Sunday, October 6, 2013

Men Search For External Beauty, Too (Just Don't Call It That)

I was in the discount drug store today when this stopped me in my tracks:

Sorry it's blurry - I was surprised.

I'm not sure why.   I was at the store  to get hair color for a certain male relative.  In all fairness, this guy wasn't embarrassed to be seen purchasing the hair dye.  After all, it wasn't something repellent to him like tampons or vaginal wipes.  I just happened to heading in that direction..  Besides, the notion of men coloring their hair has been acceptable for a long time.  Growing up, I remember seeing TV commercials for Grecian Formula with the dapper actor demonstrating how you just "comb the greys away."  Similarly, men's personal care products have been around for decades, but outside of hair creams, I thought of them as relating to shaving one's face, a decidedly manly thing.  I was wrong.

Eye cream isn't manly, but it is big business.  According to this LA Times article, sales of men's toiletries is expected to hit $3.2 billion by 2016, up from $2.6 billion in 2012 and $2.2 billion in 2006.  They reported that 1 in 4 men uses some kind of facial skin-care product with most of these fellows either under 35 or over 50.  Apparently younger guys are already comfortable with skin-care products since they've grown up with Mom slathering them with sunblock.  And the more mature set is finding that they need to look really good to compete with younger bucks in the workplace.  This crucial, especially with the current job market being so wobbly.

And maybe, as the article pointed out, men just want to take care of themselves and look good.  Like women, they're certainly willing to pay for it.  I discovered that Nordstrom's sells La Mer Eyebalm for $185 and "Sisleyum For Men" Anti-Aging Global (Skin) Revitalizer for $265 while Amazon carries Jack Black Lip Balm in a 4-pack for $25.

Don't look for this in the Beauty aisle!
I looked for male hair color in the Hair Care aisle.  Big mistake.  Although Amazon does list it on its website under Beauty as well as Health/Personal Care, apparently in person, men do not want to be seen anywhere near Clairol and other brands for women.  They're staking out their own aisles.

In addition, the Times reported, that guys are skittish about calling this stuff what it is:  make-up.  I see that Amazon sells The Men Pen - Men's Cosmetic Concealer and Laura Geller Spackle - Under Make-Up Primer.  Those evoke bold, masculine images (think antlers).  And the actual name for the aforementioned Jack Black product is Balm Squad Lip Balm, another chest-pounding name.  I suspect that in those packages that savvy marketers have designed to look like flasks and liquor decanters, manufacturers are selling the same products that women use.  They just look different.  

I'm not making fun of men's toiletries.  Seriously.  Everyone has the right to feel good about themselves and if balms, powders, and potions help, go for it. It's wonderful hat there are so many products available to help us maintain our bodies and look "better."  I'm just surprised because for years, our culture has pounded into women the idea that we need to look younger.  There are tons of articles in women's magazines touting a method, pill, or magical elixir that will turn back the hands of time.  We've been told that as females age, we get "ugly" while males only get more "distinguished."  Who's fighting the ugly now?


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