I'm sure many of us have witnessed some shockers when it comes to male hygiene habits. I had an ex who religiously showered with a three-in-one shampoo, conditioner and body wash - and no, he didn't live in a dorm, or a commune. He simply didn't get the memo that products can be purchased separately as they are designed for different purposes.
Then there are the men who are utterly bamboozled by the concept of a skincare routine. "What do you mean, 'cleanser'?" they ask, scrubbing hand soap on their faces. "Moisturiser? Why would I use that?" they say dismissively, dragging a disposable razor over their dry stubble.
Perhaps one of the most common examples I've witnessed is men who believe that applying conditioner to their hair may suddenly cause oestrogen to start coursing through their bloodstream. These guys have a limit: anything past a certain point is considered 'too feminine'. But as we know, gender stereotyping is bad and belongs in the bin - along with that three-in-one.
But two Kiwi dudes are hoping to redefine what it means to take care of yourself as a male. Male bathroom brand Two Dudes is the brainchild of Mike McRae and Tomas Tappin, a duo encouraging more Kiwi men to start looking after their skin - properly. Their aim is to get blokes spending a little more time in the bathroom, using good-quality and affordable products that are simple and effective.
Launching in late 2020, Two Dudes began their business with a range of male skincare products, including a day cream, night cream, daily face wash and weekly face scrub. This week, they are expanding to include a brand-new lineup of shower products, comprising a zesty body wash, strengthening shampoo and regenerating conditioner.
"Our subscribers were asking us for some decent and affordable products that men can use in the shower - products that weren't three-in-ones that looked like Powerade," McRae told Newshub.
"We often get told that men are simple creatures that just want everything in one bottle, which isn't true at all. I don't believe guys should be using a three-in-one that claims to wash your hair, clean your body, mow your lawns and make you a burger. Dudes don't deserve to be lied to.
"We started with skincare because it is perceived as a complex category for men and it shouldn't be! Since launching we constantly get people messaging and emailing us suggesting new products, and one of the common themes was our subscribers loved our skincare but wanted to see us elsewhere in their bathroom.
"We figured that although not all dudes use skincare, we know that 100 percent of them shower... hopefully."
The products are formulated with nourishing ingredients such as keratin, argan oil and kawakawa extract to target key issues among men, such as thinning hair, oily strands and body odour.
"Around half of our research group specified thinning and receding hair as their main concern. We've purposely used keratin to promote strong hair growth and argan oil to nourish and add a thin film of protection over each strand," McRae added.
And for the significant others stressing over their partner's lack of interest in bodily hygiene, the Two Dudes told Newshub it's possible to coax them in the right direction. Men need to be educated on the purposes of different products, McRae said - and the use of these products among men needs to be normalised by society.
Partners can help by supporting their S/O to introduce simple skincare into their morning and nighttime routines, McRae suggested, and educating them on the benefits of certain products. Teaching your beau the significance of conditioner in particular will mark a crucial step in their self-care journey.
"Educate the use of conditioner AND shampoo. Forty-three percent of our research group don't use conditioner because they don't understand that it serves a different role to shampoo. Shampoo cleans hair follicles to promote strong growth whereas conditioner restores moisture in the hair and leaves a thin film of protection," McRae explained.
"Normalise men using bathroom products. A barrier for a lot of men is that the bathroom category is too feminine. [By] removing this [stigma] you may find guys are more receptive to trying new products.
"Plus, a simple skincare routine can be adopted by encouraging men to use it morning and night after brushing their teeth."
To introduce their new range, Two Dudes have launched a new tongue-in-cheek campaign, 'Shower Shout'. As part of the promotion, they are offering to pay the rent - for your shower - for the first week that their new products are living there. And they've done the maths: the average rent for a three-bedroom home in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden is about $780 a week. The average property in New Zealand is about 158 metres-squared, with the average shower being 1 metre-squared. So - on average - it costs $5 per week for products to take up residence in your shower. The more you know.
While the campaign is a satirical nod to rising living costs, there's a deeper message at play. Tappin and McRae hope it will shine a light on the increasing cost of living in New Zealand, with inflation making basic necessities unaffordable for many Kiwis and their families.
"Like every other Kiwi we have seen the impacts of rising living costs these past few months. The last place you want to be thinking about this is in the shower," McRae told Newshub.
"Two Dudes has a huge focus on men's health and we donate 10 percent of our profits to men's health organisations. Talking to the New Zealand Men's Health Trust before this launch, we started to unpack and discuss how financial stress has a flow-on effect to other areas of a man's (and everyone's) health.
"We've found the best way to get important messages across to our subscribers is by sandwiching it with humour that they find relatable. If by the end of this campaign there are dudes out there that feel comfortable to ask for help, then that's a clear marker of success for Two Dudes."
The brand's charity partner, New Zealand Men's Health Trust, said it's important for men to remember there are tools and networks available that can provide help, support and guidance during difficult times or periods of financial strain.
"The campaign is a creative and engaging way to get more men to understand that there are tools and organisations out there that can help," Chairman Selio Solomon said.
"Finances can impact every male's mental and emotional health so it is great to see some spotlight on this topic."
The campaign will last for two weeks from its launch date, ending April 21, 2022.
It's not the first time Two Dudes has actively campaigned to raise awareness around men's health. Last year, the duo launched their 'Ball Butter' to help educate blokes on testicular cancer during Men's Health Month.
The moisturiser, designed to be rubbed into the scrotum, is made with sweet almond oil and fatty acids to retain moisture and heal chapped or irritated skin. The idea behind the product was to encourage New Zealanders to get to grips with (to to speak) their testicles and how they typically look and feel, meaning they're more likely to notice any changes. Each label also bears instructions outlining how to perform self-checks for the cancer.
The new range of shower products are only available online.