Contemporary Masculinity; Male Grooming & Gender Neutral Makeup

5 Min Read |

Women have traditionally been the target of beauty marketing campaigns, with products designed to appeal to a female audience. But current shifts in social demographics, and a move towards more inclusivity in gender identity and self-expression, are changing the beauty industry.

An analysis published by Statista show that the US male beauty market size has risen from $15.68 billion in 2012 to $21.65 billion in 2018. Cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies have been selling personal care products for men for decades — with a focus on razors and the prevention of hair loss. But today’s male beauty consumers are different; and beauty brands recognize the potential gains to be had by tapping into — and actively expanding — male audiences. The definition of masculinity itself is becoming more open and men are questioning the marketing techniques historically used to draw them in; the conventional sharp, slick and strong images that emphasize ‘manliness’.

And beauty brands are widening the scope of their male focused products and marketing methods to welcome this new generation of men. Glamglow, a beauty company particularly well known for its face masks, previously launched a social media marketing campaign aimed at men using the hashtag #menwhomask along with images of men using face masks and other beauty products. The campaign also used influencer partnerships with men — including actor and model Nick Bateman, who was the official face of the brand.

Glamglow is not the only company to use social media influencer marketing as part of its efforts to engage male consumers; Rimmel has links with London beauty blogger Lewys Ball, and Sephora has partnered with male celebrity make up artist Angel Merino to promote Merino’s own beauty line, Artist Couture. Maybelline has signed Instagram and YouTube star Manny Gutierrez as a beauty ambassador, and Covergirl has added James Charles to its ranks.

As well as a rise in male personal care products and ‘boy beauty’ brands, a number of incumbents and start-ups have launched gender neutral makeup lines. These companies include MAC, Tom Ford, and Marc Jacobs; and younger pioneering beauty label Context describes itself as ‘unisex and cruelty-free’. This tagline is a nod to the relationship between gender neutral beauty products and socially conscious consumption — a specific, and rapidly growing market which wants inclusive products that do not exploit animals or the environment.

Brands which make men their primary target market — as opposed to including men as one group within their wider consumer audience — are doing increasingly well. These companies are finding success by creating new avenues for accessing male consumers and rebundling their products, rather than making sales through traditional spa and salon routes. For example, subscription personal care services for men successfully target busy and fashionable male consumers. The Dollar Shave Club provides shaving, shower and dental hygiene packages on a subscription basis, sending new products to its subscribers and tailoring its offerings to their needs and preferences. And Harry’s Razor Company is founded on bold principles: they aim to “help guys navigate what it means to be a man today” by breaking through outdated stereotypes. The brand offers razor and shaving plans on subscription while simultaneously running social projects with the intention of changing perspectives on masculinity. Investors are buying into this: Harry’s Razor Company earlier this year raised a $112 million Series D tranche.

The Dollar Shave Club was acquired by Unilever in 2016 — an acquisition which sparked a rise in M&A of men’s personal care and cosmetic brands. Integumen took on Stoer & Co in 2017; a men’s skincare brand created by Scottish skincare expert Marianne Morrison. And Edgewell has recently acquired two male beauty brands: Bulldog Skincare Holdings in 2016, which holds a wide range of well styled products and beauty tools for men; and Dallas born skincare brand Jack Black in 2018, which offers innovative solutions for male grooming.


View this post on Instagram


apply to the crown. no need to frown.

A post shared by hims (@hims) on

Although the male personal care and beauty sector is now less heavily weighted towards hair loss prevention, a number of new companies are finding fresh ways to approach men’s hair loss. Hims uses humorous language and marketing imagery to encourage men to begin caring for their hair before they lose it. The brand sells a line of preventative haircare products and supplements, and received a $40M Series A investment in March 2018 from Institutional Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures.

The industry push for inclusivity reaches into the male grooming market, too — with brands such as Walker & Company Brands offering direct-to-consumer shaving systems including razors specifically aimed at men of color. The Bevel shaving system is directly promoted by Walker & Company’s CEO, Tristan Walker; a man of color who found that the shaving products on the market did not work well for his hair and skin. Frederick Benjamin is another shaving brand which is successfully meeting the demand for products which make personal care easier and more effective for men of color. The Bombay Shaving Co. of Delhi, India, has benefitted from over $3M of investment to develop a shaving system designed to suit Indian men as well as a wider audience. Its product line includes razors, beard oils, cleansers and moisturizers.

The Bombay Shaving Co. is one of many current brands forging a loyal customer base via direct-to-consumer marketing and sales. Engaging consumers directly and working on platforms — such as social media — which enable customers to develop a personal relationship with the brand means that groups which were previously marginalized by the traditional beauty industry are now being catered for. We predict a continued rise in direct-to-consumer male and gender neutral personal care and beauty brands, and an ongoing increase in products and marketing campaigns which focus on inclusivity.

Subscribe & Join 50,000 Fellow Beauty Industry Professionals

Get our complimentary briefing, featuring agenda setting news & analysis on the global beauty industry.

By signing up I agree to the service terms and privacy policy