Five Skincare and Grooming Products for Masculine of Center Folks

Hey! I’m so excited you’re here, whether you’re masculine of center/butch/dapper, or you’re about as butch as Beth Ditto’s manicure. Personally, my everyday look is “teenage boy whose parents didn’t love him enough” — when I’m in my jeans, battered boots, leather jacket, and sunglasses, I’m at my most Me.

Photo courtesy of the author

Which is to say, I’m the last person you’d expect to blog and obsess about skincare; I’m the antithesis of every beauty marketing campaign, but most days I have a 12-step skincare routine, and I’ve even built a whole bookcase to house my favorite products. Anyway, since I’ve never read a skincare article for masculine-of-center women and non-binary folks, I thought I’d talk about some of my favorite products below.

Cosrx Low Ph Good Morning Gel Cleanser, $10.75

Cosrx, from South Korea, is such a butchy brand. Their whole range is affordable and reliable, and they always emphasize effectiveness over pretty packaging. Best of all, even if they look a bit oily, low Ph cleansers never leave my skin feeling stripped or sore.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% Eye Serum, $6.70

The Ordinary by DECIEM is a rare breed – cruelty-free, gender neutral, waaay cheaper than its competitors, and with a commitment to integrity that’s more than just a marketing claim. This vegan eye serum claims to reduce under eye shadows and puffiness, but then reminds us that no topical cream can change genetics or sub-dermal tissue. That’s striking in a world where there are creams claiming to “break down fat” (how, exactly?), “reverse time,” or “detoxify.” As a chronic insomniac, this is the serum I use to pretend that I’m actually fine and totally well-rested, thanks.

Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer with Sunscreen, $27.88 for a Two-Pack

Okay, Cetaphil isn’t sexy, I know. But there is a reason a lot of cute queers use it – it’s cheap, it’s no drama, and it keeps its promises (unlike your ex, amirite?). This moisturizer isn’t for really dry or really oily skin, but it does have SPF 50, and you should definitely be wearing sunscreen (even I do, and I hate being outside). There is nothing butch about sun damage, friends.

Mr. Dandy’s Hair Candy by Lush, $23.95

I have a love/hate relationship with Lush. I hate how their sales associates are trained to be borderline intrusive, and the secret surprise glitter stuff, but I love exactly two products: this hair styling cream, and Dirty for stronger hold. This one is technically used to add volume and reduce frizz to short cuts, but it’s also beautifully scented and great for protecting sensitive scalps.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Sleep Mask, $27.95

This mask is my everything. I am evangelical about it. I will never love another person like I love this face mask. Why? Well, it’s a sleep mask, so it goes on last thing at night and I don’t look like a pie-faced Mrs. Doubtfire; It’s incredibly buttery without being sticky; and I can only describe the scent as “expensive.” When I stumble home on weekends full of whisky and regret, I know that however terrible the hangover, this mask’s cactus extract and prickly pear seed oil will ensure my skin looks like I had eight hours of sleep and a green juice.

Honestly, this post isn’t even about the products; mostly, I just wanted to tell you that I see you. Masculine-of-center people are often left out of conversations about skincare, but we all deserve to feel good and comfortable in our skin. So tell me your go-to products in the comments, and let’s start our own conversation right here.

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Kit talks about skincare, mental health and queer identity at and lives in London, England. Frequently charming, sometimes obnoxious, she can usually be found alienating the mainstream beauty community.

Kit has written 1 article for us.


  1. I love this so much! I’ll admit I am always drawn to great packaging. I recently found Sukin which has relatively gender-neutral branding for most of it’s products, is organic, and doesn’t hurt my face!

    • Ah yeah, I had a sample of the Sukin super green mask – I really liked it. Looked like something Gwyneth Paltrow would sell to put on your root chakra so that’s good enough for me.

  2. Excuse me, just how cool are you? I’m so excited to see something you wrote on autostraddle!
    Also, I really just love your writing style and your priorities when it comes to skincare products (but also, if you manage to find products that do not only make you look like you slept 8 hours, but also make you feel like it, please let me know, I am in desperate need).

    • Not as excited as I am :)

      Sadly I only have stuff that gives the facade of health and clean living, but I’ll keep looking ;)

  3. I love Lush’s Dirty Hair Cream! The smell and the hold are both stellar.

    I also wanna recommend the skincare stuff from Ursa Major. It can be a little pricey, but the face wash and face balm have been miraculous for me, my skin has never been clearer. Plus it’s made in VT.

    • I’m on the Ursa Major site now, you can get a trial set for $20 which is definitely happening. Plus which skincare brand offers a 30 day money back guarantee? I like these people a lot, thanks for the rec!

    • Seconding the recommend of Ursa Major. The face wipes are also like my secret sauce of long travel days- put a few in your bag and refresh after the flight in the airport, and you look like you are fresh and new and weren’t just cramped in a metal tube with recycled air and far too many other people.

  4. yessss that cetaphil moisturizer!! i knew i was on to something when i found that stuff. I especially recommend it to anyone who hates the greasiness of sunscreen – this product dries down until you can barely tell it’s there :)

    • Most sunscreen is incredibly unpleasant to wear and I resisted it HARD until I got into Asian skincare, specially Japanese sunscreen. It sinks in! It doesn’t smell of sadness! It doesn’t leave a cast whiter than the cast of Friends! *revelation*

      The Cetaphil is the best widely available one I’ve tried and you can get it anywhere ???

  5. I love love love the Ordinary caffeine serum! It is especially satisfying to apply, with the little glass dropper? Very cool.

  6. I see you, Kit! And it’s good to see you!
    L’Oreal RevitaLift Anti-Wrinkle + Firming Night Cream Moisturizer is the only thing I use. And I use it when I remember it, which isn’t often. At least when I remember I apply to my face, neck and hands.
    I know, I know, I’m being bad about my skin.

    • Pfft “bad”. Some would say the fact I didn’t get up until noon, ate cold potatoes for dinner and wore a face mask while smoking is “bad”.

      If it works for you then awesome, look at all those 100 year old ladies who only use water and Vaseline. But if you want recommendations, hit me up!

      • Well, I’ll take you up on the recommendations
        I’m on my late 30s and I never wear make up. L’Oreal RevitaLift Anti-Wrinkle + Firming Night Cream is the only product I put on my face except for sunscreen (only when I go to the beach/pool)
        What should I be doing skin-wise?

        • See, this is when the internet sucks because in real life I would just give you decants of everything on my skincare favourites shelf :(

          The skincare industry tells you that you have to buy a million things but honestly, what was important for me was just washing my face twice a day, then moisturising. Anything on top of that is candy. Maybe a light gel cleanser? The LOreal moisturiser is pretty heavy so I’d want to wash it off in the morning.

          But Carmen, sunscreen is super important, pool or not. *Dad voice*

    • Good good. It’s my thing, nagging people about sunscreen. And hey, I have buckets of samples here, if you want to try some stuff without investing and trust me not to kidnap you, I’m happy to mail you some?

      • That is very generous of you, thank you very much Kit
        I am slightly far from you, across the pond and through the woods…

        • Honestly, it’s no bother. I need to start shifting out all these samples and stuff I don’t use so you’d be doing me a favour :)

  7. For hair products I like using small companies like it’s run by a couple. No lab made stuff, hand poured, cruelty free, and other good stuff.

    The problem I have with face moisturizer is that most of them smell too flowery or to chemical. I have been using Lush Enzymion lately and I really like it. The scent is not awesome but it isn’t like a field of flowers either and it works great on my skin.

    For almost everything else I’m using Lush these days…I love their “Dirty” line and other similar scents.

    I do need to find a good eye serum though (in The Netherlands), never used one but it’s time to start.

    • I hear you on the fragrance, it seems to be a choice between flowery bathroom cleaner or… just bathroom cleaner.

      Enzymion wasn’t hydrating enough for my lizard face but mmm I do love the scent.

      I cannot get excited about eye serums, which is why I’m glad I have the Ordinary and don’t have to worry about it ever again.

      • I looked for the Ordinary on Amazon but 20 dollars there. Closest online shop is in England, all currently sold out. Seems like it’s very popular! :) Will keep an eye (no pun) on it for when it’s available again.

        • Yeah I will say that the Ordinary aren’t great for keeping stock up. I’d be happy to mail you a decant so you can try before investing though? I promise not to kidnap you.

  8. My skincare regime is mostly me trying to avoid eczema outbreaks. I’ve never even heard of eye serum or sleep masks before.

    • hello eczema fellow!

      mine’s on my body mostly, so my moisturizing cabinet is … well, it’s a cabinet to start with.

    • Ouch. My sister in law has eczema and her triggers seem to change every six months. Eye serums and sleep masks aren’t as important as your skin being comfortable, have you found products that don’t make your skin react?

  9. Thanks, Kit. I love this! I’ve never used face products. I seldom even wash it… But your reviews and advice make me want to start.

  10. I love the Corsx face wash! I’ve been meaning to try out an anti-redness serum from The Ordinary, and still can’t quite believe it’s only $9. Thanks for writing for folks who are non-binary

  11. I don’t identify as MOC, I’m some kind of unsure girly wanna be femme creature but I just wanted to say that I appreciate this article and I’m glad you are giving us this content so we think about other people. Also I bought a sandalwood moisturiser last night that might appeal to some of the readers from an Australian brand called Perfect potion which are all into certified organic and the lovely person who served me at their store was definitely delightfully queer.

    • Also, sandalwood is mmm, so good and so underused. Too many products smell like chemicals and sadness so thanks for the recommendation!

  12. I’m not masculine of centre, just clueless and extremely distrustful of the beauty industry (hi, I’m that person who confidently makes all her own skincare stuff and then gets anxious because that rose/carrot seed/lavender whipped coconut oil cream is clearly a day cream, and should I be using a night cream, and what is even a night cream, or a toner, or serums, and how often should I be using a mask and why… aaaaah!!), and I’m going to go read your whole blog now.

    • One of my most used IG hashtags is #ihatethebeautyindustry, so I feel you. That’s why I enjoy fucking with it, in my own little way :)

      Also I am SO IMPRESSED you make your own products. I can’t even make toast. Wow.

      • It’s really not that difficult, once you get past the mental hurdle. I put together a pharmacy of circa 10 essential oils for all kinds of mild health eventualities, and then I add the same healing and rejuvenating ones to skincare stuff (like my whipped coconut wrinkle/moisturising/day cream). I have a cheat sheet in my medicine cabinet, organised by ailment, so I know what to grab for ecsema and what’s for nausea. That makes adding stuff to some basic moisturising fats or scrubs (like leftover coffee beans) super easy.

        • Yeah, no, I’m still super impressed. What would you recommend for eczema? My SIL is suffering so badly since she had her baby and nothing is working.

          • Disclaimer: I’m don’t suffer from eczema myself, so my information is second-hand.

            For eczema, skin irritations and skin inflammations I’d go with rose, thyme and rose geranium. Lavender is also great for any kind of superficial healing. A few drops mixed with a carrier oil, like almond oil or coconut oil, should be both soothing and healing. I’d be careful of applying anything but lavender straight to the skin undiluted.

            A lot of people swear by tea tree oil, but I don’t generally have sensitive skin and my skin can’t stand tea tree oil. If the skin is really itchy, I find that peppermint (also diluted in a carrier oil) is super helpful, BUT, and this is a big BUT, it stings like hell if you get it anywhere near sensitive areas… as I discovered when I got an irritated insect bite on my face and applied some peppermint about an inch and a half from my eye.

  13. not only is this article amazing, it’s like the first time I’ve seen anything vaguely cosmetic//skincare related even mention NB ppl or masc presenting in the same breath??? and the whole article is for people like us??

    you’re amazing, and your blog is my new fave

    • God YES, retinol and sunscreen. I only started using retinol like, two weeks ago.

      I didn’t know Mrs Ocean did sunscreen but she is super smart and filling a gap in the market. Going to share on IG now, this is brilliant!

  14. I always have a lotion/moisturizer on hand that can go on all parts of my bod without feeling weird, and lately that is Lubriderm daily moisture in whatever type comes fragrance-free. I have a regular facial moisturizer but I use the Lubriderm on my face whenever I need a little extra.

    I will probs try the Cetaphil because I’ve always been an Oil of Olay sensitive fragrance free gal.

    I also hardly ever wash my face (oops) when I haven’t been wearing makeup, but for a little exfoliating I’ve got one of those charcoal konjac sponges. I used to use apricot scrub but somewhere along the line that got too harsh.

    • Oh god, I love a konjac sponge but you are so right about the apricot scrub. You know St Ives are being sued? It causes microtears in delicate skin.

  15. I bought 4/5 of these products and was pretty underwhelmed. The moisturizer is very greasy and I liked my previous cleanser way better than the one featured here. Eye serum is pretty good, mask is not bad but nothing amazing like the author makes it out to be. Overall kind of felt like a waste of money.

    Ultra Repair Cream by First Aid Beauty is a top notch moisturizer which I reordered immediately after trying to use the cetaphil one for a couple of days. Origins’ Checks and Balances cleanser is back on my buy list after I begrudgingly use the rest of the Corsx that I bought. I also recently purchased Murad’s AHA/BHA exfoliating cleanser, which costs a pretty penny but made me feel like I had totally new skin.

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