A Hairy Dilemma

Gentlemen with beards spur a rise in men's grooming services  in spas

Gentlemen with beards spur a rise in men's grooming services  in spasBeards and mustaches used to be a sign of a disheveled man, one who was slovenly and unshaven. But the new trend has shaken up this stereotype. Hipster-style facial hair is the new thing. And men’s grooming—on a steady uptick—is in. “The male grooming market recently experienced the rise of the ‘lumbersexual,’ an ultra-masculine yet meticulously maintained grooming style for men, featuring full beards and trim mustaches,” reports Alexander Kwapis in GCI Magazine. “The key to this trend is defined by making an effort in one’s personal appearance without looking the part. These men are rugged but never unkempt.”

Men now make up 47 percent of spa-goers, according to a survey by the International Spa Association (ISPA). Within this sector, millennial males, ages 18 to 35, are making a strong impact with 21 percent contemplating the use of cosmetic services, reports business and marketing firm Acara Partners. “Men are now spending more time and money on grooming products than ever before,” says Anthony McDonough, owner of Liquid Skin Care. “Whether that is in creating designer stubble or the latest trend in fully grown beards, it opens up new grooming market opportunities—with beard oils, softeners, and conditioners now on the modern man’s shopping list. Men still need to take care of the skin around the beard, as it draws even more attention to the face.”

With the resurgence of facial hair, your spa has the opportunity to capitalize on the rising demand of related services and products: beard maintenance and mustache trims, skincare, and styling aids. Looking to cater to this trend? Here are a few insights on how.


Gentlemen with beards spur a rise in men's grooming services  in spasSkin So Clean

Contrary to what you might think, skin with facial hair requires more effort to maintain than a clean-shaven face. Not only do beards and mustaches demand trimming and styling, they can cause ingrown hairs, bumps, irritation, and itchiness. What’s the proper solution? It’s a multi-step regimen that includes cleansing, exfoliating, and protecting the hard-to-get skin underneath the bristles.

“Men who aren’t shaving aren’t exfoliating,” says Tina Zillmann, esthetician, laser professional, and founder of Advanced Rejuvenating Concepts. “Good cleansing and exfoliation are important to keeping the skin under the beard clean and healthy. This practice also helps prevent cellular buildup or facial dandruff.” The key to selecting the correct products, according Karen Asquith, director of education at G.M. Collin, is the texture and active ingredients. She recommends a gel cleanser that “suits oilier male skin” and exfoliants that are based on alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) as opposed to those based on grains or creams, which are too thick to penetrate facial hair. Lastly, she advises an application of an SPF serum to the face and skin under the beard and on clean-shaven areas. “Facial serums are easy to use, as they are often aqueous and can reach the skin under the beard, and while a regular mask is applied to the rest of the face following the serum and massage, a warmed compress that will maintain its heat can be applied to the bearded area. The warmth will assist in penetrating the serum into the skin, soften the beard, and provide a relaxing sensation.”

According to Lydia Sarfati, founder and CEO of Repêchage, men who are prone to breakouts should use an astringent in place of aftershave. “Aftershaves are loaded with perfumes and ingredients that can irritate and dry out the skin. Astringents with calming and soothing ingredients can help control the oils while soothing skin.” 

 On-Point Products and Treatments

The number of beard-centric products on the market has risen from eight in 2011 to 42 in 2014, according to Datamonitor Consumer. “Popularity comes with demand, and because this trend has had such an impact, the product companies have acted on it,” says Anna-Cari Gund, president of the Zurich-based CIDESCO (Comité International d’Esthetique et de Cosmétologie), a global organization that sets standards for spa therapy and beauty. What else is trending? Combining essential oils in male-focused products. “A more conscious awareness of the benefits of natural products and a deeper understanding of the benefits has seen the demand increase, especially in the men’s market,” says Geraldine Howard, founder and chairman of Aromatherapy Associates, whose Refinery men’s skincare collection also incorporates ingredients such as aloe vera to soothe, kaolin clay to cleanse, and probiotics, which help build the skin’s natural barrier. The Art of Shaving adopts a similar approach, formulating its retail moisturizers and facial washes with revitalizing orange, calendula, and peppermint oils. “Essential-oil-based products are very effective for those with facial hair, as they more easily penetrate the skin due to their lighter texture,” says Howard.

Gentlemen with beards spur a rise in men's grooming services  in spasExfoliants with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are also growing in popularity, says Asquith. They wash away dead skin cells and assist in cell turnover. “Spas can use higher concentrated AHA and BHA exfoliants applied with sponge-tipped applicators, which make it easy to navigate under the facial hair,” she says. For cleansing, she recommends a product with glycolic acid or salicylic acid to eliminate impurities from a man’s oilier skin.

According to Bill Kochanski, brand manager for Woody’s Quality Grooming for Men, products are now being developed specifically for facial hair that offer skin-conditioning benefits and keep facial hair looking manageable and styled. Woody’s recently introduced a new line of beard products—2-in-1 Beard Conditioner, Beard Balm, and Beard Oil—that contain natural ingredients, such as coconut oil, kukui nut oil, and moringa oil. “These multitasking ingredients keep coarse whiskers smooth and groomed while moisturizing underlying skin to prevent itching and the dreaded beard-ruff,” says Kochanski.

According to Michael Bruggeman, CEO of Organic Male OM4, the beard trend goes beyond grooming products and has far reaching implications for service providers. “Estheticians are often dumbfounded and unsure what to do with all that hair,” he says. “At OM4, our training on products and services address the trend and teach estheticians how to deal with the beard and the skin below. Specific massage movements and skincare techniques are required to ensure client satisfaction and optimal care.”


Get the Message

To successfully market facial hair services to men in spas, it’s important to study consumer behavior. “Men are extremely loyal once they try a product or service that they like and enjoy,” says Gund. “But it can be a challenge getting them there.” Research from SKIM, an international marketing consultancy, has shown that men respond to targeted messages that are straightforward and articulate with concrete, quantifiable results as opposed to the elaborate, aspiration-driven descriptions to which women tend to respond. “Where women generally love to read the ‘story’ of the treatment, men just want to know the ‘elevator pitch’ version,” says Asquith. “For example, men may not want a ‘facial,’ but an anti-aging treatment would appeal to them. The terminology must speak to them.” Sandra Friedli, national educator for Sothys USA, suggests spas offering barber services incorporate a refreshing eye treatment with chilled massage using porcelain spoons. It can be done as an add-on to any skincare treatment in just 15 extra minutes or offered solo for 30 minutes. “Eye treatments help target concerns, such as aging, dark circles, and puffiness and are extremely relaxing,” says Friedli.

Anti-aging treatments are also becoming especially relevant, as demographics are changing. “Men were once considered old at 50, but these days, men are hitting the gym and looking amazing into their 50s and even 60s,” says McDonough. “This trend is only going to increase as men realize they can really improve their appearance with a focus on training, diet, and skincare. In fact, many of our online customers are men in their 40s who have been late adopters of the skincare market but are now doing everything possible to look the best they can.”

Other market insights? Men prefer long-lasting, hassle-free results, not quick fixes, and appreciate the speed and the benefit of convenience. That said, spas should aim to integrate simple and effective facial hair and skincare treatments under a single roof where they can educate clients on developing personalized rituals and stock their shelves with the merchandise that keep beards tidy, tame, and tweaked. Asquith believes that men need to have their own menu and a separate section where men’s products are displayed, so as not to get lost and distracted by the regular spa menu, which may be a hairy dilemma. 

Help male spa-goers look their best with these specialty grooming products.—Jennifer Nied


1. Advanced Rejuvenating Concepts Cranberry Exfoliating Peel: A lightweight and fast absorbing peel, it is formulated with glycolic acid and cranberry extract to improve skintone and texture, and diminish the appearance of fine lines and blackheads. www.arcskincare.com

2. Clubman Nick Relief: This no-sting formula quickly stops bleeding from razor cuts and helps speed healing. www.clubmanonline.com

3. Guinot Paris Men’s After Shave and Moisturizing Balm: Natural humectants and vitamin E hydrate, soothe, and refresh the skin postshave. www.guinotusa.com

4. Jurlique Purely Age-Defying Firming Face Oil: A blend of botanical oils, including avocado, macadamia, safflower, and sunflower, firms and hydrates skin. The oil also doubles as a shaving cream alternative. www.jurlique.com

5. Liquid Skin Care Lqd Face Calm: Containing the soothing active ingredient SymSitive1609, this serum alleviates tightness, tingling, redness, and irritation for an improved shaving experience. www.lqdskincare.com.au

6. Organic Male OM4 Shave Soothing Herbal Shaving Emulsion: This multitasking lotion helps keep beards well-groomed and skin looking youthful with an invigorating lavender and peppermint aroma. www.om4men.com

7. Pevonia Age-Defying Caviar Balm: Caviar and marine collagen and elastin in a rich emulsion absorb easily to firm the skin and smooth wrinkles. www.pevoniapro.com

8. RA for Men Sake Peel: Designed to work with men’s hormones, acid and sake rice wine help to refine and renew the skin for a more youthful appearance. www.rhondaallison.com

9. Repêchage Herbal Astringent: With the help of natural herbs, including sage, rosemary, chamomile, and mint, this astringent soothes and refreshes skin as it absorbs oil without stinging or drying skin. www.repechage.com

10. Sothys Paris Softening Shaving Foam For Men: Aloe vera moisturizes and softens the skin, while volcanic rock removes toxins in a soothing foam. www.sothys-usa.com

11. Waxxxpress Bump Eraiser Cool Splash: Chamomile and natural fruit acids calm and soothe irritated skin and help prevent ingrown hairs in this cooling post-shave treatment. www.waxxxpress.com

12. Woody’s Quality Grooming Beard Balm: Moisturizing coconut oil and natural beeswax keep whiskers in place without looking greasy or stiff. www.woodysgrooming.com