In the vanity cupboard of property manager Mark Telley you’ll find a selection of high-end grooming products to rival a supermodel’s.

The tip of the iceberg is Origins’ Make A Difference Plus Rejuvenating Moisturiser – “I have dry skin and this product really keeps me feeling fresh”; Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Shaving Cream – “it comes in two different sizes meaning I can take it in carry on when I head overseas”; and Byredo Parfums’ Sunday Cologne – “one of my two go-to fragrances; Frederic Malle French Lover is the other”.

More luxe products, such as Aesop’s Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm, are secreted in places including his laptop bag – “the balm smells good and keeps my hands in great shape, especially after a flight, or if I’ve come off a construction site or come of the golf course,” says the 26-year-old.

Telley admits he’s ahead of his girlfriend in grooming/cosmetic product purchase and use, but he does work for a cosmetic retailer, MECCA Brands, and says he has been educated about product and results.

“I now spend up to $500 every three to four months,” he says. “Moisturiser daily, cleanser four days a week, face scrub three days a week, with my list of products geared towards my lifestyle.”

Telley is one of a new breed of image-conscious, metrosexual males who the cosmetics industry is pinning its hopes for healthy future profits on. But the young, hipster-types are not alone in growing use of skincare.

There’s an equally sophisticated, more mature market too, like director of Whiteworks Public Relations Stewart White, who uses Pro Lab Series All In One Face Treatment – “it hydrates, reduces crows feet and is matt”; Kiehls Facial – “an invigorating morning after facial jolt” and Neutrogena Retinol Night Cream – “it’s light and non-greasy”.

“Men are beginning to broaden their horizons with skincare and are more concerned than ever with looking their best,” says Ben Ferguson, National Education Manager, Australia, for Kiehls.
“Currently the skincare market is growing at around 10% a year and Kiehl’s men’s enjoyed 25% growth last year. The men are definitely purchasing.”

At Molton Brown Australia brand manager Juliet Connell says: “Since we rolled out the new look men’s skincare range in early 2014 we’ve seen a 23% uplift in sales.”

Reveals Nathan Jancauskas, the creator of high-end grooming store Men’s Biz in Melbourne and soon to open in Sydney: “Our sales have grown about 400% in the last five years.”

Men’s Biz 1,500 products range includes some of the finest grooming brands globally: Jack Black skincare, Geo. F. Trumper shaving creams and brushes and Penhaligon’s fragrances with ipads on which shoppers can access online customer reviews and product ratings while a vintage barber service is offered on-site.

“There is greater pressure on men to look their best today than at any time in recent history,” believes Jancauskas.

Ryan Lin, IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst, estimates annual sales of total men’s grooming products in Australia now exceeds $500 million a year.

In the past five years, there has been a flood of new products specifically targeted at men from companies such as L’Oreal, Clinique, Clarins and Nivea, according to IBISWorld’s Cosmetic and Toiletry Retailing in Australia Industry Report.

“Recent developments within the sector include the introduction of male-specific lines and multi-functional products,” says Lin. “These trends are expected to continue over the next few years.”

In fact, the men s grooming products industry is expected to post growth rates in excess of that the wider cosmetics/personal care industry over the next five years, he says, although he expects those growth rates to be in the low single digit growth rates.

Yet despite the sound of men slapping on moisturiser or handcream, male only skincare products are still a small product segment – the total toiletries market in Australia in 2015/2016 was worth $3.6 billion, says Lin.


David Olsen, Global VP of Beauty and Grooming for The NET-A-PORTER Group, a retail website that sells more than 300 leading international brands and ships to 170 countries, has been in the industry for 15 years and “every year it’s ‘the year men’s grooming is going to explode’.”

“I personally think it is a slow burn, but it is definitely increasing more now than it was 15 years ago.”

He believes education is key. “We need to teach men on why it’s important to take care of your skin, along with the basics.”

Agrees Catherine Biedermann, managing director of Advanced Cosmeceuticals, which bought the SKINN Range for men in 2009: “The opportunity to increase awareness among Australian men – especially 35 plus, affluent, educated, confident and skincare savvy – is enormous.”

Right now most men won’t use an eye cream or night cream, says Charlotte Turner, head of training for Clarins, but they are enthusiastic users of moisturising products such as Clarins Super Moisture Balm.

“Men seek products that work and work fast,” says Biedermann. “They look for products that are compatible for their skin, they tend to prefer fragrance free but if there is a fragrance it needs to be subtle and perhaps more citrus that floral.”

While Ferguson agrees men like “a simple but effective regimen”, he adds “never say never”.
“Our top Kiehl’s products for men are Facial Fuel Energizing Cleanser, Facial Fuel Moisturiser and the White Eagle shaving cream.

“But concentrates and treatment products are rising in popularity.”

At Men’s Biz, undetectable concealer and anti-shine powder for men were introduced while, at more men are willing to experiment with treatments, brighteners and specialised creams.

E-commerce has removed some of the cringe factor for men – no more having to front the retail counter.

Now it’s just a case of more men becoming aware of what’s available and what it can do for them.

“It’s the age of the selfie,” says Olsen. “Why walk around with dark circles under your eyes or an oily face when you can easily solve these problems?”

What Men Want

  • Predominantly men’s products need to be multi-taskers. While there are men who are just as obsessed with new products and grooming in general there are also men who would prefer to have one product that does four different jobs, according to Molton Brown.
  • Men are practical in their purchasing decisions and this extends to skincare, says Biedermann. “They tend to be wary about products that add too much time to their routine and are also less driven by marketing messages.”
  • Men prefer lightweight, fresh-smelling products that disappear into the skin, leaving no residue, says Turner. “They like simple routines and products that are quick and easy to apply.”
  • They are results-orientated, not necessarily price-driven.
  • Because they have thicker, oilier skin so formulations need to be a bit different in order to effectively penetrate the skin, says Olsen. “I think a masculine scent (or no scent at all) is important.

This article originally appeared in Life & Leisure in the Australian Financial Review.

Helen Hawkes

Helen Hawkes is a journalist who writes compelling print and digital content across business and finance, health and lifestyle, real estate and interiors. Her content clients have ranged from American Express and the University of NSW to Maserati and 9Honey. She is fluent in cross-platform storytelling, brand tone of voice, content strategy and stakeholder management.