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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Men Get Serious About Skin Care

Men may obsess about their cars, workouts and hometown sports team.

But when it comes to their face or body, they tend to be far less fussy. Ask them about their favorite grooming product and they might say Irish Spring soap. Even cosmetics companies know that most men, given the choice, would wash their hair and bodies with the same product.

But a few brave men are beginning to take special care of their skin, using products especially designed for males. And why not? Men are subject to the same damage from the sun, stress and aging as women.

And in a man's world, appearances are becoming more and more important. Newer men's magazines have joined traditional ones in focusing on men's fashion and grooming. Even health publications, such as Men's Health, are reporting on how to look f as well as feel f better.

"More men are comfortable coming into the cosmetics department and asking about skin care," says Alexandra Elliott, corporate spokeswoman for Neiman Marcus department stores in Dallas. "Also, they seem quite educated about what their needs are and what they are looking for."

That was not the case in 1987 when Aramis launched its Lab Series, which has now become one of the most successful male skin-care lines, according to industry analysts. In the last two years, Lab Series sales have increased 15 percent each year, says Pamela Baxter, senior vice president and general manager of Aramis.

"It's only [been in] the last five years we can get men to use treatment," she says. The Lab Series core customer group is 18 to 39 years old. "We know that the young male customer is much more open to using skin treatment than their fathers or grandfathers were."

"We see more and more men making the decision," Baxter adds. Ten years ago, 80 percent of its [Lab Series] purchasers were women buying for men. These days, she figures that at least 60 percent of the product's purchasers are men buying the products for themselves.

The rising interest among male shoppers has led to launches of men's skin-care lines at a number of stores. Nordstrom, for example, has marketed its own men's skin-care line for golfers, Callaway Golf.

The brave males who understand the need to care for their skin still act like men. Their products must be efficient, having two or three uses. Most men's lines make a body and hair wash in one. Aramis, for example, sells a Lift-Off Power Wash for the hair and body. Men, Baxter explains, want one bottle to throw into their gym bag. In contrast, women "want one for our hair and one for our face and one for our bodies. We say, 'How many bottles can you sell me to put into my gym bag?'"

Michele Probst, a Nashville, Tennessee based makeup artist, is so confident of the changes in men's interest in skin care that her cosmetics company, Menaji, is introducing eye gels and concealer f not for makeup but to mask flaws such as shaving nicks and broken capillaries. "We try not to use the 'makeup' word. That's the 'M-word,'" says Probst, whose products are sold at Bachrach's men's store in Los Angeles.

Generally, skin-care products are a harder sell to men than women. But once men are hooked, they keep coming back f to the same products, even though most are $12 and up. "Men are so brand loyal and technique loyal," Probst says. They learn to shave at an early age and usually stay true to that method, even if it means throwing alcohol f which stings the skin f on their faces afterward.

That loyalty, however, has both its advantages and disadvantages. "If you sell a man a product and he likes it, he's not out there looking for something else," Aramis' Baxter says. "You don't have to spend a lot of money trying to keep him."