Men have always made conscious decisions about how they present themselves, but traditionally it hasn't been acceptable for a man to admit he puts much effort into his appearance. The latest grooming trends reflect a new ethos: Men now can take pride in being put together, revel in luxuries that women have always enjoyed and be honest about that spa treatment to boot.
Here's a roundup of some of the latest men's grooming trends.
In recent years, sculpted hair and close-cropped sides have come to dominate men's hairstyles. Garrison Neill, brand manager at Paris Parker Aveda Salon, has some theories about the latest trend in men's haircuts. He says the style is reminiscent of early 20th-century haircuts that required more maintenance.
"[The new style] is really from the early 1900s, and I think there's been a renaissance of that style for many reasons," Neill. says. "There are no speakeasies in New Orleans, but those are very popular all over the world."
Neill plans to expand services for men with his new barbershop, Parker Barber, slated to open this month in the Ace hotel. It will offer cuts for men in an environment more reminiscent of a classic barbershop than a salon serving men and women.
Paris Parker Salons attract a range of clients. Everyone from bankers to service industry workers is asking for a more sculpted hairstyle.
"Beards are so popular; it's more of a stubby face and a more manicured haircut now," Neill says.
Tastemakers like Nick Wooster, who built a career as a design director for major department stores and clothing designers, have been blazing trails for newer and more high-maintenance grooming trends for men, Neill says, adding that spending time styling his hair or beard no longer challenges a man's masculinity.
"I think the stigma has been lifted," he says. "You see everyone from guys who are working on motorcycles to bartenders doing this. There are many men who are now taking time to do their hair — and there's no shame."
He recommends Aveda's Pure-formance men's grooming clay, to provide control and texture.
"The Aveda men's line is great," Neill says. "It's the perfect balance of performance and a great smell. [The grooming clay] has a nice hold, but it's also matte. It's great for people who want get into this style, but don't want that slicked-back look. It doesn't look like you have a ton of product in your hair."
Karen Adjmi, co-owner of Earthsavers, says she sees more men come in for manicure and pedicure services than ever before, and has quite a few male regulars for facials.
"Men have always comprised a portion of our massage business, but we're definitely seeing them come in for more services now," she says. "Once you have them as customers, they're very loyal. It becomes a part of their routine, and they're committed to it."
Adjmi says men are becoming more comfortable accepting grooming as an indulgence that they can and deserve to have.
"I think that for a long time, it threatened their masculinity," Adjmi says, "but now they see other men doing it and it's accepted. They used to think it was a luxury and it was for women. But once they come in and don't feel uncomfortable, they love it."
She recommends products from the Jack Black line, including All Over Wash for the hair, face and body, and Eye Balm, a cooling gel made with vitamins A and E that depuffs the eyes.
"The Jack Black line is a men's line specifically," Adjmi says. "They use fantastic ingredients: natural, clean and conscientious."
Men are backing away from the bathroom mirror when it comes to grooming their eyebrows and stepping in line with trends to have a professional shape their brows. Men's brows, however, receive a more casual design than women's.
"With men, we never try to make them too groomed," says Lauren Prats, owner of Hi-Brow Beauty Bar. "We don't want them to have too much shape to the brow, but we definitely clean them up."
Dina Bassman, owner of Brow Design by Dina, says sometimes she meets her male clients because of an issue ("They come when they need to fix a problem, like when half a brow is missing," she says.), but they come back because they like the results. Bassman and Prats say many of their male clients are dragged into the shop by a sig- nificant other who says they need improvements — and some men like it so much they work appointments into their reg- ular schedules.
"The most fun ones are the ones who don't think they need it but they get up from the table and they love it," Prats says. She uses techniques that give men subtle updates that aren't easy to detect but make a big difference in their overall appearance.
"We take a little just from underneath to lift up, and of course clean up the middle," Prats says. "And trimming is huge for men. It's the art of the brow for men because their hair grows very long."
She recommends men use brow mascara for a finishing touch.
"Brow mascaras are perfect," Prats says. "A clear gel holds their eyebrows in place. Sometimes men like the tinted brow mascara to take the gray away. It doesn't leave any color on their skin, so people don't know they're wearing anything."
Sherie Williams, owner of Modern Men Barber Shop, has created an atmosphere where men feel comfortable getting additional grooming without walking into a salon full of women.
"Men like to be groomed," Williams says. "I think there are some men that are extra hairy, and they like to have a little manicure on the face. Ear and nose hair is the majority of it. Eyebrows as well."
Modern Men offers cuts and hot-towel shaves for men. Williams says many customers feel comfortable enough to add waxing services for hair removal, having their eyebrows shaped or their ear hair tweezed. (After waxing, Williams says barbers apply Jack Black Double Duty face moisturizer to soothe the skin.)
"I think they feel comfortable because we're already cutting their hair. So there's a relationship with the barber," Williams says. "Some men don't want to go to a spa to have that done. It's a nice addition to the hair cut service if they need that done."