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Real Men Wear (also) Pink: Challenging Toxic Masculinity

Ever walked down a beauty aisle and noticed how the men's section is a sea of black and blue, while the women's products explode in a rainbow of colors? Welcome to the world of beauty, where even the packaging isn't immune to the effects of toxic masculinity. But what if we told you that the tides are changing?

Two muscular men engaged in a fierce arm-wrestling match, symbolizing traditional displays of masculinity and strength.

Understanding Toxic Masculinity

First things first, let's decode this buzzword. When we say "toxic masculinity," we're not talking about masculinity being toxic. Nope, not at all. Masculinity, like femininity, is just a way of expressing oneself, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. But toxic masculinity? Now that's a whole different ball game.

According to the New York Times, toxic masculinity refers to a set of behaviors and beliefs that include the following: suppressing emotions or masking distress, maintaining an appearance of hardness, and violence as an indicator of power.

It's not about bashing men, but rather, it's about challenging these harmful behaviors and attitudes. You know, the whole 'real men don't cry' or 'real men don't wear pink' spiel.

The Impact of Toxic Masculinity on Men's Health and Behavior

Now, let's talk about the elephant in the room: the impact of toxic masculinity on men's health. You might be thinking, "How does this even relate to the beauty industry?" Well, stick with me, and you'll see.

Lebubè IG denounces toxic masculinity: UK boys 14-21 avoid mental help, fearing stereotypes

Toxic masculinity doesn't just shape societal expectations; it also takes a toll on men's mental and physical well-being. The pressure to conform to rigid masculine norms can lead to negative consequences. Men who adhere to these norms may suppress their emotions, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and even depression. Furthermore, the pressure to embody stoicism and dominance can hinder healthy communication and emotional connection in relationships (American Journal of Men’s Health, 2020).

Research has shown that toxic masculinity can also impact men's physical health. Indeed, compared to women, generally men tend to exhibit higher engagement in risky practices – such as unhealthy diet and lifestyle, and tobacco and alcohol use – and avoid seeking medical help due to the fear of appearing weak or vulnerable (Pan American Journal of Public Health, 2018). 

Nowadays, there are organizations and campaigns that are raising awareness on the topic on men's physical and mental health. Have you ever heard of Movember? We are talking about it here.

So, you see, toxic masculinity isn't just a buzzword. It's a real issue with real consequences. And it's high time we address it, don't you think?

Toxic Masculinity on the Beauty Industry and the Changing Attitudes Towards Men's Beauty

Let's face it, the beauty industry hasn't always been kind to men. It's often reinforced toxic masculinity, with a prejudice against men wearing makeup or taking care of their skin. We've all heard the stereotypes, right? "Makeup is for women," "Real men don't care about skincare”.  These stereotypes, rooted in toxic masculinity, have created an environment where men may feel uncomfortable or even ridiculed for showing an interest in beauty products. 

But guess what? The times, they are a-changing.

Men are starting to challenge these stereotypes, embracing makeup and skincare as a part of their daily routines.

A modern man confidently applying facial cream, showcasing the evolving perceptions of men's beauty and self-care routines.

Ever noticed that even Donald Trump, who mostly weaponized toxic masculinity in his propaganda, isn't shy about his Bronx Colors orange concealer (The Guardian, 2020)? A 2018 Mintel study found that 84% of men between 18 and 44 use a facial skincare product (Forbes, 2018). A 2022 Ipsos study found that roughly one-third of all men are open to using cosmetics. The younger generation is leading the charge, with only 37% of males aged 18-34 saying they wouldn't consider using cosmetics, compared to 73% of males aged 51 and above.

So, while the beauty industry has often been a playground for toxic masculinity, things are starting to shift. Men are embracing makeup and skincare, and influencers and celebrities are helping to normalize this change. And honestly, it's about time, don't you think?

The Changing Landscape: Gender-Neutral and Men's Cosmetics

Big-name brands are waking up to the fact that men have skin too (shocker, right?) and are expanding their lines to cater to them. Take Chanel, for instance. They've launched the "Boy de Chanel" line in 2018, a collection that includes foundation, lip balm, and an eyebrow pencil, all designed with men in mind.

Enter the new kids on the block, like Blu Atlas. This brand is like that cool guy at the party who cares about the environment and looks good doing it. They offer premium products that are over 96% naturally-sourced and challenge the notion that skincare is exclusively for women.

But wait, there's more. The beauty industry is not just expanding; it's evolving. Gender-neutral brands are popping up like mushrooms after the rain, and they are fabulous. Let's talk about Non Gender Specific and Malin+Goetz.

As the name suggests, Non Gender Specific is a revolutionary skincare brand that defies conventional norms and embraces the concept of inclusivity and sustainability. Recognizing that beauty knows no gender, Non Gender Specific offers a range of botanical-rich skincare formulas meticulously crafted to cater to all skin types and identities.

Malin+Goetz, founded by Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz in 2004, is rooted on the belief that skincare is a universal need and should be accessible to everyone, regardless of gender and skin type. In their blog they say,

“We returned to the original inclusive concept of the apothecary, where products were always gender neutral, and where quality formulations meant it worked for just about everyone. We eliminated dyes, perfumes, and anything unnecessary from our skincare products so that even people with sensitive skin would be able to use our products and be able to achieve healthy skin.” 

So, what's the takeaway? The beauty industry is finally shedding its one-size-fits-all approach. It's embracing diversity, not just in the customers it serves but in the products it offers. It's an exciting time, and we are here for it.

The Importance of Promoting Positive Masculinity in the Beauty Industry

So, how can the beauty industry promote positive masculinity? It's not rocket science, really. It's about inclusivity, diversity, and breaking down outdated stereotypes. It's about showing that real men can, and do, wear pink. It's about creating products that cater to everyone, regardless of their gender. It's about using advertising to challenge norms and promote a more inclusive view of beauty. And most importantly, it's about listening to consumers and responding to their needs.

In the end, addressing toxic masculinity in the beauty industry isn't just a social responsibility; it's a strategic imperative.

After all, in an era where authenticity is the new currency, isn't it time we embrace the beauty in being real? So, the next time you find yourself in the beauty aisle, remember: Real men do wear pink. And there's nothing more beautiful than being true to yourself.


What is toxic masculinity?

Toxic masculinity refers to harmful beliefs and behaviors associated with traditional male stereotypes, like suppressing emotions, showing false strength, and using violence to assert dominance.

What are real examples of toxic masculinity?

Real examples of toxic masculinity include telling men not to cry, discouraging them from wearing pink or makeup, and equating aggression with being a "real man."

Why is toxic masculinity so bad?

Toxic masculinity can harm men's mental health, promoting stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also encourage risky behaviors and hinder emotional connection in relationships.

How can you tell if a man is toxic?

Toxic masculinity can manifest as an avoidance of emotions, rigid adherence to gender norms, and a tendency to exhibit dominance or aggression. However, it's essential to avoid making broad judgments about individuals.

How does toxic masculinity affect men’s mental health?

Toxic masculinity can lead to suppressed emotions, causing increased stress, anxiety, and, in some cases, depression among men.

What are the psychological effects of toxic masculinity?

The psychological effects of toxic masculinity can include emotional suppression, difficulty in forming open relationships, and heightened aggression or dominance.

How to fix toxic masculinity?

Addressing toxic masculinity involves challenging harmful stereotypes, promoting emotional expression, and encouraging a more inclusive and diverse concept of masculinity.

Are male beauty standards changing?

Yes, male beauty standards are evolving. More men are embracing makeup and skincare as part of their daily routines, challenging traditional beauty norms.

What is gender-neutral skincare?

Gender-neutral skincare refers to products that are designed to be used by individuals of any gender. They aim to break down traditional gender distinctions in skincare.

Can you provide examples of gender-neutral or unisex beauty brands?

Examples of gender-neutral or unisex beauty brands include "Non Gender Specific" and "Malin+Goetz," both offering skincare products suitable for all genders.

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