It’s never been more ma­cho to be well-groomed. So, guys, make an ef­fort with the eye cream, pleads Michaela Wil­liams

Friday - - Grooming -

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)

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