dewy dudes is the meme account getting men to open up about skincare

How bro-style skincare memes about 3-in-1 wash and retinol started a dialogue.

by Cait Emma Burke
02 April 2019, 5:32am

via Instagram

In recent years the rise of skincare and self-care culture has captivated much of our attention, with hours of YouTube videos and thousands of blog posts now dedicated to the perfect routine. However, one particular demographic that remains largely untouched by the cult of skincare is men. Blame decades of hyper-masculine marketing and deodorants with names like ‘Ice Chill’, ‘Deep Energy’, and ‘Danger Zone.’ Blame the advertising executives who came up with the deranged concept of a 3-in-1 wash. If you looked at most products dedicated to men you’d think that they’re only interested in things that are fuss-free, time optimal, and smell like a recently extinguished forest fire. Even if a man finds a serum he’s fond of, under no circumstances is he meant to sing its praises over a few cold ones with the boys. But the jig is up. It’s 2019, Frank Ocean is talking about night creams and men are realising that using the same product to shampoo, condition, and cleanse is both unenjoyable and illogical.

Evan Shinn and Emilio Quezada, the founders of Instagram meme account Dewy Dudes, understand the dichotomy between masculinity and skincare better than most. Combining bro-style meme formats with skincare jargon is their niche. Unpacking and critiquing traditional “for men” marketing is their modus operandi. They’re here to tell men that have never proudly declared an interest in skincare that, yes, you can be vocally appreciative about how life-changing retinol is. Meme by meme, they’re calling out fragile masculinity and challenging men’s internalised ideas about skincare and beauty. We sat down with Evan to talk using memes to subvert messaging, his love of Glossier, and the essential skincare products all men should own.

For the uninitiated, how would you describe Dewy Dudes?
Dewy Dudes is where skincare-brand worship and bro-speak converge to let guys know it’s time to take care of their skin.

Why do you think some men are hesitant to express an interest in skincare?
Unfortunately, I think some men have internalised skincare as feminine and are unwilling to embrace and celebrate what essentially is a self-improvement subject where women are the ultimate thought leaders.

What is it about approaching skincare through a meme lens that helps some men realise that skincare can be for them too?
Whether we like it or not, for whatever reason, bro-speak, dirt-bag comedy and meme culture continue to be effective tools in subverting messages and ideas — both progressive and regressive — to young men. And I think the internet is finally having an overdue reckoning with this approach because of how these forms of comedy are still being done at the expense of marginalized folks, which we want nothing to do with. I want to believe our bro-style meme formats make the ‘bro’ the butt of the joke while amplifying critiques of men’s hygiene, selfcare and skincare attitudes and offering solutions. That being said, we recognize how the language we use is bro-inclusive, and that’s intentional. I like to point to the success Four Pins had in 2012 and 2013 in changing men’s perceptions of fashion and how they can contribute and participate in that world. We’re definitely using that playbook.

You’re both avid Glossier fans and they’ve shared some of your content before, what did that feel like?
Glossier has been key to the visibility and success of Dewy Dudes, and we’re super grateful for the brand’s endorsement and re-shares. We just love to be in tune with online culture, and Glossier is ubiquitous among online beauty accounts. Weaving an “it” brand with cult-following products and a very distinct visual identity for the Gen-Z moment into our memes just made sense. Also, we’re customers.

People who are into skincare often have a really open dialogue with others that feel the same — sharing product recommendations is second-nature to many. I think if more men felt able to have these discussions with each other, then skincare wouldn’t seem as intimidating. What might help men feel more comfortable opening this dialogue with their friends?
I think it just takes one skincare evangelist in a friend group to open that dialogue. What we’ve seen in the Dewy Dudes DMs is that a lot of men have a genuine, earnest interest in addressing their skin issues, but don’t have an IRL person to approach with their questions. I think about my personal skincare journey, and it was one-hundred percent influenced by the women in my life (my older sister and an ex) and their advice.

From my conversations with men, I think a lot of them feel that the world of skincare is too overwhelming. If you could whittle it down to a selection of five essential products, what would these be?
We always recommend dudes put some research into a cleanser, exfoliant, toner, moisturizer and SPF that’s right for them and their skin type.

What’s up next for Dewy Dudes? I’ve read that a podcast is potentially in the pipeline.
We’re currently giving attention to our personal lives. Additionally, we get the sense that the meme bubble has popped or will pop soon, so we’re working on how we can adjust and sustain a worthy conversation in a bold new way. The podcast is still very much on the table. Expect new things for Summer 2019.