This Queer Eye Star Launched A Men's Grooming Line & We Love The Reason Why
When you hear that a Queer Eye star has co-founded a clean grooming line, your mind might immediately go toward grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness—the hair and skin care guru extraordinaire known for upping people's grooming game in a mere five days.
"I'm not the grooming expert [on Queer Eye], but I'm the one who deals with people's mental and emotional health," he tells mbg. "My castmates get to fix their clothes, hair, and home, but they don't get to hear what stopped them from going shopping. I hear those intimate moments, when people say, 'I feel so ugly, and I feel so bad.'"
Having these conversations is what motivated him to create MANTL alongside The Honest Company alumni Peter Ricci and Irene Kong. The new line is a play on words for the skin's acid mantle, which is the barrier on our skin that protects us from bacteria, viruses, and environmental elements. While it's important for everyone to protect the skin's acid mantle on our face, bald and balding men must also keep their scalps front of mind.
The new collection includes a gentle cleanser, hydrating moisturizer, daily SPF (that won't leave a sticky or shiny residue, says Brown), as well as no-shine sheets made from bamboo charcoal and wood fibers. Star ingredients throughout the line include aloe, willow herb, and ginger root in order to balance and soothe skin, along with naturally derived squalane—a super-hydrating compound that doesn't leave a slimy residue.
His favorite must-have from the line? The Invisible Daily SPF 30. "You always need an SPF, whether you have melanin in your skin or you don't," Brown tells me. "Our SPF works with a moisturizer and it's clear, which is really amazing. It won't get in your beard or hair, so you can run it all over your face and scalp and don't have to worry about a white residue or smelling like coconut oil as you walk into a meeting."
The clean line also excludes major players we might see in traditional skin products: It's free of sulfates, parabens, dyes, and synthetic fragrance. While the brand is marketed toward bald and balding men, every item is safe for your face, too, meaning women are welcome to use the clean products as well (yet another launch that's blurring the line between gendered skin care).
And while the products are gentle and nourishing (perfect for people like Brown, who says he has sensitive skin), the call to action isn't just for cleaner formulas—it's for cultivating confidence.
"In our society, men are getting messages that if you're thinning or balding—something that naturally happens to a majority of men—you're not going to have the life you want, you're not going to look good," Brown explains. "As we were co-founding MANTL, we wanted to create amazing products that are great for people's skin, scalp, and neck, and a community where people can feel supported and see their self-esteem change."
He's not wrong. The connection between beauty and mental health is strong: The two are dependent on each other, as studies have shown time and time again. But Brown notes how self-esteem can vary between men and women, believing that it's time for men to build each other up, too. And as Brown notes, men can find it difficult to compliment each other—especially on their physical appearance.
"Women frequently come up to each other and say, 'Girl you look great! You're gorgeous!'" He explains. "Men don't do that because society somehow has shut them off. But when you compliment someone, it helps build your self-esteem, helps you feel more connected, and helps you open up when you aren't feeling so good."
In the end, Brown's new endeavor actually seems right in line with his Queer Eye role: "You are good enough, and you're going to get the life you want," he notes. "And if you don't know how, there's a community right here called MANTL that's going to support you...I want to make sure that everything I do will be something that helps people live better lives."
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.