Mike McRae and Tom Tappen are tackling Kiwi men’s skincare one cool, clever, covetable product at a time. Words Hannah Brown Photo Charlie Rose Jackson
From its activated charcoal face cleanser and pōhutukawa night cream to a kawakawa body wash and the already legendary sweet almond-oil infused ‘ball butter’ (yep, it is what it sounds like), Christchurch-based brand Two Dudes is changing up the skincare game, teaching men not to be afraid to take care of their skin – or their health.
Two Dudes launched in November 2020, after the dudes behind the project, Tom Tappen and Mike McRae, discovered the confidence skincare can give.
Mike says the duo, who met while studying law in Christchurch, were working in Singapore when Tom introduced him to men’s grooming products. “As I started to use them, I started to notice that not only did they work but I started to feel more confident about myself in general.”
Mike says they started to ask each other, “Why can’t all guys have this feeling?”
From there, the co-founders began developing the brand. While formulating their products – they uncovered the unfortunate statistics around men’s health in New Zealand.
“We knew our brand had to be underpinned by men’s health, which is where we came up with the idea to give 10 per cent of our profits to men’s health organisations,” he adds.
Mike and Tom started the business working between Christchurch and Auckland, selling the products online.
Mike says the beauty of both being from Christchurch was that their families and networks were there to develop it with them. Living in Christchurch post-earthquakes gave them the resilience they needed to quit their day jobs and “sell moisturisers to men”, with the hopes their message would resonate.
And it has. Their research found that men often find skincare confusing because they see it as a feminine category, they don’t understand why they need it, and they don’t know what they should be using. Two Dudes addresses these concerns with their accessible range of products that are easy to understand and use.
The brand started with a core skincare line, added shampoo and conditioner, and recently launched a shower care range. Mike says they knew not all guys used skincare, but that (“hopefully!”) all guys take showers.
They wanted to start with skincare because it required high trust, which allowed them to build that same trust into their message around bettering men’s health.
On top of donating to men’s health organisations, Two Dudes have run a number of campaigns promoting conversations around men’s health, including their limited edition Ball Butter, a “simple, nourishing moisturiser designed to be applied daily” that Mike says was created to “encourage dudes everywhere to check their nuts”, and which will be back again this June for Men’s Health Month to raise awareness around testicular cancer.