An avatar of toxic masculinity is starting a men’s grooming line

Dan Bilzerian’s 27 million Instagram followers are used to seeing him with guns and girls.
Dan Bilzerian’s 27 million Instagram followers are used to seeing him with guns and girls.
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In a mansion overlooking Los Angeles, two women wearing leggings and sports bras recline on a countertop. Between them stands Instagram superstar Dan Bilzerian in a button-down shirt, showing off a thick beard, biceps, and a steely gaze. Nearby, a photographer shouts encouragement: “Nice! Confidence! Fierce, girls.” One of the women claws at the air like a cat. The photographer likes this; he encourages the other woman to do the same.

“Is he really with the girls?” Michael Feder, president of Bilzerian’s holding company asks me as we watch the photo shoot unfold. “He is.” Feder winks.

I hadn’t wondered either way, but Bilzerian’s 27 million Instagram followers presumably do. The 38-year-old’s feed includes myriad images and videos of him surrounded by women whose butt cheeks are often bared to the camera, whether they’re paddle-boarding in an aquamarine sea, frolicking in the snow, or, in one post hash-tagged #internationalwomensday, being used as a tray for food in a hot tub.

“A lot of my audience is aspirational as far as getting girls,” Bilzerian tells me after the photo shoot wraps and he’s swapped the button-down for a tight white tee to go with his signature short shorts. “I think most guys, actually, are a little bit sexually frustrated.”

Starting this week, the Bilzerian-sanctioned path to getting girls—already paved with well-defined muscle mass, exotic travel, jet-skis, guns, private planes, and having your own cannabis brand—also includes beauty products. On July 1, Bilzerian launched Alister (get it? A-lister), a brand for “active lifestyles and adventurous spirits” whose products include shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, cologne, deodorant, lip balm, and massage oil.

Bilzerian says the desire for a natural deodorant “without harmful ingredients” inspired his journey to becoming a male-grooming entrepreneur. All Alister products tout “Pheroboost™,” a blend of ingredients that promise to increase pheromones, the smells naturally secreted by some species that send chemical messages. The scientific evidence linking human pheromones and sexual attraction is lacking, but no matter: Bilzerian says the key ingredient to attraction is confidence, and he’s here to help.

“Women have this arsenal of stuff where if they have a pimple or they have something, you guys can cover that up,” he says. “Guys don’t really have that—and it’s also a little bit taboo.”

Later this year, Alister will tackle that taboo: The company has plans to launch a concealer tentatively titled “camo” or as Bilzerian puts it, “I guess I don’t want to call it makeup, but kind of makeup.”

Makeup and body wash may be unexpected for a high-stakes poker player whose brand is built on his love of high-tech toys, high-intensity workouts, and highly visible butt cheeks—someone who just this week tweeted a “college tip” for hooking up with a “whole sorority.” But Bilzerian is far from alone in exploring the man-sized gap in the beauty market. Earlier this year, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop launched GoopFellas, a podcast for men. In 2018, Chanel released a three-product line for men in South Korea, and a new line of men’s makeup dubbed War Paint recently launched in the UK. In 2017, the men’s beauty category was worth about $7 billion in the US alone, suggesting significant room for growth.

When I ask Bilzerian about toxic masculinity—societal expectations that can lead to a culture of male domination, violence, and entitlement, and the suppression of emotions deemed more sensitive or feminine—he says he’s aware that he has been linked to the term in the past, but isn’t overly concerned. Bilzerian says his social media accounts these days are sales vehicles more than reflections of his real life. If anything, he thinks endeavors like “camo” could help.

“Men wearing makeup alone should kind of bridge that gap a little bit,” he says. “Anything that we can do to help men be more confident, I think that’s going to be a net positive.”

Correction: This story originally called Michael Feder the president of Dan Bilzerian’s media and cannabis businesses. He is not the president of Bilzerian’s cannabis brand.