Durban - There’s a new kind of man in society. He takes good care of his skin, his hair and his nails. He goes for regular facials, massages and pedicures. He takes the time to take care of his grooming. And yet he is still a man’s man.
The game has changed and women want more from their men.
“I want a man who looks good, smells good, is clean-shaven and has amazing skin. I want his hands to be firm, rather than tough skinned. I want a man who takes care of himself. That way I know he can take care of me.”
This was the response from one of the women I asked about what kind of man they want. Well-groomed is now considered manly and attractive, while the scruffy, manly look is now associated with poor hygiene.
Research carried out by cosmetic companies reveals that the men’s market is continuing to grow at twice the rate of the women’s market in the UK.
Of the 1 013 British men surveyed by L’Oreal, 78 percent of them claimed it was important for them to maintain a good appearance. The research found that there is a growing acceptance that personal grooming is no longer something to be ashamed of, but rather a sign of pride and confidence – particularly with the rising number of influential male celebrities in sports, music and acting being spokesmodels for cosmetic companies.
Men now feel more comfortable using products other than shaving cream and aftershave.
According to the findings from market researcher, RNCOS, the male grooming industry’s growth is due to a wider range of consumers opening up to male grooming. This is leading to an increase in the sale of male grooming products. In the UK, reports have stated that last year, the male grooming industry was worth £574 million (R8.9bn).
Pearl Luthuli, the owner of Men’s Grooming and Spa in Umhlanga, says it’s the same in Durban.
“The number of men who have become image conscious and have a daily grooming regimen is on the rise,” she said. “It’s not a trend. It’s now a case of men who are looking after themselves and their health. I find that the men who come to my establishment are keen to know more about how they can change their appearance and become more groomed.”
Luthuli opened the spa earlier this year and decided to focus on men instead of making it a unisex spa.
“I realised a couple of years ago that there were more men going to spas, beauticians and dermatologists to find out how they could take care of their skin, hands and feet. Especially people in business, leading stressful lives, who didn’t want their skin to bear the brunt of the stress. I realised that focusing on men was the way to go, especially since they won’t feel self-conscious about being seen at a spa because this one is designed for them.”
Another somatologist, Nonto Khoza, who owns NealJ on Florida Road, Morningside, said she’s found that many men are encouraged by their partners to look after themselves and adopt a grooming regimen.
“I find that most women don’t want men who look scruffy, so they encourage their partners to get groomed. Before you found that men would just drop off their wives or girlfriends, swearing never to be caught dead in a spa. But that’s changing. It’s common to find couples coming in together for facials and manicures.”
Radio presenter Makhosi Khoza is a client at NealJ. “I grew up with very bad acne,” he says. “I remember a doctor telling me that I’ll have the acne until my thirties. I still have very oily skin.” While having a skin consultation and then a facial, Makhosi told me about his skin and how much he has battled with it.
“But then I’ve always just used soap and any moisturiser and that’s my grooming regimen done for the day. So I’ve decided that enough is enough and I have started to take better care of my skin.”
While there are some that are spurred on by their partners to change their image, most men take the step to become well groomed because of their career ambitions. In L’Oreal’s research, 47 percent of the men surveyed said that being well-groomed has helped them progress in their career.
One of the men I spoke to agreed. “If you take care of yourself and your appearance, then you’re perceived as someone who can be trusted and who is in control,” he said. “I think the way you look says a lot about how you conduct yourself… When you look good your confidence level also peaks – and in the real world people judge you based on how you present yourself before you even speak. First impressions really do count and companies generally hire people who will be representing their brand well.”
Although most of the men I spoke to didn’t have a grooming regimen that went beyond washing their faces with soap and moisturising with body lotion, most of them were interested in starting to take care of their skin and appearance.
“I didn’t even know that moisturisers are different. I just use my body lotion, even on my face,” one of them said.
However, not all of them are willing to go to a spa. “I don’t see myself going to a spa and getting a manicure, facial or something like that. I also know that a lot of young men in their 20s and 30s can’t afford most of the products out there. But I still think being well-groomed is important,” said another.
Speaking to a few women about men who groom, many said that they would love it if their boyfriends were to have a regular grooming regimen. “Many men think that to be manly, one has to be scruffy, but I disagree,” one said. “You can be butch, yes, but a man who’s well put together is bound to get any woman’s attention. Going a step further and having facials and manicures just shows that he takes his appearance seriously and cares for his skin.”
And the ladies’ ideal man?
“He should be groomed. Clean. I think that’s the ideal man. Clean-shaven, neat and their nails must be short. He must smell good and have clean hair. I mean look at Gabriel Macht, David Beckham, Justin Timberlake, Pharrel Williams and Maps Maponyane. Those guys are so well-groomed, yet they are still so manly. I love that about them.”
So are men who groom metrosexual? Well, apparently not. “I’ve never believed that there are metrosexuals,” Luthuli says. “I’ve always felt that men who groom know what they want in life. They want to look good. They want to have healthy skin, live a healthy life and look clean. There really is nothing wrong with men using skin care products like anti-aging creams, eye serums and moisturisers. I encourage it.”
Khoza agrees. “I think the reason why many men didn’t take care of their skin for a long time was that they didn’t want to be labelled. Looking after yourself has nothing to do with sexuality.
“When you look at the older generation, who grew up in the 50s and 60s, they looked after themselves. While they didn’t go for facials, they still understand the need for a man to look presentable at all times… That’s how you would recognise a gentleman. I’m glad we’re returning to that.”
So how do you up your grooming game? It’s easy, according to Khoza and Luthuli.
“I’d suggest that you go to a spa or a dermatologist, where you do a skin test and face mapping so we can find out what type of skin you have, the extent of the damage from exposure to the sun, stress and other factors,” Khoza said.
“We also assess your lifestyle. I believe it’s a holistic thing.
“For example, you can’t just treat skin alone without finding out if the person has a healthy diet. You need to start from the inside out. From there we can start treating the skin and the body as a whole.”
Chances are your partner will appreciate the better looking you. Better hair, better skin, and softer hands and feet. Plus you smell good.
Now for that wardrobe change and you can finally compare to her secret crush. - Sunday Tribune