The rise of male grooming

Saturday January 30 2016

Increasing interest in self care also means

Increasing interest in self care also means specialist products for acne, anti-aging, organic products, sensitive skin and hair loss. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A girlfriend sent me a WhatsApp picture. It revelled in the joys of male weaves. Complete with a before and after picture, a typically good looking man ended up looking stupid with a mop of outrageous curls.

I promptly told her he should board the first flight to Eritrea. This was hardly my introduction into men’s weaves. They were a thing as far back as 2013. Spotted on a Naturalista’s blog, the man weave was for

bald men who needed to recreate, or fake, a full head of hair.

In a November 2015 interview with, a hairdresser identified as a master of “installing Man Tracks” pinpoints the rise of hair loss with man weaves as “the next revolution in hair grooming. It’s

almost like skinny jeans.”

He adds “for decades, men have worried about thinning, receding, or balding hairlines. And when it comes to men’s hair, no one has yet to master an affordable solution,” till his Man Tracks that is. His idea is to have his client leave looking like he has simply had a great haircut, and for the man, it matters to him that he looks natural.

While I would like to pause here for effect because this triggers a serious case of the giggles, it is grave for the men and the businesses that keep them happy. Even if the rest of us think it is vanity gone wrong.

My girlfriends and I had a good laugh even though we are all fine with each other’s weaves and hair choices.

And yes men are increasingly becoming metrosexuals, but did you know just how much? The US men’s grooming market is valued at $5.5 billion, doubling in size the past 10 years alone according to

Euromonitor. Men’s toiletries, as in shaving products and deodorants, are traditionally the fastest growing segment.

Increasing interest in self care also means specialist products for acne, anti-aging, organic products, sensitive skin and hair loss.

Why, you might be asking, are men so taken with grooming? First, let us all remember that as women, this was precisely what we wanted. Perhaps we will be more careful what we wish for next time. And just like women, men take pride in their appearance.

They want sharper cuts and switched on, savvy hairdressers.


Grooming makes men feel attractive and good about themselves. Euromonitor’s July 2015 report on Kenyan men and their grooming habits says, “The growing focus on personal grooming among Kenyan men as a result of international travel and higher

media exposure, coupled with rising disposable incomes, improved product availability and strong media advertising campaigns for men’s grooming products over the course of the year promoted value and volume growth in the category as current value

sales increased by four per cent during 2014.”

Money, travel and media help connect the dots. Brands are active on social media with campaigns not limited to specific regions. As markets elsewhere were expected to grow during the research period, Euromonitor foresees mixed blessings for Kenyan men.

“The rising cost of living, focus on premium products and growing preference for men’s fragrances are set to suppress volume and growth in men’s grooming over the forecast period.

Men’s grooming is expected to continue declining over the forecast period.” This decline in consumer spending will be driven by consumers moving towards cheaper and more affordable brands. Euromonitor’s focus was on hair care, skin care, toiletries and grooming. 

Men’s grooming in other parts of the world grows faster because there are  people breaking things down for them; from fashion bloggers, YouTube vloggers, celebrity culture and how these add up to brand relatability.

And in case you’re thinking, but I’ve never seen a man leaving the supermarket with a beauty haul! Chances are he shops online.

This is because there is that stigma around grooming, perpetuating the ashy, unkempt, masculine (un)desirability of the African male.

In the coming year grooming trends will range from unkempt – thank you Mashable; the continuing appreciation of beards and even more hair a top. Do not be surprised if man weaves or Man Tracks catch on.