For too long, beauty and personal care brands have been marketing products for males or females, using masculine branding for men’s products and feminine branding for women’s products. The sad reality, though, is such products exclude an entire demographic of consumers. According to the Accelerating Acceptance 2017 survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of GLAAD (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), 2 percent of 18- to 34-year-old Americans and 1 percent of 35- to 51-year-olds identify as transgender. More specifically, 12 percent of American millennials identify as transgender or gender non-conforming, meaning they do not identify with any particular gender, or they identify as gender neutral.
Many Americans don’t agree with the gender they were assigned at birth, and as the gender binary continues to expand so, too, does the number of people who identify as different genders across the spectrum. As an industry that prides itself on making clients look and feel their best—no matter what their identity—the beauty and wellness sector has begun developing products that aren’t geared toward a particular gender but instead work for all types of skin. “The industry is becoming more inclusive, recognizing the differences between all genders and embracing them,” says Regis Haberkorn, president of Priori Skincare. “At Priori, we offer adaptive skincare with smart products that adapt to each individual’s ever-changing needs.”
Non Gender Specific, which launched in 2018, was developed to be a brand for all humans, regardless of gender identity. “All of our multi-correctional products work for every gender, skin type, and skintone and address at least seven common skin concerns per formula,” says founder Andrew Glass. “As a beauty industry professional, I couldn’t understand how such a progressive industry could be so segregated when it came to product marketing.”
When Nina Zilka and her business partner David Krause founded Alder New York, they did not plan to launch a gender-neutral brand. “We did not make a conscious decision to be a unisex personal care brand—it is intrinsically how David and I think about design as a whole,” says Zilka. “Good design is genderless. It’s about making the highest performing, clean products that are as chic as they are effective.”
Similarly, Mike Bruggeman, CEO of Organic Male OM4 and founder of the soon-to-be-released gender-neutral HAIA (Happy As I Am) brand, knows that more thought must go into creating gender-neutral and unisex products than just removing gender-related branding. “If you think you can slap a gender-neutral label on any of the millions of women’s lines on the market, you are wrong,” says Bruggeman. “Gender-neutral products require an in-depth knowledge of universal textures, fragrances, finishes, delivery systems, and more.”
It’s not just skincare and bodycare that are changing. “Lately, both the fragrance and makeup categories have been making bolder strides in terms of gender-neutral beauty products,” says Mariya Nurislamova, cofounder of Confessions Of A Rebel, a gender-neutral fragrance brand. “Both categories are pushing the boundaries for completely unexpected results, proving that beauty can be a creative outlet for everybody.” Confessions Of A Rebel omits gender-related branding on its products, allowing consumers the freedom to choose scents they may not have discovered otherwise.
As gender-neutral products continue to rise in popularity and the gender binary continues to change at such a rapid pace, where is the future of the industry heading? “Eventually, I see more mass marketplaces moving away from a men’s grooming section and a women’s beauty section and toward sections simply divided by skincare needs,” says Zilka. The truth of the matter is, regardless of gender identity, we all need to care for our skin.
For the full digital edition of American Spa's 2020 Trend Report, click here.