Spotlight on male beauty treatments

Gone are the days of beautification being seen as something only for women and femmes. Recently, there has been an increased interest in male grooming practices, male perception of these habits and male treatments. 

By 2024, the global male grooming market is estimated to be worth about £70 billion according to Statista. Meanwhile, in London this year, the world’s first dedicated male beauty store opened on Carnaby Street.

Outdated ideals of masculinity are being rejected making way for more contemporary ones that include skincare, makeup and hair removal. Gender neutrality in fashion and beauty is another rising trend helping to pave the way for inclusivity.

The male gaze, which has historically been fixed on women and women’s bodies is starting to turn inwards with an increased focus on the male market as attitudes to male beauty treatments and non-surgical procedures become more positive and as men start to feel increasing pressure to look good.

Some of the reasons for this increased interest to look better than ever among males, experts say include the hypervisual nature of social media and dating apps, increased screen time during the Covid-19 pandemic and competition in the workplace. 

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), in the five years before the Covid-19 pandemic, male procedures across the USA grew at an average yearly rate of 4.79%

“If this trend is anything to go by, the UK will not be far behind,” points out Colewood Digital SEO strategist Jonathan Saunders. 

Business Gateway reports that, already, 43% of all UK adults have confessed to considering non-surgical treatments as part of their regular grooming routine.

Supporting this, Leeds-based aesthetics, laser and weight loss clinic, Manor Health, found that in 2021, men made up the majority (72%) of all enquiries for non-surgical treatments.

“The men of today want to look their best and are getting much more confident about coming into clinics that will improve their skin and in turn, boost their confidence,” says Manor Health founder, Maria Jacobs.

Despite the current cost-of-living crisis - men are still upping their spend on beauty and skincare while women are spending less

New research from Voyado Shopping Index based on 164 million purchase occasions has found that shoppers have been buying more but spending less in 2022. 

The only increase in receipt value, the leading customer experience cloud found, is among men aged 18-25 in the health and beauty category.

Popular male beauty trends

Skincare remains the most popular type of beauty care product for men, according to new research by Product of the Year, the UK’s biggest survey of product innovation. Over two-thirds of men in the UK (67%) say they have bought or would buy skincare products compared to just over half (55%) in the original poll which was carried out in November 2020. 

Beard care, make-up and hair regrowth products all received a share of the rest of the votes. 

“We can see from the results that men are investing more than ever in their grooming and skincare regimens.” says Helga Slater, MD, Product of the Year “And we’re excited to see which products have cut through the competition in the innovation ranks to break into the upcoming awards.”

A secondary Product of the Year poll revealed that just under a third of men and women routinely remove all their body hair.

Legs and armpits ranked top (41%), ‘everything off’ came in second place with 30% of the votes and facial hair removal ranked in third place with 29%.  

In 2021 research from razor brand Wilkinson Sword found that "what is manscaping?" was among the top male grooming searches. “How to shave balls” was the second most searched-for question, with 16,800 searches, or one every 31 minutes.

Recent research from Mintel suggests also that more and more young British males are embracing hair-free bodies.

In 2018, the study reports, 46 per cent of men removed hair from their bodies – up from 36 per cent in 2016. Fifty-seven per cent of men aged 16-24 have removed hair from their pubic region, up from 40 per cent two years ago; 42 per cent remove hair from their underarms, up from 16 per cent; while hair removal from the chest has doubled in the last two years increasing to 30 per cent.

While these numbers are still far lower than hair removal stats in women they are a significant increase. The rise is thought to be fuelled by social media and TV shows like Love Island which have normalised and popularised hairless male bodies.

Advanced treatments are also becoming more attractive to men as perceptions of male beauty and grooming practices are improving. According to the ASPS, “Brotox,” an increasingly common term for male botulinum toxin use, is the No. 1 cosmetic procedure requested by men in the US, with a 400% increase in treatments administered since 2000.

In a bid to destigmatise anti-ageing injectables for men, DNCE frontman Joe Jonas recently spoke out about his use of them to smooth fine lines.

As Dr Sina Salmi of Windsor’s Estetica Clinic pointed out in an Aesthetic Medicine article, it was only a few years ago that High School Musical star, Zac Efron was ridiculed online for his presumed use of injectables. Although male-targeted beauty has increased by £100m in the UK in just two years, Salmi believes that there is still a lot of work to be done to reduce the stigma.

“As a clinic, we want to normalise aesthetic maintenance and skin rejuvenation for men,” he says. “In turn, we hope that our male patients slowly feel comfortable enough to openly talk about their positive experiences with their male friends and colleagues, just like many women already do.”


Room for growth

Aside from the need to continue to reduce stigma around male grooming and treatments, there are many other areas that need improving to bring the beauty and aesthetics industries' offerings for men in line with that of women. 

“Generally speaking, the medical beauty industry still serves women,” explained Gong Wei, editor in chief of China’s Medical Aesthetics Observer in Allergan’s September 2022 report around ‘The Future of Aesthetics. 

Additionally, there may be some knowledge gaps for men when it comes to looking after their appearance. For example, women are more likely than men to view diet as important to skin health, according to research from wellness brand Lycored.

The wellness brand surveyed 490 skincare consumers in the UK and France, exploring attitudes to beauty and skin health, and how they differ by gender and age. 

When asked which factors were most important to their skin health, 39% of women chose healthy diet, compared to 30% of men. However, men were almost twice as likely to say exercise was important to skin health (30% compared to 17% of women).

Female skincare users were more than twice as likely to say that anti-ageing or wrinkle reduction was an important goal for them (49% compared to 21% of men). They were also more likely to seek a healthy glow (47%, compared to 32%).

“Our research suggests that changing social attitudes have made physical appearance a far more important goal for men than in the past,” says Tristan Schroiff, Sales Director at Lycored.

“However, the positioning and marketing of many skincare products are still gender-based, and it’s useful to understand how the needs and attitudes of men and women can differ.”

Have you seen a rise in male interest in your services? What needs to be done to serve this group better? Let us know in the comments...