‘The taboo around men using cosmetics still exists’

Waterford firm Mohecan hopes to change this with corrective cosmetics for men

Charlotte Matabaro and Marc Power of Mohecan

Charlotte Matabaro and Marc Power of Mohecan

 

A glance around any department store or airport duty free quickly reveals that while there are plenty of male skincare products on the market, there is little available for men in the way of corrective cosmetics. Girls and women can reach for the concealer if a dreaded spot appears, but teenage boys and young men just have to grin and bear the breakout.

Marc Power experienced the distress of acne first hand as a teenager, and when his friend Charlotte Matabaro asked him what his dream job would be, he said creating undetectable cosmetics for men. Two years on and Power and Matabaro have just launched Mohecan, a range of men’s grooming products comprising a tinted moisturiser, concealer, eyebrow gel and anti-shine powder.

“Our products will be bought by men with skin problems such as acne, rosacea and scarring or those who simply want to improve their appearance by taking their grooming routine to the next level,” Matabaro says. “We feel we are coming to the market at the right time as there is more awareness of men’s grooming. However, the taboo around men using cosmetics still exists. Mohecan aims to break down this barrier by offering our products in the male section of pharmacies and department stores.”

Power comes from an IT background, while Matabaro’s experience is in sales and recruitment. Their business is based in Waterford and has been self-funded to the tune of €50,000 so far. Their products are being made in small batches in Europe, and the founders are now looking for investment to begin full-scale production and retail distribution. For now the range is only available online.

“We believe we are the only company in Ireland formulating cosmetics specifically for men,” Matabaro says. “Many of the products available on the market outside of Ireland are either high-end or rebranded female products. Our products are affordable and made specifically for male skin. From our market research, we know that men usually ‘borrow’ make-up products from their female relatives because they don’t want to stand in the female section of shops. Men can buy our products online without feeling self-conscious and they are delivered in plain packaging.”

‘Uphill struggle’

When Power and Matabaro gave up their permanent jobs in recruitment to start work on Mohecan, the biggest hurdle they faced was getting people to take them seriously. “It was an uphill struggle as most of them thought that these two Irish nutters were having a laugh creating a cosmetic range for men. Indeed, one company wanted to see €250,000 upfront before they would even meet us,” Matabaro says. “As neither one of us had any experience working in the cosmetics industry, it was difficult to get a foot in the door and a steep learning curve, but we eventually found a lab partner who saw our passion and determination and decided to work with us.”

One of the challenges with Mohecan’s products was that Marc Power insisted they should contain no oil, as this is what gives cosmetics their thick and obvious texture. He wanted the range to be light and water-based and to blend naturally with the skin. This meant the founders faced a six-month wait while the stability of the products was tested followed by a four-month wait to ensure the products were compatible with their packaging. “It was an anxious time, as if the products failed the tests, we would have had to start from scratch. Luckily, they all passed,” Matabaro says.

With their range now launched, the founders have gone back to work part time to keep body and soul together. “We’re doing three days’ paid work and four days on Mohecan a week so it’s very full-on,” says Matabaro. “We’re keen to get investment to move forward, but for us it’s as much about getting the right person as it is about the money.”

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