The rise of male grooming

By Peter McKenna

There has been a palpable shift in the culture of male grooming in the last decade.  In the past a man’s travel bag might consist of a toothbrush, a razor, some moisturiser and shampoo.  But now shifting social norms have created a focus on image and the importance of maintaining a presentable and desirable image.  This is in contrast to the historical differences between male and female grooming traditions. Now more cosmetic companies provide ranges of products for both men and women.  

A big focus has fallen on self confidence and the desire to feel more attractive. People are concerned with their image, whether it is to feel more confident or otherwise it is an upward trend.  At a basic level for cosmetic companies this means more money. The growing premise which many of these companies market their products on is the increasing want to look more youthful.  Both men and women alike wish want to look more youthful, and unless the fountain of youth is found, cosmetics is among the best alternatives.  It has meant that male grooming and the male cosmetic market growing at unprecedented levels.  

Companies like L’Oreal have recently shifted the amount of money they invest into their Men Expert line.  It is no easy task for a company who have primarily been concerned with marketing female products to shift their focus and it is also a barrier for their male consumers, as not many would not identify L’Oreal as a male friendly product.

In terms of an Irish context the leaps and bounds that male grooming has made in the last fifteen years is colossal.  In times gone by it would be commonplace to sneer or make fun of a man who enjoyed taking care of his appearance, as it was considered a feminie preoccupation.  However it seems that over the last decade the opinions of male grooming have taken a sharp turn, and now male grooming practices in Ireland are becoming more popular than ever before.

There is a wide variety of male grooming practices that range from chest shaving, waxing, tanning, teeth whitening, and many more activities. While the importance of image is considered a wholly positive shift, is there a danger of becoming too concerned with image?  

Irish figures on the increasing popularity of the culture has been confirmed through a 2017 study which contended that the sectors employment continues to grow.  Ireland’s hair and beauty sector alone saw an increase of 56% when comparing 2017 to the year before.  The growing popularity of specialised or niche grooming salons is apparent throughout Dublin city.  

It is no secret that a growing trend in male grooming is being seen across Ireland.  The growing popularity has also meant an increase in the price of the services which is making hairdressing a more lucrative and attractive profession to work in.  This popular trend is also being helped along through social media posts by influencers and celebrities who are concerned with the image they portray to the wider public.

Jack Davis, a PeterMark employee who specialises in hair colouring spoke openly about the shift in popularity in men’s grooming and the reasoning behind it.

“Well I think it’s all tied in with people as a whole taking better care of themselves and the image of themselves that they want to present to others. I’ve noticed an increase in the numbers of men that would come in to have their colour done.  Even five years ago to today, the shift in popularity is huge.”

Is this trend in men’s grooming going to continue to grow with the increasing awareness of self image in today’s world? 

“Hopefully it does as it means I won’t be out of work anytime soon.  Although the rise in popularity of male grooming has made for an increase in work, it also has seen the competition between businesses rise.  People want to support people they know and I think that’s why smaller hyper local barbers are doing better than ever before.  I can’t see this trend slowing down anytime soon.”

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