Since essentially the dawn of marketing, skincare products have been peddled to men in more or less the same exact way — in blue or dude-ly earth tones that say (sometimes outright) that this stuff is both easy to apply and a shortcut to making the ladies crazy. And maybe most importantly, it’s sure to signal that it’s not at all like the stuff she puts on her epidermis. It will be so not gay if you lather yourself in it, brah.
Then there’s the Dewy Dudes, an Instagram account serving up an unlikely cocktail of memes and men’s skincare. In a world of hashtag-happy influencers and pages plagiarizing jokes, Dewy Dudes stands out with original content that’s funny, niche and refreshingly different. To scroll through it is to see a world in which men are as familiar with moisturizers as they are weird jokes.
“What we’re trying to do with Dewy Dudes is poke fun [at] male insecurities and ideas while offering a path and opportunity into an amazing world that exists once you get over those feelings,” explains Evan Shinn, one of the account’s co-creators.
Dewy Dudes is, in fact, run by several dudes. Musician Emilio Quezada and marketing strategist Shinn, real-life roommates in their mid-20s, helm this smooth-skinned ship with help from their friends Andy Diaz and Evan Cifor. The women in their lives (mother, ex-partner, older sister) got Quezada and Shinn into skincare, an origin story Shinn presumes is the same for a lot of guys. “Dewy Dudes was originally supposed to be a men’s skincare podcast exploring how men journey into skincare,” Shinn explains. “But it didn’t make sense to create something for an audience we didn’t have or [know] existed. So we just started making memes to display how we wanted to talk about skincare to see if an audience would actually respond to that.”
Though they don’t have millions of followers — the current count is just over 2,000 — they’ve definitely attracted a dedicated fanbase. “I immediately followed them when I saw they were rather masculine male-identifying individuals making fun [of] that old ‘for men’ marketing, something I rarely saw before,” says Cyril Biselx, an art director who discovered the account through Kelly Mittendorf, a model and member of Glossier’s PR team.
“They’re men who clearly understand mainstream skincare trends that aren’t packaged for men,” adds Nico DeLuque, a DJ and beauty buyer. “Seeing a mixture of bro-y meme formats and jargon with niche content about stuff like hyaluronic acid or snail mucin essence was hilarious to me.” Case in point: There’s a “distracted boyfriend” meme where the guy ignores a high-end lotion ($325 for 2 ounces) for drugstore cult classic moisturizer ($12 for 3 ounces), and a picture of a skeleton captioned, “Waiting for him to finish his routine.”
Like most good memes, Dewy Dudes’ content combines established meme formats with recurring motifs within a subject matter, resulting in images that are simultaneously specific and relatable. So even if you don’t know what hyaluronic acid is, you can still find humor in this meme about it in the form of Ryan Gosling (in character and on set for The Place Beyond the Pines) feeding a bottle of “eternal youth” to a baby.
Quezada says memes work well because they’re “a quick laugh that can effectively make people feel understood and part of a community.” He adds that the page has led to “very meaningful conversations” beyond the standard responses of people tagging their friends or posting laughing emojis.
“It’s interesting how they Trojan-horse useful information through relevant meme structures,” says Kirk, a friend of one of the page’s creators. Coincidentally, the Dewy Dudes have a Trojan horse meme: a man (dewy dudes) leads a horse (memes) concealing soldiers (basic hygiene and self-care) into a building (fragile masculinity) — summing up the account’s raison d’être.
“I always joke that Dewy Dudes is a fictional world in which men care about their skin,” says Shinn. “Obviously, that world isn’t fictional because lots of men care about skincare, but I think the reason why the account resonates is because there’s a sincere desire for men to make more of an effort in this area and to get over their irrational fear of what using skincare products might mean.”
And nothing stops fear dead in its track more than laughing right in its face.