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How male grooming brands are booming

When did men start caring as much about their appearance as women, and which brands are helping them do so?

A quick glance at my dad’s sink shows a bar of Dove soap, a well-used razor and a stick of deodorant. Survey my 20-something brother’s bathroom, however, and it’s a different matter: there’s moisturiser, whitening toothpaste, serum, spot cream, shaving gel and, horror of horrors, self-tanner. 

He’s not alone. The male grooming market was worth just over $47 billion last year (approx. £35 billion) and is estimated to grow to around $60 billion (approx. £45 billion) by 2020, according to Euromonitor. Something has happened to millennial men, and they are spending more time and money on grooming than ever before, thanks to a rise in leisure time, a focus on appearance and a spate of dedicated male grooming brands.

Marianne Morrison is a skincare expert and founder of STOER Skincare for Men. “The growth trend for the male market really started to increase around 2006. Male-specific online platforms and bloggers started informing their customer base, and the rise of social media has inspired gents to become more conscious of their appearance,” she says. 

Matt Hiscock, the UK general manager for disruptive subscription razor service Harry’s, agrees. “Men then felt they had permission to take care of themselves. It removed any stigma about taking an interest in grooming and skincare.”

 The rise of social media has inspired gents to become more conscious of their appearance

We can also thank the rise in hipster culture. Alice Leeburn is a senior beauty editor at Stylus. “The re-rise of the beard and its association to hipster culture led to a plethora of new products focused on helping men to maintain their beard, from shampoos to oils. The resurgence of traditional barbershops has also had a huge impact. As well as offering a skilled service, many are becoming social hubs that fuse grooming with craft beer, artisan coffee, music and retail,” she says. 

“Men want more modern solutions to their grooming routines,” Hiscock tells me. “A razor they don’t have to hide in their cabinet, that provides a comfortable and quality shave while being fairly priced. Guys like simplicity of choice.” Morrison agrees, adding: “Men seek products that are results-driven and multi-functional, 
for convenience.”

And male treatments, as well as products, are on the rise. “In many cases, guys are seeing treatments as just another tool in their grooming armoury. Because guys are problem/solution orientated, we believe that they’re visiting spas because they want to solve a problem, rather than be pampered, and many places are now offering male treatments catering specifically to men. It’s not about vanity; it’s more about self worth,” Hiscock says. 

With that in mind, we sent our boy about town, David Taylor, off to Third Space Spa for a facial. He was treated to the Murad Method, a bespoke facial that caters to your skin’s unique needs with natural ingredients such as sugar cane and goji berries. He reported back to the office relaxed, glowing, and ready to book his next appointment.

The rise in male treatments also includes injectables. Gino Castro, dentist and male rejuvenation specialist at Smilepod, has seen a rise in male clientele seeking anti-wrinkle injections, and on a larger scale, a 2015 study from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said the number of men getting injections has increased by 337 per cent since 2000.

“There is minimal, if any, recovery time,” says Castro. “Some of my male clients sneak in during their lunch break and leave with colleagues none the wiser. I suspect the increased affordability of anti-ageing treatments has also contributed to the rise of ‘boytox’.”

As for where the trend is going, stay tuned for its expansion. “I think the grooming trend will extend to a beauty-focused approach, with some leading brands adding male-specific cosmetics lines,” Morrison says. 

Leeburn agrees. “Barbershops are already extending their services, offering treatments that were previously considered women-centric, such as waxing and eyebrow shaping. Cosmetics brands should embrace gender-fluid attitudes to encourage adoption by male consumers. Make-up and skincare designed to enhance the face, rather than transform it, [such as] colour-correcting palettes that mask under-eye circles, will appeal to more traditional male consumers,” she says. 

We’ll be giving guyliner for Christmas, then.