Men’s skin-care products are a booming business

  • Mon Jul 2nd, 2012 4:00pm
  • Life

By Shan Li Los Angeles Times

Like most guys, Eric Lugo wants to look handsome. But he doesn’t want to be caught applying makeup.

So the 26-year-old uses skin-care products with names like Kiehl’s Facial Fuel and Lab Series’ Power Brightening Serum.

“I want to keep myself up and maintain my looks, but I’d never use anything that looks like it’s made for my girlfriend,” the Los Angeles banker said. “This stuff looks like it’s for guys, not girlie at all, so I feel OK using it.”

Retailers are seeing a booming market in cosmetics and skin care for men. But they face one big challenge: Most guys are squeamish about products that seem too feminine.

So skin-care firms have come up with a variety of products with creatively masculine names, packaged in cigar boxes and containers mimicking liquor bottles.

And the word “makeup” is verboten. “We don’t say the ‘M’ word. It’s taboo,” said Michele Probst, founder of Menaji, a high-end men’s line carried at Nordstrom.com and department stores.

One popular men’s brand, Jack Black, is sold at places such as Sephora and Bloomingdale’s, and it has a $60 anti-wrinkle lotion called Protein Booster Skin Serum. Estee Lauder’s Lab Series for men sells a $28 eye cream called Eye Balm. And Menaji puts out a $26 concealer called Urban Camouflage and a $35 face powder simply named Anti-Shine.

Men’s grooming is one of the fastest growing segments in the beauty business and companies are eagerly staking territory in this burgeoning market.

Retailers such as Nordstrom and Macy’s are devoting more shelf space to these products, and creating separate sections dedicated solely to men.

Cosmetics chain Ulta rolled out in-store boutiques called the Men’s Shop. CVS Pharmacy has created Guy Aisles, Macy’s opened a Men’s Grooming Zone in San Francisco with a barber, flat-screen TV, the sports pages and free Wi-Fi.

Nordstrom began shifting its male grooming into the men’s area, staffed by a trained salesclerk ready to guide confused men, said Jennifer Kovacs, Nordstrom’s national merchandise manager for fragrances.

Skin-care brand Kiehl’s is building Shave Bars decked out with black subway tiles and displays that resemble gym lockers.

“It’s become more socially acceptable for men to put effort into looking and feeling good,” said Damon Jones, a spokesman at Procter &Gamble, whose brands include the Art of Shaving and Gillette. “The whole metrosexual trend has gone more mainstream.”

Karen Grant, a beauty analyst at NPD Group, said, “The younger generation has grown up with Mom slathering sunblock on their face, so they are coming up aware of facial skin care.”