Last week, I put together a post about beauty boxes that explained how ladies can make their own without breaking the bank or subscribing to an expensive program. Although women tend to be the primary group for beauty-box advertising, the market for the male equivalent of beauty boxes—man crates—is growing fast.
The beauty market is massive, but only a small portion of it is allotted to men, and while men can certainly use products that are marketed at women—facial masks, anti-aging creams, lotions, and so on—not every guy feels comfortable buying a bright pink bottle or walking up to their local Clinique beauty counter.
If you fall into the ‘uncomfortable’ category, don’t fret! You can easily create your own man crate—or a man crate for someone special in your life—without having to do a bunch of research or awkwardly standing around in your local store’s beauty aisle. In this post, I’ve put together four different example crates to give you an idea (and hopefully inspire you) of what you may want to put in your own.
The Well-Groomed Man Crate
Although I’m starting with a grooming-themed crate, man crates (and beauty boxes) don’t have to include only bath/beauty items. Some guys, for example, may prefer a crate that has a few styles of ties with matching clips, or even one with small, sample-type bottles of cologne. If your guy likes to cook, why not put together a crate filled with sample-sized bags of spices or small bottles of flavored/specialty olive oil?
The best thing you can do when you’re putting together a crate for a guy is to think about what he’d really enjoy or like. If you happen to be making this crate for your boyfriend or husband, it’s okay to include some items that you aren’t sure he’ll use, like moisturizer, but if you know your guy really isn’t into grooming products, don’t go too crazy with them.
This crate, however, is meant for those men who truly do enjoy grooming themselves, whether that’s styling their hair every day, or applying lotion and waxing their eyebrows (and if you’re thinking, “A guy waxing his eyebrows is weird,” remember that no woman wants to feel like she’s dating Groucho Marx or Helga G. Pataki from Hey Arnold!).
In this crate, luxury is key, so fill it with stuff that feels good on the skin. I like to include a high-quality moisturizing soap (gel or bar), a natural bath scrubber or loofah, a massager for his face, a higher-end shaving cream, a few sample jars of moisturizer, and a really good-smelling aftershave.
The massager is probably the most important item in this crate because it’s one of those items that you, or your guy, will try once and then want to use all the time. Beauty benefits aside, the massager feels really good on your skin after a long day and especially after a warm shower. Any guy with facial pain, sinus pressure, or frequent tension headaches will likely find that the massager eases a lot of that pain, which will encourage them to use it more.
If you know your guy is stubborn and won’t even try it, which is how my boyfriend is, offer to “show him” by massaging his face with it. Guys like it when their ladies touch them, especially when it’s something intimate like a massage, and if it leads to a little romance, that’s never a bad thing.
Chronos’ Man Crate
In the beauty box post I wrote last week, I didn’t include an anti-aging box because these can be hard to gift without unintentionally insulting someone and/or making them feel self-conscious about how old they look.
However when it comes to anti-aging creams, masks, lotions, sunscreen, and everything else, men, unlike women, aren’t constantly bombarded with advertisements that are geared towards making them feel old, as if it’s a bad thing (and really, most “anti-aging” products advertised to men are for baldness or graying hair, not fine lines, wrinkles, and sun spots). But that doesn’t mean men aren’t worried about those things.
Anyone who cares about their looks, and I think a good portion of people do, will naturally worry about how they look as they age. The difference between men and women, when it comes to personal grooming and beauty products, isn’t that men care less about their appearance or that women are vain. The difference is that women can talk about their wrinkles openly without being shamed by their friends (or society) for being “feminine” or “girly.”
And yes, it’s true that women have to engage in some form of beauty regime at some point in their lives to avoid unfair criticisms about their looks or personalities, while men can age freely without criticism. But, as I told my boyfriend, I’m probably going to be the one who’s looking at his face when he’s old, and I personally don’t want to be staring at the Crypt Keeper.
This crate is for all the men and women who feel similarly. It includes an exfoliating facial scrub (something like St. Ives apricot scrub is a good choice because it smells great and isn’t too rough), a facial mask, a high quality retinol cream, sample jars of moisturizer, and a few sample jars of anti-aging creams.
Finding the right anti-aging cream or moisturizer can be difficult because it’s hard to tell which ones will work best for your guy’s particular skin type. My preference is always for retinol, however, because I’ve been using literally just tretinoin—the prescription version of retinol—for about ten years when I first got it for acne as a teenager. But now, a full decade later, I really don’t have any wrinkles or acne, and a very noticeable scar near my left eye has virtually been erased thanks to the cream.
What makes retinol so great? Basically, it speeds up your skins cell turnover rate, so dead skills get sloughed off faster and new ones get created. As new skin cells, and therefore new collagen, are created, they fill in the gaps created by wrinkles.
The one rub with retinol cream is that it takes a long time to see results, even if you’re just using it for something like acne. When I first began using tretinoin, I had to use it for about six months before I noticed a reduction in break outs, tighter pores, and more even skin tone. I can’t tell you if other anti-aging creams work faster—I know Clinique’s eye wrinkle cream is really great because that’s what I make my boyfriend use—which is why I recommend experimenting with some samples or buying smaller sizes to test what works best for you.
Just be aware that, should you go with retinol, you really don’t need a second anti-aging cream (but feel free to use a gel or mud mask on occasion), and your skin may feel sore or sensitive if you’re using a lot of anti-aging products.
The Bearded Wonder Man Crate
Since November is coming up and since so many guys like to participate in No-Shave November, this crate is specifically for all you bearded wonders. Keep in mind that the goal of No-Shave November is raise awareness for all the cancer patients who lose their hair. Normally, guys grow out their beards, but ladies should consider participating, too, by not cutting their own hair, or even by donating their hair to Locks of Love.
The idea is to spend less money on grooming products through November so you can then use that extra cash for charitable purposes. So, if you are planning on growing out a beard next month, just remember not to go too crazy on grooming products!
This crate includes a beard trimmer, a quality beard balm, beard-specific conditioner or beard oil, an alum bloc, and a beard brush or comb. If you or your guy doesn’t need a beard trimmer, I’d recommend swapping it out with a beard-specific shampoo, or even just a pair of small hair-cutting scissors to tidy up a beard that has loose or damaged hair.
If you plan to gift this crate to a friend, I’d recommend checking out what your friend has already in their beard arsenal. I say this because hair is hair, and everyone’s hair has a different level of thickness and oiliness, so you don’t want to give a guy beard oil if he has issues keeping his beard non-greasy.
I personally think beard oil is best for beards that are very dry naturally or have been damaged from the sun, dyes, or other harsh chemicals (chlorine, for example, from public pools). Beard conditioner is best for keeping the beard supple and soft, but may not provide enough moisture for someone who’s hair is quite dry.
Beard balm, which typically is made with wax, is the ticket for guys who have thinner, longer beards that need to be styled. Oil is great for moisture, but not so much for holding hairs in place, and beard balms typically smell excellent. One of my good friends has a long beard, and he always puts a fantastic-smelling whiskey beard balm on it to keep it looking neat and tidy.
Lastly, the alum bloc. Don’t skimp on this, especially if you’ve made this crate for yourself or for a friend for No-Shave November. Alum blocs are super cheap and are the absolute best thing in the world for razor cuts because it’ll immediately stop the bleeding. We all know how bad even tiny razor cuts bleed, so alum is really important if you or your guy plans to shave off their beard in December. It’s also great for first aid kits!
Hercules’ Man Crate
This last crate is unlike the others because it moves away from grooming products. Some guys, no matter how much you ask them or show them or tell them, will never use moisturizers or mud masks or retinol cream, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a man crate just for them! This particular one is perfect for guys who either want to begin working out or for guys who already workout, but want to try new supplements or workout gear.
In this crate, you’d include a few varieties of protein powder, some vitamin samples (usually these are at the register in GNC or Vitamin Shoppe, and they come in mixed packs, or you can get them on line), a fitness jump rope or resistance bands, lifter’s gloves, and a couple different brands/flavors of protein bars.
If your guy is new to exercising, I recommend creating the man crate similarly to the example one above. In my opinion, Optimum Nutrition has some of the best tasting protein powders and some of the most unique flavors, which is why I recommend that brand specifically. However, protein powders are expensive, and you can easily spend $60 or more on just those (which is why I recommend buying the smallest sizes you can until you find a favorite flavor).
If your guy is a regular exerciser, I would adjust the crate slightly to include his favorite brand/flavor of protein powder or fitness drink (some guys prefer pre-workout powders to protein ones), and I would vary up the protein bars to include both new ones he’s never tried and ones that I know he really likes.
You can play around a lot with what types of fitness equipment to include (if any) in the crate. However, as someone who lifts weights and frequents the gym a lot, I can say that a quality jump rope and a pair of quality weight lifting gloves will certainly get used (if your guy lifts a lot, he likely needs new gloves every year, and significantly sooner than that if he never washes them).
But if you think he’d prefer something like an ab wheel or medicine ball, go for one of those instead. If you or your guy aren’t particularly interested in workout equipment, I’d recommend adding a strength training, stretching, or agility training book to the crate. My favorite strength training book is Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier, and I highly, highly, highly recommend it. Whenever I bring that book into my gym, I almost always have people coming over to look in it and/or tell me how much they love it. There are a wide variety of options in this series, so you can find the one that is a best fit.
So, that’s four types of man crates to get excited about, and give you inspiration, especially as the holidays approach!
If you’re thinking, “Wow, a holiday-themed man crate or beauty box is a great idea,” then head on over to TopProducts.com for the most in-depth and accurate product reviews for all your crate-making needs.
August Wright, TopProducts Staff Writer