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Man Power : As Men's Interest in Personal Appearance Grows, So Do Their Grooming Options

June 11, 1989|PADDY CALISTRO

YOUNG BUSINESSMEN in Tokyo are already flocking to grooming counters for tinted foundations and mascara. Men here aren't as adventurous, however--only 14% will even admit to using a moisturizer. Although makeup may not yet get the stamp of approval from the average U.S. male, improving his looks does.

Last year, tens of thousands of men turned to cosmetic surgeons to shrink potbellies and love handles, lift sagging jowls, add more hair and repair other cosmetic problems. In Los Angeles, facialists have reported a 20% increase in male clientele over the past year. And cosmetics manufacturers, determined to convince men that "good grooming" means more than just a close shave, use commercial holidays such as Father's Day to promote new forms of toiletries.

A recent study suggests that their message is getting across. Conducted by psychologist Stephen Franzoi at Marquette University, the research indicated that 44% of American men say they spend more time each day on grooming than their fathers did. Only 13% say they spend less.

Most men cite wives and girlfriends as the major influence on their grooming habits. In a focus-group study conducted last year by The Times, eight of the 12 participants used the same brand-name products as the women in their lives. "Women grow up knowing about skin care, so I trust my wife's judgment," one man said.

Women also introduce their men to cosmetic services. A Los Angeles banker says he watched his wife come home relaxed after her weekly facials. "So I tried it and got hooked. But I just don't want anyone to know." Beverly Hills facialist Nance Mitchell, who specializes in men's skin care, says men now come in for multiple services such as a facial, lash tint, back and shoulder waxing, manicure and pedicure--all in one visit. But privacy is essential. "They feel a salon is a woman's world. They don't even like to sit in the waiting room, just in case they are recognized," Mitchell says.

Confidentiality is one reason that Guerlain's new Terracotta Pour Homme, a virtually undetectable bronzing powder, is registering 30% of its sales via the firm's 800 number, says Lois Mander, a spokesperson for the French firm. "It allows men to be discreet about their purchases," she notes.

But most men still aren't ready to use makeup-type products. Rather, they consider shaving cream, after-shave lotion and, perhaps, a fragrance to be the basics. But regimens are expanding. In addition to moisturizers, men are using special soaps and facial scrubs formulated to cleanse their skin, which is typically thicker and has larger pores than women's.

Many new preparations have specific purposes, such as Clinique's Post-Shave Healer for razor burn or Lancome's Anti-Ageing Eye Balm, said to smooth crow's-feet. Other products have multiple purposes. Pour Monsieur Protection Concentree from Chanel and Tuscany Gel After Shaveby Aramis have moisturizing properties as well as scent and the cooling tingle of traditional after-shave products.

Franzoi predicts that men's increasing concern with personal appearance will continue into the '90s. "Men now realize they can take control over their appearance. They never felt that they had that option before."

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