Men’s Market: Overview and Future Predictions


The UK men’s skincare market is now worth an estimated £911 million per annum

By Daniel Whitby, Technical Business Development Manager, Cornelius Group plc


The UK men’s skincare market is now worth an estimated £911 million per annum1 so it is safe to say this sector is finally achieving the success which has been predicted for a long time. There are a wealth of male orientated brands in the market place now from the more bespoke smaller brands to the globally advertised mass-market brands.

Throw into the mix a few insights into the male psyche – fierce brand loyalty, a need for no hassle convenience products, a willingness to try something new and, if it works, continue using it - combine it with the rise of the “metrosexual” (defined as “a man who is especially meticulous about his grooming and appearance, typically spending a significant amount of time and money on shopping as part of this”)2 and the emergence of “lumbersexuals” and “spornosexuals”3, we now have a male population where 65% are interested in taking care of their skin, 74% attach importance to how their hair looks and 40% make time to take care of their appearance4 and it soon becomes apparent there is a huge customer base ready to interact with the cosmetics industry and what it has to offer.

It was recently reported that although 90% of cosmetic surgery patients are women, middle-aged and older men are catching up at a rate that’s nearly three times what it was 15 years ago as older men strive to maintain their looks or, at the very least, look as good as they can5. In the following article we will review what is out there for men in the current market and also offer our thoughts on what future trends may be on the horizon in this fast moving sector.

Men’s Skincare Needs

There are fundamental differences between male and female skin biology which should be considered when developing products. To summarise – men’s facial skin has increased sebum production so the use of light esters and oils during formulation, such as Olvea’s recently launched range of Shea esters with enhanced skin feel6, will ensure the products are not perceived as “heavy” on the skin. Men’s Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) tends to be lower than women’s and, perhaps related to this, males tend to have higher stratum corneum hydration than females.

In terms of changes to our appearance sagging in the lower eyelid area is significantly more severe for men after middle age. It’s also worth noting that men have more severe wrinkles than women with increased wrinkling in the forehead region when compared to women and with crow’s feet, forehead and glabella lines appearing earlier in males7.

Facial Skincare

With the news that 42% of men now use a gender specific facial moisturiser and 74% of men are defined as keen personal care shoppers it seems men are finally embracing the benefits that facial skin care products can bring8. However the market still lacks a degree of sophistication when compared to the offer for females, with the most common claims being hydrating, dermatologically tested and ethical or environmentally friendly and one pot purchases dominating the market.

We are therefore predicting that 2015 is going to be the year for men to get involved in regimes, it’s time for us to see more serums, cleansers, eye products etc aimed at men and for brands to up their “claims game”. Despite the media hype around “menscara”, “guyliner” and “disguys” concealers2 it appears we are not quite ready for men to wear colour cosmetics, with 93% of men and women thinking that men should not wear make up. However, it is also noted that men are looking for some sort of blemish hiding functionality from a product as long as the products are discreet, almost having to be undetectable to be acceptable9.

It’s interesting to note that when looking at the user reviews of one of the more successful male “BB” products on the market, Lab Series BB Tinted Moisturiser, that most comments mention blending the product into a daily moisturiser to achieve a very subtle level of coverage.

Will 2015 be the year when blender pots, to be used in this way by male consumers, emerge onto the shelves? These are certainly available in the South Korean market at the moment, often cited as a country where skincare innovation first emerges.

Our predictions for men’s facial care for the coming year are that we will see more complexion based claims in the skincare offer. Men have a fairly lax attitude to wrinkles, they certainly do not buy into prevention as such, though may buy products to treat them after they have appeared. It was great to see Bulldog launch a protective product in to their hugely popular skincare range, allowing men to take a more pro-active approach to wrinkle reduction.

This moisturiser provides broad spectrum SPF 15 sun protection alongside a blend of 9 essential oils, aloe vera and green tea. Recent research showing that sleep deprivation affects skin health10 and that men’s skin appears more tired after work11, suggests that men would buy into skincare which provides complexion boosting properties, utilising active ingredients such as SMS Energy from chick peas and Celldetox12 to boost a natural healthy appearance.

Blemish control will also be a key factor in the coming year either preventing spot formation or reducing the appearance of spots when they appear, both of which can be achieved using Dermapur from meadowsweet12.

In terms of textures and skin feel two brand new launches from BASF were spotted at this years In Cosmetics exhibition - Emulgade Sucro Plus and Cosmedia ACE. Emulgade Sucro Plus is BASF's new completely natural-based emulsifier that has been approved by COSMOS and ECOCERT. In addition to good emulsifying properties and a high electrolyte tolerance the product demonstrates a distinct sensory performance. Emulsions with Emulgade Sucro Plus form a sliding film on the skin with a silky and dry skin sensation that improves application and absorption and would be perfectly matched to male skin.

Furthermore, the emulsifier provides good skin compatibility that has been proven in consumer tests and is able to support the creation of lamellar structures. BASF’s newly designed polymer Cosmedia Ace answers to the need in personal care market for elegant textures, versatility and cost-effectiveness. Its ability for strong thickening, emulsifying and stabilising a wide range of emulsions makes it truly multifunctional. Cosmedia Ace also allows flexibility as it is liquid and is therefore easy to use.

In addition, it is cold-processable and can be added at any stage of the process and is efficient over a broad pH range. What is more, the polymer is cost-effective while providing textures with elegant sensory characteristics, with inherent waxiness. All additives are natural based and without any EO derivatives. This allows the use of Cosmedia Ace in environmentally-friendly products, an important consideration for male consumers.

Another prediction for 2015 concerns facial hair – throughout 2014 fashionistas have been commenting that the beard trend has peaked and, as a recently published study showed that women prefer clean shaven men when beards predominate in a population13 we believe that towards the end of 2015 we will start to see this prophecy become fulfilled. There will not be a return to a completely shorn appearance however, more of a transition to the “mo”.

The moustache provides a much better platform than the beard to be expressive, they are more versatile than beards so it is easier to adapt and change them plus you can buy a plethora of “mo wax” products in lovingly crafted tins which have huge male appeal. Our current favourite is the ultra-premium Beaufort Moustache Finishing Wax, available with 24 carat flecks in a bespoke brass case for £150 and developed by Leo Crabtree, drummer with The Prodigy.

Washing and Bathing

As mentioned in the introduction “convenience” is a big consideration for men’s products, male consumers desire multifunctional products over the more regime approach often preferred by females. These products are often aimed at the more active consumer, an example being the Adidas “Body, Hair, Face – 3 in 1” range composed of seven variants all developed with athletes and promising to “Simplify your Regime” as well as claiming “Enriched with extra protein to help rebalance skin’s natural hydration for men who lead an intense, active life.”

Certainly it has been shown that physical exercise can compromise skin, a recent study taking measurements before and after 45 minutes of endurance cardio training and showed that stratum corneum hydration was elevated by over 50% and sebum content was reduced by over 25%, leading to “hyperhydration” of the skin and disruption of barrier function, ultimately resulting in dryness14. As gym visits become more frequent and hence post-gym showering increases, mild surfactants should be used immediately after exercise to prevent any further disruption of the barrier so look to include materials such as Pationic ISL (Sodium Isostaroyl Lactylate) or Plantapon LGC Sorb (Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate (and) Lauryl Glucoside) which provide excellent wash properties for both skin and hair but are gentler on the skin.

Molton Brown recently launched their 4 in 1 male sports wash, a premium all in one shower product for men which is designed to wash hair, body and face and also contains moisturisers for skin health, conditioners and shine boosters for hair and softens stubble in readiness for a smooth close shave. Like most Molton Brown products the feel of the product is very premium, the fragrances are refreshing and long lasting and the product lathers up very easily producing a rich foam.

Another excellent product is the Kiehl’s All Terrain 4 in 1 wash which again can be used on face, body and hair and as a shave product and is a gentle, SLES free formulation for everyday use. Finally, for those really on the move, bicycle cleaning experts Muc-Off have created Muc-Off Dry Shower, a liquid shower product which cleans without the need for actually going in the shower, a pH balanced formulation which leaves the body freshened and cleansed. As well as being suited for all outdoor enthusiasts we can see this one being a big hit with festival fans.

Face washes which combine an effective cleansing action with skincare claims, such as the recently launched Rock Face Energising product which stimulates and energises the skin whilst balancing the complexion. It also contains oligopeptides derived from chickpeas which help to remove dead skin cells and combat the signs of fatigue, an important claim in the men’s category.


Busy lifestyles mean that even more demands are placed on styling products than ever before. Long lasting styling is now expected with products having to deliver at least 24 hour hold properties allowing for a smart, smoothed down look during the day but also able to deliver a messed up look for later in the day with both effects coming from a single application of product.

The Lynx hair range have been popular additions to what was an already very strong men’s offer in the APD sector and showing what a great following this brand has built up. The hair range is split into two strands, “Cream Gels” comprising “Peace” for natural and effortless styling, “Apollo” for extreme hold and “Extra Strong Hold” for a low crunch touchable effect and also “Styling Products” comprising “Peace Cream” for a soft and touchable effect, “Clean Cut” for defining and “Messy Look”, a re-workable paste. The products have recently been relaunched in new packaging giving them a more premium feel and look.

Mancave have a multi-tasking styling product which contains conditioning waxes, L-Arginine, Shea Butter and Argan Oil to hydrate and nourish the hair and scalp, whilst also offering protection from environmental damage. Added Caffeine helps to reinvigorate dry and under nourished hair and the product has been formulated to enable a variety of styles and looks to be created from a single pot.

Two materials recently launched by BASF, Luvigel FIT for extreme hold and Luviset One for cold process production of textured styling products provide a superb base for developing the types of textures and hold the modern male consumer is seeking.


In terms of body care there are a wealth of men’s body moisturising products currently available, with a vast majority aimed at hydrating and smoothing the skin. We therefore wanted to focus on a couple of products which, in our opinion, are bringing something new to the party. First up is Nip + Man with their body sculpting range comprised of Pec Fix, Ab Fix, Bicep Fix and Power Workout Fix, all aimed at gym goers looking to achieve the perfect body. Pec Fix minimises and sculpts, reduces the appearance of excess fat and smoothes the appearance of pec contours, Ab Fix improves skin tone and texture, Bicep Fix tones and firms to make arms appear stronger and Power Workout Fix is a post workout product aimed at soothing tired muscles and distressing the body.

In a similar vein LabSeries skincare for men have an Ab Rescue Body Sculpting Gel again to be used post workout. The product claims to tighten, firm and smooth the appearance of the middle section of the body enhancing the six pack area and has a cooling sensation when applied.


So to summarise our five key predictions for the men’s personal care market are:
1. Complexion boosting/blemish controlling facial care with additional tinted blender pots
2. All day hair styling products with a natural look and feel
3. Torso enhancing body creams
4. Multi-functional wash products (or “X in ones” as they are becoming known)
5. The switch from beards to the mo

All things considered it looks like being an exciting next few years for the men’s market.


Sign up for your free email newsletter

2. Collins, William. "Metrosexual". Collins Unabridged English Dictionary. Harper Collins.
7. Brown, N. Whitby, D. “Male Grooming: the overdue arrival of a false dawn.” Personal Care Europe, November 2013, pp109-111.
14. Luebberding S, Kolbe L, Kerscher M. Influence of sportive activity on skin barrier function: a quantitative evaluation of 60 athletes. Int J dermatol 2013 Jun;52(6):745-9