Millions of Americans are returning to some form of pre-pandemic life. And as citizens revert back to their old lives, they are resuming their previous self-care practices and retaining some newfound habits inspired by months of a sedentary lifestyle. For men, that means going back to reopened barbershops, sticking to new skin care and hygiene routines, maybe keeping their pandemic beard and, also, manscaping.
Manscaping, or the act of trimming or shaving body hair on the chest, neck, ear, nose and groin among other areas, has been a quiet practice for years. Men have typically done it in private for themselves or for their partner(s) and never really openly discussed the practice, though the results were obvious and apparent on the beach and at the gym.
Men have used shavers, scissors and electric razors — most commonly designed to cut facial hair — from companies like Gillette, Braun, Wahl and Andis, among others to trim and cut their body hair, but more recently, brands like Manscaped and Meridian have launched products dedicated to manscaping.
As brands have emerged, the manscaping conversation has become more mainstream. According to a survey of 500 men conducted by First and First Consulting, one in four men say they’ve started manscaping more over the past year, and men between the ages 18 and 24 were more likely to say they’re manscaping “a lot more.”
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Gillette said the manscaping conversation over the last three years has been consistent on social media with 2,000 mentions from common men and not influencers.
Kristina Vanoosthuyze, director of scientific communications for Gillette, said one in three men are grooming on a regular basis and that figure doubles when it comes to Gen Z.
“There are more influencers doing stuff in this space and that helps people be more pointed in what they’re looking for,” said First and First Consulting founder and chief executive officer Devon Zdatny.
The interest in manscaping is highest among men in casual relationships at 29 percent than single men at 25 percent and married or cohabiting men at 20 percent.
The survey also found that 51 percent of men say they shave their groin and 42 percent say they trim the area; Millennial men, in particular, are 64 percent more likely to shave their groin. The survey notes that shaving and trimming are not mutually exclusive, and that some reasons for grooming the area is for hygiene, enhancing the aesthetics of the anatomy, curiosity and boredom or out of self-care.
First and First said Gen Z men are more inclined to manscaping because they “are less likely to engage with toxic masculinity” and “see body hair grooming as a more gender neutral and acceptable activity.” The firm added that heterosexual men are 47 percent more likely to forego manscaping than men in the LGBTQ+ community, and Gen Z men are 50 percent more likely to be openly part of the LGBTQ+ community than older generations.
Vanoosthuyze compared body grooming at home versus waxing saying the shaving and trimming process “is easy, pain-free and mess-free compared to waxing,” and it gives men a “high degree of freedom and convenience in the bathroom.”
But for decades men have used shavers and razors designed to trim and cut the hair on the head and face and not the rest of their body, which may have “very delicate and thin” skin said Vanoosthuyze.
“Of all the manscaping and grooming,” she continued, “groin and armpit are the most popular. Shavers need to be ergonomically designed for your hand and to easily reach those body parts. The male body has curves and contours. When shaving the face, you have one curve: the jaw. But for the body, there are your knees, ankles, groin, etc.”
Though Gillette offers razors, shavers and products that are body friendly, the brand doesn’t offer any products to be used exclusively for body hair.
Paul Tran, founder and CEO of Manscaped said, “The adoption of electric trimmers over more traditional tools has been remarkable and has only accelerated year-to-year since we launched in 2016. Of course, some men still use other tools to groom groin and body hair, but at what cost?”
Tran described the manscaping market as an underserved white space. He compared the very mature beauty industry and how a product exists for every one of a woman’s needs while men didn’t have “a particular product specifically designed for the male groin area,” until Manscaped arrived, he said.
“Prior to Manscaped,” he continued, “self-care ‘down there’ had been historically neglected and considered a taboo topic. This forced men to use unsuitable tools, resulting in grooming accidents in their most sensitive parts. Since our entrance into the market, we’ve filled this void and sparked an open conversation around it.”
Tran said the brand saw “an upward trajectory in sales” through 2020 due to an increase in at-home grooming routines, more cleanliness and hygiene practices and online shopping.
He added, “Additionally, we began shipping to more than 30 countries last year and executed strategic marketing campaigns internationally.”
Meridian, another body hair grooming brand founded by Lumin founders Darwish Gani and Richard Hong, was introduced in 2020 also for men to groom their body hair.
Gani said they noticed a shift in men’s personal care through Lumin and that manscaping shared many things in common with skin care. For one, the practice is stigmatized.
Though influencers are leading the manscaping conversation, men in general are more comfortable with discussing body hair grooming practices as more videos about the practice crop up and they’re directly targeted through advertisements.
Zdatny said that searches for phrases like “razor blade” have remained steady but searches for “electric razor,” “nose hair,” and “ear hair” have increased. The survey also found that 70 percent of Gen X and Baby Boomers trim their nose hair and 61 percent trim their ear hair, while 52 percent of Millennials trim their nose hair and 26 percent trim their ear hair and finally 9 percent of Gen Z men trim their ear hair and 34 percent trim their nose hair.
Manscaped’s nose hair trimmer was the top trending nose hair trimmer on Amazon over Zwilling’s nose hair trimmer and Sharper Image’s nose and ear hair trimmer.
“We’re in the early innings,” Gani said about the manscaping market. “We’re going to see in the next year or two who are the options for this category and what does this category entail. The next step is the category and major players get defined and then the next phase is maturity and growth.”
Vanoosthuyze said she has seen three generations of men in her family with different self-care habits, and the youngest really taking to manscaping. She said that if men form a habit in their adolescence, they are more inclined to keep the habits for a long time.
“It wasn’t a common topic 20 to 30 years ago,” she said. “Now it’s mainstream and normal. If a habit becomes mainstream, then men want more tips.”
“We anticipate this category will only continue to grow,” said Tran. “With vaccinations ramping up and lockdown conditions shifting, even more men are taking to groin and full-body grooming and care.”