Male grooming is bigger than ever, with more and more men becoming increasingly concerned about their looks and hygiene. In 2016, it is expected that male grooming will be a $21 billion industry. According to research by Datamonitor Consumer, hair products and shaving products top the list as being the most used, which is not surprising, however, there has been a huge surge in the facial skin care department, sun care products, and beard products. This is an interesting statistic because it begs the question – why has the male grooming culture become so enormous?
Maybe men have stopped using their wives’ skin care products and have started buying their own. Maybe there is something bigger at play here? To find out, we have to analyse what is happening in media and how the mammoth cosmetic companies are positioning their new products.
A major theme driving the male cosmetic industry are trends. Over the decades, trends have seen men strive for class and sophistication, with slicked back, parted hair and a clean shave. To achieve this appearance, only a small amount of products were needed to do this (shaving cream and hair wax). Recently, today’s new man needs a lot more products to achieve their look. A common trend this decade is the "lumbersexual". This type of man loves the rugged look. They either have an impressive beard with a slick short, back and sides haircut, or they have grown their stubble out and complementing this with a messy, ‘out of bed’ hair look.
Some argue that this trend originated from a hipster style, but we reckon that this is a look that could work for a lot of men. With this trend, an increasing number of products have emerged in the market to maintain it. Beard oil is a classic example of this. Men realised that growing a beard takes a lot of effort and hard work. They realised that they had to maintain and groom it. They succumbed to the dreaded beard itch, and soon had to counter-act their dry and knotty hair.
Beard oil was a saviour to many as it kept the beard free of dry skin and flakiness, it tamed individual hairs, giving the beard a very appealing lustre. When men combated an irritating beard, they soon started styling it using tools such as scissors, trimmers, combs and brushes. The different styles of beards achieved by men gave them a sense of personal identity and an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Their facial hair was an expression of masculinity and individuality. And alas, beard oil was added on top of every other grooming product in your morning routine. Male grooming trends such as this have traveled faster than ever before with the likes of social media being able to showcase the latest styles from across the world, with brands from Tom Ford to beard start-up companies riding the wave.
The young generation of men today have access to many forms of media right at their fingertips, and it is not hard for them to get caught up in all the imagery of general men’s health and lifestyle. We can see on Instagram that there are men with six packs and a perfect tan surrounded by gorgeous women in some tropical and exotic location. Rugged men appear on covers of magazines, and many of our inspiring athletes have started to take care of their appearance. Although somewhat superficial, this constant imagery portrayed in the media can make a lasting impression on a lot of guys. In saying that, many men realise that this sort of lifestyle is irrelevant to them but still try to maintain a healthy regime. In today’s world of dieting and regular exercise, buying skin care products to maintain an overall healthy look is just an extension of this.
Interestingly, the top appearance-related concerns among men include looking old, dry skin, bags and dark circles under eyes, spots, blackheads and wrinkles. The common denominator here is the goal for a youthful appearance. That is why there is an increasing trend in sun care products, for example moisturisers with SPF protection. These products protect the skin from the sun and slow down the aging process induced by the sun. Circles under eyes obviously give the appearance of tiredness and exhaustion and thus men are trying to fight this by buying skin care products to maintain a revitalised look.
So why don’t men just use their partners’ skin care products? Well if you have a look on the shelf in a male cosmetic section of the supermarket, you will notice that these products are heavily male driven in their branding and packaging. Colour schemes, text and bottle types all have a manly vibe to them. This has given a lot of men the opportunity to buy their own cosmetic products with their own needs in mind.
Many brands have successfully adopted a simple yet effective approach in their packaging which portrays the idea that the product delivers results and is specifically designed for men. In truth, these products ARE designed for men and male features in mind. From function to fragrance, products like shaving creams, gels, face washes, hair shampoos and hair styling products fit the male agenda because men are extremely results driven. These products contain active ingredients such as caffeine and vitamins to cater for men’s needs, such as fighting the signs of aging and skin healing.
For example, a study by the scientists from Proctor and Gamble (2016) have found that male skin wounds heal slower and that it is more pigmented and prone to inflammation. It is these reason why specific actives need to be added to male cosmetics in order to combat these problems.
In the years to come, many experts believe that there will soon be a shift of men who will seek out professional treatments in salons and barbers, such as facials and further hair maintenance like waxing. This will increasingly drive new and exciting innovation across the whole industry.
All these trends are indicative of a new perception of male grooming and self-care. Instead of having only a couple of products in the medicine cabinet, men now have several or more as part of their grooming routine. No longer is it any less manly or feminine to take care of your appearance. Men are recognising that having pride in their overall appearance can give them confidence which translates to a better perspective on work and life.
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Author: John Porreca
Ed: Ben De Campo
Jamie Mills (2015). Trends and Innovations in Male Grooming, Datamonitor Consumer. Available from: http://www.vietbeautyshow.com/Portals/6/Trends%20and%20innovations%20in%20male%20grooming.pdf
Maurer M, Rietzler M, Burghardt R, Siebenhaar R (2016). The male beard hair and facial skin – challenges for shaving. International Journal of Cosmetic Science 38:1-9.