A man's guide to grooming

A man's guide to grooming

There was a time men didn't care for grooming. A bald head and paunch were a sign of prosperity, a moustache was a sign of masculinity, while a beard just meant that you were either too busy or to too lazy to care. Few men thought about body hair. Although beauticians always offered male-waxing, it was not popular, as waxing was primarily seen as a female activity. Thus apart from a regular shave and haircut, men left hirsute and any other grooming pursuits alone. However, things have undergone a sea change over the past couple of decades. The man of a generation ago has morphed into the metrosexual male who googles "back hair removal options" with manicured fingers.

Media influence

With an increased exposure to western media, there developed a greater awareness of fashion, fitness and health. Gyms mushroomed in various neighbourhoods, which sparked a further interest in fitness. And then, in 1998, in what was regarded as the tipping event in men's fitness, a shirtless Salman with sculpted and hairless abs shimmied to "Oh oh Jaane Jana". Men, a decade younger than the star, returned home and looked at their bellies in dismay. Overnight a new craze of the clean-shaven six-pack gripped men of the nation. Men signed up for gym memberships in droves, and started the hunt for hair-removal options.

Istayak Ansari, director and co-founder, Lloyds Luxuries Limited, the company which has brought men's luxury parlour Truefitt and Hill to India, says that his business has steadily grown over the years, as more and more men flock the parlours for requirements that range from body waxing to a manicure. "Initially, clients came in for a haircut and a shave. Pedicure appointments, which once were few and far between, are now in demand. Men have more disposable income, and the awareness has increased. They want to look good, and are willing to pay for it." And for a well-groomed male, clean, trim nails, and feet without dead skin are non-negotiable.

Stubble & more

Another big trend is that of beard grooming, which first emerged around three years ago, and shows no signs of dying out. As more men sport beards, there has been an increase in the number of men flocking to parlours to get them trimmed. Smriti Puri, partner at Gentlemen's Club, a shopping and lifestyle event dedicated to men, says, "Facial hair in any form, be it the goatee, the six-o-clock stubble, a moustache or a beard, is in. If you've always longed to look macho, now's the time! Play with different beard styles. Don't forget your sideburns. Leave them sharp and pointed to add a real edge to your look. Have fun and experiment!"

She suggests investing in an electric razor, which, much like a vacuum cleaner, comes with an assortment of contraptions in all shapes and sizes. Nicks and cuts are less common. An electric razor is also easier on the skin in addition to being faster, and makes trying out different facial hair styles a breeze.

Today's male has access to designer wear, parlours, beauty products. In fact, male beauty products are now a multi-billion dollar industry, proving wrong many who thought a man who wanted to apply moisturiser would just use his wife's. Every neighbourhood has a gym, filled to the brim with testosterone. Protein supplements for those who want to pump up are available at every chemist. And with the resurgence of the beard, albeit a much sharper, groomed one, men can hide a weak chin or highlight cheekbones with the help of a good stylist. With all the options available for men today, it seems fair to twist the words of Coco Chanel and say "There are no ugly men, only lazy ones."

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