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Men's beauty expands its horizons as sales of make-up and nail polish soar

Lauretta Roberts
17 August 2023

The men's beauty market is experiencing booming sales as Gen Z men are leading the charge and embracing new categories such as nail-care and make-up, as well as more sophisticated skincare.

New data from buy now, pay later specialist Clearpay shows that spending on men's beauty is up 77% year-on-year with men's beauty now making up 21% of beauty spend overall. Driving the growth are Gen Z men whose beauty spend is up 68% year-on-year.

Their products of choice demonstrate a shift from basic self-care to a head-to-toe approach with beauty and grooming. Serum is now the most popular male beauty product, showing a growth of 54% in sales year-on-year. The fastest-growing product line was nail care, which was up 103%, with skincare overall up 22% and self-tan up 44%.

While female-led beauty brands, such as Fenty by Rihanna and Rose Inc by Rosie Huntington-Whitely, have dominated the women's beauty market, so celebrity-fronted male beauty brands have driven growth in men's beauty.

Harry Styles' Pleasing line has been instrumental in the boom in men wearing nail polish while Idris Elba's S'ABLE Labs has driven growth in male grooming. Equally brands that have been traditionally targeted at women have also appointed men as ambassadors, such as make-up giant Rimmel London which recently teamed up with Olympic diving gold medallist Tom Daley.


Bell Boy Blue. Pleasing by Harry Styles

Other male celebrities, such as Pharrell Williams, Jared Leto, Evan Mock and Machine Gun Kelly, are also capitalising on the trend and launching skincare and male / unisex beauty lines. The rise in content creators on social media showcasing beauty hacks and make-up routines for men also indicates that male grooming is on the rise and higher mens’ beauty standards are here to stay.

Clearpay’s Fashion & Beauty Psychologist, Shakaila Forbes-Bell said the concept of self-care among men has shifted dramatically, which has led to the category's growth: "Research suggests that younger men are more willing to engage in beauty practices due to shifting ideals about what it means to 'look after yourself'. While previously, this concept focused solely on the physical shape of a man’s body, 'looking after yourself' now encompasses everything from head to toe, and Gen Z, in particular, is on board with this shift.

"The type of products trending among male consumers, such as high-quality hair appliances, skincare and hair care products, suggest that male beauty is not seen by consumers as a form of self-expression but rather as self-care and maintenance. This idea is supported by studies showing that male beauty is an act of ‘invisible consumption’ in that modern male beauty consumers rarely share beauty/skin/haircare routines and tend to focus on products that observers wouldn’t immediately be able to tell they’re wearing. While male consumers tend to be more secretive about the extent of their engagement in this sector, research has highlighted that the surge of male beauty influencers and pop icons has also contributed to changing beliefs that these products are not restricted to those that are female-identifying.

"Interestingly, studies have repeatedly shown that resistance to ageing is a strong motivating factor in consuming male beauty products. With so many news stories depicting the future across many domains as bleak, it makes sense that male consumers are the latest cohort with a desire to ‘stop the clock’.

Main image: Tom Daley for Rimmel London

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