We are entering a new era of genderless skincare as cultural perceptions of gender become less binary; seeking to disrupt those age-old stereotypes of what it means to be male or female.
"We have lovely floral fragrances for women over here"... (a scene from this season's Killing Eve as Villanelle goes perfume shopping for her next victim), highlighting these stereotypes are still much ingrained in today's shopping aisles. But is the future of skincare still on track to be genderless?
The Androgynous Lens
This cultural shift is continuing to be driven particularly by GenZ (those born and raised in the social media generation), who see the world through a far more androgynous lens. According to NPD’s iGen beauty consumer report, 40% of adults aged 18 to 22 have shown interest in gender-neutral beauty products. Already the trend of genderless fashion is a big success amongst this generation, with retailers like ASOS, Zara and H&M all releasing ‘ungendered’ lines over recent years.
Following suit are a new wave of genderless beauty brands, seeking to disrupt these traditional gender ideals. Gender-neutral brands like The Ordinary have been leading the way and have reported continued sales growth particularly from male consumers over the last few years, showing us that skincare doesn’t have to be about gender.
Louise Malcolmson, co-founder of genderless skincare brand Mal & Mod with her husband Dan, is here to answer some of our burning questions on what genderless skincare means, what it can bring to our routines, and how we should use it to optimise our skin health.
"Our aim is not to focus on the term gender but to concentrate on the benefits of our products on the skin"
It is well known within the skincare industry that men and women have fundamentally different skin. Men for example have oilier skin and thicker hair follicles than women. Men’s skin is also around 25% thicker due to androgen stimulation, much to the envy of women everywhere!
How does genderless skincare tackle biological differences between genders?
Genderless skincare aims to focus a routine down to skin type rather than gender, with most of us falling into either the dry, sensitive or oily skin type categories. Mal & Mod focus their simple 4-step routine down to well-researched ingredients which they know work for every skin type.
Packed full of ingredients such as antioxidants, omegas, collagen boosters and anti-inflammatories, these ingredients will enhance and nourish everyone's skin, no matter what your gender, age or ethnicity.
And the benefits don't stop there.
This idea of a skincare routine which can be shared with your partner can have significant benefits for the planet. Mal & Mod see their skincare range as one which can be shared between you and your loved ones, meaning you have fewer products in your beauty cabinet enabling you to cut down on waste.
"We want to get across simplicity in skincare and that your skincare routine doesn’t need to be too fussy and complicated"
Disrupting the trends
After 7 years working in the branding and advertising industries, I learnt that the number one trait of the most successful brands in the world always boils down to 'disruption'. The ability to disrupt the trends of an industry and create new norms makes for a very powerful and popular brand.
"We are aware of the continued dominance of women in the skincare industry, however we are not allowing ourselves to be drawn in to this trend. Instead we focus on the idea of what is good for one, is good for another, or the 'be kind' to all skins"
Mal & Mod want to open people’s minds to this idea that a skincare routine, like gender, does not need to be binary. Whilst some of us might like to use a structured multi-step routine in a particular order, others may want to pick and choose different products on different days and for different activities.
“My husband might use the cleansing balm on his cheeks before a run for a bit of environmental protection, and sometimes he will just use the serum at night rather than the moisturiser”
This highlights the versatility of the skincare routine. Many skincare products actually have multiple uses, meaning they are beneficial for all skin types in different ways. I for one am a big fan of multi-use products as it means you create less waste, you use fewer products, and your skin gets used to the same set of ingredients.
What about fragrance?
One potential barrier to gender neutral skincare is fragrance. None of us want to be walking into the office smelling like we overdosed on our boyfriends Lynx collection, so what makes a scent appeal to both ends of the gender spectrum?
Mal & Mod spent months experimenting with different fragrances to find ones which can be enjoyed by all genders. Their end result is an innovative blend of ‘balancing’ and ‘uplifting’ notes.
What about people who like being able to express themselves through gender?
Let’s face it, we all like expressing ourselves in different ways, and no two of us are the same. I was keen to find out from Louise how their skincare collection enables people to still express themselves through gender.
Mal & Mod products still allow for self-expression. The sleek packaging design and miron glass bottles still cater for women who like style and elegance, and men who like simple and minimalist, and vice versa! They also cater for those #concsciousbeauty addicts who want to limit their impact on the environment, with all their packing being recyclable.
So it seems that self-expression comes in many forms, and genderless skincare will continue to allow this ability to express yourself, your beliefs and your desires through the products you buy.