Dr Matthew Hall explores emergent trends in male grooming, including manscaping, guyliner and manscara.
UK men are interested in the appearance like never before. Whilst many men have previously been interested in their look donning snappy suits and Brylcreeming their hair, what distinguishes the modern man from his forefathers is the breadth and depth of his fascination with his appearance. One only has to look at the number of products now available for men compared to their forefathers.
Men’s increasing fascination with their appearance has not gone unnoticed by manufacturers, and they have been quick to provide men with their own exclusive brands. For example, companies such as Gillette now provide hair grooming products for ‘manscaping’ (removing body and genital hair), in additional to their traditional facial hair removers.
Supermarket shelves are packed with the latest moisturisers, anti-wrinkle cream as well as more traditional products such as shampoos, shaving creams and deodorants. Even in the traditional feminized domain of makeup, UK companies like Men’s Make-up UK now provide men-specific products. Its cosmetic lines include products such as guyliner (eyeliner), manscara (mascara), makeup kits and self-tanners. Products from popular international companies such as Yves Saint Laurent, Evolution Man, The Men Pen and 4Voo can also be purchased to either enhance a man’s appearance or combat ageing, fatigue, blemishes and so on.
Various explanations have been put forward to account for men’s increasing fascination with their appearance, crediting fashion and image influences from the gay movement, equality pressures from feminist movements, marketers seeking new avenues in late capitalist consumer societies and the advent of the style press confronting men on a daily basis with stylised images of other men’s bodies (celebrity actors and models) linked to advertisements for men’s products.
Despite the reasons for this interest the increasing popularity of these products, it should be no surprise to learn that the UK market (excluding cosmetic surgery procedures) has enjoyed a steady 4-6% growth rate year-on-year for the past decade or so – currently worth £590 million in the UK with predictions for it to reach more than £1 billion by the end of the decade. This trend has been recession-proof with one in three UK men continuing to spend more than £10 per week on these products.
Indeed, the average man is reported to be spending four minutes more than women on his daily grooming regime, claiming that personal appearance is a key priority, citing anti-ageing, employment progression, personal health and hygiene, social circle popularity and sexual attractiveness as reasons. Thus it would seem that this trend is set to continue and UK companies will be quick to provide men with the products they demand in order for them to continue to ‘look good, feel good.’