Matt Chittock: the unexpected self-care a moisturiser can bring to men's livesMatt Chittock is a Brighton-based journalist and copywriter who’s been published in The Guardian, Metro and more. He’s not that bothered about Game of Thrones.


Remember when men got blamed for nicking their girlfriend’s moisturiser? Now it’s blokes who’re more likely to moan that their partner’s at their skincare stash.

That’s because post-metrosexual men aren’t afraid to moisturise (and cleanse, and tone). We’re au fait with face masks, fairly sophisticated about scent and would use foundation if someone could teach us how to blend properly (my DMs are open).

It hasn’t always been this way. My dad’s grooming regime was basically non-existent beyond shaving. So when I peered into the bathroom cabinet pre-school disco, hair glitter-gelled in accidental Sonic the Hedgehog tribute, there was nothing of his to pinch.

Poor guy. His options were limited to dusty after-shave that reeked like cigarette end-flavoured gin, and the cheapest spray deodorant from the market. I dabbed on the after-shave anyway. It wasn’t the woman-slayer the ad claimed.

Today the contents of my bathroom cabinet are a lot more expansive than dad’s ever was. But don’t worry. Like most people, I’m under no illusion that my favourite products will help me channel the Hot Priest from Fleabag or Ryan Gosling (I wish).

I do know from personal experience that when you’re depressed, grooming makes you feel that little bit better.

But that’s not the point. Women have known for centuries that beauty is far more than skin deep. You understand that having the right beauty products is an effective form of self-care. That a quality moisturiser does more for your wellbeing than traditional male feel-better tools like booze and junk food.

This matters, because today men need all the self-care we can get. According to Men’s Health Forum, 12.5% of all men in the UK are living with a mental health disorder. Men are less likely to get therapy too – only 36% of referrals to mental health specialists are men.

Now, I’m not daft enough to think that cleanser has anything on anti-depressants and talk therapy (and you should talk to your GP or contact the brilliant people at CALM if you need either). But I do know from personal experience that when you’re depressed, grooming makes you feel that little bit better.

Plonking on a nice-smelling moisturiser can inspire you to get out of your slump and go outside. It’s that self-esteem boost in the bathroom mirror that helps you face the world. A posh-looking product that signals ‘Hey, you’re an OK person’ when the critical voice in your head’s telling you otherwise.

Some commentators (mainly men) moan about the gender-fluid ‘snowflake generation’. But we’ve had ages of strong, silent (and a li’l bit grubby) macho role models. And to be honest, it’s done faff-all for our mental health.

I love the fact that men are being braver and ignoring those that claim you’re not much of a man if you moisturise. Hopefully, it’s another tiny step to building gender roles that don’t leave us feeling so inadequate, stressed and depressed.

Plus, at least we’ll all smell better than our dads.

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