Men's Skincare: The Evolution
By Steven Berg
February 7, 2021
In the early 1980’s, as an insecure teenager growing up on Long Island, New York, I obsessively thought about my appearance. My life changed when I saw Richard Gere on the big screen, in American Gigolo. Watching a sexy, self-assured man who cared about fashion, his body, and grooming - turned on something inside of me. All these years later, I still haven’t been able to turn it off. Of course, I wanted to emulate him, so I started my search for the best skincare products in stores and at home. My mother’s jars of creams were ghastly enough to smell, let alone contemplate putting them on my face. A friend’s mother had fantastic skin, so I asked what her secret was. That’s when I started to learn about natural ingredients, such as shea butter, avocado oil, rose & grapeseed. She used them in a variety of ways, to make scrubs, masks & balms. And they all worked… Really well.
Skincare regimes have a long and storied history, and natural recipes have been around for thousands of years. Long before Richard Gere, the ancient Egyptians had their own grooming rituals. Vanity might have played a part, but these rituals were primarily used to combat the effects of the harsh desert sun. Men slathered themselves in oil and used aloe vera to hydrate and protect their skin; many new ingredients were introduced when the trade markets opened-up. Ingredients like exotic spices and botanicals, that are still used widely today in skincare products, became known for their skin nourishing properties.
The ancient Romans also cared about skincare. An unopened tin discovered in an ancient Roman temple was, in fact, a moisturizing cream. It was an ointment made from animal fat, starch, and a tin dioxide mineral.
Cut to the rise of Hollywood, and the leading men of the silver screen. Audiences saw actors who were well-groomed, manicured and stylish. Even though it was also about good lighting and flattering angles, ‘ordinary’ men were inspired to emulate that look and devote attention to grooming in their daily lives. Sadly though, many used a household bar of soap on their face, a practice that dates back to Victorian times. Moisturizers for men were scarce or non-existent, and they had to rely on products made for women or use nothing at all. A beardless clean face was the desired look, so men used warm towels prior to shaving, and closed the pores with aftershave, a product targeted specifically for the male market. I have very fond memories of my grandfather splashing Old Spice on his face. It was all the rage back then.
Today we know there are much better ways for men to take care of their skin. Shaving is still the starting point for a lot of skincare regimes - while the pores are still open, and the face is sensitive. This is why it’s crucial to prep the skin by applying the right aftershave lotions, that don’t contain harsh astringents, or too much fragrance. A healthy shaving routine starts with hydrating the face with warm water, then applying a quality shaving balm or cream. Always make sure to use a new blade, and go with, and against, the grain. This ensures a close and clean shave, and prepares the skin for the first recommended steps of a skin care regimen.
Darac, who works as VP of brand development, walks us though his favorite products for the post-shaving routine:
1. PH+ Enzyme Essence: it regulates your PH levels, hydrates and prevents breakouts, and brightens the skin with Vit C & Vit K.
2. Rose Hip Serum: firms and prevents aging [from the aloe]
3. Vitamin C moisturizer: prevents aftershave bumps with the colloidal silver ingredient. This product just feeds my skin with everything it needs
Darac likes to say, “FEEL THE HEAL”!! Also, our products are especially great for darker skin, which really seems to suffer with razor bumps and ingrown hair!!
In the 1990’s, we saw the birth of the so-called Metrosexual. These men were meticulous about their appearance, and put a lot of time, and effort, into their grooming. Metrosexuals were unapologetically in touch with their feminine side and were predominantly urbanites. The market for men’s beauty products started to shift, due to this new demand, and more skincare products and information became readily available. Men finally had options. The trend exploded, as men suddenly had access to products specifically made for them. They started to learn what skincare regimens to follow, and how to care for their skin. Men’s magazines, like GQ, Esquire and NYT Style section, made skin care for men fashionable. Television shows, like Queer Eye, which featured a dedicated Groomer as one of the show’s experts, became a huge success. Queer Eye brought men’s grooming to the mainstream, and many women started to champion skincare routines for the men in their lives. The show gave advice and tips for every type of man. Even a “man’s man”, like my father, asked me for eye cream advice after watching an episode.
Today’s man is a lot more health conscious than he was in the 1980’s, or in the martini drinking, cigarette smoking era of the 1950’s. Men today are much more knowledgeable about the effects of the sun, and how proper nutrition and exercise, have a large impact on the way you look and feel.
As a men’s groomer, skincare is a regular topic of conversation amongst my clients and colleagues. Men have different needs to women, but can absolutely use similar, or the same products. The Kat Burki line is on the top of my referral list. The ingredients are of the highest quality and are completely unisex. I can’t stress enough the importance of committing to a daily skin ritual and taking the time to cultivate a regimen that works for you. Just like with fitness or nutrition: you won’t see the benefits if you are not committed!
Men still want (need) to keep it simple. If a man hasn’t been focused on skin care, chances are, the woman in his life will be, and this is really where the initiation begins for many men. The trick is not to overwhelm with too many steps or products, but to encourage him to commit to a simple daily regimen.
Skincare has come a long way since my teenage years in Long Island, and so have attitudes. Men have a lot more options, in terms of the selection of products available, but also in terms of being encouraged to look after themselves. Caring for your skin – the biggest organ in your body, is one of the highest forms of selfcare.
Here are some of our Kat Burki skincare advocates, from influencers, to hair and makeup artists, to friends and family, from our Kat Burki community:
Matt Huxley - @infirmofpurpose
KB5 Calming Gel Cleanser
My overall favorite Kat Burki product. A beautiful, oil-rich, gel which emulsifies perfectly to remove makeup, SPF and build-up from the skin. The scent is utterly intoxicating and makes this such a wonderful experience. I find it incredibly gentle on my skin, leaving it nourished and soothed. The perfect cleanser for anyone, and the one I recommend to those who are nervy about having oils in their cleanser.
BART - @omgbart
Nutrient C Eye Cream
If there's one skincare habit I'm proud to have developed since getting started on a proper routine, it's staying faithful to an eye cream. Day. And. Night. However, I am incredibly picky about this particular skincare step. This Kat Burki cream is as close to perfection as I can imagine. It comes in a super user-friendly pump bottle (which I much prefer over jar packaging), has a lightweight texture that my skin drinks-in within seconds, and makes me always appear as having slept the recommended 8 hours (which hasn’t happened since, probably, high school). In addition to the skin conditioning plant oils, the Nutrient C formula includes caffeine, algae, aloe and Vitamin C, to help banish the dreaded puffiness, and those dark circles. For anyone who thinks they're too young for an eye cream, I bought my first one at nineteen, literally in the last century :).
Greg Brake - COO HOUCK CONSTRUCTION
Vitamin C Cream
“I know it’s working, it’s like breathing oxygen for the first time after being held underwater.
As I rub in the Vitamin C cream, I can literally feel those parts of my face go back to normal.
It sinks right in with no residue or burning whatsoever and there is nothing left on your hands.
When I am quiet and still while applying the cream, I feel my skin saying thank you!”
Michael Silva - celebrity hairstylist and groomer @michaelsilvahair
Lift & Fill Marine Collagen Gel
‘My favorite product is the Lift & Fill Marine Collagen Gel. I love the idea that it is filling in my lines, while also making the skin appear firmer’.
Matt Leavell - @mdl1985
“I love the whole line from Kat Burki, because I believe botanicals heal, not only your skin, but also your mind and soul. After my Kat Burki skincare routine, my skin is left plumped and super hydrated”.
Riad Azar - hairstylist and groomer @riadazar9
Vital Hydration Blast
“As a groomer, the first thing I need to do is prep the skin and, most importantly, hydrate it. One of my favorite tools is the Kat Burki Vital Hydration Blast. You can feel, and see, the difference immediately. It leaves the skin feeling healthy, with a nice glow, without feeling heavy “
Moiz Alladina – hairstylist and groomer @moizallandina
Eye Recovery Masks
“I love everything I have tried and all the men I work with really love the smell,it does not have any fragrance which is off putting,,it feels and smells very gender neutral . My personal favorite is the Eye Recovery masks “