Meet The Grey’s founder kicking men’s skincare into the next gear

Meet The Grey’s founder kicking men’s skincare into the next gear

by Robyn Pullen
14 min

Wake up; chug coffee; hit the gym; head to work: sounds like a pretty good morning routine, right? Well, it’s actually missing something kind of important: a skincare routine. We caught up with Gregor Jaspers, founder of disruptive men’s skincare brand The Grey, to talk about the one part of the day most men tend to neglect: their skincare routine. From the things you already know (drink water, wash your face, wear SPF) to the tips you might not, let’s get into Gregor’s take on the importance of men’s skincare that’s actually designed by and for men.

Hi Gregor! Let’s open with perhaps the most personal thing we can ask you as a skincare brand founder: what’s your skincare routine?

As a skincare founder, you’ve got so many things you want to try, you want to know what the competition is doing, and you also want to try products that you are developing yourself. 

For my normal routine, in the morning, I use The Grey Cleansing and Shaving Mousse as it is the gentlest cleanser I know and I have sensitive skin. Then I use our Vitamin C Serum, which is in development. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to use all these products you’re also developing. Then I use our self-tanner – also a serum – which I lock in with my Comfort+ face cream. Then I use a new development: our under-eye cream, and finish it all off with the Daily Face Protect SPF 50.

This is the most basic routine I do, and then of course, when I’m trying new toners, new creams, competition, I use so much. I try to keep my bathroom neat and tidy, but it’s impossible because there are so many products I’m using! Then for the evening, I wash my face again with the Cleansing and Shaving Mousse, or I use our Charcoal Face Wash if I’ve been in the city and I really feel that my skin is dirty and I need an extra deep cleansing wash. Then afterwards I use the Exfoliating Toning Pads – I use them four times a week if I’m honest because my skin is used to it – to exfoliate the skin. I also use my Overnight Sleeping Mask or Recovery Face Serum combined with Comfort+. So it depends a bit on my mood. I think I use my Overnight Sleeping Mask three or four times a week, and the rest is the combination of the serum and the Comfort+.

That’s my normal routine, but again, most of the time I’m adding competition products or development products, so it’s a vast and exaggerated routine.

As founder of The Grey, you’re a certified expert on skincare that’s luxurious, effective and tailored to men’s needs specifically. How is The Grey’s approach to creating men’s skincare unique?

I am a founder and I am also a male consumer. So being a guy also resonates more with the products we create. For instance, I was trying an eye cream and I really like the brand I bought it from and I really like the formulation they use. So I buy these products and try to nail down what they’ve done and how we can do better, what they did wrong. It’s a learning curve for me too.

The cream was in a small jar, which I hate, and when you put your finger in there was quite a thick emulsion so nothing came out. The only thing you were doing was pushing the eye cream deeper and harder into the jar. As a guy, you’re not going in with a spatula, you want an easier approach. Being a guy, it is easy for me to understand men’s needs – we want easy and convenient but high end and active formulations.

We have taken into account that guys want to have the same high-end, highly active formulations that women can buy, but they don’t want the hassle and the fuss of difficult packaging, spatulas, and mixing formulations together to get maximum results. So that’s our approach: we speak in the tone of voice of our consumers, we know what they want and we are able to give them that.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest problem men’s skincare is facing at the moment?

I think we’re in a time of great momentum for men’s skin care. There have always been problems: it’s difficult to convince a guy that you have to use skincare, they always say “well, I use Nivea and that’s enough”. However, there is a growing awareness of men’s skincare and men’s grooming; even celebrities are releasing and promoting men’s products. 

Honestly, we still have a long way to go, but you see that slowly, we’re breaking down the walls where we have this opinion that it’s “too feminine” to use or it’s not masculine enough or it’s too difficult or it’s all too much fuss and hassle. I think after COVID, we realised that our health is important, so supplements and skin care had this enormous momentum again. We’re facing a lot, but it’s way better than it was in the eighties and nineties for sure.

We know you set out to create The Grey because your previous job as a buyer required you to travel light, and you struggled to find a skincare brand that allowed you to do that. So, what’s a skincare travel essential from you’d recommend everyone pack in their carry on?

The idea of The Grey indeed started at the moment I realised that my wash bag was over-cluttered with products, and nothing could fit in anymore. So I tried to design a ‘lean and mean’ brand, which in the beginning, we did, with just five products. Then, when we grew and gained traction and followers, these male consumers were asking for more and more products. Our range and brand have now grown, but it is still very focused and concentrated on men’s specific needs.

If I were to advise someone who needs to travel often and wants to pack minimally, the number one product to take with you is the Cleansing and Shaving Mousse, because it doubles as a cleanser. It is a delicate yet effective cleanser and a shaving cream, so we already have one product instead of two in your suitcase. I also recommend the 3 in 1 Face Cream, which is a great day cream, eye cream and night cream, so you have already covered three other jars or tubes, which you otherwise would have had to take with you.

The All Day Deodorant is also very important, of course, and obviously, the Daily Face Protect SPF 50. So you take four products with you, and you’ve got the full regime of what you need for your skin and your body.

Also, I always bring my supplements with me because, when I’m on a business trip, I don’t always get the normal varied diet I have in the Netherlands. I would advise bringing The Daily Greens Complex supplements with you for that extra boost of essential vitamins and greens.

What have you found the most surprising about marketing skincare products towards men specifically?

We are really proud of the look and feel and the concept we have with The Grey. It is so close to what I love, we have this all black and white imagery, from our packaging to our campaigns. There’s this whole other side of the spectrum of men’s grooming, which is so stereotypically male-orientated: tattoos, beards, motorcycles, products that look like a bottle of Jack Daniels. Especially at the time of our launch, we were a super clean, really new concept. 

There is a lot of marketing for skin care in general, and there is also a lot of marketing for male skin care by female-focused brands. A lot of brands out there have a small range of men’s products that they say are “tailored for men” or “usable by men”. But then, because these brands are more female-focused, 99% of the communication is driven and made for women. As a male consumer, when you go to the websites of these brands, you get lost in female communication, female issues, and problems that girls and women have.

As a men’s only brand, we have the power to only communicate men’s issues. We send out newsletters every Saturday. The last one was about the male menopause, which is called andropause, most guys recognise the symptoms but never realise that this is something that exists. Because we have this male only space, we can communicate men’s issues, and that’s what makes us stronger and creates a certain community around the brand for our consumers, where they feel safe. We try to address everything, from how to protect your skin with SPF on a sunny day, to how to shave your private parts, and everything in between.

Being 100% male-orientated gives us the opportunity to go deep into communication.

In our lives we experience a variety of different issues with our skin, from teenage years filled with acne to wrinkles in later life. Skin’s an extremely personal thing! Knowing this, how would you suggest customers of The Grey can work out which products will work best for their skin?

It is indeed difficult to give the perfect skin consultation when you don’t have the person in front of you and you can’t see the skin. We have a skin test on the website with 10 questions that will guide you through the ideal products and supplements for any skin conditions or health issues. Then, at the end of those questions, you are provided with specific advice tailored to your needs rather than what you would get online without the test. 

We also have a chat function on the website for guys to go on and tell us about their skin issues – that’s where we can really give tailored advice. We ask them to send images or short videos so we can get deeper into the problems, and that results in a proper one-on-one where we can give the best advice possible. We’re now also looking into a new application, where the user will take a picture of their skin, and an algorithm will give personalised advice. So there are a few options for remotely giving advice. 

But still, if you feel insecure or you think you need more specific advice, I would always recommend going to your local pharmacist.

The stigma that’s existed around male grooming, skincare and cosmetics is changing, but despite this many people still see these skincare products as inherently feminine. What about The Grey’s products, marketing, or general ethos is helping alter this narrative in some way?

This is my favourite question! We have to deal with so many stigmas. Yes, there was a stigma surrounding the men’s skincare industry and so many brands have tried to launch male skincare brands: Prada, Tom Ford. The big brands are doing it, Chanel is doing a makeup line specifically for men. It is changing a lot, actually, for the younger generation. But for the guys in their thirties, there is still this existing stigma that it’s not masculine enough and it’s scary to use skin care. It’s seen as out of this world to use a concealer on your face, so we still have to break these boundaries.

But then, as I mentioned before, being a men’s only brand, we can create this environment where it’s normalised, we are so focused on education explaining everything, and so when you dive into the brand, everything we do is considered normal. Using your skincare products, using your supplements, thinking about your mental health. You don’t just count when you play soccer on Sunday morning, you also count when you are dealing with emotional issues or skincare issues – it’s all about being the best version of yourself. 

As a men’s only brand, we want to break down those stigmas. For instance, if you go on a generic unisex skincare brand website, 99% of the time the first image of a guy will be after seven clicks or after minutes of scrolling down. It’s still always female orientated and that’s why there is still a need for men-specific products. Stigma is there and we’re here to take it down, but in a safe environment. It sounds all “peace, love and happiness!” but it is true, the moment it says men’s skincare on a package it is already part of breaking down the stigma because it has stated that it’s for them. Creating this secure environment allows men to be open to trying more things, maybe even makeup, because their Instagram algorithm, for example, shows these male products in passing and normalises it. 

It’s very important to break down the stigma because it’s an old-fashioned one. In the age we live in now, the younger generation are so open to everything, and yet the 30-plus demographic is not moving along with that. So our focus is to break down the stigma in that generation. 

If you could tell your past self, at the start of your skincare journey, one thing, what would it be?

Believe in yourself. I think when I started, I had a lot of insecurity. Even people very close to me said that I would never succeed. In a way, it sparked a fire in me because I wanted to prove them wrong, but it also made me insecure because when something didn’t work out the way I planned, people would be so quick to say “I told you so”.

I would also tell myself to enjoy the journey even more. I f*cking love what I’m doing, but sometimes you forget to f*cking love what you do.

Finally, can you share anything that’s on the horizon for The Grey with us?

We’re doing so many new things that I’m super excited about. The first thing is a CC cream (speaking of breaking down stigmas!). As a skincare brand, skin is our focus, but also as a self-care brand we focus on self-esteem and being the best version of yourself. Sometimes your skin needs a little extra help to look flawless, so we developed a CC cream that is 99.9% invisible but does blur away all those skin issues – those annoying red dots, blue lines, and other small imperfections. That will launch this year, which is really exciting as it is our first step into coloured cosmetics.

We’re doing a really nice new vitamin C serum, with a lot of new groundbreaking active ingredients inside. We are going to be entering the world of oral care, which I think is important and shows what we do as a brand. We are launching a prebiotic whitening toothpaste, which takes care of your oral microbiome. We thought it was important to create something that takes care of the oral microbiome. The toothpaste has an amazing taste, it’s classically fresh and slightly sweeter than normal peppermint. It will be a fantastic, multifunctional toothpaste, also launching this year. 

And last but not least, we have developed a perfume for The Grey. I can’t tell you a lot about it, but it is an ode to some of the amazing mentors I had that enabled me to be where I am now. They taught me how to run a business, how to look at beauty, and how to analyse the things around you. They all had their own signature fragrance, so I wanted to create a signature fragrance for everybody out there and share my story. That will also be launched this year.

A lot of new things are coming, but I think these four are the most important at the moment.

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