The world of beauty and grooming is undergoing some exciting changes. Whether it’s the adoption of new technologies in store, as we discussed in our last edition, or the near-constant innovations in product, it’s an industry expanding and morphing in front of our eyes. One aspect that’s particularly riveting, and experiencing an unparalleled increase in momentum, is the change in the attitude of men and their newfound openness to the world of grooming.

Gone are the days where in order to remain ‘manly’ the gentlemen of the world’s skin forwent moisturiser. In 2016 the men’s grooming market stood at an approximate $21.4 billion in value. This is set to rise dramatically; with a predicted value of $43.6 billion by 2020 a more groomed and informed man is here to stay.

Greater spending power from emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil have helped contribute to this as we see an increase in distribution channels and media time dedicated to this space, and there is a huge amount of potential for brands looking to tap into these areas. India, in particular, is one of the fastest growing markets for male grooming, with fragrance remaining a dominant category, alongside shaving and skincare products. Africa is also proving to be an emerging market with plenty of opportunities for expansion, and the ‘metrosexuality’ trend across Asian countries such as Japan, China and Korea has also been fuelling growth. The male facial skincare market alone in China is estimated to reach 11.5 billion yuan by 2020, up from 7.3 billion yuan in 2014.

The breakdown of traditional preconceptions surrounding masculine beauty is definitely fanning the flames, and this is not something limited to Eastern markets. Increasing attention has been given to men in the world of cosmetics products across the globe. Cover Girl and L’Oréal introduced us to their new male campaign stars in 2016, Manny Gutierrez and James Charles, both of whom had accumulated mass Instagram and YouTube followings for their tutorials and impressive make-up repertoire. This move, by such well-established beauty brands, is an incredible step for helping diminish the seemingly inbuilt stigma that make-up is ‘just for women’. It’s just no longer true. And it’s not only those that can apply a mean highlight that are buying in. Products such as concealers and bronzers are becoming increasingly acceptable amongst men. When speaking with a sales consultant at Neal’s Yard, they advised that there was definitely a trend towards more openness, “Before men would not even moisturise, now they are becoming a lot more open to different products. It’s about educating them so that can see how they’ll fit easily into their lives.”

Typically when you enter a beauty department you’re met with the usual suspects, big name brands, products displayed within those brands, and men’s is afforded the most minimal of floor spaces. Even in more boutique settings, men’s is usually appears more of an afterthought than prime business. But companies are starting to realise that they’re missing a trick, and that’s how Beast was born.

Located in Covent Garden in London’s West End, Beast opened in October of last year with the mind of changing the way men shop for beauty. Founders Steve Banks and Spencer Wallace grew tired of the lack of attention given to men’s products in mainstream stores, so sought to set up a one-stop shop with everything a man could need. And they’ve done a superb job of it. Stocking 80 brands, they have chosen to divide the shop into product categories – body, hair, shave, face and fragrance, rather than your classic breakdown by brand. When you think about it, this simplifies the shopping process and is much more reflective of the natural thought process one would take when establishing what they need from the store. Trend-forecasters WGSN reiterates this: “While women tend to be proactive beauty buyers, men shop very differently, seeking solution-based products rather than long-term preventative care.” Beast has an ‘anyone welcome’, all-inclusive attitude, and their staff are well trained and equipped to educate customers about their diverse range. Many of their products are organic, some of which are made in the UK such as Margate-based Haeckel’s. It is evident that the curation of their products is something that took time, effort and a lot of research – there’s something for everyone, regardless of budget. From the first floor, they run their e-commerce operations, which launched at the same time as their brick and mortar store, with men still more likely to purchase beauty products online this is sure to prove an invaluable asset for the brand.

The concern spreads beyond eye serums, with male spa visits on the up globally. Gentleman’s Tonic, one of the brands stocked at Beast, also has a male-only spa in London’s Mayfair. One true positive within this trend is a higher regard for one’s health and a move to deal with issues such as stress or anxiety. Not only are beauty regimes on the rise, but acceptance of mental and physical health issues. “Optimal health for the modern man” is the trend set to rise in 2017, and it seems likely that spa treatments and fitness will become increasingly interlinked in the future.

Gym memberships are on the increase like never before, which would indicate a greater interest in health. But it does not appear that the motive behind improved fitness is solely about being healthy. In a time of increasing uncertainty, where one is less defined by their career or takes prestige in owning a home, maintaining one's fitness has increasingly become a means of displaying ‘greater masculinity’ and exercising control.  Stephen Perrine, editor-at-large for Men’s Fitness, stated that “Being fit and well-groomed is not something you can outsource or buy or get a bargain on. It’s the one real marker of success, and of having control of yourself.” Celebrities, social media such as Instagram, and men’s fitness magazines and websites are helping to spur the rise in grooming products among young consumers, which are increasingly linked to gym usage, exercise and accommodating your lifestyle.

Nick Ferguson, who heads up men’s skincare at Estee Lauder, declared “We are starting to see a boom in the grooming market as men become more comfortable with the concept of investing in their sense of self. The focus is on appearing stylish and, as part of that, one is expected to have good skin and healthy hair.” Yes, men are taking the time to invest in themselves but that term “expected” can draw up negative images of a need for conformity, and some link this to the rise of ‘a selfie generation’. When discussing the last decade, Highsnobiety writer Alek Eror writes ‘I challenge you to name a single development that has shaped mass culture in that period as much as social media.” With that comes a curated life of images. And with that a permanence – no Facebook, I do not need to be reminded what I look liked seven years ago. One could argue that men are merely starting to feel a pressure that has always been a plague to women, an expectation of looks and “beauty”. Perhaps it’s simply a levelling of the playing field.

In 2017, we won’t be seeing every man dolled up to the nines as we purchase our groceries, or with bulging arms and a six pack (not of the alcoholic variety). But what we are seeing is an acceptance amongst men that it’s ok to look after you. It’s ok if you want to cover up those dark circles or add a healthy glow. It’s ok whatever length you may want your facial hair or however much makeup you wish to apply. So yes, we may see a trend in the growth of male grooming, but the real trend is an embracing of “do what feels right to you” – and seeing some exciting new spaces and products is a very happy bi-product for the industry and fans alike.