Fed Up With Gender Stereotyping, This Awesome Dad Created Unisex Cosmetics

U.K. father Sam Farmer went back to school to learn how to make personal care products with one key ingredient: equality.
Apr 21, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Gendered marketing is the norm in our world. Girls are steered toward the pink Lego blocks, while boys get bullied for having sparkly My Little Pony bags. And although body odor doesn’t have a gender, that doesn’t stop companies from engaging in some serious stereotyping to sell deodorant. While shopping for deodorant for his teenage daughter, U.K. resident Sam Farmer was so dismayed by the sexist, pink-is-for-girls pigeonholing that he went back to school for two years, studied cosmetic science, and created the unisex Sam Farmer brand.

Farmer, who was a stay-at-home dad, told The Guardian that when it came time to choose a product for his daughter he saw "rows of pink, phallic cans, sickly sweet and called things like Entice, Tease and Sinful. Some even featuring the Playboy bunny.” Meanwhile, products for Farmer's son featured dark colors and macho language such as “Total Control” and “Team Force.”

The Sam Farmer line offers gender neutral deodorant as well as face and body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizer. The white and solid-color packaging doesn’t come with masculine or feminine visual cues. As for scent, there's no sickly floral for girls or overpowering Axe-style odor for boys. Farmer's testing found that teen boys and girls both liked a white tea smell. And because parents don't want their kids washing up with harmful chemicals, Farmer aimed to create natural products. He writes on the Sam Farmer website that “when selecting ingredients for the formulations, I'm focused on the cosmetic science not marketing misinformation.”

The choice to name the product after himself was deliberate, and he’s not afraid to talk to customers either. “I'm fed up with not knowing who is responsible for a product or faceless call centres,” Farmer writes. “So my name's on the front and my phone number is 00 44 7775783339." (Yes, he really put his number on the website.)

So far the products are only available through online retailer Space NK. A travel-size pouch of the entire line will set you back about $34, so they're pricier than many drugstore brands. Then again, getting away from gender stereotypes is priceless.