Men's grooming a serious business

Styling, waxing, threading — nothing is out of bounds for men anymore

Nearly a decade ago, any conversation around men’s grooming was awkward and avoidable. It was socially and culturally acceptable for a man to not care about his look and why not — rugged and messy was a sign of masculinity.

The situation is vastly different now and men are using grooming products openly. From shampoos and peel-off masks to face washes and creams, the cosmetic industry is witnessing a surge in demand for men’s products; a reason why we have many brands like Beardo, The Man Company, Bombay Shaving Company and All Man Store today, all curating personal grooming products for men.

So what changed over the years? Suraj Chaudhari, co-founder of ‘Zlade’, a men’s shaving company, says that with workplaces becoming liberal in their approach, professionals focus on grooming more seriously.

“Men’s grooming was essentially limited to shaving till just a few years ago. But men are now taking more care of themselves and the market has expanded to include products in facial and beard grooming like facewash for men, body wash and even beard oil and butter.”

Sports and cinema have played a great part in this. “For example, Akshay Kumar embraced his chest hair in his earlier films but today, we see a chiselled body and waxed chest,” observes Chaudhari. Sportspersons like Virat Kohli and David Beckham have set trends in hairstyles and beard styling. More recently, hair-removal brand Veet introduced ‘Veet For Men’ in the Indian market with actor Kartik Aaryan as the brand ambassador.

Manscaping no more taboo

Manscaping (usually referring to shaving pubic hair but can also cover chest, back, shoulder or armpit hair) is a major part of men’s grooming. In 2001, the American label ‘Nair’ introduced hair removal cream for men.

While the traditional approach is to shave, now they opt for waxing or using a trimmer.

“The open conversation about body hair has encouraged many to see things from a different perspective. It is, however, a personal choice whether or not a man (or a woman) wants to get rid of their body hair,” says Suraj.

Salons are for men too

Men, especially professionals, have started investing time and money on personal care. Many of them now spend more than women at high-end salons. From hair styling and hair spa to a pedicure or manicure, nothing is an awkward demand anymore. Threading is also acceptable now.

Online grooming service UrbanClap recently launched in-house grooming services for men in nine cities, including Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai.

Becoming more experimental

From flaunting a man bun to experimenting with hair colours, men have become more adventurous when it comes to experimenting with their hairstyles. While red, burgundy and ash brown are some of the trending hair colours for men, the ‘salt and pepper’ look remains a classic.

When it comes to moustaches, Indian men take inspiration from heroes in the latest Bollywood movies. Actor Ranveer Singh is a favourite. Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s gunslinger moustache caught a lot of attention too.

Role reversal?

A recent advertisement by razor brand ‘Billie’, released for ‘Movember’, encourages women to embrace their facial hair — a welcome change from the conventional idea.

While personal grooming was optional for boys, girls were encouraged to strictly follow the rules and were judged even for the slightest aberrations. But now, for many women, flaunting body hair is seen as a sign of liberation. Simultaneously, men are claiming the freedom to remove body hair without being called feminine.

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