Jennifer Quinn, 25, a digital marketing specialist who lives in New York City with her boyfriend, Ramine Bigdeliazari, was in the shower about six months ago when she ran out of her L’Occitane Aromachologie Revitalizing Body Scrub. So she tried her boyfriend’s Blue Sea Kelp Body Scrub, by the men’s brand Anthony.
“It smells delicious and it’s just as effective, and now I don’t have to go out and buy my own body scrub,” said Quinn, who also switched from the Bliss Steep Clean Mattifying Toner Pads she had been using to Bigdeliazari’s Anthony Purifying Astringent Pads. “I just mooch off my boyfriend.”
If she pitches in to replenish the now-communal products someday, Quinn may be pleasantly surprised. The women’s scrub costs more than twice the men’s scrub she prefers: L’Occitane retails for $36 for 7 ounces, or $5.14 an ounce; the Anthony scrub is $28 for 12 ounces, or $2.33 an ounce. The women’s toning pads are nearly twice the cost: Bliss charges $38 for 50 pads, or 76 cents a pad; Anthony charges $25 for 60 pads, or about 41 cents a pad.
A couple of decades ago, when the notion of men’s eye cream or facial scrub seemed far-fetched, many men were reduced to borrowing products from their wives or girlfriends or, worse, approaching a pink-smocked salesclerk at a cosmetic counter.
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But now the shoe increasingly is on the other well-pumiced foot: Women are stealing from men. The way products are formulated for men (with moisturizers, for example, forgoing floral or fruity fragrances and being less greasy) appeals to many women, too. And men’s products often cost considerably less.
Introduced in 2000 as Anthony Logistics for Men, the brand truncated its name in 2014 to reflect and bolster its popularity with women. Anthony also adopted a new slogan: “Developed for men. Borrowed by women,” and promoted a section on its website, “Borrow From Him,” which features products most popular with women.
At Jack Black, the 15-year-old men’s brand, a 2013 survey found that among female purchasers, more than half used the products themselves, with 36 percent sharing them with men and 15 percent using them exclusively.
As of March 31, among the 20 most recent reviews on the Sephora website for Jack Black Protein Booster Skin Serum, 18 were from women who used the product. For Anthony Glycolic Facial Cleanser, 15 of the last 20 Sephora reviews were by female users.
One product women are filching has no real counterpart in upscale beauty lines: shaving cream. Angela Costa, 42, a fitness instructor in East Hanover, New Jersey, said that her husband, James, started using Jack Black products five years ago and would “rave about Beard Lube shaving cream all the time.”
She was dubious. About two years ago she ran out of her Skintimate shave gel and gave Jack Black a try.
“I honestly couldn’t believe the close shave that I got with the Beard Lube, and after I got out of the shower, my legs didn’t feel dry like they normally did,” said Costa, who said that she now also uses Jack Black hand cream and lip balm. “It felt like I had lotion on them.”
Jack Black courts women under the radar. Marketers pitch to women’s magazines and blogs and place samples in swag bags at women’s events, but the co-founder, Curran Dandurand, said that the brand eschews some competitors’ approach of overtly pitching to women on their websites or in social media.
“She wants to discover us,” Dandurand said, explaining that many women think that they are in the know when buying men’s products. “She doesn’t want to be hit over the head with us saying, ‘Hey, woman, steal this,’ which I feel is kind of remedial.”
Bryan Barron, research and content director at Paula’s Choice, which publishes Beautypedia, a skin-care and cosmetic review website, said that women should proceed cautiously because men’s skin care can contain bad formulas.
To make men’s lotion less greasy, for example, men’s brands sometimes add the types of alcohols that can irritate skin, he said. Men’s lines also can be heavy with potentially irritating fragrances, albeit less floral ones, and Barron recommends only fragrance-free skin-care products.
Because Estée Lauder brands tend to draw on the same well of ingredients across its men’s and women’s lines, he said, women who like, say, a facial moisturizer with sunscreen in Estée Lauder brands like Bobbi Brown or Clinique may like similar (and often cheaper) products from its men’s lines, like Lab Series for Men or Clinique Skin Supplies for Men.
Tony Sosnick, the founder of Anthony, said that his line is comparable or better than similar women’s products that cost considerably more, but he would rather close that price gap.
“If we could charge $60 for our Glycolic Facial Cleanser, we would do it, but we can’t,” Sosnick said. “We charge half that because the market isn’t at a point yet where men spend what women spend on products. And it may never be at that point.”