Videoconferencing software Zoom’s “touch up my appearance” filter, which smooths the look of one’s skin and hides imperfections, apparently isn’t cutting it for guys who want to look their impeccable best during the endless work video calls that have come to define the era of COVID-19.
As a result, men across the U.S. are turning to skincare and makeup products such as moisturizer, concealer and beard fillers to fix perceived problems such as redness and wrinkles — and up their on-screen looks.
“Before the pandemic, most guys weren’t spending all day looking in the mirror,” said Bill Wackermann, a spokesperson for the online men’s beauty brand Tribe Cosmetics. “The average guy went to the gym, shaved and probably didn’t look at himself again. Now he’s staring at himself all day through Zoom.”
Call the phenomenon of more male professionals fixating on blemishes or bags under their eyes, “Zoom dysmorphia,” Wackermann said.
And so they are increasingly turning to brands like Tribe to help put their best digital faces forward, given that typical areas of focus, such as a nice suit or a good pair of shoes, are mostly futile these days.
Most guys don’t want to create elaborate, or attention-grabbing looks; they just want to look like better versions of themselves, according to Pergrin Pervez and Matthew Rodrigues, the co-founders of Tribe.
“We conceptualized this company a little before the pandemic and all of a sudden when the pandemic hit our faces were front and center on Zoom calls,” Pervez told CBS MoneyWatch. “People are staring at their faces and starting to notice little things that bother them all of a sudden.”
Tribe has recorded a 120% rise in sales over the past six months. Its best sellers include a “skin fix” concealer which makes up nearly 60% of all sales, and a “beard fix” beard filler, representing 31% of all sales.
They say lockdown has been a great time for guys to experiment and test-drive looks before bringing them to the virtual office.
“Zoom did boost our sales because you’re not having that face-to-face, real-life interaction like before. Guys are saying, ‘I’m at home, not seeing anybody, let me see if this product works for me. I am not going to be judged and if I like the way I look, great, I’ll wear it out,'” Rodrigues said.
Every month “our best month ever”
Stryx, another brand that designs makeup products for men, has noticed a similar uptick in demand over the course of the pandemic.
“Every month since the middle of last year has been our best month ever,” Stryx co-founder and CEO Devir Kahan said.
Stryx sells its makeup line, which includes a concealer pen and tinted moisturizer, directly to consumers through its website. Clients run the gamut from lawyers to coffee baristas and everything in between, Kahan said. Its products are also on shelves in CVS stores across the country.
“It’s very validating to be in CVS — and we are positioned next to the shave products like Harry’s and other brands guys are familiar with,” Kahan said. CVS Health did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment.
Kahan agrees that more men feel comfortable experimenting with makeup in the privacy of their own homes, versus in an office setting.
“If you’re going into office and using concealer for the first time, it’s more daunting than putting it on in privacy of own home for one Zoom call and maybe only your wife or partner or kid sees it,” he said.
As for the company’s rapid growth, Kahan owes much of it to the pandemic. “I feel like men’s cosmetics and skincare is today where it would have been in five years had it not been for the pandemic. It’s sped everything up a little bit and compressed that down. It’s been a big lift for all these sorts of products,” he said.
Still, men account for just a sliver of all makeup sales. “In makeup it’s only trace. I can’t even give you a percent,” said Larissa Jensen, beauty industry advisor at NPD Group, which tracks and analyzes retail sales data.
Brands like Tribe and Stryx hope to change that.
“It doesn’t have to be as often as your brush your teeth. But what we are trying to do is normalize makeup for men,” Rodrigues said. “We want guys to look at it as you are wearing a product that addresses an issue you have like a beard fix or skin fix.”