Now that 40% of millennial men are dads, as of 2020, gifting options have expanded beyond cologne. 

For the upcoming Father’s Day holiday on June 21, millennial-oriented DTC men’s care startups are marketing skin care and bath-and-body products as gifting options. As more DTC men’s personal care and skin-care brands hit the market, they have been tapping into millennial men’s rising sophistication when it comes to their grooming routines. A 2019 study by Miraval Group and StudyLogic found that 59% of men surveyed had practiced more self-care in the past five years, and millennials were more likely to say that they had done so. That is especially true when it comes to skin care, as a 2021 report by Skinstore found that interest in male skin care had increased by 400% in the past five years.

Ceylon Skincare, a 3-year-old DTC skin-care brand for men with pigmented skin, launched a Father’s Day campaign on June 4 asking millennials in the creative fields to either describe their own parenthood experience or photograph their dads doing what they love. Actor Henderson Wade, for example, shared his thoughts on being a millennial father, while streetwear brand Kids of Immigrants founder Debbie Gonzales photographed her father. The images were posted on Instagram and in the brand’s monthly digital magazine. 

Ceylon’s digital magazine taps into the male self-care effect with interviews and lifestyle content to “build a robust culture” around the brand, said its founder, Patrick Boateng. “It’s not just the grooming; it’s wellness, it’s well-being, it’s self-understanding, it’s about growth, it’s about health. That’s the journey that a lot of our guys are going into.” 

“There’s this broader excitement and discovery element around self-care and personal care, in general,” said Matt Mullenax, co-founder and CEO of men’s personal care brand Huron, which is offering a Father’s Day buy-two, get-one-free deal of its body-care products. “What was historically a purchase you wouldn’t really talk about that often, or a category this guy might not have cared that much about, in 2021 is something he’s actually really focused on.” 

Huron also features blog content around skin-care routines and mental health. 

“So many subjects that were previously taboo are not off the table any longer. We can talk about them,” said Matt Teri, Huron co-founder and chief development officer. “Personal care is not personal hygiene any longer; it’s so much more than that. Self-care is a mindset. It’s health, wellness,  fitness — taking care of yourself, your body, your mind.” 

Part of the strategy for these DTC brands has been to encourage men to upgrade their facial skin care or to use skin-care products for the first time altogether. Startup Geologie promoted a Father’s Day campaign on Instagram on June 15 offering discount codes for a complete trial set, an eye cream for those looking “dad tired” and an SPF. Men’s skin-care brand Lumin, meanwhile, is promoting a discount on its basic “Classic Maintenance Set” with a cleanser, exfoliant and moisturizer.

To get men to level-up their routines, providing them with education about skin care and self-care has been an important part of these brand playbooks. 

According to Boateng, “As they learn, as they get educated, they understand what works well for their skin and graduate to something that can be the right type of product for them.” Ceylon’s community-building strategy has paid off, with 50% sales growth over the past three quarters. Boateng estimates that the average age of the brand’s customers is 35.

Millennial men become interested in upgrading their routines when major life changes happen, said Mullenax. “There are these moments where it’s like, ‘I need a better suit. I need better jeans. I need better X.’ Once you start being a father caring for someone else, now it’s like, ‘Wow, I actually have to take better care of myself.’”