On National Men’s Grooming Day I’m increasingly frustrated by the lack of innovation in spa

Elemis Men - The Spa Man

National Men’s Grooming Day is a great way for what? For men to go out and celebrate grooming? I don’t think we will see the streets filled with blokes parading around holding their favourite shave gel or moisturiser up high.

I’m increasingly frustrated by the lack of innovation in men’s spa treatments

I visit about 30 spas a year and try lots of treatments, experiencing some of the very best the industry has to offer. I find it very frustrating that there’s a real lack of innovation in the market for men. Invariably the treatments will be repackaged generic beauty treatments that have been given a title “Energising facial for men” or “Sports massage for men” when in reality, its just the same old, same old. Repackaged, renamed and lacks thought or inspiration. Men are interested in visiting spas and numbers are increasing around the world.

I have seen various figures about the number of men who visit spas – but its hard to get an accurate figure. According to Conde Nast Traveler magazine, 35% of spa goers are in fact male. Compare this to figures quoted by SpaFinder Wellness 365 which says “20 years ago, men made up 10% of the US spa market – compare that to 47% in 2013.” So we can only assume that the UK is following a similar pattern, and whatever figure is correct, more men are visiting spas. I see it myself.

The only interesting thing I have noted in the last three years has been to advent of the barber chair in the spa. Barbering services have been popping up in spas across the continent and now in the UK. I first saw it in Frankfurt at Frankfurter Hof, you can read the story here. Resense partnered with Truefitt and Hill to launch barbering services across Europe, Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge has done it and so too, Bovey Castle in Devon. And I suppose that this is natural progression. Making a male space in the spa where men feel comfortable. This can only serve to bring more guys to the party, but it doesn’t address the treatment menu in the main spa area. These barbering services are separate, but can be an introduction to spa.

Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof

The barber at Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof

What spas need to really look at is what drives men’s grooming and my opinion it is the need to be fit and healthy, their careers, competition in the dating market and social media are the key factors that are driving men who want to look good. Tapping into these deeper desires will enable spas to develop a more tailored treatment menu. Linking fitness and spa is a no-brainer. Some locations have started to do it. LUX Resorts have introduced the Wellness Concierge, but I think that this could be enhanced and improved a lot more. But its a great start. Read about it here. There’s a real need to personalise treatments for men that focus on results with some pampering – but guys want to know that something is worth investing in. That it works.

I think that Elemis has been ahead of the game in this realm, but aren’t necessarily perfect. The brand does have the impressive Poultice Powered Muscle release treatment at the House of Elemis which features a unique Amber poultice which delivers on its promise to dissolve tensions and muscle aches which is all performed on a soothing, warm Amber and Quartz Crystal Bed. I tried it and its not only unique, it really works. And Elemis has also created a facial using its machine based therapy – Biotec. Machines and men work well together. The Refinery in Mayfair introduced machines into advanced anti-ageing facials for men a few years ago. For men concerned about ageing – this is the future.

Then going back to traditional roots, Moroccan and Turkish Hammans are an incredible offering for guys – if the spa has the facilities to offer this. Most recently, the Spa at Dolphin Square has launched the Arabian Beard Ritual. It’s not offered in a barbers chair – but on a treatment bed and was one of the most relaxing and interesting treatments I’ve experienced for some time. It combines cleaning with traditional Moroccan black soap with facial massage and grooming for the beard leaving it clean and silky soft. There are nuggets of inspiration to be seen, but generally, spas have  along way to go.

Read more about the House of Elemis

picture courtesy of Elemis

picture courtesy of Elemis

National Men’s Grooming Day

So after that little rant, back to National Men’s Grooming Day. I was going to write a post highlighting a load of grooming products, but thought that was really dull, so have highlighted a few shortcomings in the male spa industry and picked out a few points demonstrating the state of the men’s grooming market, and it is buoyant. So why aren’t spas trying harder to capture the male market?

Men’s grooming is booming – but capturing a slice of it is a tough call. I get sent a lot of products to try and most a re good – but few are outstanding. There’s less real innovation in the men’s market when you compare it to the female beauty market. And then there’s spa (see above).


The male grooming market

Looking at prestige sector the NPD Group Inc., said that the male prestige grooming market in the UK was worth £449.5m in the 2015, which grew by 2.6% on the previous years’ total of £438.2m.  The market for prestige grooming products (which includes skincare, body care and fragrance) continues to report strong growth and saw men’s skincare outperform women’s skincare in 2015.

Taking a look at the border picture – which include mass market Mintel says that sales of skincare products increased by 1.3% to reach £104 million in 2015. In the prestige area skincare continues to perform very well as NPD says, men’s skincare accounts for 6.6% of the overall male grooming market and reported sales of £29.5m in 2015, a rise of 6.9% from 2014 where total skincare sales for men were £27.6m.

picture courtesy of Braun

picture courtesy of Braun

We haven’t reached peak beard

NO! We haven’t reached peak beard and I’m a bit sick of every national newspaper trying to declare this – its a cheap headline. Here’s some hard data from Braun. A European study of 6,500 men, commissioned by grooming brand Braun revealed that 52 per cent of British men now boasting some sort of hair on their face. It also revealed that Cardiff and Birmingham emerged as the joint UK Beard Capitals – with 62 per cent of men from the Welsh and Midland Cities currently wearing facial hair.
 London came in close second with of 57 per cent of Londoners now sporting some sort of facial hair and more than one in three boasting a full-beard.


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