Growing up, I noticed that skin care was often a taboo subject for men. Conversations about moisturizers, facial cleansers and toners were often interrupted almost instantly by homophobic and sexist remarks. At a time; However, just as those who took care of their skin were insulted, so were those who had acne.
Despite what this aversion to skin care would tell you, men suffer from acne at higher rates than women during their teenage years. According to a study carried out in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, several studies have reported a prevalence of acne in adolescents ranging from 81 to 95% for young men and from 79 to 82% for young women. Despite this, the stigma surrounding men’s skin care still causes a losing situation for young men that both having acne and straining your skin is worthy of mockery, is bad for men. This stigma must end.
While this idea that skin care is inherently feminine seems to be rooted in cultural tradition, it stems from the advertising industry. According to Elza Ibroscheva, Ph.D.., a professor at Webster University, cosmetics began as a way to sell a “softer female image” to female consumers, based on the gender stereotype that women were “preoccupied with personal care and household chores.” That notion has remained, and to this day our concepts of masculinity are not defined by cultural heritage, but rather by 19th century marketers.
Skin care products should not be seen as feminine, but rather as gender neutral tools to repair various skin conditions including acne.
– Jake Fitzpatrick ’22
If I had been dissuaded from taking care of the skin like many men are today, my acne and sanity would have been much worse. Since I was 12, I have suffered from severe cystic acne, a type of acne that spreads quickly without treatment. Fortunately, I received treatment for my acne, but it was still terrible and I felt disgusted with myself. I’m not alone with these feelings as in a study published by the American Academy of Dermatology, 67.9% of participants were ashamed of their acne and 41.1% felt uncomfortable being seen in public with acne. If I had given up on treatment, as many men do today, this shame I already felt would have been much worse.
In recent years, there has been a slight shift from skincare for women only due to a shift in the advertising of some brands. Dove, which has been offering a personal care line for men since 2010, has launched advertising campaigns such as “#RealDadMoments” and “Fathers day takenWhich challenge the idea that taking care of your skin is feminine. Likewise, Ax launched his “Is it good for guys?In 2017, which fought against negative stigma with advertisements that frame men’s baths with the humorous “bathsculinity” coat rack.
While these brands have made some headway, with the US men’s skin care market surpassing $ 3.4 billion in revenue for 2021, a few campaigns are not enough to remove the stigma of skin care for men of our society. According to a survey conducted by AcuPoll in 2020, 63% of men don’t regularly use a facial cleanser and 11% have never tried skin care products. One of the reasons was that skin care was seen as “feminine”.
We need a change at the level of society, especially with regard to education. Just as children learn to take care of their bodies, so too must they be taught to take care of their skin. Skin care products should not be seen as feminine, but rather as gender neutral tools to repair various skin conditions including acne. It is only when it is made genderless that the stigma and subsequent male aversion to skin care will end.