thankfully doesn’t make you look like an Oompa Loompa, though you might be tempted to sing the song as you go through your routine.
“I’ve always had a very ‘neutral’ view of the world and I’m passionate about gender equality, but it wasn’t until I was running a men’s skin-care brand that I realized how segregated the industry was,” founder Andrew Glass tells Business Insider. “At the time, I was working for a really innovative men’s brand that had amazing product, but because we were just for men, retailers wouldn’t give us a chance. Those frustrations grew into an idea to develop a brand with absolutely no gender boundaries.That is how we became known as ‘the brand for all humans.'”
Ironically enough, photographer Peter Schafrick started developing products for men (mainly to address his own personal skin concerns) but decided to make them gender-neutral once female friends and family members started requesting them. “Together with my chemist, I tweaked the formulations slightly to ensure all our products were able to address all sorts of skin issues and types of skin in order to reinforce the simplicity and appeal of the brand for women who we felt could benefit from using fewer products and men who are notorious for wanting to keep things simple,” says Schafrick, who brought the brand stateside in early February after launching successfully in Canada.
But don’t think that creating products with a chemist means the formulas are packed with nasty ingredients. In fact, the 10-piece lineup is entirely vegan and free of fragrances, parabens, gluten, and animal cruelty.
While the formulas are all potent and efficacious on men and women alike, the packaging needs to be called out as well. Schafrick thoughtfully packaged the moisturizer ($45), serum ($65), night cream ($60), and shave cream ($20) in airless pump bottles to preserve the integrity of the formulas that include antioxidants, vitamins, and peptides that can break down when exposed to air, and to prevent wasting product itself – you can never get that last bit of moisturizer or serum that’s just clinging to the bottom of the bottle!
Allies of Skin
- Allies of Skin
True to its name, Allies of Skin aims to help your skin look and feel its best with concentrated formulas you can pair together to create your own routine.
The idea that skin care is so personalized doesn’t go unnoticed in the formulas and packaging. Formulas read like chemistry textbooks with each ingredient sounding more and more efficacious and impressive, like lactic acid to exfoliate, superoxide dismutase to help prevent wrinkles, and acetyl tetrapeptide-40 to help keep skin from going through oxidative stress caused by the sun. The one thing they all have in common is that they adapt to your skin and help stimulate overall regeneration so your skin can basically live its best life.
The star products are the 1A masks, of which there is an overnight ($109) and a daytime version ($99), which is a new and more concentrated iteration of the original. The daytime one is billed as a mask, but it’s really just an intensely hydrating moisturizer that works great on all skin types, especially super dry skin.
All the products are housed in airless pump bottles as well to keep air from breaking down formulas and causing them to be less efficient over time. With the exception of the two masks, every other product in the Instagrammable lineup has different colored packaging so you don’t feel like you have to stick to a prescribed routine either.