Beauty and the boys: The Kiwi duo hoping to lift the men's skincare game

Two Dudes skincare
McRae (left) and Tappin (right) first "spitballed" the idea while living together in Singapore in 2018. Photo credit: Supplied.

While women's skincare seems to be aimed at fixing every flaw on your face - pigmentation, brightening, acne, aging, sun damage - men's skincare has historically been sparse at best, non-existent at worst. 

'Three-in-one' washes and moisturizers emblazoned with buzzwords like 'energizing' and 'heavy-lifting' - read: stripping and irritating - have filled supermarket shelves for decades. 

Females are raised with constant magazine articles and advertising instructing them how to better their bodies, while men generally remain remarkably uninformed and many continue to rub handsoap into their faces until they die. 

That's what Kiwi duo Tomas Tappin and Michael McRae are out to change with their new skincare range Two Dudes, a three-step skincare line the pair first "spitballed" over two years ago. 

Hitting the New Zealand market this week after the great lockdown skincare boom of 2020, it's the result of months of development from the Auckland-based duo, involving a focus group of over 50 men through every stage of research.

"The line is 100 percent tested on real dudes, giving us feedback and teaching us lessons along the way," Tappin and McRae told me earlier this month.

"We had this spectrum of men: male models who already had a, like, five-step routine. And then mates of ours who didn't know you were supposed to wash off face wash." 

This isn't an exaggeration. Tappin revealed in the early stages of testing, one of his friends was putting moisturiser straight on over the cleanser, leading to "a slimy sludge". 

"He was like 'bro... this feels weird'," laughs Tappin. 

"So right at the start, we were getting these insights. Guys want to want to take care of themselves but they don't know what to use, they don't know where to buy it and they're kind of embarrassed to ask." 

After first formulating the idea while living together in Singapore in 2018, they engaged with a cosmetic chemist to start developing formulas. 

"We had to make sure this is grounded in science - we've got our strengths but this wasn't one of them early on. We need to bring in a professional."

The result is a kit containing three products: a kumerahou and activated charcoal face wash, mamaku and ginseng day cream, and pōhutukawa extract and hemp seed oil night cream. 

McRae and Tappin sent some for my partner to try and his verdict was: "it smells really good", and "don't kiss my face you'll rub off my moisturiser" - both of which are positive, I guess. 

Tappin says a key issue in development was keeping the skincare regime simple, but "without making guys feel stupid". 

"With one of our first iterations it came with a small instruction card and when my mate's flatmate saw it she [made fun of him]. 

"It was an interesting insight, there's education to be done but you don't want people to feel stupid."

"You need to take them on the journey, for sure," adds McRae. 

It's a venture the friends hope will have a greater reaching impact than just a clear complexion and healthy glow. 

"We're excited to use skincare as a catalyst to get guys to look after themselves," says McRae.

"It's all part of a greater message around men's health."

"Both Michael and I have established these awesome, super tight friend groups over time," adds Tappin. "And there's just this reiterative message to look after yourself, look after your mates and look after other dudes. 

"That's why it's actually 'more than two dudes' - we want others to feel like they're part of it."

The brand has partnered with the New Zealand Men's Health Trust to donate 10 percent from every sale towards their efforts to promote good health for the men of New Zealand.

They're not the only lads delving into the skincare game. Across the ditch, Sydney friends Nick, Chris and Dougie have just launched Bondi Skin co, another three-step system, this time for serums that can be worn under moisturiser or alone. 

The serum kit is Australian made with each containing three bottles: a vitamin C serum, a hyaluronic acid serum, and a vitamin A (retinoid) serum.

Similar to Two Dudes, the Bondi Skin Co boys also give back to the community, donating a portion of all sales to Drought Angels and Black Dog Institute.