beauty

"I joined a dating app and ended up helping 50 men with their skincare routines."

If someone had told my 19-year-old self that a decade from now I’d be single in the midst of a global pandemic encouraging strange men on the internet to wear SPF, I would’ve called you crazy and sent you on your way. But here we are; 10 months into 2020, 10 customised skincare routines by yours truly (all handed out in a COVID safe manner, of course) and I’m still waiting on a third date. 

Let me introduce myself – Hi, I’m Alisha; I have an unhealthy obsession with skincare, peanut butter and don’t know how to ride a bike. The three facts aren’t mutually exclusive, but for the purpose of this article (and my dating profile) they are.

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As someone who had been in a relationship for the better part of her twenties, I realised that I had missed out on an unofficial rite of passage: casual dating, specifically swipeable romance. Cue me downloading Hinge, Bumble and Tinder. 

After a quick (lengthy, let’s be honest) consult with my closest friends, we had completed the basic info, narrowed down which photos to use and were debating what prompts to go with. 

“Banter is the key to a successful online dating experience,” one friend told me, whereas another was adamant in staying true to yourself and “sharing facts.” I landed somewhere squarely in the middle:

Fact 1: We’ll get along if you eat peanut butter straight from the jar. 

Fact 2: Believe it or not, I don’t know how to ride a bike. 

Fact 3: What if I told you that I’m made up of sugar, spice and skincare advice.

Within hours, the matches rolled in and the conversations began. What I had expected was a slew of pleasantries, the casual “How are you?” or “What do you do for work?” But you never get what you expect, especially not when you put yourself out there online.

Enter: Mark*, a 33-year-old corporate professional who slid into my matches, expressing his desire for something casual. I declined. “Not my thing,” I said. His response? “No worries, let’s meet up for coffee anyways and you can help me out with my skin problems.”

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I had not expected this. In hindsight, I have to commend Mark for his efforts, when I closed the door on what he wanted, he appealed to my inner skincare geek and got the next best thing: a one-on-one consult. 

With inflamed patches that were scaly in nature, Mark shared his concerns. After a thorough analysis of his current routine, I knew something didn’t add up. I asked him to talk to a family member and hinted it may be a genetic condition. 

A few days later, he confirmed what I had suspected: he had psoriasis. Armed with the diagnosis and the number of a respected dermatologist, I sent him on his way. I never heard from Mark again, but I’d like to think our brief exchange gave him more value than a meaningless hook-up. 

You know the saying, when it rains, it pours. That’s what happened here. My inbox shifted from awkward small talk to men asking for skincare advice; from tips and tricks to full-blown routines.

Whilst I relished in the thought of helping these men, I did wonder why their ex-girlfriends hadn’t taught them the importance of a beauty routine? I decided that it was my calling - my responsibility to bring to them what relationships past did not: an understanding of their skin type.

Documenting each piece of advice, my friends were always entertained by the rather obvious questions (at least to us ladies) men would ask me. 

I’ve included a selection below for your viewing pleasure.

The guy who listened.

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The guy who uses a bar of soap to cleanse his face.

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The guy who's been in the game for a while.

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The one who puts lemon juice on his face.

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The one who wanted to fix his hyperpigmentation.

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One night after debriefing with my roommate on her latest date, she confessed that he had resorted to applying coconut oil (yes, the oil you cook with) straight from the jar to his legs in an attempt to turn golden brown. Mortified, I asked if he at least used SPF. He did not. 

It gets worse. 

When she went on to explain how wearing SPF was non-negotiable due to Australia’s high UV levels, he became defensive, whipping out his phone to prove she was wrong. Thankfully, Google was on our side. 

After that, I changed tact – how could I expect men to cleanse, moisturise and even try the odd chemical exfoliant if they didn’t even know they had to wear SPF? My advice was met with mixed emotions – some unmatched, some agreed, but all of them were confused:

The one who wears SPF only in summer. 

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The one who couldn't understand why I was so invested. 

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It’s been 40 weeks since I lost my app virginity. I didn’t find the one, but I did come home with a jacket, wireless charger and hopefully accrued some good karma along the way. As a meme I read online once said, putting every man I talk to onto skincare is my contribution to the world. If I don’t keep you, may you at least be well exfoliated and wear sunscreen for the next girl.

Until next time,

Alisha aka the skincare whisper.

PS: Even though none of my matches worked out for me romantically, I decided it would be worthwhile to touch base with them and touch base on their skin because... checking they're wearing SPF is kinder than ghosting. 

Image: Supplied.

See more from Alisha on her Instagram

Check out more stories from the You Beauty Collective, where our beauty community talks all things skincare, makeup and more.

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