Why women are shifting to male grooming in the beauty industry

Photo credit: PHOTO/POOL

What you need to know:

  •  There is a 30% increase in male body waxing due to global warming
  •  “Generation Z” men are more open to experimenting with new trends
  • 25% 
  •  Men have significantly thicker skin, up to 25% thicker than that of women 

It is no secret that Kenyan men have come to enjoy good grooming as part of their lifestyle.

Switching up from just daubing some nondescript brand of lotion on their faces and the usual tapered cut from the local kinyozi, the male gender is even booking into spas and high-end beauty spots in town for first-class treatment.

And the new brand of barber shops seem to understand too well what the men want: a relaxing experience that comes with the pamper, kneading, soft music, ambience and guess what else? A glass of whiskey.

Simply put, salons and barbershops in the city seem to be equipped for the rise in male grooming. Projections by Statista, a German company specialising in market and consumer data, shows that by 2024, the global male grooming market will be worth more than Sh9.2 trillion (81.2 billion US dollars).

However, as SatMag learnt, it’s not only for the business that beauty spots, particularly those run by women, prefer male clients.

As you walk into Castro’s Man Cave in the city centre, you would find Susan Muthoni skillfully shaving a client’s head to achieve either a bald or a tapered cut that has become the trend.

Influenced by her older sister, she started working in barbershops after completing high school.
Susan says she enjoys serving male clients because they are “cooperative and appreciative”.
“I do not think I have ever met a man who bargained for a service. Instead, they tip very well. And if you do a good job, they will come back,” she offers.

The space has a warm wood theme. Hip hop music is playing in low tones as the sound of shavers at work buzz in the background. It is a small but intimate space as compared to its larger branches in Karen and Ruaka. There is a receptionist serving drinks from the Jameson stocked fridge.

You cannot help but notice the intricate details put into the interior décor that makes it the man cave that it is. From the cheeky quotes on the wall to the warm lighting, not forgetting the tailor-made coats the barbers are wearing.

Besides the fact that the male grooming business is growing, barbershop owners and workers tend to welcome men to their establishments because of the men’s readiness to pay for the services without bargaining.

When Sharon Cherono went into the beauty industry in 2018, she started Urban Shave to create a space for men only, especially since most barbershops were set up together with hair salons. “The current man is not like the older man. They invest in looking good so that they can feel good,” she offers.

Photo credit: PHOTO/POOL

Hairdressers have a hard time tending to women who are always inclined to bargain for a better price. “Men are very calm customers. They are also very loyal to their barbers and trust them to know what to do,” Sharon says. For men, cheating on their barber is as wicked as cheating on your girlfriend or wife.

Her explanation lends credence to the statistics that men have scaled up their spending on self-care. When global e-commerce conglomerate Amazon first introduced its men’s grooming store in 2013, it dramatically changed the spending habits of the male gender, who now budget as much money, or even more, as women, on beauty products.

Women factor

After opening Urban Shave, Sharon noticed that women started streaming in, which was not what she wished for the mancave. She later opened Urban Hair for the women so they could get the same services at a different location and preserve the “sanctity” of the mancave. “Men are actually open to doing so many grooming practices. It’s just that they did not have a space of their own,” she revealed.

The sanctuary is decorated in black and gold trim, fitting colours for any black king that walks into the establishment. Dubbed 'The home of clean cuts', this haven lives up to its name filled with state-of-the-art barber chairs that easily move in circular motion allowing the stylists to work on their art.

The back end is the centre of relaxation where the wash girls tend to their clients with feet soaked in a warm foot bath in preparation for a good scrub. After a clean shave, nothing beats a soothing head and shoulder massage for an extra Sh1, 500.

Sharon says that some male clients make weekly visits. Others pay a total of Sh5, 700 per month for their regular haircut, manicure, pedicure and a full facial.

It is safe to say that since social media became an important part of our everyday life, it has played a role in shaping what is trendy and stylish. This includes how we take care of ourselves.

Then there’s the never-ending debate on what the society thinks of “overly groomed” men; does it awfully dilute their testosterone, or endear them to the girls? Sometimes it’s also about preference, but that’s a topic for another day.

It, however, goes without saying that, when some men speak up about their extensive grooming routines, which consist of waxing, manicures and pedicures that are considered the preserve of women, they are bullied and made fun of, mostly by fellow men, sometimes being referred to as “simps”.

However the narrative seems to change when women proclaim their growing attraction towards men who take their grooming seriously as they consider them more appealing.

“I never used to get facials or skincare products for the face. Men rarely talk about that in Kenya. When I finally invested in it, it paid off,” said Oscar Koome on Mantalk podcast on an episode where he and Content Creator Eli Mwenda discussed how a man’s self-esteem can be affected by how he looks.

A not so new craze - connecting sideburns to the goatee - is not attainable on everyone, but men are certainly determined to achieve their desired look. Beard grooming kits and skincare products are now part of men's daily routine. Many are also beginning to address skin issues such as acne and recognising that it is not just a woman's issue.

In a world where what you look like matters more than what you do or say, there is a growing pressure to look good. It brings meaning to the saying that ‘First impressions are everything’. So gone are the days of ashy elbows and a little Arimis. This does not mean that being clean has to cost a fortune.

As Christian Dior once said, simplicity, good taste and grooming are the three fundamentals of good dressing. And these do not cost money.