A new skincare game plan

by Harry Sheff

College entrepreneur Demetri Demascus and his father, Dr. Kerry Damascus, launched Game Day, their five-product men’s skincare line this spring. Demetri was a student at Babson, a Massachusetts college with an entrepreneurship focus. His father is a dentist and facial skincare specialist.

Demetri Demascus and his father Dr. Kerry Demascus

Like many start-ups, Game Day was created out of a perceived gap in the market. Demetri wasn’t happy with the men’s skincare products he found in the market—they were either rebadged women’s products or they didn’t quite speak to his active lifestyle.

“Women’s skin is normally lighter and they want it to be more radiant, but not shiny,” he said. “A lot of women’s products leave oil on your skin or help restore oil to balance it. And women will use more products than men. Men just want their skin maintained.”

The typical Game Day customer, he explains, is “an active young professional, an urban, fashion-forward guy who cares about his skin. He gets outdoors, plays golf or tennis and goes to the gym.”

Game Day products

The skincare line, which retails from $15 to $33, includes a pre-shave scrub, an aftershave balm, an energizing facial tonic, a moisturizer with sunblock and a shower gel. Future products will include a shaving cream, an eye gel and a cologne based on the marine mint scent of the existing collection.

“We work with a lab in Florida that specializes in high-end skincare,” said Demetri. “My dad worked with them to come up with masculine formulas, and then we looked at some ingredients that hadn’t really been brought to men’s skincare before: extracts of pear cactus and alpine willow herb. We wanted pear cactus extract because it bonds the skin. It’s been used briefly in women’s products but it’s still pretty new to skincare. It calms the skin and hydrates as it helps to eliminate wrinkles. It’s a major one for anti-aging. Even if young men aren’t sure if they want that kind of product yet, we have it in there anyway. Alpine willow herb extract regulates oil production on your skin. If you’re using a harsh soap every day, over time your skin will dry out. This helps prevent drying.”

In launching Game Day, Demetri did a lot of research, both for the products and the branding. “What we learned is that most men associate the gym and active lifestyles with clean, healthy skin,” he explained. The name Game Day and the packaging references sports logos and team jerseys.

Demetri found that younger men, who were introduced to the notion of rigorous skincare during their acne-prone teen years, are an easier sell on skincare products than his father’s generation, where both brand loyalty and an aversion to what they see as fussy skincare regimens are a barrier.

“If you’ve been using Old Spice for the past 30 years, how do you get over the hump to switch to a new product?” Demetri muses. “When people put on my products and they say, ‘Wow, my skin is cooling down instead of burning!’ And after a week, their skin looks better and their wives and girlfriends start commenting.”

Some older men haven’t quite grasped the concept of the pre-shave scrub, to comic effect. “Men over 50 aren’t used to a pre-shave,” said Demetri. “I’ve had a couple customers come back and tell me they’ve used the Game Day shaving cream and thought it was a little thick. And I say, ‘What shaving cream?!’ They didn’t read the packaging—they used the pre-shave as a shaving cream. The older guys aren’t used to as many different products.”

The father and son team started the project about a year ago and launched in March. All products are online but Demetri is working hard to get it into specialty stores (DLS Outfitters is helping) and high-end pharmacies and apothecaries.