Gone are the days when the average male grooming regime consisted of a wet shave followed by a slap of aftershave; today’s male consumer is discerning, product-savvy and keen to stay on top of the latest grooming trends. It’s little wonder, then, that the UK male grooming market grew to £1.7 billion in 2016, according to Euromonitor International. From beard oils to fake tan, there is a wealth of dedicated products for guys to choose from. Read on for our guide to helping shoppers navigate through the male grooming maze…
Male skin is significantly different to that of women’s and requires a tailored skincare approach. “Men’s skin is around 20 per cent thicker than women’s,” explains Dr Howard Murad, a leading LA-based dermatologist. “It has more collagen, so it’s firmer and it ages differently. It is also oilier, because men have more sebaceous glands, making them prone to clogged pores and breakouts.”
Those concerned with skin texture, blocked pores and signs of ageing should try a moisturiser containing retinol; this multi-tasking vitamin A derivative helps increase cell turnover, making the skin appear smoother, plumper and less wrinkled.
Two thirds of men aged 16 to 24 feel self-conscious if they have a spot, according to research by Mintel. Spots can strike at any age – stress, frequent shaving and inadequate skincare are the main culprits. “Recommend products containing salicylic acid, which can get rid off acne-causing bacteria and dirt,” Dr Murad says. Vichy Normaderm Anti-Blemish Care (RRP £14.50) is suitable for acne prone males.
“For everyday maintenance, moisturising is crucial – it balances oil production and keeps skin hydrated, while daily cleansing and exfoliating once or twice a week will remove impurities and pore-clogging dead skin,” advises Dr Murad. Lab Series Pro LS All-In-One Face Cleansing Gel (RRP £24) shifts impurities without stripping the skin of its natural oils.
Designer beards have been the style of choice for discerning men for the past few years, but according to grooming experts, it’s time to make way for a more streamlined look. “The big beard trend is on its way out – we are seeing a shift back to shorter, trimmed down stubble or a clean shaven look,” shares Lloyd Hughes, Creative Director of male grooming brand Men-ü.
Whatever your customer’s beard length or style, a good trimmer will keep it looking tidy, and these remain extremely popular among men in the UK, according to Tim Wright, Vice President for Appliances in Europe at Spectrum Brands, which owns Remington. “Our research shows 62% of consumers use beard trimmers weekly in the UK, and this is a key growing groom category across Europe,” he says.
Advise customers to look for certain features and functions for best results. “A wireless trimmer is best for dry shaving and allows more freedom to shave from different angles. A choice of different blades and combs are also important for creating more detailed fade-ins and trimming lengths,” says Bruno Gonclaves Ribeiro, head barber at Ted’s Grooming Rooms in London. Wright adds: “Blade geometry/technology is another feature that can help achieve best results. For example, our Remington CaptureTrim serrated blades capture then trim hairs for a sharp cutting performance.” New Braun Multi-Grooming Kit (RRP £52.49) can be used on the face, body and hair.
For daily facial hair maintenance, recommend a beard comb, which straightens the hairs and trains them to grow in a downward direction, while a beard oil can help condition and tame the hairs. MR. Beard Oil (RRP £10) is filled with moisturising abyssinian oil and softening silicones.
Wet shaving is the preferred method for those who like a fuzz-free look, but it can be harsh on the skin without proper preparation; a bad wet shave can lead to skin sensitivity, razor burn, clogged follicles and breakouts.
“For the perfect shave, rinse the face with hot water to open the pores and soften the hair,” says Gonclaves Ribeiro. “Then apply a lubricating product for protection and shave in the direction of hair growth, using a clean, sharp razor with multiple blades. Proper aftercare is crucial – a beard balm will keep the skin cool and nourished,” he adds. New L’Oréal Men Expert Hydra Sensitive Post Shave Balm (RRP £4.99) contains soothing birch sap.
“Dandruff is seen more frequently in men due to lack of brushing and cleansing of the scalp”
Steven Goldsworthy, trichologist
When it comes to male hair care, shampoo remains a best-selling product, according to recent research by Mintel. There are now products available for various hair types, be it oily, thinning or dandruff-prone.
Male customers who use styling products should wash their hair daily with a mild shampoo to avoid build-up of product and dirt. A clarifying formula is best for those with greasy manes.
Clean hair can often have a fluffy feel and that won’t help guys channelling on trend quiffs as seen on David Beckham and Zayn Malik. “Clay or putty used on wet hair adds texture and makes styling easier,” says Gonclaves Ribeiro. “Comb the product through in the preferred direction of the quiff, while blow-drying it upwards. Classic side partings, as sported by Justin Timberlake, are also in right now – use a gel or pomade on wet hair before styling,” he adds.
Two out of five men experience hair loss by the age of 35, according to Regaine.com. “Factors such as stress and certain medications can cause hair production to temporarily shut down,” says trichologist Steven Goldsworthy. “In some cases, hair loss is hereditary and manifests in a receding hairline and thinning.” Regaine Foam (RRP £25) contains minoxidil to increase the supply of blood and nutrients to the hair follicles, which promotes re-growth.
Hormones can also play a part in hair loss; dihydrotesterone (DHT), a hormone produced naturally by the male body, is said to prevent nutrients from reaching the hair follicle. A supplement like Viviscal Man (RRP £38.99) can promote growth from within.
“Dandruff is seen more frequently in men due to lack of brushing and cleansing of the scalp,” explains Goldsworthy. “It is caused by a naturally-occurring microbe on the scalp called malassezia globosa, which around 50% of people are sensitive to.” Shampoos containing anti-fungal ingredients like ketoconazole or zinc pyrithione can stop excessive flaking by fighting the fungus that causes it.
Many of the skin issues that affect the face, such as acne, dryness and a rough texture, can also inflict the body. A build up of sweat after a tough workout or long day at work can clogs pores by trapping oil and dead skin cells inside, which can lead to spots on the back, chest or arms.
“Using a gentle body scrub can prevent breakouts by eliminating dirt and sweat, while a vitamin packed shower gel will cleanse skin,” advises Dr Murad. “Existing body breakouts can be tackled with a body wash containing salicylic acid.” New Kiehl’s Exfoliating Body Soap (RRP £19.50) is made with jojoba seed powder, pumice and pracaxi oil to slough away dead cells.
With summer on the horizon, men should focus on neglected skin with a body moisturiser used on areas such as the elbows, knees and feet.
Body hair grooming is a key concern for men who take pride in their appearance, according to Wright: “Our research shows that in the UK, 34% of men groom their body hair every two weeks. Body hair trimmers that offer adjustable length settings and feature comfort tip blades are best for users that want to change up the length of their body hair and use the device without a comb on the blade setting.”
Those who prefer to go totally smooth should lather up with a shave gel to enhance razor glide, and shave in the shower using light strokes, while pulling skin taut. Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 Groomer (RRP £15.99) can be used to trim and shave body fuzz. For hard to reach areas like the back, recommend a depilatory cream like Veet For Men Hair Removal Cream (RRP £7.35), which dissolves hair at skin level.
The big beard trend is on its way out – we are seeing a shift back to shorter, trimmed down stubble or a clean shaven look