When it comes to product names, beauty buying is hilariously different for men and for women. Surely skin is skin, hair is hair and deodorant serves the same purpose for both sexes?
Well no, actually, because for men, everything seems to have to feel dangerous, exciting and exhilarating and women apparently only want to be soothed, calmed and pleasured. Grains of salt poised and ready, please.
It’s true, the beauty industry has made some pretty funny, sweeping decisions about what men and women want from their beauty packaging. And what if you don’t particularly identify with either set of messaging, or indeed with either gender. I’m not attempting to validate these generalisations here, or change them in any way – they are what they are – but I just find it really entertaining. This tweet was the first time I really took notice of it:
Sure, women are typically more ‘into’ beauty and skincare and haircare as a general rule, so shops naturally devote much more shelf space to the female of the species. But we’re also, overwhelmingly, given bright, colourful (often pink) products with softer names, inoffensive messaging and more reference to scent and experience.
Men, however, seem to be given products almost exclusively in black, blue or navy with little reference to scent and more of a focus on numbers, stats and double-jobbing products to make their grooming lives EVEN easier.
Let’s take, say, deodorant. Men are offered power, invincibility, THERMIC resistance and CARBON protection. Giant numbers state just how effective it is, there’s block lettering and phrases like “Fights against” and “Extreme protection” and words like “technology” and “system” – because obviously, men like things to be aggressive and statistical and PROVEN.
And then you have the women’s selection. You have ‘bright bouquet’ which is described as having ‘scent of strawberry and apricot’ because goodness knows – MEN couldn’t possibly favour an apricot-scented underarm. And women absolutely do not need to be made feel invincible while using their anti-perspirant. Nor do we need our carbon protected. Do we?!
Then there’s the area of hair removal. Men can go shopping for a Remington Dualtrack X Flex and Pivot Technology. Sounds TRICKY and a bit dangerous and wild and effective. Meanwhile, the Remington Smooth & Silky Battery Operated Ladyshaver sounds like a gentle breeze flowing through the soft downy hair on your legs. And, aren’t we #blessed, it’s battery operated. We don’t need no stinkin’ cables!
LORD SHAVE ME
And as for regular razors? The differences are hilarious. Here, the guys are presented with MACH III and Fusion 5, Pro Glide – which, let’s be honest, sound like models of aeroplane from Top Gun or maybe weapons of some sort. And for the ladies?! Venus Embrace, and the gentlest of all… the Swirl.
I don’t know about you, but shaving my legs, pits and bikini line has never, ever felt anything remotely like a swirling embrace to me. Mind you, I doubt Gillette users (controversial at the mo!) are cutting tiny slices out of their faces thinking – I bet this is what flying a fighter jet feels like.
And finally, I observed the absolutely hilarious world of fragrance. Let’s compare lists here, and see – just for the craic – if you can guess which list of scent names belongs to which gender…
- White Diamonds
- Amor Amor
- La Vie est Belle
- Nectar Love
- Hot Water
- Only the Brave
- Black XS
It’s actually difficult not to laugh at those lists, I think.
And it seriously makes you question the signals we’re sending to kids, teens, and ourselves about what adjectives we ‘prefer’ to see assigned to the male and female genders. Next time you’re walking around your local pharmacy or your nearest department store or branch of Boots, observe and chuckle – always remembering that no one has to let marketing norms define you or your beauty/grooming purchases.
If you would like your deodorant to actually intimidate and scare you a little with its aggressive title, more power to you. Likewise if you find shampoo intimidating and would rather it softly whisper its most fragrant ingredients to you while you listen to Enya, you do you.