Enhancing Men’s Self-Being Through Men's Skincare This International Men's Day With Shakeup Cosmetics
When Jake Xu and Shane Carnell Xu created Shakeup Cosmetics, they didn’t want to just create any old products. Instead, they wanted to create a collection of cosmetic products that could enhance men’s self-being through the power of men's skincare.
Today we’re joined by Jake to learn more about Shakeup Cosmetics and how the brand is helping to break the stigma around skincare for men and empower men to feel great in their own skin.
Growing up did you feel the pressure to choose a certain career pathway?
“Not really. Our parents are very liberal and unlike many stereotypical Asian parents, we were never pressured to get straight A’s at school, or to become a lawyer or a doctor.” Jake says. “Instead, what was drilled into us was that whatever we set out to do, commit to it with good work ethics, give it our all. Our parents have always supported us and our decisions as long as we are happy.”
Jake went on to explain that both he and Shane had dreams to run their own businesses since being young. “It sounds cheesy but it’s true.” Jake says. “When we were little, instead of playing with video games, we’d play pretend that we ran a variety of businesses." He explains that he once had a travel agency that organised trips for his brother’s plush toys to travel from one room to another. And Shane had a fast-food restaurant. "He’d make up a logo, draw them onto tissue paper, and use it to wrap up a simple sandwich, and sell it to me (for my pocket money)." Jake remembers. "These are just some of the ‘companies’ we ran. It was a lot of fun. So, I guess it’s no coincidence that we are now running our own business together.”
What led you to founding Shakeup Cosmetics?
Jake explains that since himself and Shane were teenagers, they had suffered from rosacea and skin breakouts. They began to dabble with skincare for rosacea, and makeup to keep their flare-ups under control, or to conceal the redness when nothing else worked. Jake recalls that it really impacted their confidence a lot, but over the years, they had found a collection of products that they could rely on. But, as Jake explains, it wasn’t without a lot of trial and error. “We were frustrated by the lack of help and information when it came to skincare for men. And there was even less education available when it came to makeup products for men.” Jake says. “So, the seed was sown then for us to create a brand that would fix that - to help guys who are just like us navigate the skincare maze." Jake explains that it remained just an ‘idea’ for a couple of years up until 2018 when the twins finally started working on their brand and found a manufacturer to start formulating their launch range of products.
Shakeup Cosmetics was created to enhance men’s self-being through self-care – can you tell us about your experience with your own self-being empowerment journeys over the years?
Jake explains that being immigrants, himself and Shane always felt that they had to work harder than their peers if they wanted to be successful. “To build a business in a different country, in a language that isn’t our mother tongue sounds quite daunting, "Jake says, "but both of us thrive under pressure and find challenges exciting. We are not sure why or where that drive came from. Britain is one of the best places in the world for entrepreneurs in my opinion. It’s very easy for any sole trader to set up a business or even to incorporate a limited company. There is no wonder why SMEs are the backbone of UK’s economy.”
When it comes to self-care, what impact do you think this has on men’s mental health?
“Men aren’t used to showing their vulnerabilities, thanks to the old-fashioned and outdated view of masculinity.” Jake says. In his and Shane's research, they found that many men suffer from skin conditions that have an impact on their confidence and self-esteem - however, there's always been a lack of information and education on skincare for men and male consumers. "That's why we exist." Jake says.
Although the stigma around men’s skincare and cosmetics is changing, many still see skincare and cosmetics as a female-dominated arena. What challenges have you faced in creating a skincare and cosmetics brand especially for men?
Jake agrees that there is still a long way to go. "Toxic masculinity is alive and kicking. However, we don’t let that bother us. We focus on our mission to normalise and democratise skincare for men.” Jake says. He explains that one of the ways they do that effectively is to build an omni-channel brand - combining their online presence with strong and wide offline retail distribution. “Every time a man sees our products on the shelves of a high-street retailer, such as Boots and Superdrug, the stigma gets broken down a little bit more.” Jake says.
What makes men’s skin different to women’s skin?
“We get asked often, why ‘for men?’ Skin is skin, no? Well, even though we believe beauty isn’t exclusive to women, the reality is that men’s skin is physiologically different to women’s skin.” Jake explains. “Our skin is 20-25% thicker, we have bigger pores and more of them, our skin produces more sebum, so men typically suffer from oilier skin more than women do, and furthermore, men shave more often so the top layer of our skin gets damaged, and it reacts quicker to outside stress. When you take all of these into account, we don’t believe you can have one product that is suitable for both genders.”
The women at FTF HQ love Shakeup Cosmetics – particularly LET’S FACE IT BB Tinted Moisturiser! Tell us your thoughts on unisex products and inclusive beauty.
“I am so glad to hear that! Thank you for sharing that with me. We always say that for years men have been using products developed for women, so why can’t we turn the table a little bit?” Jake says. “However, we don’t tend to market ourselves as a unisex brand. We are not convinced that the consumers are ready for a gender-neutral beauty brand. We looked at the google search terms in our research and found very few people would actively search for ‘gender neutral skincare’ or ‘genderless makeup’, whereas terms such as ‘makeup for men’ or ‘skincare for men’ were much more commonly used. This showed us that the ideal of gender neutrality in beauty isn’t supported by the demand from consumers. When you try to be everything for everyone, you end up targeting to no one specific. Our interpretation of ‘inclusive beauty’ is all about bringing men into the beauty conversation and giving them a choice and access to quality skincare, but not about excluding anyone from enjoying using our products.”
What advice would you give to young men that are struggling with their skin confidence? What staple products from Shakeup should they add to their routine?
“Skincare is self-care. Not only is it important that we look after our largest organ – our skin but having a healthy skincare routine is also good for the soul.” Jake says. “If you are just starting out on your skincare journey, a mild daily face wash and a moisturiser is a good place to start. Plus, always use sunscreen, ideally every day. If you have sensitive skin, try to avoid physical facial scrubs or moisturiser that contains fragrance. Finally, do ask for advice. From your GP, your dermatologist, the shop assistants at your local pharmacy. There’s nothing wrong with guys making an effort to look after themselves, on the outside as well as inside.”
How has Shakeup skincare and cosmetics helped you to feel confident?
As Jake explains, if you also suffer from rosacea, you’ll know that there’s no cure and it’s all about managing your flare-ups by identifying and avoiding triggers. The most common symptoms of rosacea include redness and dry patches, as well as the constant breakouts, which can be damaging to your self-esteem. “They really impacted on our confidence, and we were self-conscious and insecure, until we found a skincare routine that helped us calm our skin down.” Jake says. “Using subtle base makeup products, such as a BB cream, we managed to mask most of the redness and blemishes. And just like that, our confidence was restored."
Jake recalls: "It was amazing how looking our best on the outside made us feel on the inside. And it’s that feeling that we wanted to spread to other guys who are just like us. Our launch product, not surprisingly a BB tinted moisturiser (ed - the very same LET'S FACE IT BB Cream that our female FTF team also love, we recommend you try it!), became our global best-seller, proving that there is a real demand from guys for a coverage-based product like this. This is the product we now can’t live without; it continues to help us look and feel our best every day.”
Today is International Men's Day - a day that's all about celebrating men, their contributions, and their presence in our lives. Can you tell us about the male influences in your life that have positively impacted you, and why?
“Our dad, whom we sadly lost in 2021 to cancer, was our hero and role model.” Jake says. “He was the most optimistic, kind, generous and resilient person we know. He taught us the value of hard work, ethics, and integrity. He was forever the optimist, and always saw the best in people and he believed that in every challenge there are opportunities.”
Jake explains that his dad’s bravery and attitude on life inspires him and Shane daily - especially when they’re feeling down or things are getting tough. “He taught us nothing worth having in life comes easy, and if we want anything, work hard for it.” Jake says. “That’s why Shane and I have been working to support ourselves since we were 18, and we put ourselves through school and built a life for ourselves without asking our parents for a penny since we moved to the UK 24 years ago.”
What should our customers know about yourselves, Shakeup, Cosmetics and the positive messaging you convey around men’s self-care?
Although Shakeup Cosmetics are a skincare brand, their mission is actually much more than skin deep. They want to create the best and most efficacious products, developed specifical for guys, to make them look their best, but most importantly, feel great about themselves.
“For too long, men have been expected to follow the same blueprint of what masculinity is ‘supposed’ to be. Showing weaknesses or vulnerabilities had been taboo for most men. It led to us bottling up our feelings, and in many cases, it causes depression.” Jake explains. “We aim to provide a new platform where men can feel more comfortable talking about self-care. We want to make skincare discussions among men as normal as exchanging fitness and workout tips at the gym. We also want to help retailers change the perception of men’s wellbeing and self-care in store and give the men’s aisle the ‘shake up’ it has long needed! Pun fully intended.”
Lastly, can you tell us something about Shakeup and yourselves that we won’t know?
“Many of you know that we are twins, but few people know that not only do we work with each other every day, but we also live next door to each other - in two identical houses. We even have the identical lollipop bay trees outside our front doors and matching Ring doorbells by the entrance. We moved in around the same time, so our neighbours across the road were very confused for a while until they realised what was going on!” Jake says.
“We can’t imagine running this business with anyone else. Finding a business partner that you can trust explicitly is beyond crucial. What’s even better, is that on many big decisions we had to make jointly for the business, we were already on the same wavelength, which makes founder meetings very efficient.” Jake explains. “On skillsets, we complement each other well too. There’s no ego, we will always have each other’s back, and without these distractions we can focus on our people, our growth, and our customers.”
Thank you so much to Jake for joining us today. We really hope you enjoyed learning more about Shakeup Cosmetics, and Jake and Shane’s mission to empower men. Shop the Shakeup Cosmetics collection below and treat yourself, or the men in your life, to the gift of confidence.
Shop Shakeup Cosmetics
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