The Adaptation Of Mens Grooming and Beauty Over The Years

The Adaptation Of Mens Grooming and Beauty Over The Years

Over the past several decades, the concept of mens grooming and beauty has constantly been evolving. Take a closer look at the mens section of the beauty industry and how it is expanding.

From brazen and unbothered beard and skin situations to well-structured looks and skincare routines - male grooming has come a long way.

One can’t help but notice the upcoming array of options that are now present, pertaining to men and their grooming. The growth in this arena is the result of an ever-evolving socio-cultural scenario around the world, along with the increasing importance given to the concept of 'self-care'.

The majorly millennial coined term 'self-care' refers to activities, routines and rituals that help centre, calm and pamper oneself. A trend that was previously mostly associated with "spa-days" and in turn, predominantly women, is now finally catching on with men in the society.

3D reconstruction of Tutenkhhamen's face
3D reconstruction of Tutenkhhamen's face

Turning the clock back and taking a brief look into the evolution of these practices, we can find that the earliest connection between men and grooming can be traced back to 10,000 BC with Egyptians following an elaborate routine that included multiple baths with bathing milks and scrubs, in order to keep off the sweat and odour that came with living a desert life. Egyptian men also followed the practice of regular beard trimming and skin moisturising with body oils to keep the effects of the sun at bay.

However, what started as a mere measure to cope with multiple repercussions of weather and climate changes, has now come to be an unavoidable necessity.

Romans too were fond of hair removal, from all parts of the body except the head. They established multiple public baths which enabled men to discuss and share grooming secrets with each other. However, with the fall of the Roman Empire and the increasing dominance of the church, the self-care and grooming practices for men saw a momentary setback when priests declared the practice as “the devil’s work”.

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

With the Elizabethan era kicking in next, anti ageing methods were widely sought after with men being largely drawn towards wine bathing and the use of honey and egg masks for the purpose of reducing wrinkles and appearing younger.

Grooming in this time was more than just basic haircare and skincare practices. Hair regrowth treatments, facials meant for varying skin types, elaborate and personalized skin regimens started making their way into people's lives. The 1900s further saw the invention of “safety razors”, allowing men to take the matter of beard maintenance in their own hands.

The birth of Hollywood in the 20th century brought along with it glamorous men with polished looks consisting of slicked back hair, pearly white teeth and clean shaven, smiling faces. The fragrance industry boomed, and men showed keen interest in the scents coming in majorly from France.

Hollywood Actor Paul Newman
Hollywood Actor Paul Newman

This growing interest and active use of grooming products, gave birth to newer brands and companies, catering to the needs of men and women, separately. With mass production and industrial expansions, the grooming and beauty industry saw an exponential rise in the number of products, made for all possible economic strata's.

Over the decades, the world has seen multiple cultural and social reforms. These reforms brought with them a plethora of thoughts and ideologies, which were very evidently expressed through the fashion, beauty and grooming practices of the times by both men and women.

Hippie at a music festival
Hippie at a music festival

While in the late 60s and 70s, the hippie movement with slogans of peace, love and unity saw men with long flowing tresses clad in bell-bottoms embracing their feminine side with accessories like headbands, mood rings and medallion necklaces, the 80s brought with them a complete 180 degree change in the aesthetic with the immense popularity of rock and heavy metal music.

KISS
KISS

This was the time when both men and women opted for loud and amplified looks with leading musicians and ardent followers of the genres gravitating towards big hair, face paint/makeup, eyeliner, and embracing an androgynous take on clothing. Artists like KISS, Led Zeppelin, Motley Crüe, Billy Idol and Boy George lead the trend and began the process of blurring the line between stereotypical representations of gender, giving rise to a reform.

Motley Crue
Motley Crue

Evolving from the hardcore punk music scene and culture, the 90s were the decade of the supermodel, heroin-chic and grunge era. Men were seen sporting plaid shirts, ripped denims with greasy hair, pale make up and accessories such as chokers, ear piercings, bracelets etc.

Jared Leto circa 1990s
Jared Leto circa 1990s

Cut to the 2000s and the idea of a “metrosexual” male was born. Exceptionally well groomed, taking pride in their appearance and not hesitant to go to hair salons and get manicures/pedicures, the metrosexual man didn’t shy away from the practice of unwanted hair removal either. These men were also highly fashion forward in terms of keeping up with the trends and styles, updating their wardrobes and their looks as the seasons changed.

However, on the other end of the spectrum, the Emo/Scene subcultures also picked up with both men and women wearing bold eye and face makeup, nailpaint, jewellery accessories, experimental hairstyles in bright dyed colours as well as multiple facial and body piercings.

Bill and Tom Kaulitz from the band Tokio Hotel
Bill and Tom Kaulitz from the band Tokio Hotel

The 2010s gave birth to a new wave of the modern male beauty standards, amalgamating various aspects of skin care along with normalising the use of makeup for the average, regular man. This decade also saw more and more fashion icons and celebrities approaching a more androgynous/inclusive style of dressing while experimenting with accessories, jewellery, nail art, makeup etc.

A$AP Rocky Nail Art
A$AP Rocky Nail Art

Certain celebrities that have pioneered this concept and significantly contributed to breaking the stigma around these practices are Jared Leto, A$AP Rocky, Harry Styles, Pharrell Williams, Billy Porter, Jonathan Van Ness, Ezra Miller and many more.

Billy Porter at The Grammy Awards
Billy Porter at The Grammy Awards

Due to men taking increased pride in the aforementioned practises, the beauty and grooming industry saw a significant opening in a potential market catering specifically to male demographics.

With Rihanna launching her new skincare line, Fenty Skin - which was most widely anticipated by women - the masses were taken by surprise when the Grammy winning singer mentioned that the line would be catering to men as well.

In a post related to the skincare line launch, the artist wrote,

"That’s right baby … Fenty Skin is for my fellas too! No matter who you are, you deserve to have great skin!”

Rihanna

She further established her statement by including her fellow celebrities and friends A$AP Rocky and Lil Nas X in the global marketing campaign along with other models.

Kobe Bryant alongside Brian Lee and Mattias Metternich too launched a unisex skin care line, Art of Sport which was envisioned with the motive of taking care of an often-overlooked problem in an athlete’s body - hygiene and skincare. Endorsed by many of his peers including James Harden, this only goes to show how the gender norms are breaking gradually in every sector, be it sports, fashion, or entertainment.

Crediting his love of skin care, Pharrell Williams has been cultivating this passion since his mid-20’s. With the forthcoming launch of ‘HUMANRACE,’ William’s three product skin care line endeavours to fulfill the most basic requirements of a skin-care routine — prepare, repair and protect. Pharrell created Humanrace in the belief that taking better care of ourselves can teach us to take better care of each other.

The three step routine comprises of the Humanrace Rice Powder cleanser, the Lotus Enzyme Exfoliant and the Humidifying Moisturising Cream. Willam’s thought of everything, from the packaging being produced from post-consumer recycled plastic to the name of the products engraved in Braille to heighten the level of inclusivity he intended the line to be.

"Sometimes you need to cleanse your spirit. Sometimes you just need to cleanse your mind. Sometimes you've just got to get rid of some dead skin. Sometimes you've got to get rid of some bad habits. Sometimes you just need to be humidified, brought to life. Sometimes your spirit needs that."

Pharrell Williams

According to the artist, this compact three-minute gesture of self-compassion is for “humans" - not specifically for men or women, its for everybody.

A study conducted by Statista pegs that by 2024, the global male grooming market is estimated to be worth about 81.2 billion U.S. dollars, unleashing the potential this industry holds as well as an upward sloping global demand. Some of the major brands that are rooting for this on the frontline are Fenty Skin, Tom Ford, Sisley Paris, Nykaa Man, Aman Skincare, Ilapothecary and more.

Looking to cash in on the trend, brands are putting men front-and-center in their campaigns - in some cases, even replacing women in beauty product endorsements. For instance, Maybelline’s Big Shot mascara campaign, released in 2017, featured male beauty YouTuber Manny Gutierrez as the ambassador with a beautiful eye make-up look, thick eyelashes and a well-groomed stubble.

In India too, where men are often perceived as being ignorant about self care, the focus is shifting and men are now more inclined towards taking care of their skin and personal grooming.

A 2019 Nielsen report establishes that the overall male grooming space in India had an estimated value of Rs 5,000 crore in 2019, a growth of over 12 per cent since 2018, makeup being a major chunk of this massive figure. No longer just limited to using shaving products and deodorants, men have widely accepted the use of facemasks, scrubs, cleansers, bronzers and other such products.

Many homegrown platforms and brands such as Nykaa Man, Ustraa, Beardo, Bombay Shaving Company, The Man Company are prime examples that have their vision focused on men’s beauty and grooming essentials.

Although the gap between men and women’s beauty industries is still wide, exceptionally confident male beauty/lifestyle bloggers, writers and content creators like Siddharth Batra, Ankush Bahuguna and Rahi Chadda, to name a few, challenge the preconceived gender norms of the cosmetic industry and are bashing toxic masculinity, in their own glam way!

From embracing wholesome skincare regimes to normalising the use of makeup for everybody not just women, these pioneers are shifting focus towards the much needed conversation of breaking gender-centric stereotypes.

That day isn’t far when the rigid masculine norms are loosened and the men’s skincare, grooming and beauty space becomes as large as it’s women's counterpart. Skin and hair are vital parts of every person’s body that exist irrespective of a person’s gender, therefore dismissing the notion of grooming and beauty being limited only to women.

The industry and societal norms are about to take a drastic turn, so fasten your seat belts - its going to be a rollercoaster of a ride.

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