A casual glance in the bathroom cabinets and wardrobes of most men these days will confirm that the male grooming market, prodded along by the popularity of men’s health and lifestyle magazines, is doing brisk business in Cayman.
Mirroring the global rise of healthier lifestyle trends, a buoyant consumer market in male retail clothing lines and the explosion of the metrosexuals’ interest in cooking, grooming and shopping, interest in this area has gone into overdrive.
Taking a noticeable pride in one’s appearance is no longer the sign of the vain, but rather of the confident and self-aware. To be well groomed these days smacks less of Bertie Wooster and more of David Beckham. Simply put: being well groomed is sexy, and both men and women have been quick to take note.
Catering to this growing trend, the La Prairie spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman was one of the first spas on island to tailor its treatments to the male market. Alongside their gentlemen’s facials, manicures, pedicures and deep tissue massages, a visit to the luxury spa is always enhanced by the relaxing ambience of the Men’s Sanctuary. This area includes a Jaccuzzi, steam room and sauna, away from the stresses of corporate life.
Although La Prairie does not stock specific male-centered ranges of products, most of its high-end items can be used by men. According to the spa’s manager, Sandrine Dixneuf, “Men tend to have thicker and oilier skin than women.”
She finds that men prefer light-textured skin preparations that will not leave their skin shiny, yet offer effective hydration and protection against the drying effects of Cayman’s climate and air-conditioned offices.
“While they want to use quality products on their skin, men usually prefer a simple home skin care routine that takes seconds rather than minutes,” she added.
Over the past decade, Dixneuf and her staff have noticed that men are willing to spend more time and money taking care of themselves.
“They are especially becoming more interested in anti-aging products, and while these won’t necessarily stop the aging process, they will help slow it down,” Dixneuf said.
She also noted that the spa’s clients are taking care of their hands and feet by getting pedicures and manicures.
The manager added that most patrons are in the 20- to 40-year-old age bracket, and said that this might tie in with the amount of disposable income and leisure time they have.
She noted that in France cosmetics have definitely become part of many men’s lives, starting as young as teenagers, and that most wear cologne and take pride in their appearance.
“Everyone has become more educated as to the effects of stress and the environment on our skin and hair and that regular spa visits are a healthy and relaxing way of counteracting such ills,” she concluded.
At the Westin resort’s Hibiscus Spa, men can indulge in the purifying properties of a customized deep-cleansing facial. This treatment, suitable for all skin types, includes a gentle exfoliating peel to remove dull and dead skin cells on the surface, a massage, deep cleansing mask and botanical extracts to rejuvenate and nourish the skin. A heated hand treatment completes the experience.
According to manager Yarlin Faurer, another popular treatment is their men’s eucalyptus steam and sauna room, for use before or after treatments. Apparently, the heat experience before spa treatment not only relieves any congestion, it soothes and relaxes muscles, making them more receptive to manipulation.
The skin care specialist/massage therapist said that while all their skin care lines are suited to both sexes, they do carry some products for men. The manager, who has 15 years’ experience, said, “Men want multifunctional services that target multiple problems such as dry sensitive skin, acne and rosacea.”
She credited the influence of social media to a greater willingness by men to go to spas. “We now see more male celebrities like Clive Owen, Brad Pitt and Ronan Keating endorsing big cosmetic companies.”
When it comes to men’s fashion, one has to be lean to successfully carry off the current trends. According to Edward Solomon, managing director of men’s apparel store Arabus, for men’s office and smart casual wear, being well-groomed means keeping your wardrobe up to date.
“The current style trending this year is the slimmer look,” he said. “Men’s suits and shirts are more fitted in the Italian style, with trouser lengths shorter by an inch or two (no breaking on the shoe), so socks are seen and increasingly come in patterns and colors that stand out. Skinnier ties are also making a comeback and lighter shades are fashionable.”
Not a look, perhaps then, for the over-50s, or those whose larger builds suit baggier clothing rather than relaxed-fit silhouettes. The retro look is nevertheless flying off the shelves.
“Natural fibers such as linen, silk, cotton and lightweight wool are popular in Cayman since they breathe much easier than synthetic materials, making them cooler to wear,” he added.
New kid on the block
One of male grooming’s newest temples is Man Cave in Caribbean Plaza. Opened a little more than a year ago to fill a gap in the market for a male-only hair, skin and beauty salon, it is a reassuringly masculine space.
Spacious and airy with a minimalist interior – furnished in dark brown, slate gray, leather seating, huge interior barn doors and well-appointed treatment, changing and haircut and shaving rooms – the salon would not be out of place in any major city.
With a large reception, retail shelves with male skin enhancing/shaving products and a lounge featuring a wall-mounted, flat-screen TV, abstract paintings and assortment of men’s health and fashion magazines, Man Cave is quiet and inviting with the moneyed look, smell and ambience of an exclusive gentlemen’s club.
Owner Rudolph Gordon said Man Cave “was set up to be an exclusively male space. We’ve designed it so that men can feel instantly at home. We take pride in the quality of our products and aim to provide an outstanding experience and service.”
Prospective clients, especially those seeking skin treatments and products, can book a free consultation so that staff can assess what procedures will work best.
Among their menu of therapeutic spa services are haircuts (with head and neck massage), manscaping, facials, body treatments, including massages and body scrubs, skin care treatments like facials, exfoliating and anti-ageing regimes, plus treatments for foot and hand grooming. The salon also specializes in traditional straight shaving techniques with a comprehensive menu of shave care options.
Help is at hand
A long-established retailer with a strong connection to the male grooming market, Kirk Freeport has five well-known beauty ranges specifically targeted to men.
Lana Cayasso, manager of La Parfumerie II, and Ruth McGee, Kirk Freeport’s fragrance and cosmetics buyer, have watched the growth of this sector with interest. Their experience has shown them that men are very different from women when it comes to buying and sourcing products.
“[Men] are a lot more savvy than they were years ago, but they are not as educated when it comes to what products are out there and what they are used for. This is where knowledgeable counter staff come in,” said Cayasso.
One example the manager uses is cleansing, toning and moisturizing. “Most men who visit our store are not aware of what cleansers and toners do, let alone serums. Many of them are surprised that for moisturizers to be most effective, it’s best to tone and cleanse first. However, they are improving, and
are more likely to ask for a moisturizer with SPF than a couple of years back,” she added.
Beauty assistants who are trained to understand what products are used for and how they need to be used to be most effective, greatly simplify product selection, reducing the options from the dozens on offer.
She noted that the price points for men’s cosmetic products are generally lower, and that some brands are using samples to introduce men to the efficacy of their products.
Both women agreed that most men do not appreciate the differences between colognes, aftershaves, eau de toilettes (EDTs) and eau de parfums. They explained that aftershave has a lower perfume and alcohol content and that EDTs have higher perfume content for putting on pulse points, never on the face.
They said eau de parfums have the highest perfume content, giving them staying power throughout the day.
As in other areas of the male grooming sector, where once there were only a few, more companies are producing more products as the beauty industry takes note of the trend.
The buyer advised men to look out for starter kits, as some lines have them to allow shoppers to try several products in the range, and they make good gift ideas.