Changing attitudes around men and self-care have caused a surge in companies offering grooming and beauty products that are tailored toward men.
Male celebrities now have their own lines of nail polish, while A-Rod is hawking male makeup from Hims. Not to mention all of the male-centric skincare brands like Disco, Caldera + Lab, Jaxon Lane and Lumin hoping to help you, a man, take better care of your manly skin. (And that list barely scratches the surface.)
For the record, we’re not against this burgeoning market. We’re always encouraging you to wash your face, wash your ass, slap on some concealer and apply SPF every single day with items from many male grooming brands that offer quality products in approachable packaging.
There’s no denying, though, that the beauty industry is an overcrowded space full of serums and eye creams all claiming to de-age you and rejuvenate your tired skin, and for beginners being thrust into a bottomless pit of goop and goo, it can feel overwhelming. You want to take better care of your appearance, but where the hell do you start?
It’s a question Drishay Menon and Rob McIntosh set out to answer with their company Bottlecode, a personalized skincare service for men.
The two co-founders say men know which skin concerns they want to address but the shopping experience is often vague, intimidating and dominated by retailers that typically cater to women.
“Skincare is a highly confusing product category that’s rife with too many options and a ton of conflicting information,” says CEO Menon. “Men, in particular, benefit from a personalized approach like Bottlecode because we’re not taught about the importance of skincare from a young age, and most of these products are new to us.”
Bottlecode works in two ways. You can shop at your own risk from a curated selection of products from well-known, but “expertly-vetted” grooming brands, or customers can book a complimentary consultation where they’ll receive product recommendations from a skincare expert.
Like other personalized grooming services, Bottlecode’s free consultation begins with a quiz that covers your top skin concerns and budget preferences. Once complete, a licensed esthetician reviews your responses and builds a personalized set of product recommendations, along with personalized notes, that you’ll receive within 24 hours. From there you can decide whether you want to purchase those items. If you do, you’ll not only receive your personalized routine, but a step-by-step guide on how to use the products, plus ongoing access to your skincare expert who can answer questions and make new product recommendations based on seasonal changes and preferences.
Other custom grooming sites helping consumers establish a solid skincare routine tailored specifically to their needs include Geologie, Hawthorne and Proven. Though, unlike Bottlecode which sets you up with skincare products already on the market, these companies draw from their own personal line of expertly formulated moisturizers, cleansers and eye creams.
This same model is also being employed in the haircare world. Brands like Headquarters and Prose want to set you up with a highly personalized hair regimen that includes shampoos, conditioners, styling creams and exfoliating scalp masks — all free of sulfates, silicones, dyes and other ingredients that can be damaging to your hair and scalp.
“In the past, hair education for men was not a popular topic of conversation,” says Carly Rappoport, Director of Communications at Prose. “Yet, proactive hair care is one of the best ways for men to maintain their hair health and potentially combat hair loss. Knowing which products to use, the ingredients and how to use your hair care products can do wonders for your hair and scalp in the long term.”
Like the companies mentioned, Prose and Headquarters also require you to take a short quiz to determine the best course to start your healthy hair journey. “Prose’s consultation looks at over 85 different factors to determine one custom formula,” adds Rappoport. “Everything from your geographical location and diet to workout regimes and age — all factors that can have an impact on one’s hair and scalp.”
Echoing Menon and McIntosh, Rappoport says Prose’s long-term goal was to create a new shopping experience that solves the “choice paralysis” problem. “We recognize the beauty industry has become oversaturated and as customers are becoming inundated with choices, we wanted to offer a simplified solution,” she says. (Though one could argue with the deluge of custom grooming brands popping up, this market is becoming increasingly congested as well.)
Still, custom grooming brands can be greatly beneficial for men looking for an effective grooming routine but have zero clue where to start. They also, interestingly, reflect a shift in consumerism and are bringing us back to the days when a hyper-individual approach was taken to remedy a problem.
“Customization has been around for years. Think back to the 1600s when apothecaries were the tried and true approach to buying cosmetics and medicine,” says Rappoport. “Then came the industrial revolution, which led consumers to believe that mass production was the right and only answer when it comes to producing products at scale. With the rise in technology and shift to e-commerce, Prose and other like-minded brands are proving that custom can be scalable.”
Just think, the solution to your skin or hair care problem could be one (or two or three) two-minute quizzes away.
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