Should there be gender in the beauty industry?

Guy Humphrey
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Photo by Pierrick VAN-TROOST

The world of beauty is a big and diverse one. There are many lotions, potions, beauty brands, up and coming cosmetic lines and the industry is simply getting bigger and bigger.

Over the past decade or so, it seems that more men have become open about using and purchasing beauty products. So much so that many beauty brands and companies have made sections featuring products solely targeted towards men.

In a society that’s said to be open-minded and equal, is this a step to equality or a step back? Should men’s products be sectioned or should brands be all-inclusive and section the products based on function and design rather than demographic? We asked beauty brands and companies their view.

(MALIN+GOETZ) is one beauty company that do not believe in stereotyping genders and basing their products on gender. Founders Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz said that, ‘(MALIN+GOETZ) has always taken the position to formulate the most effective and least irritating product.  We have chosen to address skin and an individual’s needs, not gender.’

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Speaking about their customer base, they then go on to say that their customers ‘are smart, savvy, sophisticated consumers that seek quality and results.  As our brand grows, our women and our men both want to address “their” skin issues and concerns.  We have not encountered, on any large scale, a request for more “gender specific” items nor have we heard that they seek non-gender specific.’

(MALIN+GOETZ) are well known for their beauty products with one of their standout products being the Vitamin E Face Moisturiser as ‘this product is so good because of how it performs – be it on a man or woman … Again, all the ingredients work equally well on both genders. It’s really about great formulations.  Or to make this a bit more understandable, your doctor does not prescribe you a different version of penicillin depending on our gender – antibiotics don’t know your gender. What’s important is to find a great product that is appropriate for your skin – not your gender.’

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is another company which strives to have no gender attachment to its product range. The company focuses on sourcing the finest ingredients in the best possible way, helping those who really need it which can be seen with their charity work and campaigns.

Most recently, the hashtag #lushmen has been circulating, featuring men enjoying Lush products – not in a way that is gender-limiting or saying that men must use these products, but as a way of getting out there that men can use Lush products. Men have skin after all!

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Charlotte Howe, Head of Promotional Events at Lush Cosmetics, said that, ‘Lush has never had gender-specific products and our packaged and non-packaged cosmetics are appropriate for all genders and ages. Our focus is always on creating the best possible fresh products for our customers’ needs and ensuring that our in-store and online customer experience is exemplary.

‘We are proud of our award winning customer service and hope that both Men and Women enjoy the expertise of our staff during their time on the shop floor.’

Whilst there are a tiny handful of products such as beard and facial wash Kalamazoo, as well as a breast firming cream, the products prove popular with both men and women. Kalamazoo can be used by women as a facial wash and many women consider it their favourite, whilst a lot of people who partake in sport use the breast cream to tighten and tone the skin after working out – including men.

Trends and fashion may vary, and do play a part in how we perceive certain products, but beyond that, body lotion is body lotion and works regardless of gender. Which brand you choose is often based on personal preference. It is this personal preference that is key.

Some men will only buy products labelled ‘men’ or ‘male’, and for them those products might be all they need. But some women will buy men’s products because they work and some men will buy products targeted at women because they work.

The real question is whether this personal preference has to change. Brands will continue to make the products that are popular, regardless of whether they’re labelled for one gender or another, and you should buy whichever brands work for you.

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About Guy Humphrey

Guy Humphrey is an Essex born recent journalism graduate who loves fashion, beauty products and ranting on whichever topic that floats his boat. This tends to happen a lot. A typical Friday night is a bubble bath with Mariah playing and watching the telly. Bliss. @guy_humphrey