How the grooming expert balances reliable rituals with making great finds more accessible to all.
– KEYS SOULCARE
Saleam Tyree Singleton is the Philly-born creative consultant and beauty writer behind men’s grooming destination The Method Male, much-loved stories on beauty site Byrdie, and more. But, unlike many of his contemporaries, amassing web clicks and shelves full of cool products is anything but his endgame.
Instead, he’s made it his mission to deepen the representation and authenticity factor of the beauty space— one thoughtful post, product demo, and review at a time.
“A lot of what I do is about representing Black men in these spaces that are still very new for us. And not just in a sense of product and beauty industry, but existentially really — even seeing ourselves as beautiful is something that’s still very cliche,” he told us during our chat about the products and rituals he swears by.
Read on for more of his skin and soulcare gems.
If your skin had a personality, how would you describe it?
Chill, but dramatic. Like myself, it’s pretty adaptable… but it has its moments where it misbehaves. So I have to take care of it, like any other normal person.
People think that when you have access or when you’re an “influencer” that your skin is automatically perfect because you have so many things. But obviously, my skin breaks out. It gets dry. And it misbehaves at the most inopportune times. When I have a modeling gig, when I actually have to shoot something, it’s like, “Oh, really?”
What were some of the first ways you explored taking care of your skin?
It’s funny because I wrote about this as my first column for Byrdie actually. When I was younger, my grandmother took me to the dermatologist because I was starting to feel really insecure [about my skin]. I was so fortunate that my grandmother could take me to the dermatologist. But the things being prescribed at the time — like benzoyl peroxide — made me really dry. And a lot of the other stuff then was just super intense. But, because I was working since I was 12 years old [and had some spending money], I would go to the stores and just kept trying everything.
So my first interaction was as a consumer. I reacted to commercials because I saw them. I thought, “I’ll try this. I’ll try that.” I don’t know what my friends were spending their money on, but I was going to the grocery store to the skincare section.
Did you tie that to any thoughts about self- and soulcare at the time?
I think I was very conscious of the self-care element of it all. I also used creativity to escape and for my own sense of survival at that time as well. That’s something I don’t get to talk a lot about in terms of wellness. Growing up in South Philly in the projects, in an environment where it was really normal for things to be unstable or sometimes pretty scary. I was able to use music, movies, cartoons, and my imagination for a sense of grounding to where I was and who I was.
That’s so deep — but so childlike, too.
I also think that I was a kid who really knew about manifestation before I was conscious of what that was — and just using what I had as a springboard to get out of high school, get through college, get into PR… you know what I mean? So there was skincare, but there was also this innate sense of using gratitude as a survival mechanism. Like, “This is where I’m at. So let’s get it.”
That’s such a part of how we define soulcare — like self-care-plus. And, the plus being all the dimensions within all of us. That feeling gets lost in conversations about beauty, because beauty can be deep.
One hundred percent true. As early as the first grade, I was teaching other boys how to get waves and selling these little “cool kits” with a wave cap, a brush, and some grease for a dollar. Very early on, I was pegged as “the gay kid.” And people made fun of me. A teacher once even wrote “fashion designer” really big on a chalkboard to embarrass me after I asked how to spell it. But, I also smelled good. I had a lot of waves. I owned it — and my thing — you know what I mean? Even then, I was very Method Male.
And now? I go to Fashion Week, and it’s not even a social media flex. It’s like, “Wow, this is where that little boy [who] only imagined being in those rooms — even while other people called it socially unacceptable — ended up.” When you come from certain cities, you learn how to use that dirt. You turn it into fertilizer and make something beautiful. Skincare was just that kind of vehicle for me.
What does your can’t-miss skincare routine consist of?
The basics: cleansing, toning, moisturizing, and, of course, SPF. That’s something that I carried from high school to college, to all the different cities that I’ve bounced to.
What about go-to ingredients?
Salicylic acid. It’s that one active ingredient that’s worked for me throughout my life, from adolescence to adulthood. For me, it gives a more plump, tighter appearance. If I use it overnight, I just feel a lot more confident about getting on camera or meeting people. Manuka honey is a miracle worker if you’re breaking out. It’s a super-safe mask to use to clarify your skin and [you won’t have to] deal with the likelihood of purging as a reaction to new ingredients.
Apart from that, I’ll also switch things up with other toners: a hydrating toner or something more cleansing like witch hazel. All the fancy stuff is extra.
Let’s talk about specific mens’ grooming steps!
Shaving has always been an intimate thing for me, even when I go to the barbershop. I probably get a fade maybe twice a year, and when I do, I never let my barber do my face. I know how I like it. In high school, my best friend taught me about flipping the blade backwards on the curves — so only the flat, cool side of the blade touches your face — and then tweezing the rest. That’s really worked for me to help prevent razor bumps and ingrown hairs.
Which of Saleam’s skin or soulcare gems hits home for you? Share what you’re vibing in the comments!