The debate over the subject of men’s grooming has moved way beyond the days of agonising over whether 'to moisturise or not to moisturise'. The market is growing at a brisk pace. Although dwarfed by the £10bn spent annually by British women on beauty products, the men’s grooming sector is worth around £850m and has risen by six times the rate of the women’s market since 2001.
That the use of men’s beauty products has now advanced from a ghetto occupied by gays and trend-setting metrosexuals is epitomised by L’Oreal’s hiring of Hugh Laurie as brand ambassador. It was always a worry that to use such stuff was demonstrative of a vanity bordering on narcissism or, worse, an effeminate sensibility. Clearly the mildly depressive Cambridge rower who played both Jeeves and the grumpy House was a Real Man which was precisely why he was chosen for this vital role.
I grant you that there’s a feeling these days that men have to do more than shave and wear a clean shirt to present their best selves to the world, and indeed to climb the career ladder. It probably helps if you don’t smell like a rugby changing room, either. So, it is now perfectly acceptable in certain circles for an ambitious man to openly take more care of his grooming: skin care, hair cut at fancy salon, facials, eyelash tinting, tan, fillers, botox etc. We have noted that both Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch have taken on these behaviours with vigour.
Speaking personally I remain in the sceptics camp. I regard any bloke who spends more than nine quid on a haircut with deep suspicion. One of the reasons I grew beard was to give me a precious five minutes extra in bed each morning. There’s also the point that, of all my frail organs, my skin is probably my best and despite the ravages it has undergone over the last five years by having two very small kids it is bearing up nicely without plastering cosmetics on it morning and night. I only wish the same could be said for my liver.
But I’ve been given some Dove products to test. The palaver involved in applying and rinsing off Face Wash, Post Shave balm and Moisturiser would seriously try my patience if I had to do it on a regular basis. I'm also not all that fond of the smell – sorry 'fragrance'.
I have to say I wonder about products where the principle ingredient as listed on the packaging is always 'aqua' - or 'water' as people not involved in the grooming and 'fragrance' world call it. However, what one quite likes about Dove – which is a Unilever company and therefore worthy of the support of every Brit - is that it isn’t poncey. The packaging is understated. There is none of that 'Because I’m worth it' nonsense which I contend if ever uttered by a man makes him worthy of ostracism.
So if you want to look after yourself and moisturise on a regular basis then these tubes and pots seem absolutely fine. I’m sure they do what they say on the tin and make their wearers feel supremely confident. Or you can treat yourself to that extra fives minutes kip each morning.