GLOBAL MEN’S GROOMING TRENDS DRIVE POPULARITY OF LUXURY SALONS
Plunking down $10 for a quick haircut at a walk-in barbershop is no longer an option for today’s discerning gentleman. A demand for a wide array of services ranging from nostalgic straight edge razor shaves to glitter beards and mustache trims has resulted in luxury salons sprouting up throughout the country. Many of the posh sanctuaries are a far cry from traditional barbershops, boasting overstuffed leather seats in lounges, personal television sets, complimentary beverages and X Box areas for gamers. The growing popularity of these upscale salons shows that growing numbers of men are willing to pay a premium for pampering.
The global men’s grooming market has been on the upswing since 2012 and is estimated to be worth about 29.14 billion by 2024, according to Statista. There has been a pivotal shift in male grooming habits during the last decade as men recognized the importance of skincare in record numbers. Consider that men’s toiletries used to consist of shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream and not much else. But from London to New York to São Paulo, bathroom cabinets are now brimming with cleansers, toners, moisturizers, concealers, anti-aging serums and mud masks—all designed specifically for men. And as men are becoming more particular about products, they are also flocking to salons for expert services.
“This is a whole new generation,” says barber Tina Sovek, the manager of Roosters in Palm Beach, part of a nationwide chain of upscale men’s salons. “Men’s hair used to be wash and grow. Now they want styling gel, clay, and all kinds of products to make themselves look and smell nicer. They’re also requesting eyebrow waxing, ear hair trimming, and oiling their beards to feel softer and smell nicer. One customer told us his wife would only kiss him if his beard was oiled!”
Men have been removing their beards since the dawn of history and it hasn’t always been pretty. Ancient cave paintings depict beardless men who shaved or removed unwanted hair with clamshells, which were used like tweezers, or with blades made of flint. Shaving techniques have improved over the years from copper razors in ancient Egypt to straight steel razors in the 1900s. Straight razors have made a comeback in high-end salons, but the razor strop is obsolete since modern razors must be disposable due to health concerns.
Barbering in general wasn’t always a sophisticated enterprise and has a gruesome history. Before the advent of modern medicine, some barbers were also surgeons who performed tasks such as bloodletting, pulling teeth, setting bones and treating wounds. In fact, the red, white and blue of the traditional barber pole is linked to bloodletting, with red representing blood and white representing the bandages used to stem the bleeding.
Barbers and stylists in today’s salons don’t pull teeth or apply leeches, but they do offer a lot more than haircuts. Men are shelling out to get everything from hot oil treatments to a mani-pedi, which may euphemistically be called “hand and foot detailing.” At salons such as Roosters, men relax in big reclining chairs while enjoying hot towels, head massages, essential oils, toners and fragrant aftershaves. Prices typically range from $30 to $45 and up for a shave and haircut while coloring, highlighting, and ear wax removal can tack on an extra $50 or more.
A luxury salon experience can be a revelation for a young man who has only seen the blades of an electric razor. For instance, Jax Price, a 20-year-old film student, was treated to a “7-Step Signature Facial and Shave at Roosters in Palm Beach. Arriving with a scruffy beard and mustache that both screamed for attention, he reveled in the treatment so much that he opted for a cleaner look, sans beard and mustache.
“It was an awesome experience,” he said. “I’ve never had something so fancy. It was like a getting a massage – very relaxing and dreamy! Normally I go to a regular haircut place and it’s nothing special. At Roosters, I was relaxed in a chair and enjoyed every second of it. I would love to do it again. I can see why men of all ages are hooked on this!”