Editor’s note: To read more pieces in the Style Q&A series, click that link.
Up until a few years ago, I didn’t necessarily pay attention to my grooming routine all that much. I’d used skin care products like Proactiv as a teenager, but taking care of my face and skin wasn’t necessarily top of mind as I went through college — perhaps you’ve found yourself in the same boat. When it comes to men’s grooming, the adage might be that you don’t know what you’ve been missing until you find it. That is, in testing out grooming products along the way, you learn what works, what doesn’t and what can significantly upgrade your skincare routine. Such has been the case with yours truly and Tread for Men. I first learned about the brand earlier this summer — you might recognize them from a recent reader giveaway — and after testing out the brand’s wares for a few months, they’re certainly a brand worth knowing. Men’s grooming is an area that’s easy to overlook — after all, it’s easier to get ready and dash off without a few extra steps in the morning or evening, right?
Well, if you want to properly care for your skin and look (and feel!) better in the process, those steps are worth taking =– trust me. The team at Tread for Men epitomizes this — and they live it, too. From the brand’s Basics Kit — which includes an excellent facial wash, a moisturizer, organic soap and sunscreen — to Tread’s handy beard oils, they’ve got a full grooming routine covered — and it requires but a small investment of your time and money. It plays into the idea that upgrading the small details — like your wallet or the fit of your T-shirt — makes a big difference. And who better to talk to than the guys behind Tread? Truly, the brand is doing things the right way — co-founders Eric Verdeyen and Bob Huguelet were great to catch up with, and I’ll let them take it away for now. Enjoy!
The Style Guide: Tell me about the start of Tread and the “A-ha” moment that led to the formation of the brand?
Eric Verdeyen: We had been kicking around business ideas in 2015, but we didn’t quite know what we wanted to dive into. Around the same time our wives (independently) started telling us to take care of our skin — pointing at the new wrinkles, dry skin, dark circles, etc.
Bob Huguelet: My wife was always ambushing me with her products, the bathroom was a warzone (haha). Eric and I got to talking about it — neither of us knew much about skin care or thought it would make much of a difference. But we saw that all the women we know are into it, and we saw the upward trend of grooming among guys as well. We started to do some research, and turns out taking care of your face and skin is not only important to your look but incredibly beneficial to the long-term health of your skin.
EV: Basically, life takes a toll on the skin — stress, weather, bacteria, showering, and especially the sun. You can see it easily in older folks or guys who work outside and don’t pay attention to the effects of the elements. The more we looked into it, the more the science behind it made sense. You need to keep your skin clean and moisturized so it can function well. But we didn’t want to use our wives’ products, and other brands were trying to sell us on too many options or weren’t of great quality, manufactured overseas or wherever. So we saw an opportunity to create a high-quality, reasonably priced, and environmentally friendly product line that is easy to understand and use for guys like us.
TSG: Guys have grown a lot more interested in all things style and lifestyle as of late — how does Tread play into that as a brand?
BH: We take the approach that taking care of your face isn’t just about looking groomed and healthy, but more importantly about long-term, whole body health. Guys are starting to understand that. The overall package — grooming, style, heath, exercise — all play parts in making a good impression, whether it’s at work, going out with friends, or just for your significant other. It’s catching on. We play into the trend by developing quality products and designing them for men. The goal is to help guys get comfortable with a new routine that we know will help them in the long run.
EV: We see it as an extension of the new grooming wave — We all know that guys are thinking about their faces more with great brands like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s, and expect manly products that look and feel great. We are taking it to the next level beyond shaving. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you’ve got your clothing style locked in but your face is dried out, discolored, and blemished.
TSG: What are some grooming areas you see guys tend to skip or make “mistakes” in, or areas in which guys should take better care of themselves?
EV: Believe it or not, a lot of guys don’t wash their face at all. Or they just use bar soap in the shower.
Guys don’t usually think about how your face accumulates dirt and bacteria throughout the day, and while showering helps, every time you rinse, you’re also washing away the natural oils.
A quality cleanser will help with the daily wash while keeping the skin hydrated like natural oils do. And if you’ve ever experienced razor bumps, acne, blemishes – those can often be solved by proper cleansing (and changing razors and towels) Many of the big brands for men that you find in retailers have a significant amount of salts and inorganic chemicals that dry out the skin. You may be clean, but you’re drying out skin and making yourself more susceptible to signs of aging.
BH: Also, a huge mistake is not wearing an SPF every day. The sun is the #1 cause for damaged skin and long-term signs of aging. And you’re getting hit as soon as you walk out the door. Even if you are in the office all day or, drive to work, your body is exposed to UV rays. Most cases of skin cancer actually start on the left arm, neck, and face — the side that gets hit while driving. So, yeah — wear sunscreen every day!
TSG: Are there any beginner tips you have for the guy just getting into a grooming routine?
EV: Don’t worry about spending a ton of money to get into a full routine right away. Start small, and work your way up. Consistently using a cleanser or moisturizer is the perfect way to get a feel for what you like and get in the habit of paying attention to your face. And you’ll feel and see a clear difference before and after.
BH: We designed a great starter set called “The Basics” which is exactly that — the essentials including cleanser and moisturizer, as well as our organic bar soap and sunscreen. You can always add other products to your routine, or swap in different brands to see what you like best. Once you find a product you like, stick with it!
TSG: On a style-related note — what’s one essential style item every guy should have in his closet, and what’s one grooming item every guy should have in his medicine cabinet?
BH: A blazer for sure, especially in Chicago in the late summer and fall. Layering up will give you the optional extra protection all day. My go-to is a blue and gray Bonobos wool blazer. Great to dress up jeans or chinos and never gets wrinkled, so you can wear it all day.
EV: A shoe horn (haha) but seriously, a few nice pairs of quality shoes when going to work or going out can make or break a look. Too often I see guys smashing their feet into the back of their shoes, and it can really damage the integrity and make great shoes look old and worn.
And I always make sure I have moisturizer on hand. Properly hydrating the skin is always going to help in the short and long run. It will help with dry, flaky skin and damage from the sun and, it will keep the firmness in the skin and fight against wrinkles.
BH: I actually keep my eye cream on my desk, it reminds me to use it everyday. But it too is a great product that contributes to your look and style. Unless your style is “High Plains Drifter” a la Clint Eastwood, you’re going to want to minimize the wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes.
TSG: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
EV: We understand that skincare can be confusing and intimidating for guy — it was the same for us. There is a lot of marketing and BS in the skincare game, and it’s hard to know where to begin. We’ve put a lot of work dispelling the myths and educating men on the “what, why, and when” for each of our products.
BH: For sure — all of our products and kits come with easy-to-use instructions, so if you don’t know where to start, we’ll set you up for success with a beginning package. Whether you go with Tread or another line, we definitely recommend putting something on your face sooner rather than later!