Simon Duffy noticed a gap in natural men’s skincare in 2005 when his then girlfriend asked him to pick up her naturally formulated skin care moisturizer from Whole Foods. Arriving at Manhattan’s Union Square store, there was not a single male product at all within the big beauty category. This discovery led Duffy down a path where he pondered if there was any male skincare that was sensitive to the wellness and natural trends in beauty.
After a few years and multiple product lines at Bulldog, Duffy happened upon trying to fix the next oversight in the skincare market: plastic. From packaging to tubes and wrappings, the material was every where—especially the single-use kind. After some research, the entrepreneur was able to find a plastic that was less polluting but works yet as well. Plastic made from sugarcane is one way to decrease the reliance on petroleum products. And, using sugarcane takes 309 tons of carbon dioxide out of the environment, according to his research.”Overall, if the whole of the beauty industry and the skincare industry tipped into using plastic from sugarcane, it would be, it would be meaningfully positive overall change to the problems that we face,” Duffy says. “It’s not a complete answer to the challenges that we face from plastic but it’s just part of the solution that we should all be trying to use less plastic. If we do use plastic, use multiple-use. If we do have to use, we do have to recycle plastics, make sure you’re using plastics that you can recycle and make sure you’re appropriately doing it.”
Here, we talk to the Bulldog founder about plastics, men’s skincare and building a business on accessible, natural grooming products.
How has Bulldog been re-thinking the use of plastics in beauty?
There’s a lot of work that’s gone into rethinking the way we think about plastics. We’re working with a Brazilian company called Braskem, who’ve been amazing partners. We’ve probably working on it for a couple of years behind the scenes. We started to roll out a year ago, and we’re the first male skincare brand in the world to be getting our plastic in this way. Rather than the foundation of the plastic production being petroleum or fossil fuels, which is quite a polluting process, we get it from sugarcane. They grow the sugarcane in the Northern part of Brazil, which is away from the Amazon rain forest.
It’s an amazing crop, doesn’t need very much fertilizer or anything like that. It’s a really sensitive minimal intervention process. Then as the sugarcane goes to ethanol, and often that goes off to the alcohol or whatever it is, our process turns the ethanol into ultra polyethylene, which goes into the tube.
Why aren’t other beauty companies following suit?
Starting cost is a factor. It’s probably lazy thinking, if I was being honest about the other companies. I think we’ve seen that on lots of things like microbeads. That’s the easiest thing in the world to take out. We use some olive shell, in our face scrub and we’ve never used plastic microbeads. But the delays, I mean they’re not changing until laws come in and it’s taking years. There’s nervousness about how the plastic might perform and they’re just waiting to see, are we going to have tubes burn? And we don’t. The plastic it performs just as well. Companies like Bulldog and other companies in other industries that share that ambition can actually be influential beyond just the immediate sort a level of their own sales. That’s what hope that we can do.
What is Bulldog’s purpose?
Trying to to answer the overall question in the category, which is why are men not using skincare in the same way as women. Why are 90% of women moisturizing? Why are only 20% of men moisturizing? The overall ambition for us is to try to encourage more men to come in for the first time.But we think for some men who are particularly motivated by environmental concerns, this will be an important thing for them to add into the mix. I think overall there’s a war on plastic. That’s also really what inspired the razor. So with the razors, I think we, we heard that there’s 2 billion razor handles going to landfill in America alone every year. It’s a mad industry.
Why do Canadian men need Bulldog?
I think it’s just about meeting men where they’re at. If all they know about skincare is moisturizing, just start with that and then if you start seeing improvements or you start liking it, move on to a scrub or move on to the eye roll-on or beard care. I think once you’ve understood that there are benefits to skincare, I think men actually can become quite loyal. You look at them on other wellness trends like fitness training, weights or nutrition or whatever it would be. Men can get right into the stats and get really committed and showing determination and stick with it. Skincare is something I think that they just need to pick up the habit for the first time.
Do you have any recommendations for someone who works out frequently?
If you maintain a really active lifestyle from a fitness and training perspective, then you’re going to be taking more showers. A lot of men use conventional body wash or face washes, which have surfactants, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate. And that’s actually a skin sensitizing ingredients. A lot of men, if they’re regularly showering, will have this sensation where they’ve worked out, they shower and then after they’ve showered, their skin will feel almost quite dry, quite tight. But that’s often to do with artificial ingredients that create foam in the products that they’re putting on their face, or they’re putting on their body. With Bulldog, if you’re washing your face regularly because you’re working out well, you should be looking for naturally derived face wash that doesn’t contain these harsh surfactants.