Grooming

Noah Solutions Is the Filipino Skincare Brand That's Redefining Masculinity

Here's why people on Lazada are raving about this new skincare label.
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When it comes to skincare, or anything beauty-related really, there is a stigma that only women can be part of the conversation. Likewise, society often ridicules men who express and care for themselves through cosmetic products. A quick YouTube search of men's grooming brands will show you multiple advertisements selling the same idea: looking good for women.

Instead of encouraging men to nurture their health, they are pressured to conform to these expectations to prove that they are masculine. But, slowly, this culture is shifting. Consumers are becoming more informed and discerning of what they purchase. They are also paying further attention to self-care and authenticity—needs that are frequently swept under the rug by the personal care market. And Noah Solutions, a fast-rising startup, has been taking notes.

The brand is the brainchild of Ralph Layco—an award-winning entrepreneur from General Santos City, who has been in the game for quite some time now. He has since established Sonny & Marsha Holdings Inc. which manages several brands including Macho Mucho Salon, a chain of barbershops in Davao, and a pop-up school for entrepreneurs called New Bold U. Due to the pandemic, however, he was forced to let go of several outlets.

Ralph Layco
Photo by COURTESY.
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This setback only made the savvy entrepreneur more resilient. "We closed eight of our branches. Our revenue fell by like 70 percent. It was my responsibility to bounce back," he admits. "I said, 'OK, when I start a brand, I want to create one that I would love to build.' And, that was skincare." 

This idea was further reinforced by the rise of social platforms like TikTok, where young Gen-Z and millennial males were becoming more vocal about their desire to explore skincare. More than this, he was also keen to solve a problem that he personally experienced in his teenage years: oily skin and breakouts—claiming that 80 percent of men are prone to these conditions too.

As it turns out, his intuition was right. And, it paid off. In just a little over a year since it was founded, Noah Solutions has become one of the leading personal care brands for men on Lazada alongside industry giants like Nivea, Unilever, and P&G. Despite being newcomers in the market, the brand has already sold millions of pesos worth of products.

"We were patient. In February, we were expecting to lose money. But, in November, we were going to be in the top five. By October, we became number three in Lazada. How did that happen? I don't know, but I really believe that exponential growth happens when you commit to doing it right. When we started last year, January, I said let's do it right—even though we had only sold 12,000 pairs of products on our first day."

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How did they pull it off? Layco attributes the company's rapid success to intentionally innovating their products around their community's growing needs and aligning decisions with their purpose. "I think we can do a better job by understanding what men are going through nowadays. We are surprised because, as we continue on this self-care journey, men are becoming more open. They actually ask about active ingredients and understand what types are added to products. They also want to know how they can expand their routine," he said. "We're about helping men be more educated and empowered. We want to guide them as they go through transitions in life." 

That said, the founder believes that empathy is the key when it comes to building trust with his community.

"What we did differently from other brands is that, with every product we launched, we have a note that gives them an introduction. It tells them what the product is, what it does, and how to use it. We let them know that we care," he shared. Moreover, Layco highlights that constantly improving customer experience is of utmost priority.

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"It has become a challenge to educate people about what skincare ingredients to use. I innovate based on emerging information on what is most effective to men's needs. Also, as men, we don't want to be disrupted when it comes to our lifestyles. We want to use something that works as soon as you apply it. And after, you go back to your normal routine. So, for us to reconcile these differences, we have to actively listen to our customers."

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Not only is the brand upgrading the quality of skincare available in the local landscape, but it also has an even bigger vision in mind: to combat toxic masculinity and enlighten men about being more conscious about how they navigate their relationships—with themselves and the people around them.

"It's conditioning from the past. Before, there was a certain machismo and alpha image," he said. "I think this message is amplified in advertisements. And, everybody stuck to the script," he said. "We can change this discourse by normalizing self-care. When we talk about it openly, people start to embrace it. We also need to stop marketing these products as tools to chase women. It's this way of marketing that is affecting men of today. I feel that, as a brand, we have a responsibility to not go in that direction. Rather than telling men to look appealing for the opposite sex, it's really about loving yourself more."

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Throughout his extensive experience in the beauty industry, Layco also observed that some men have internalized shame with regard to grooming themselves. Hence, they tend to dabble with skincare products in the dark.

"For the past eight years, we managed our barbershop chain. One thing I've realized is that men are naturally conscious—they're humans. They want to get nice pictures of themselves. They want to have the current hairstyle and that is how they best express their vanity. But when it comes to personal care, per se, there is this judgment that limits them from fully expressing themselves," he said. This was notable amongst his peers and family, too: "They borrow from their girlfriends' products in the bathroom or they try to steal from their sister (which I did). Or, they borrow [from] their wives. It's almost like a crime. They feel guilty because they think it's not for us men to use."

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"I feel that, as a brand, we have a responsibility to not go in that direction. Rather than telling men to look appealing for the opposite sex, it's really about loving yourself more."

Conversely, he noticed that those who have applied self-care in their routines became more positive about life and attentive to their relationships. "I have a friend who always puts self care on the side. What he does is, basically, he just uses what is in there—like soap for the face and body. It manifests in his outside world. He didn't take care of himself nor others. He was also ashamed to express his feelings. Once he started trying, you can see the glow and how his energy changed. I think that's what's great about introducing self-care: you can shift from being passive, to becoming someone who wants to prove himself day by day," he said.

In the local market, where commercial options for men are frequently limited, Layco and his team have worked closely with experts to formulate a wide variety of products that are more targeted towards skin conditions. Some of their best-sellers include the Niacinamide Bar, a facial wash to reduce excess oil and dark spots, and their Zoom Out Spot Correcting Serum which infuses ingredients like Niacinamide, Zinc, and Alpha Arbutin to minimize hyperpigmentation and pores. They even have an Oil Regulator Toner, to treat skin damage, and the Deep Zero Exfoliant with Salicylic Acid (so you know it's legit) for stubborn blemishes. The best part? They're all relatively affordable.

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This, however, is only the beginning. "That's why we're called Noah Solutions—we create solutions," he insists. In addition to skincare, the brand is currently venturing into other products like haircare and nutraceuticals to address more problems commonly endured by men.

Amid a sea of shaving creams and overpowering deodorants, Noah Solutions is definitely giving the veterans a run for their money. While they're at it, they're elevating conversations surrounding gender norms too. We love to see it.

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