Male grooming

Male grooming refers to the activity where men invest time into their own fashion and beauty. The concept of male grooming has become increasingly visible in popular culture.[1]

Background and HistoryEdit

The history of male grooming dates back to the ancient Egypt civilization. Scholars consider the discovery of copper razors and oil on the skin as the origin of "grooming." When Alexander conquered the world and encouraged short and neat hairstyles, it made men feel less aware of the fashion trends of absolute monarchs such as Louis XIV, and more conscious of the fashions of their peers. Development of women's rights movements is another reason for the growth of interest in male grooming. As women continued to enter the workforce, it was believed men can compete if they also take good care of their appearance, an idea described as ‘body capital’.[2] Trend research institute ‘Interfashion Planning’ stated that “Men's enthusiasm for good looks is not a sudden trend. It is because the importance of human relations in the rat race to modern men living in uncertain times is increasing.” The ‘Grooming man’ considers appearance to be an investment to differentiate himself from his competitors, and as a method of self-development.[3] Also, as more metrosexuals care about their looks and fashion, the number of the ‘grooming men’ is increasing.[4]

The State of Grooming in KoreaEdit

South Korea has become the center of cosmetics for men in the world due to "appearance competition". In other words, men have decided to wear makeup to survive and compete during a severe job shortage. The Korean Wave, including K-pop, is heavily influential. As pop idols in their 20s and so-called "flower boys" [5]have become popular, the perception of men's makeup has changed. While it was once common for men who wore makeup to think of a Drag Queen or homosexual in western cultures, Korean male idols are different. They generally have clean skin, soft eyes, and delicate emotions, but perform dynamic and masculine duties. Men are encouraged to copy the makeup of Korean male idols. In fashion and beauty magazines overseas, there are many articles on skin care and makeup tutorials for Korean pop stars.[6]

The State of Grooming in ChinaEdit

As a "woman-like man" has become a new trend in China, a growing number of young men are interested in makeup. Internet broadcasters and beauty bloggers who produce makeup videos for men have increased rapidly. Accordingly, the men's cosmetics industry has shown rapid growth in China. According to German market research firm Statista, the size of men's cosmetics industry in China reached 201.3 billion yuan as of May 2018. Chinese e-commerce company said that the sales of beauty products for men more than doubled since 2015. Mask packs, BB cream, and lipstick are popular products.[7]

Types of GroomingEdit

Male CosmeticsEdit

Male Cosmetics in drug store

Men's cosmetics products, which were separated only by toner, perfumes and lotion, have found a footing in the mainstream market. In addition, cosmetics that can be used together by men and women have become popular.[8]

The size of the Korean men cosmetics market has steadily increased from 733 billion won in 2010 to 1.23 trillion won in 2016 and 1.28 trillion won in 2018. About 75% of Korean men are exposed to cosmetics more than once a week, according to global data from overseas market research institutions. This means that the percentage of men who use cosmetics in Korea is higher than that of other countries.[9]

According to a recent survey by Mintel, a global market research firm, 70% of 1,000 American men use sunscreen and 67% of men use cosmetics for their facial skin.[10]

Skin CareEdit

Even though men are taking care of their appearance increasingly, it is not easy to find information about men's cosmetics. Therefore, there are often men who use relatively easy-to-access female cosmetics. However, men's skin is fundamentally different from women, so using women's makeup can damage their skin.[11] Greasy faces and blandness are considered one of the three biggest problems for men in their 20s to 40s. Thus, they are encouraged to use toner and lotion for oily skin type.[12]

BB CreamEdit

BB Cream, is used to illuminate skin tone.[13] Men's BB cream is characterized by its delicate and natural persistence. This covers skin defects, but does not look like they are wearing any make-up.[14]


As interest in eyebrow trimming and eyebrow makeup has increased.[15] Eyebrows have become a major subject to care for with job seekers. Sales of eyebrow beauty tools have increased in the last few years.[16]

Lip balmEdit

Lip balm is a beauty item that is easily accessible to men who don't wear makeup. Colored lip balm is very popular because it is not only for moisturizing but also for helping with one's color. Colored lip balm is suitable for men who prefer the natural because it can brighten up one's lips with a lively color which matches their natural color unlike lipstick or tint.[17] [9]


Barber shops are also one of the newly created spaces to assist with grooming men. Barber shops are a unique hair care space that provides customized styling according to current fashion trends. Barbers are licensed professionals who are trained to cut, shave, and style hair. Male grooming products can be purchased at barbershop including pomades, shave products, powder, beard oil, and shampoo and conditioners. While most men in Korea are looking for women-oriented beauty salons, the U.S. style barber shop is attracting male customers.[18]

Cosmetic SurgeryEdit

Men are willing to go to the operating room to make a favorable impression.[19]


Men with small wrinkles on their faces such as the eyes and mouth are also seeking Botox treatments like women.[20] Middle-aged men get Botox surgery for skin regeneration and wrinkle removal to get re-employed.[21]

Eyebrow tattooEdit

The eyebrows play a big role in determining the facial impression to the extent that they are called "the roof of the face." Anthropologically, over 100,000 years, the role of eyebrows has become more important as the size of human faces has become smaller and the facial lines have become smoother. Dark eyebrows in a small face make the other person more aware of their facial expressions.[22] Recently, there has been a trend of men tattooing their eyebrows. The process of a permanent eyebrow tattoo involves designing the eyebrows and filling the pigment altogether. [23]

Contouring injection surgeryEdit

The male contouring injection surgery removes fat from the face and creates clear facial features.[24]

Waxing/Laser procedureEdit

Men are using laser treatments for permanent removal of face and body hair.[25]

Influence in SocietyEdit

Change in the Perception of SocietyEdit

When asked: 'What do you think are the criteria for a nice man?' in a survey conducted by the Korea National Statistical Office, 'look and fashion' accounted for 22.7%, followed by character, economy, and values. When asked, 'What do you think of a well-dressed man?' 37.2% thought 'cool,' and 30.1% said, 'I want to try.'[26] In addition, there is a phenomenon in which men value appearance as a qualification rather than ability. People are undergoing cosmetic surgery to make a favorable impression during interview.[27] It is perceived that a change in facial shape improves impression, facial contouring surgery is becoming popular for people across industries.[28]

Corporate StrategyEdit

There has been a growth in corporate gifting to align with the demand for men grooming products.[29] Men with sharp features are finding opportunities in conventional advertising. This is due to the fact that men and women, regardless of gender, have changed their perception of men looking after their appearance while being judged as competitive in important positions such as employment and marriage.[28]


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