The “Steal my girlfriend’s concealer” line was a common chorus among men’s grooming companies until recently, and who can forget rock stars like Prince, who brought glam to rock? But the make-up range available for men still remains introductory. However, the effects are sluggishly changing, with men shaking off old conceptions, and welcoming beauty routines into their lives. According to Rachit Mehra, senior marketing manager of Phy, a brand that offers complete grooming solutions for urban professional men, the Indian men’s grooming market is growing at an impressive 11 percent CAGR, and is well on its way to becoming a $1.2 billion business by 2024. This has resulted in the men’s beauty market booming into an inclusive, diverse industry that boasts of everything from grooming to personal care to cosmetics, and more.

From sticking to deodorants and after-shave lotions for the longest time, men today incorporate scrubs, serums, night gels, and much more into their routine. “Also, one of the biggest shifts expected in the market this year is consumers gearing towards more sustainable and ethically sourced products. So one could expect a greater recognition of products void of harsh chemicals including sulfates, parabens, phthalates, etc.,” says Mehra.

Social media had single-handedly destroyed hyperbolic ideas of masculinity, and the rise of vlogs during the pandemic brought in the pressure for for men to be camera-ready at any given moment. For the most part, men were simply looking for a way to have good skin, and appear less tired in a hyper-competitive environment. Kruti Sheth, who set up The Lair, a barbershop in Sep 2019, agrees, and says, “Social media has and is playing a major role in the shift. Some men, who remain immune to celebrities’ influence, have been targeted and converted by relatable male influencers flooding the internet, and this is the reason why the men’s beauty market has been on a steep incline over the past few years.” In the mid-2000s, there were just brands like Axe and Old Spice adding spice to the men’s diurnal requirements. In the early 2010s, you had guys wake up to hair care and beard care. That trend continued into manscaping. Luxury brands like Chanel launched the Boy de Chanel range in 2018 with a foundation, lip attar, and brow pencil, and have added further products similar to eyeliner and nail polish over the last year. Shiseido Men, a line that first premiered in 2013, is still popular among conscious men.

There was also Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Le Mâle Tout Beau Tout Propre launch in the ’90s, a range that featured a tinted moisturizer, nail shield, and an emo-looking guyliner that could help the average man replicate Johnny Depp’s dashing look in Pirates of The Caribbean. There’s a sudden influx in demand for musky, reinvigorated, and 100 per cent chemical-free fragrances and deodorant in the men’s beauty segment, say brands. Consumers today like to have appropriate scents in their grooming set— a fresh and clean fragrance for official purposes, and one that is a bit dynamic and bold for parties. “Male consumers have become more sophisticated in their choices, and they are just not looking for cleansers and moisturizers but products like serums and anti-aging products when they hit their 30s”, says Sahil Mehta, founder of Man Arden. Many brands have considered the west being a possible inspiration for the booming men’s beauty market in India, and one such trend that has picked up tremendously from shore is a night-time skincare routine. “From just a splash of water before bed, men’s PM skincare routines have evolved greatly to include face washes, serums, moisturizers, night gels, or other cream-based products. While we’ve seen a lot of couples taking up doing their skincare together on social media, a lot of men in India are taking it up as a serious pre-sleep step,” says Mehta.

For Hitesh Dhingra, founder of The Man Company, trends like the usage of grooming accessories such as derma roller and DIY kits have long been a part of the western culture. “Men in western countries have got such kits and accessories to deal with their daily grooming needs. Additionally, taking assistance in promoting inside-out health is also a trend that has already made its home in the west. In India, too, nutraceuticals have become an integral part of consumers’ daily routine,” says Dhingra. “In the last decade, Asian boy bands started using make-up to accentuate their on-stage beauty and charisma. In this context, the South Korean industry is setting global stages on fire, with their leading boy bands confidently flaunting their glistening and spotless faces in front of millions of fans. Cosmetics and make-up usage might not be a massive hit in India today, but this trend is likely to continue growing. The male make-up wave has already begun in the country,” says Dhingra.

Make-up for men is one trend that wildly exploded within the west, says Sheth. “By 2018, social media single-handedly busted the stereotypes of masculinity. Cis men started using concealer to hide their tiredness in a gladiatorial workplace. But the make-up range available for men still remains pretty basic,” she adds. “Make-up is essentially used for utility, and not for self-expression. If you follow male influencers in India, chances are you have run into blogs and vlogs about how to set your hair perfectly, how to contour your jawline, how to enhance your eyebrows with a spoolie, and the like. These are topics that get a lot of engagement online, but aren’t discussed too much offline. We have seen make-up for men solidify its place in weddings. But on a day-to-day basis, most men are still stealing their girlfriends’ concealers, and casually rocking their everyday looks,” she sums up. It’s probably safe to say that men, in 2022, recognise that their body needs and deserves care and attention too, and they’re not afraid to ask for it. With gender fluidity and metrosexuality gaining more momentum, men aren’t just accepting of it but are also taking the  initiative to take care of themselves.