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Men Are Taking Grooming More Seriously Than Ever

Over the last century, the male approach to grooming appears to have gone full-circle. In the Victorian period, men took incredible pride in their appearance. Their hair was flawless and carefully styled. Personal hygiene was a priority, and grooming was essential. Consider the fine gentlemen that strutted the streets of London in top hats and suit tails. There was a gentlemanly approach to style and grooming, which was then quickly forgotten. The male pride in grooming slowly faded away, leading to generations of ‘manly’ laziness.

The man reverted back to an almost caveman like qualities of personal grooming neglect. It was a bad time for the male style, yet it was considered socially acceptable, and even desirable. Only in the last ten years have we emerged in a place where it is acceptable and encouraged to take pride once again. The rise of male grooming, styling, and sculpting is now unstoppable. Many will argue we have gone too far! With excessive beard styling, overly ‘feminine’ styles, and extra care, has the pendulum swung too far? In this post, we’re looking at the past and the present of male grooming.

‘Traditional’ values

In the last two generations, traditional male grooming values were fairly non-existent. It has typically been acceptable to let oneself go, and ignore basic personal grooming. The rugged look is often charming, but there’s a line between unkempt and dirty. Boys were encouraged to run around, get dirty, and care little for their personal appearance. Of course, at the same time, young girls were bombarded with rules about personal appearance. Let’s not get dragged into that debate just now, but consider the different paths laid out before us. It lead to a huge disparity in how men and women approached their personal grooming. For women, it became a cultural ‘necessity’. For men, personal grooming was optional.

The rise of the ‘metrosexual’ man

In the last decade, however, things have changed significantly. For the better, if you ask us. We have come some way to redressing the balance between male and female expectations. Along with that, the behaviour and approach to grooming has changed drastically. We quickly saw the rise of the ‘metrosexual’ man. It’s a strange term that came to define a man who cares about his appearance deeply. It is used to describe a man who is meticulous about his appearance, and spends a lot of money on grooming products. This approach to male grooming has since become more common and accepted behaviour. So, what exactly does this mean, and how are men approaching their grooming differently?

Beyond the barber

For the ‘traditional’ man, grooming meant popping into the barber once every two months. The unruly mess is shaved, tidied up, but certainly not styled. Unless, of course, running a comb through it counts as styled. Nowadays, men recognize that this is not enough, both for hygiene reasons and grooming reasons. A professional haircut (once every month, ideally) is the minimum standard. It’s also advisable to chat with your stylist about your hair. What is the best product for your hair type? What styles work for your face structure? These are conversations that haven’t been had for a hundred years in male barber shops. However, the modern man is going well beyond the barber, and taking on a rigorous grooming routine in between visits too.

Beard sculpting

The traditional man rarely had time for sculpting the perfect stubble, let alone styling a beard. A wet shave every morning set you up for the day, and covered all the bases. Arguably, this is actually more hygienic than the modern beard sculpting. However, it was certainly a labour of laziness, and a doctrine of simple, no-nonsense grooming. More recently, a good layer of stubble has become a simple, but effective grooming technique. It’s clean and tidy, but also attractive and stylish. Many will argue we have gone too far with some beard grooming techniques. (Just take one walk around New York’s Williamsburg or London’s Shoreditch to see for yourself). However, there’s no denying that the stylish approach to facial hair has overtaken the practical approach of old.

Skin care

Skin care is something that males have consistently avoided and ignored. Meanwhile, it has always been an essential part of a woman’s morning routine. Do men have magical skin that generates its own moisturizer? Are men immune to dry skin and the issues that seemingly plague only women? No, of course not. It is pure nonsense, exacerbated by cultural expectations and norms. Men should adopt skin care routines as much as women should, and that approach is becoming more common. Moisturizer and serums are now created especially for men. They are designed to soften the effects of shaving, and keep skin feeling hydrated and healthy.

Manscaping

Attitudes towards manscaping (and ladyscaping for that matter) tends to fluctuate with trends. In the ‘70s, it was a case of ‘anything goes’, but now we are taking a little more care. Men, in particular are becoming more attentive in the nether regions, and tidying up somewhat. After all, it’s only polite really.

Personal hygiene

It’s not just the approach to grooming and styling that has changed, but an all-round approach to hygiene. In the past, it was somewhat socially acceptable for men to appear dirty and messy. Now, that is becoming much less acceptable, and certainly not attractive. Instead, care is now taken to wash regularly, shave those pesky nostril hairs, and spray deodorant. In fact, scent is becoming a big part of the male approach to grooming. Using aftershave as a signature scent has quickly overtaken the practical applications.

Hair grooming

Of course, the most obvious grooming and styling change of all is the hair. Only ten years ago, you could probably list the standard male haircuts on one hand. Short-back-and-sides and… well… that was about it. Nowadays, men are open to more styles, and they’re certainly being more adventurous. They are embracing styling products, and adopting new techniques.

Overall, it’s a positive step forward for male grooming. At the very least, it’s a win for personal hygiene, and that’s something we can all celebrate.