It’s never been more macho to be well-groomed. So, guys, make an effort with the eye cream, pleads Michaela Williams
An unscientific survey: take a quick gander at the contents of your bathroom cupboard – I’ll wait – and report back on what percentage is ‘his’ and what percentage belongs to ‘her’. If it’s anything like my household’s en suite, it’s distinctively unbalanced, with about seven-eighths of space dedicated to my 14 nightly skincare steps (yes, I need all of those serums), countless tubs of body scrub, and a graveyard of half-full fragrance bottles. My husband’s ‘half’, on the other hand, proudly boasts a few disembodied razors, a sad little nugget of Dove soap that I’m pretty sure was there when we moved in, and a container of cotton buds.
Yet, every night he’s jostling my elbow to borrow a pump of night cream and a lick of lip balm. And I know that someone has been nicking my oil-absorbing clay cleanser. While he’s loathe to fess up to his beauty secrets, it turns out that there are plenty of men who are embracing a regular beauty routine, with the market for malespecific grooming products now the biggest it’s ever been. And that’s not including all the cleansers sneakily borrowed from their wives. While our fathers may have not been too keen on primping and preening (my own dad swears by a dab of Vaseline and a slosh of Brut to solve any of his beauty dilemmas), the same can’t be said of our own children’s fathers, with figures from 2016 showing that men aged between 18-39 are the main contributors to a significant increase in sales in the male grooming market. The market segment has been predicted by Euromonitor to reach Dh222.7 billion globally by 2020.
Matthieu Guinard, CEO of beauty subscription box service GlamBox, says that he’s not surprised by an increasing interest in male grooming, suggesting that it’s men living in the Gulf that are particularly coming around to the joys of looking their best. ‘The male grooming industry across the GCC region is growing, and the demand for male grooming products increases year after year,’ says Matthieu, highlighting the ‘hipster beard’ trend as an example of men becoming more meticulous about how they look. ‘Key to the growth of the grooming market for men in the Middle East is the high proportion of young people, who are increasingly interested in taking care of their appearance,’ he says, noting that social taboos, which once implied men who took pride in their appearance were less masculine, are diminishing.
On the contrary, a guy liking a bit of facial serum is now seen as a positive, Matthieu says. ‘I feel as a man, you invest more in your hair, and then your skincare routine also as a witness of your social standard.’ GlamBox is putting its money where its mouth is: after boxes solely for women for several years, last month it launched its first male-focused box, the GlamBox For Him, which features a curation ranging from beard oils to face scrubs.
With men’s beauty routines becoming more, well, routine, there’s been a rush of dude-attuned products, treatments, and salons, each customised to be just what a guy wants. Launched in late 2016, the gentleman’s parlour in Harvey Nichols Dubai is nestled in a corner of the menswear department. Neighboured by racks of denim and hoodies, it’s perhaps a tad less intimidating than having to battle past rows of lipstick and perfume salespersons. Stocked with everything from beard care to pore-shrinking masques, the space even includes chairs for bored wives to sink into while their husbands browse from brands including Kiehl’s, Jack Black, Espa and Clarins.
The cut-and-go mentality of male salons is also seeing an overhaul, with those in the game now seeking to return the art of the short back and sides to a more luxurious encounter. The Emirates Towers gentleman’s barbershop and salon 1847 is one of those in the region that is harking back to the days when a shave was treated as an occasion. Hamza Javed, the spot’s barber, says that men are more willing to try new things, while still being discerning about what they use on their face. ‘They are more aware about what they apply to their skin, often opting for more natural-based products,’ he says. The barber notes that clients now pop in for more than just a shave or cut, opting to add on a nail care service, beard-shaping or targeted facial to maximise their time spent primping.
Interested in ramping up your grooming? Take your time. ‘Start
With men’s beauty routines becoming more, well, ROUTINE, there’s been a rush of DUDE-ATTUNED products, treatments and salons, each customised to be just WHAT A GUY WANTS
off small, invest in a face wash and moisturiser and include it in your morning and evening routine,’ Hamza recommends, suggesting that you store your arsenal of products in a visible corner of the shower so you remember to use them. ‘You will definitely feel and see the results, and after you’ve seen results, you will be more motivated to start using the facial scrub, eye gels, and so on.’ Matthieu agrees, pointing out that looking better is one of the easiest ways to give yourself a little lift. ‘Being well-groomed is definitely a confidence booster any man should try,’ he says. ‘It’s never too late to start; once you do, you won’t look back!’
The old-school barber chairs at 1847 encourage lingering for treatments by the likes of Hamza Javed (below)