The celebrity shill game has shifted. First it was fashion, then alcohol. And now? Celebs are coming for your skin-care routine. Who can blame them, when men’s grooming is big business? We’re talking $10 billion in 2021 and growing, according to the market-research firm Euromonitor. Creating their own brand is attractive to celebrities because it gives them something the old spokesperson model didn’t: control. Hannah Mauser, a beauty-industry analyst at the trend-tracking agency WGSN, notes that they can use social media to connect directly with an audience, giving them an “element of authenticity key to holding on to consumer loyalty.”
But “consumers are smart; they see exactly what is happening here,” says Evan Shinn, a cohost of the skin-care podcast Dewy Dudes, who attributes the grooming rush to simple cash-grab economics. What’s missing from so many of these brands is trustworthiness. Are we really supposed to believe that someone is suddenly a skin-care expert because they married a Kardashian? If they don’t actually care about (or use) the stuff they’re selling, a celeb skin-care brand is just glorified merch. But these four brands are doing it right.
Who’s Behind It: Pharrell
Why We Like It: Not only is ageless king Pharrell “known for having good skin,” says Shinn, but he also developed the line along with his personal dermatologist. The resulting products make a real difference in your skin.
Start Here: Humidifying Face Cream ($48), an ultra-hydrating moisturizer packed with hyaluronic acid and snow-mushroom extract for all skin types.
Who’s Behind It: Harry Styles
Why We Like It: The male nail-polish boom can be traced back to Styles, whose impact on fashion cannot be underestimated. His brand has exploded into dozens of polishes, skin-care items, and now makeup if you’re feeling adventurous.
Start Here: The Perfect Polish Set ($65) is the brand’s OG collection of four nail polishes to fit every style.
Who’s Behind It: Pro golfer Justin Thomas
Why We Like It: After a melanoma diagnosis in 2019, Thomas made it his mission to be a sunscreen evangelist. To do so, he created affordable, easy-to-wear sunscreen that’s so good even his fellow pros use it.
Start Here: Sunscreen Sport Stick ($10) fits in your pocket and allows you to apply (and reapply) it on the fly in hard-to-remember places like your nose and ears.
Who’s Behind It: Brad Pitt
Why We Like It: It’s expensive but backed by years of promising research into the effects of antioxidants on aging, and many of the 96 percent natural ingredients are sourced directly from Pitt’s own French vineyard.
Start Here: Pitt’s personal favorite, the Cream ($303), is a rich daily moisturizer packed with ingredients to brighten and protect your skin.
Multihyphenate John Legend says his forthcoming skin-care brand will be designed specifically for people of color, an underserved market in the grooming industry.
This story appears in the WINTER 2022/2023 ISSUE of Esquire
Garrett Munce writes about men’s style and grooming. He’s written for Esquire, New York Magazine, Spotlyte, and Very Good Light and held staff positions at GQ and W. Follow his skincare obsession on Instagram at @garrettmunce.