It has never been a difficult thing to educate women about the importance of image and good skin care. Sure there are some women out there who just don’t care about aging of the skin or having acne, but for the most part, women are very receptive and eager to take steps to improve or maintain their appearances.
Men, however, are very different creatures. Many men really don’t care about skin care, and their interests lie in other areas besides improving their appearance. However, this is starting to change. Society is shifting, and things like skin care, dressing well, and personal grooming are now not just more acceptable, but in many cases, are expected.
The changing perception of masculinity
The mid 1990s gave birth to the “metrosexual”: an appearance-conscious, metropolitan heterosexual man. This image definitely caught on, but some men still felt that “metrosexuality” was too fussy and effeminate for them. The media and Hollywood, however, embraced this new male archetype, and expanded on it. According to Dermascope Magazine, this word was “so powerful, it shaped comsumerism for over a decade, and blurred lines between what was thought to “manly” versus “gay”.
In the first decade of the 21st century, more masculine and less “pretty” men were featured in ads for men’s skin care, grooming, and clothing ads. These men exuded confidence, almost to the point of cockiness; and still were able to pull off a “manly”, authoritative, competitive, and in-control image. This was known as the “Ubersexual” man.
Today, because of television shows like Mad Men; we are seeing the resurrection of the classic, old-school image of the cool, charming, elegant, and debonair gentleman.
These men always looked good, and were able to command to charm and command any crowd…men or women. In the 1940s, men like Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, and Cary Grant exuded this image. Today, the “Retrosexual” man is trying to recreate the same confidence, grace, and slick style that was once adored by women and envied by men.
The main reason for this paradigm shift: COMPETITION.
It all has to do with competition. Men are competitive by nature. Due to the economy, older men are now finding that they have to compete with younger men for the same jobs.
In terms of relationships, many men are marrying later in life than they did decades ago, mostly because many people are choosing to start families in their thirties and early forties, rather than in their twenties. With the divorce rate being as high as it is, many older men are finding themselves single and back on the market after years of being in a relationship. In both cases, older men now have to compete with younger men to find romance.
I believe another reason for this shift is the increased acceptance of homosexuality in our society. Without entering into a political discussion, I think it is safe to say that gay men who focus on their appearances get a lot of attention. And not just from other gay men…from the ladies as well. And straight men have noticed.
The significance of the gay man/straight woman bond
Finally, women have found a type of man who they can relate to. Very close platonic relationships form between gay men and straight women: look at the characters from the hit TV series Will and Grace. These lovable characters really helped pave the way.
However, straight men do not always understand the reasons for the close bond between their wives or girlfriends and their gay male friends. This often results in jealousy, and feelings of…you guessed it…competition. Straight men are seeing clearly that image-conscious gay men are doing something right to attract so much attention from women. They are thinking that just maybe, trying some of these image-enhancing techniques would garner them the same female attention and affection. The show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was successful for this very reason.
Salons and spas now cater to men.
Spa treatments are not just for women anymore. A large number of salons and spas now have separate menus of male-specific services. These businesses have done extensive research about men’s skin care needs and their buying habits; and have taken all of their findings into account when creating their services.
Men have different priorities than women when it comes to skin care: they want simple and streamlined, yet effective treatments; user-friendly home care products that are either fragrance-free or lightly scented with a gender-neutral fragrance; privacy; and services that do not take all day or break the bank.
Men’s skin also has different needs than women’s; due to facial hair, sensitivity caused by shaving, and having thicker, oilier skin. There is also more grooming to be done because of facial hair and unwanted hair on other areas of the body.
Traditional barber shop straight-razor shaves have made a huge comeback in salons and spas; and more men are having their eyebrows, necks, ears, noses, mustaches, and beards tidied up via hair removal techniques such as waxing, threading, and sugaring.
So to all the men out there: go ahead to the salon or spa and let yourself enjoy a treatment like a Gentleman’s Facial or Sports Pedicure. Really, it’s OK. It does not make you any less masculine; in fact, your bosses, clients, and loved ones will appreciate and respond well to your efforts. You might even find that you enjoy it.