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The Age of the Metrosexual January 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in MetroSexual.

Ever since David Beckham stepped out publicly in a sarong, macho men across the country have been reaching for the moisturiser and slapping on the concealer.

This week mascara for men went on sale in high street store H&M in response to the rapidly expanding male cosmetic market. Gone are the days when it was ‘poncey’ or ‘girly’ for men to look after their appearance with beauty products and in are the men-that-moisturise who have bathroom cabinets stocked with hair gel, bronzer and eye rescue.

Self-confessed ‘metrosexuals’ include England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson who fronted the Boots Hackett toiletry range and rugged film star Clive Owen who last year became the new face of luxury beauty brand Lancome.

A decade ago most men would let out a hearty, manly laugh at the suggestion of using an exfoliating facial scrub but now these products have become commonplace on supermarket shelves and in cosmetic stores. It appears history has gone full cycle, returning to the days of the Restoration when wealthy gentlemen adorned themselves in makeup, wigs and elaborate clothing to show off their fortunes and attract the finest ladies. The male grooming industry is booming and is worth around £800m a year and is predicted to leap to more than £900m by 2010.

Ruby Chana, business manager of Clarins at Beatties store in the Grosvenor Centre, Northampton, said the market was growing every day before their eyes. She added: “Men are becoming more aware of their skin and that it needs more attention. We do fresh wash scrubs, under eye serums and products which brighten up the skin if it is tired and fatigued. The packaging is made easy as well. Men don’t want a ‘facial scrub’ they just want something which says ‘to clean your face’. It is all around us now with advertising on television and men are looking after themselves more. Grooming is quite important to them now. We also do men’s treatments like facials and reconditioning back massages. These are not as popular but they are picking up gradually.”

Although many man will now walk proudly to the cosmetic counter to reach for a bottle of body scrub or ask for cleansing advice there are still a few embarrassed customers who wander around sheepishly trying not to be noticed or unsure of what to ask for.

Ms Chana continued: “We have samples so they can come in and collect them, then take them home to try them and they don’t have to talk about it there and then. That gets them to come back and open up a bit. Also a lot of women are telling the men what they should be using and they say ‘you are always nicking my moisturiser’ and show them what they can buy for themselves.”

On average men spend around £300 on grooming products a year, and some far more than this. During a visit around cosmetic shops in Northampton it soon becomes apparent how many male products are on the market and that men are also increasingly purchasing unisex goods, which traditionally were only bought by women.

Men are also tapping into the spa treatment sector, having massages, facials and pedicures. Heaven V salon based at Virgin Active gym in Riverside, Northampton, has a selection of treatments specifically for men.

Assistant manager Laura Carlisle said the 30-minute male deep cleansing facial, which costs £35, was a popular choice. The treatment is aimed at high fliers and men leading a hectic lifestyle who need something to rehydrate their skin. Ms Carlisle explained: “The treatments are quite popular with men using the gym here. There is always one man waiting at the same time a women is having treatment. Sometimes we get builders coming in who are real men’s men. They are protecting their skin as they are working in outdoor weather and harsh conditions. Most of the men are aged 20 to 30 years old. The older generation tend to be less interested. I tried to get my dad to use moisturiser and he didn’t want to do it at first but he is doing it now.”

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