Male beauty – when is the so-called market take-off really going to happen?

Male beauty – when is the so-called market take-off really going to happen?

Male beauty. The term that has been abounding the cosmetics industry for as long as I have been a beauty journalist, some 14 years. Even from my early days as a young whippersnapper reporter I have been writing about the imminent explosion of the world of cosmetics, beauty products, skin and personal care items and how it’s just about to take off.

So that’s why this month’s Global Cosmetics News podcast really struck a chord with me. My colleague Georgina expertly led a discussion with Jessica Blackler from Jecca Makeup, Rebecca Goswell, Global Creative Director, Asquan and Jamie Mills, Senior Analyst for Globaldata about just where this market is headed. The group discussed the different approaches by brands in penetrating the male beauty market – CoverGirl for example has hedged its bets and created a beauty range ‘for all’ (savvy marketing to avoid alienating its core female audience), while Chanel has gone for broke and created a range aimed specifically at men.

One interesting fact emerged that sunbeds are now more commonly used by men than women, however, I’d imagine women are more likely to purchase fake tan. But why is this the case? Is it purely because men feel ‘safe’ that their sunbed indulgence won’t be discovered, whereas the idea of applying a female-oriented tanning product in their home could lead to exposure from a) the smell and b) the inevitable streaks (even us girls can’t avoid those). This led me to question whether male cosmetics, in particular, will ever reallylive up to its hype as the every-day male consumer just won’t buy into it. Of course south Korean/LGBTQ communities are much more open to it, but is the average male?

Much was talked about within the podcast about how the younger generations coming through are creating a broader dialogue about it, and while Korean men are more likely to push the movement for mascara, foundation et all, it is the no make-up make-up movement that might lure in Joe Blogs on the street, but I have to say, I don’t buy it.

Like Georgina said when referencing her other half, my husband is nearing his forties and would no sooner wear lipstick or mascara than he would wear a skirt. But let’s look at this generational argument for a second, and, again, I just don’t buy it.  The Prance family is a strong-male force in every generation, and like my husband, there is just no way the men in the ‘20s or ‘30s would enter a store, purchase make-up, then apply it before heading out for a day at university or work. They just wouldn’t. A bit of cover up to hide a spot? Sure, maybe. Lipgloss or mascara? Not a chance.

As the podcast members discussed, it’s still a niche market, but the ongoing discussion, some 14 years later about whether the next generation will be the one to take this mainstream just doesn’t wash with me. I would like to hedge a bet that you’ll find me in another 14 years having this exact same discussion*, that male make-up really truly is justabout to take off. And the next 14 years after that (on repeat).

*Or hopefully sunning myself on a tropical island after a lottery win.

1 Comment

  1. Interesting!
    I think the data / market segmentation is actually what is stopping a good conversation about men and beauty.
    Men and make-up… if we’re actually specific, we’re not actually talking about heterosexual men and make-up in large quantities. We’re referencing the gay or bi male sub-set of the LGBT+ community that are more comfortable, now, to purchase and wear make-up daily or in the evening on a night out. These men have always been comfortable and happy to purchase online or in shop, or borrow. That’s what 80s / 90s club culture was. It’s more present in the eye of the mainstream because of how social media gives an opportunity for subversive culture to be spotlighted where traditional media doesn’t.

    The bigger point for men in general is “how many men are buying beauty products that aren’t classed as “for men”?” – i.e. genderless or unisex brands, or, just purchasing a product more targeted or classical segmented as for women.

    I buy L’Oreal conditioner that is not for men… I buy Simple shower gel that is not for men… The market is already there, what’s not booming is “the for men” products and heterosexual men suddenly going to purchase Fenty. (and probably won’t…)


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