So long, ungroomed masculinity. The global market for male grooming products is booming, and is forecasted to reach US$60.7 billion by 2020, up from a meagre US$17.5 billion in 2015. What’s more, men now make up 31 per cent of total toiletries sales in the UK, and the average man spends £71 on toiletries a year, a number that grows year on year. And in London new barbers and men-specific treatments and salons are popping up, to feed the ever-growing demand for male grooming.
But why is the industry growing so fast? ‘The stigma has been broken down,’ declares Aldwyn Boscawen, founder of new gentlemen’s pedicure room Aldwyn & Sons in Fitzrovia. The enterprise, which hopes to revolutionise men’s footcare in the capital, offers a treatment list of pedicures and manicures specifically designed for men.
Aldwyn Boscawen, founder of Aldwyn & Sons
Boscawen himself is from traditional military background, but recognises that attitudes to male grooming have changed dramatically in the last few years. ‘Men are more open to these things now because they’re more readily available, in environments that cater specifically to them, and they’re also more educated on the benefits. I see it as equality of opportunity for men.’
Andrew Cannon, who founded barbers shop Ruffians seven years ago, has also noticed the change in the male grooming industry. ‘It’s grown in terms of revenue but moreover it’s expanded in profile and visibility. This is thanks to media coverage, and influencers, and people on social media sharing their own experiences.’ While celebrities like David Beckham and Tom Hardy remain trendsetters, he’s also noticed a shift in the public’s attitude, too. ‘In the last seven years people have been given a licence to experiment more, without the shame. People used to be embarrassed about pushing the boundaries with grooming. Everyone just wanted to follow the crowd. But now people are like “this is my identity, this is my personality” and they’re expressing it. It’s a healthy, positive mindset to have.’
Boscawen also points to social media as being one of the big drivers of change in attitudes to male grooming. ‘Everyone is so much more ‘seen’ than before,’ he explains. ‘But there’s also the sense of self-gratification and self-care that men get from it. Half of the experience is the actual treatment, while the other half is the feeling you have when you walk out. That you’ve just spent 45 minutes on yourself, and you can switch off. I think this really helps men.’
Andrew Cannon, co-founder of Ruffians
After grooming, the logical next step is male make-up, an industry that’s already popular in trend-incubating South Korea. There, men slapping on BB cream (a light tinted moisturiser with SPF), concealer and maybe even some eyebrow pencil is considered fairly normal. In fact, there’s even specific make-up lines designed to cater to young South Korean men taking part in military service. Talk about redefining masculinity.
Is this something that British men should ready themselves for? Boscawen is sceptical. ‘I’m not sure if make-up for men will take off over here. Men are at the stage now of gaining access to better functionality of treatments and products. But I’m not entirely sure if they’ll go down the make-up route.’
Cannon is more open to the idea. For him, the change of attitudes towards male grooming is all about freeing men from the traditional diktats of masculinity. ‘Gender rights, LGBT rights and gender fluidity – these things have all changed people’s attitudes to male grooming. People are happier to put themselves out there more. And with gender fluidity there is a move towards male make-up, and concealers. At the moment there’s more unisex products, but it’s involving in that direction now.’
First facials, then pedicures and now make-up. Will you be on board the male grooming revolution?