Donna Kim-Brand

Handsome and Mansome – Men, Grooming and Hair

Men have historically been short-shrifted compared to women when it comes to discussions and treatments about hair and grooming. And yet, one distinct advantage males have over females is almost universally being considered sexy with either a full head of hair or a shaved or bald head. Beards and moustaches not only signify manhood in many cultures, but can be styled to create a whole new identity, from bohemian or hillbilly to professorial. And yet men nowadays, across cultures, are investing heavily in their looks, grooming and hygiene at unprecedented rates.

Indeed, the men’s salon and grooming industry has increased from around 10% of the spa market share ten years ago to over 47% ( with $3.2 billion being spent by 2016). Ancillary product lines and services like gym memberships, body-building classes, individual exercise classes and group sporting activities are booming as well. Even the so-called old-fashioned barbershops are seeing a revival among younger patrons who have rediscovered what their fathers or grandfathers knew- there is more going on behind the walls of those barber poles than just shaves and haircuts. There’s community, identity, guy-talk and even activities like billiards in a relaxed, all male environment.

The art of self-care, once considered the realm of the Metro-sexual, a male considered overly fastidious and trendy about his looks, pampering and fashion sense, has now become a more regular part of the daily routine for many men. They now ‘get it’ that good grooming and care of one’s hair and skin is sexy and tasteful, not necessarily a sign of narcissism. The benefits extend to good health and longevity as well as possible advantages in a competitive workplace and in attracting personal relationships.

Interestingly, the male grooming trend is strongest in Asian and Arabic cultures, with Europe not far behind. Americans trail, which is not unexpected, as American women also lag behind their global counterparts in self-care and spa participation. This is most likely stemming from our Puritan roots that link attention to the self with vanity, along with pure lack of time for self care in our hyper-busy society.

There was long a notion that pampering was a mere luxury, belonging to the elite classes who could afford the high fees and squandered time. Spa chains like Massage Envy, which surely appeals to both males and females with that moniker, seek to make services easily available at more affordable prices. There may also be a perception, especially among men, that the whole industry is too feminized. So the industry will need to address a few key issues here:

· Good grooming and self care need to be seen as necessary maintenance in health and well-being rather than ‘mere’ luxury’.

· One-stop-shop options will help make initial access and eventual brand loyalty more appealing.

· Product names and descriptions may need to be altered to appeal more to males, such as changing a ‘wrinkle cream’ product to ‘skin revitalizer’, or ‘hair mousse’ to ‘hair gel’.

· The industry will also need to consider how and where they market to men as compared to women. Separate sales counters with more privacy and more masculine decor in department stores, and using popular digital marketing to personalize the otherwise anonymous online buying experience are two ideas.

One of the hottest trends in male grooming and haircare is the bundled package of goods received monthly or quarterly as a member in a club. Endorsed by celebrities, they become ‘cool’, as well as assure anonymity through home delivery and allow more affordable access to a range of products on a regular payment plan. Birchbox is one example, as are Urban Cargo and even ethnic haircare box Curlbox, which has entered the fray by announcing a subscription box exclusively for men’s hair.

Endorsements by trendy mens’ magazines like Esquire with their ‘Esquire Grooming Awards’ are now published annually to showcase a range of new, innovative or revolutionary grooming products for men. It’s just a matter of time before the newest and best will combine with ancient traditions to provide hair, grooming and health treatments that enhance looks and well-being along with masculinity expressed uniquely by each man as both handsome and mansome!

By the way – To all the handsome and mansome fathers out there – Happy Father’s Day from Hairchatter!

Be Sociable, Share!