More men buying into skincare in Singapore

Men are spending more on skincare and treatments, say industry players and beauty companies

Gone are the days when a bathroom filled with moisturisers, serums and cleansers would be assumed to belong to a woman.

Men, too, are as much into taking care of their skin, going by what they, as well as industry players and beauty companies, tell The Straits Times.

Communications and digital marketing manager Timothy Oh says: "I think how you present yourself is important as it represents who you are and makes an impression."

The 28-year-old, who is in a relationship, spends almost $400 on skincare every month. He started to pay more attention to his skin about five years ago, when he noticed more gender-neutral skincare products entering the market. His daily routine involves a facial wash, toner, sunscreen and serum to moisturise the skin, mainly from South Korean brand Sulwhasoo.

On why he is willing to invest in skincare products, Mr Oh says: "It is just like the bed you sleep on. If you use it daily, it contributes to what your life is like. I make sure the things I use daily are of good quality."



    The British luxury brand has released its first grooming line for men. It consists of six products - a moisturiser ($65), beard oil ($65), aftershave ($80), deodorant spray ($48), deodorant stick ($48) and body wash ($52). It already has a make-up line for women. The men's range is available at both Burberry stores at Ion Orchard and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.


    The smooth gel, launched this month, absorbs quickly into the skin and does not leave a sticky feel. The label says ingredients from plants, such as peony root extract and ononis extract, help to enhance the skin's ability to resolve issues such as dryness, uneven texture and overproduction of sebum. It is available at all Shiseido counters.


    The South Korean label released this men's range in December last year. It can be bought as a set or individually. The set (above, $59.90) comprises a cleanser ($19.90), toner ($29.90), emulsion ($29.90) and whitening and anti-wrinkle fluid ($32.90). It is available at all Etude House outlets.


    This moisturising cream contains nourishing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, which Laneige says have a firming effect and rejuvenate and refresh the skin. It is an addition to the label's Homme Dual Action range, which includes a mousse cleanser ($30), skin refiner ($45), lotion ($50) and eye cream ($45). The line is available at all Laneige boutiques.


According to figures by market research company Euromonitor International, the value of the men's skincare sector here has been on the rise since 2010. The skincare sector, which includes all products to care for the skin, such as cleansers, moisturisers and exfoliators, hit $15 million in retail sales last year, up from $11.5 million in 2010. Euromonitor International forecasts that this market sector is set to continue its upward trend in the coming years.

Beauty brands are seeing keen interest from men in skincare, mostly among those aged 20 to 35.

Ms Lyn Tan, brand general manager of Etude House Singapore, says: "There is greater awareness of male skincare and beauty now, especially with the Korean wave. Some men turn to celebrities for inspiration on how to groom themselves."

With popular actors such as Lee Min Ho and Kim Soo Hyun and K-pop idols such as Shinee and G-Dragon becoming ambassadors for cosmetics brands, it has become more acceptable for men to show interest in beauty products and that has helped change the way society views men's grooming.

Men are also buying make-up products. Ms Tan says: "Our make-up is popular with the new generation of beauty-conscious males due to the booming trend of Korean men wearing make-up. They use products such as eyebrow pencils and BB cushions."

To meet the growing demand from male customers, beauty companies are working hard at churning out new skincare products. In the last five months, four beauty brands - Shiseido, Lab Series, Etude House and Laneige - have released new men's grooming products. British luxury label Burberry launched its first grooming line for men last week.

Etude House has seen sales of its men's products increase tenfold from 2013 to last year. It entered the Singapore market in 2009. Declining to give specific figures, Ms Tan says the average spending per male customer has increased.

Etude House launched a new men's range, the Gentle Black Homme collection, in December last year. The range comprises four products, including a foam cleanser ($19.90) and a whitening and antiwrinkle fluid ($32.90).

Multi-brand beauty retailer Escentials has seen a 20 per cent increase in male consumers in the past two years. The company carries labels suitable for both women and men, such as British skincare brand Eve Lom and Stockholm label Verso. Prices for skincare products at Escentials range from $30 to $1,517.

Ms Michelle Liu, head of Escentials, says men are becoming more detailed in how they regard their overall health - they care about their skin as much as their bodies.

"Taking care of your body and skin is no longer a gender-biased topic, but rather the representation of a positive lifestyle and attitude."

She says the average male spends $150 to $250 at Escentials. The average female customer spends about $250 to $400.

Other brands such as Japanese label SK-II and Sulwhasoo have also noticed an increase in the number of male customers.

Sulwhasoo intends to release three reformulations of its men's range - a serum, an emulsion and an anti-ageing cream - and a new cleansing foam next month. Prices for the products are not available yet.

Beauty brands are not the only ones experiencing an increase in male clients. Dermatologists and clinics which provide aesthetic procedures such as laser treatments and treatments to lighten acne scars are also seeing more men.

Dr Georgia Lee from TLC Lifestyle Practice, who specialises in aesthetic medicine, says this can be attributed to a combination of awareness through social media, acceptance, availability of treatments and more competitive pricing due to the increase in supply.

The clinic offers various aesthetic treatments, including laser treatment and fillers which range from $300 to $1,600.

About 23 per cent of her clients are male, with the peak age bracket falling between 40 and 49 years.

Dermatologist Chan Yuin Chew of Dermatology Associates at Gleneagles Medical Centre says he has noticed more men going for aesthetic treatments, with them making up about one in five patients at his clinic. He says they seek treatments because they want to look better and feel more confident. Most of his male clients are in their 30s to 50s.

Male skincare fans The Straits Times spoke to say they place importance on looking good because having good skin gives them confidence.

Business operations executive Situ Rongyao, 30, spends about $100 on skincare products every month. He started to pay more attention to his skin about three to four years ago, when he started working.

He views skincare as a preventive measure against ageing. "It's to keep your skin clean and healthy looking. It is good to start early so when you get older, you won't look so bad."

The bachelor also occasionally uses a BB cream, For Men Active BB Block, from South Korean label Dr.Jart+.

"I use it only occasionally to conceal pimples or some scars. The cream also has sun protection properties, which is good."

Both he and Mr Oh have noticed more of their male friends paying attention to their skin, even asking one another for advice on what products to use.

"They're not using just bar soap on their faces any more," says Mr Oh.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline More men buying into skincare in Singapore. Subscribe