What It’s Like To Be A Beauty Guy

It started with a pitch from Tom: “A story about what it’s like to be a guy working in the beauty industry, please!” To which the rest of the ITG team replied, “That’s your story!” And also Drew’s, from the Glossier packaging team; and Myles’ from Glossier’s engineering team; Nick’s from planning; Sam and Kendall’s from creative… So Tom assembled this group and together they chatted it out. (We promise you there are way more men who work at Glossier, this is just a small subset.) They talked skincare, makeup, and the tools they use to connect to the conversation of beauty. And lots more. Follow along, below.

Tom Newton: My name’s Tom, I’m a photographer, and I interact with beauty on shoots. Most people don’t realize that in addition to shooting most of the Top Shelves, I usually do the accompanying interview as well. So, every week I’m going to people’s houses, seeing what they use. I liked beauty before I started here, and I still like it, but I’m a lot more jaded now. I feel like I hear so much of the same thing. Sam?

Sam Sonntag: Wow, full circle. My name is Sam, I’m a designer and art director here, so I work a lot on shoots like Tom, but all on the Glossier side. And on a related but-not-so related note, I think I’m the only one in the room wearing makeup.

Kendall Latham: I’m wearing makeup, you just can’t tell… And to everyone else in the room: I’m Kendall, an experiential designer at Glossier. Basically what that means is I design Glossier’s spaces—how to enhance the ways people physically experience our brand through architecture and design.

Drew Haddock: I’m on the packaging team here. I interact with beauty daily with the product development team, the product marketing team, as well as the creative team. So, visuals, aesthetics, and the actual physical products. Part of my job is just to know about beauty—I’ve been in the beauty industry my entire career.

Tom: Where were you before this?

Drew: I was at L’Oréal and then Estée Lauder. I studied packaging sciences in school, so I kind of fell into the beauty industry.

Myles Rayfield: That’s interesting, I always thought you wanted to be in beauty. By the way, hi everyone, I’m Myles, senior engineer here at Glossier. I’d say the way I interact with beauty is through beauty’s data.

Tom: Myles, did you work at a beauty company before this?

Myles: I worked at Rent the Runway, but never beauty. Since starting here, I’ve been learning a ton about my own skincare. I got a facial last night at Rescue Spa. And I had work to do, right? I was like, ‘I’m not missing this.’ [Laughs]

Sam: They don’t mess around there.

Nick: Nope. And I’ll wrap it up by saying I’m Nick, and am on the planning team at Glossier. I make sure that all of our stores have enough inventory so that everyone can buy products. If we ever stock out, you can email me, or yell at me or something.

Sam: Bless you Nick.

Tom: Would you all say you’re at Glossier because you’re interested in beauty? Or did it just sort of happen serendipitously?

Nick: I struggled with acne a lot through my adolescence, so that kind of made me really explore and get into different beauty products, skincare especially.

Sam: You really learn a lot working here. I didn’t know a ton about beauty before, but I was really, really interested in it. I’ll always go to Sephora, or look through people’s bathrooms. Is that creepy?

Tom: No, that’s fun! I want to know how much stuff you all use. Would your friends look at your dopp kit and say you’re high maintenance? I definitely have guy friends who have like two things in theirs and I’m like, ‘What the fuck?’ At Camp Glossier I was thinking, ‘Am I going to be the only one with a serum?’ What do you guys have?

Kendall: I have a medium routine. I would say it’s not high maintenance, but it’s not low maintenance. If my friends saw it, I think they would think I was high maintenance.

Myles: I’m probably low maintenance. It’s like three things, max.

Nick: When it comes to traveling specifically, I just do the minimum—face wash, maybe a serum, and moisturizer. At home I kind of ball out a little more. Toner, serums, face oil, oil moisturizer if I’m doing an AHA/BHA serum.

Sam: He’s advanced!

Nick: It’s kind of weird, but niacinamide’s my thing. I do a lot of contact sports, like boxing, so I need it to calm down the redness. My nose gets so sore every week.

Myles: Same. You also can develop a rash. The crazy thing is the gloves are gross, right? So if you get hit you get all kinds of stuff on your face. So I know exactly what you’re talking about.

Tom: This is the real men in beauty conversation.

Sam: I’m shocked. This is traumatic.

Tom: I’m curious, who has worn makeup? I have worn concealer.

Sam: I’ve worn it all. I’m really, really love Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer. Everyone’s like, ‘Your skin looks great!’ And I’m like, honestly, it’s this tinted moisturizer. It has the perfect amount of dewy glow to it. And then I’ll also wear Glossier Concealer and Tarte’s Risque blush every day.

Kendall: I think the issue for me is I like really fun makeup, like glitter, and really bold color eyeliners. But people always think I forgot to wash it off from the night before. Even if it’s super intentional. They’re like, ‘Oh, did you…’ and I’m like, ‘No! I just wanted to put it on this morning, and I did that!’

Tom: Has anyone else ever worn concealer?

Drew: Maybe in high school, with acne or whatnot.

Nick: Yeah, me too.

Drew: I used my mom’s.

Sam: I just got my dad concealer.

Tom: Does he use it?

Sam: He had this surgery that led to bruising on his face, and he was really insecure about it so I sent him the Glossier Stretch Concealer. He was nervous at first, he was like, ‘People are going to know I’m wearing makeup.’

Kendall: Oh my God, it’s like the green stick from Queer Eye.

Sam: Exactly! But then he put it on, and he was like, ‘I kind of like this stuff!’

Tom: Myles, what makes you buy a skincare product? And what’s the max you would spend?

Myles: I definitely balled out on Biologique. I spent way too much money—I got the P50.

Tom: Your skin does look really good!

Nick: You’re glowing right now, the light!

Drew: I’d probably spend around $100, $125. I think being in beauty, you realize how far the products actually go and see how it’s worth it. I’m a sucker for brands I’ve worked for in the past. I have a lot of Origins, I have a lot of Kiehl’s products. When I worked at Estée Lauder, I got to try a lot of Lauder beauty—Bumble and Bumble. So I kind of stockpiled that stuff.

Kendall: I am a sucker for immediate results. I have this Strivectin mask, and it immediately tightens my face. I’m like, this is incredible. And I like science-y things. I love luxury, but I think I’m more apt to try something that has a more clinical feel.

Tom: Me too.

Kendall: Like, CeraVe, their whole deal—their branding, their website—it all feels very dermatological, which I like. Simple.

Tom: What’s your max price?

Kendall: It’s such a range—CeraVe’s like $12, but then $200.

Tom: What have you bought that’s $200?

Kendall: La Mer.

Sam: I’m always a sucker for a dupe, though. Like, how people say Skinfood is a dupe to La Mer.

Tom: I want to know what you guys think about the way brands market beauty towards men. I was in Paris and they had banner ads of men washing their faces for like, Clarins and stuff. In the US we don’t have it as much. I want to start with you Drew—have you seen a guy in an ad or something that made you more interested in that brand? Did you think it was goofy?

Drew: I think just in general, the way things are changing for marketing towards men is great. It’s making things better in terms of people feeling OK about what they want to wear. But I’m not impressed by marketing gimmicks. It’s more that if someone I know tells me a product works, I’ll try it.

Tom: If you’re at a mall or whatever, and you need to buy a cream because your skin is dry and you forgot something. Aren’t you going to go to a shelf that has a picture of a guy on it, versus a picture of a woman?

Myles: I think when I was younger, yeah, the ads probably drew me in. But now that I’m older…

Tom: Now that it’s out that you use Biologique…

Myles: It’s all skin at the end of the day. If it works, it works. All of it’s gender neutral.

Nick: I feel the same way. As far as going to Sephora and seeing products targeted for men, I actually feel like I stay away from it. I’m not going to touch the Jack Black or whatever, you know?

Kendall: The all-in-ones… At the end of the day, it’s about fragile masculinity. Making a package dark gray instead of white or dark pink makes men feel less threatened by the product.

Tom: As a man who’s spent most of his life not really using beauty products, have you ever been in a conversation about beauty here where it was so insider-y—like about which mascara is the best, or painting your nails—that you felt you couldn’t relate at all?

Drew: It’s definitely an educational curve. I’m obviously an outsider to it, but it’s kind of my job to learn about it. To your point, there have definitely been… you guys talk about hya… what is it?

Tom: Hyaluronic acid.

Drew: Hyaluronic acid! Like, AHAs or whatever, BHAs. I did not know what those were before Solution came out.

Tom: Have you ever been in a conversation that made you feel like shit because you’re not a woman and don’t wear makeup?

Myles: No, but I’ve been lost—that happens from time to time.

Sam: I feel like the answer to your question is based on if we’ve ever tried things out. You really learn about it through experience.

Kendall: There was a That’s So Raven episode about her little brother wearing concealer to cover up a zit, and they found out, and it was a huge deal.

Sam: Which is so sad!

Kendall: He wore it to a carnival or something, and it came off, and they were like, ‘It’s fine to have a zit! You don’t have to use makeup!’

Sam: But both of those options are OK.

Tom: We haven’t talked about hair. I feel like hair has always been the easy thing for men, and always marketed towards men, where I feel like makeup and skincare is more new.

Myles: Drew’s the quintessential beard guy.

Tom: When did you decide you have to blow dry your hair?

Drew: I don’t have to—it’s just a comfort thing. Getting out the door in cold weather is just not comfortable with wet hair.

Kendall: Do you think your hair looks better naturally dried or blow-dried?

Drew: Naturally. I tend to wear a hat in the morning, which helps de-poof it.

Tom: Luscious locks.

Kendall: It’s Disney prince hair.

Myles: Are you guys super specific about who cuts your hair? Because I am.

Tom: After you’ve been burned a few times, yes.

Drew: I’m going to a new person tonight, and I’m scared.

Tom: Has anyone ever been made to feel guilty for using too much skincare, because you’re a guy?

Sam: I got that a lot from my siblings growing up—they would just kind of be weirded out by it, but then get used to it.

Drew: I remember friends being surprised by how many products I have, but I wasn’t ridiculed for it.

Tom: I have two female roommates, and we’re always fighting. Just because I’ll bring products home from work, and they take up a lot of space. My roommates will be like, ‘This is ridiculous, we should have equal shelves.’ And I’m like, ‘You don’t even have that much stuff though!’ I get in trouble.

Kendall: It’s like the Dirty Boys Get Clean Instagram account that stresses me out.

Tom: I don’t know what that is.

Kendall: They’re all like different vanities, and they’re just stuffed as much as they can be stuffed with so much product.

Tom: That could be me. What is something in beauty that you’re excited to find out more about? What’s the next frontier for your beauty routine? I would like to find a concealer that I like. I don’t understand how women use face covering products—it’s a mess. Having to find the right shade, if you’re tan, if you’re not, you have to blend it, what do you put it on with… it seems so annoying.

Sam: What’s next for me? I’m looking into the best not-obvious self tanners. Right now I really like the Coola one. That’s pretty subtle.

Kendall: For me, it’s all about youth. I’ve been young, I’m almost 30 now. I think that’s going to be my thing—trying to look young. Until a certain age. I think men look better when they’re more rugged after the age of like, 38.

Tom: That’s a whole thing to unpack, because it’s so true.

Myles: I think I’m on my journey now, but I would like to focus on skincare on my actual body.

Sam: Oh, that’s intriguing.

Tom: A lot of women with incredible skin are really particular about not washing their skin at certain times.

Nick: It’s like maintaining the oils in your skin.

Kendall: And you’re not supposed to wash your face in the shower, you’re supposed to wash it separately in the sink with milder water. I’m never going to do that. I won’t do that. That’s crazy.

Nick: There’s no way. That would fuck up my whole shower.

This conversation has been edited and condensed. Photo via ITG.