The days of men not being interested in or frightened of using grooming products are long gone. From personal care products designed to improve skin and hair health to cosmetics used for decorative purposes, it’s not uncommon to see men spending more to look after themselves.

Pinpointing when the tide turned isn’t easy, it could have been through inspirational figures like David Bowie, the New Romantic wave of the ‘80s or the popularisation of the term ‘metrosexual’ which began in the ‘90s but wasn’t fully embraced until the 2000s.

And, with social media and a wave of acceptance for all people washing over us, perhaps it is modern sensibilities that have led to the newfound comfort with which men buy beauty products.

But while we know that the beauty and personal care market has grown for men, how does it match up with women’s spending? Let’s dig into the reasons why men might be spending as much on personal care as women.

How does male spending compare with women's?

Statistics from late 2022 show that men are closing the gap to women on personal care spending, with 22% of male global consumers buying beauty products, versus 32% of women.

While women are still outspending men, the gap is not as narrow as we once might have thought it to be. The men’s personal care market was valued at $32.9 billion in 2022 and revenue for the industry is projected to grow to $67.2 billion by 2030, showing that the gap may continue to close.

Why are men spending more on personal care?

There are plenty of options for male personal care, grooming and cosmetics than ever before. From cruelty-free products to genderless cosmetics and stigmas thrown out the window, men are enjoying the opportunity to express themselves. Whether that be a collection of luxury fragrances, invisible products like moisturiser or lip balm, or going all out with glitter and bold colours.

Gender norms

For generations we lived in a fairly binary society that divided us into two camps; men and women. Today those lines are blurred and people are identifying themselves in a more fluid way, which is helping to break stereotypes and improve acceptance for all.

While not all men are open to wearing noticeable beauty products, others are content to use subtle cosmetics such as moisturiser, lip balm, concealer or foundation.

Of course, there is still plenty of room for more traditional male personal care and grooming products such as shaving, hair and body products and face care. But with fewer gender rules than ever, now is the perfect time for all men to enjoy beauty and personal care products to help them look their best.

Changing demographics

A 2019 study discovered that 15% of men under 30 would definitely consider wearing makeup and another 18% said that they may consider it. This is compared to just 6% of men aged between 55 and 64, with 51% of that age group also saying they would never consider wearing makeup.

While some men have worn makeup throughout modern history – icons such as Boy George and Prince and more recent pioneers like Adam Lambert or Jared Leto have dared to push the envelope – examples are few and far between throughout history. Today, male beauty products are no longer reserved for rock stars and are much more mainstream, further showcasing the change in attitudes of men towards personal care products.

Greater acceptance

With the changing of gender norms and the tide turning with younger demographics, there is greater acceptance in society of men using personal care products. Many personal care and cosmetics manufacturers are also embracing the increased number of male customers by offering gender-neutral products.

With men feeling less alienated by the products they wish to use, there is more encouragement from society to enjoy them judgement free. However, despite the boom in popularity of cosmetics and non-gendered beauty products, there remains a large market for shaving products for men – making up nearly half of the value of the entire market.

The internet and influencers

Buying online is not only convenient but it helps to remove the feeling of being judged for the things that you buy. Instead of taking a particular product off the shelf, and feeling the eyes of everyone in the store and the shop assistant boring into you, in just a few clicks your online purchase is complete.

Your delivery driver doesn’t know what they are bringing to your door so the entire process is judgement-free. We can see, then, why this purchasing method may be preferable for men who may be self-conscious about buying beauty products or cosmetics.

Similarly, the rise of influencers is helping men to find more confidence to wear beauty products and become familiar with their personal care regime. With the positive reinforcement of social media influencers coupled with fewer barriers to purchasing beauty products, we can see why more men are willing to take the plunge and try these products out. 

Availability and variety

Men now have a much greater choice for personal care and beauty products, from high-end and inexpensive ranges to sustainable, cruelty-free, local markets and the internet. For many men it can be a simple case of supply and demand, while others understand that their skincare routine is a bit more nuanced than slapping some moisturiser on and hoping for the best. 

For example, 70% of men above 51 have a daily skincare routine with the goal of looking younger, enhancing their general appearance and improving skin texture and appearance. A figure that is unlikely to have been the case in years gone by.

Greater freedom, choice and confidence levels

Whether it’s being more conscious of their hygiene, being willing to embrace the aesthetics of cosmetics or the need for a great skincare routine, it’s clear that men aren’t afraid of personal care products.

With society more willing to be accepting of men who use beauty products, an increase in self-confidence among men and a boom of available products, we are seeing a new generation of male personal care, beauty and cosmetics users.

March 28, 2023 — Lydia Mason