Thanks to the popular television series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy a sudden wave of men are having their eyebrows waxed and shaped to improve their appearance. Men have increasingly become enthusiastic customers of many traditional spa services, particularly therapeutic massage. But now we are seeing more opportunity for spas to work with male clients.
Men's health and fitness publications, travel magazines, and lifestyle television shows are routinely pitching the spa ritual to the male client, encouraging him to upgrade his level of personal care. Some spas dedicate specific time to men's treatments, and new spas are emerging that are designed to cater to men.
This client also represents a growing consumer market for skin and body care products. The progressive aesthetician will want to know how this client differs from his female counterpart; what are his environmental and personal sensitivities, what type of service does he prefer, and what approach to professional skin care works best for his unique physiology and needs.
Understanding the male client
No longer must his romance-seeking wife or partner drag a man into the spa. Men have become acclimated to this once-mysterious world, and they are having a growing influence over the way spas are planned, including its service menu. However, men do not have the long cultural history of multi-step personal grooming habits that women do. Men, in general, prefer fast and simple skin care routines to more complex, time-consuming methods. He is sensitive to scent, color, product design, and names. And it should not be assumed that he automatically recognizes or understand the types and uses of beauty products that are commonly familiar to women clients. Our men need to be gently and thoughtfully introduced to the world of professional aesthetic care.
Because men often have little grooming experience beyond a razor and a splash of aftershave, your spa menu should describe their services differently. Don't expect him to understand the meaning of exfoliation or extractions. Even when describing personal care products to men, the concept of a toner is easier to understand when you refer to it as an after wash rinse or something more descriptive. A good example is found on Christopher Watt's West Hollywood, California spa menu:
Men's Deep Pore Cleanse
Intense cleansing facial to rid the skin of impurities that lead to blackheads, breakouts, and acne. We start with our specially formulated seaweed and algae-mint Deep Pore Cleanse and CWE Pore Refining papaya and pineapple enzyme peel. After a soothing neck and shoulder massage we vacuum clean the skin and use a pain free high-frequency electrode to kill bacteria and provide a germicidal effect. Your skin will feel fresh, clean, and new!
The description walks a potential male client through the process of a facial and even includes a little high-tech aspect, which all men love!
Promoting facial and body treatments to men
Men care about their appearance, some far more than others. Today's sophisticated man is interested in looking his best, delaying aging, and feeling confident about himself. Men now account for more than 25 percent of all cosmetic plastic surgery performed in the U.S. He visits health clubs, subscribes to diets, and has even become a significant statistic among people suffering from eating disorders. But many men still are reserved about openly expressing interest in facial care while quietly being receptive to advice and instruction on the subject. When advising a potential male client on the benefits and selection of spa facial treatments keep the following in mind:
- Assume that you're talking to someone entirely new to the concept. Explain concepts such as exfoliation, masks, and extractions. He may nod in agreement but have no idea what you're talking about. Take the time to respectfully educate him. Also, emphasize that you have numerous other male clients just like him. They often wonder about that. These men need approval for wanting this kind of self-indulgence.
- Emphasize the benefits of the treatment you're describing. Tell him how the treatment will make his skin look and feel using more masculine references such as healthy, vibrant, and smooth. Avoid words like silky, radiant, and beautiful.
- Don't describe the treatment in deep technical detail-it's boring.
- Don't offer lots of choices and then ask him to decide. Men prefer the professional confidence of a well-planned recommendation. Tell him, "For your skin type I think we should go with a glycolic treatment. That will produce a much smoother and healthier looking texture to your skin. How does that sound?" Be sure to tell him how glycolic acid performs as an exfoliating product.
- Make sure that he knows that you plan to tell him how often to return for treatments, and then do so before he leaves the spa. Get him to reschedule for that next wonderful appointment with you!
- Always provide written suggestions for proper home skin care and products. Keep product regimens compact-3-4 items max on the first visit.
- Always follow up his initial visit to you with a phone call within 48 hours. He'll appreciate the concern, the extra service, and he can report the results of both your treatment and the products he may have purchased.
Treating male skin
Many men have developed incorrect habits for the care of their skin. Cosmetics and shaving manufacturers have long promoted strong and aggressive products and procedures that encourage men to take a "masculine" approach to grooming. Soaps may contain abrasives such as pumice; pre and aftershave products are often heavy in alcohol and fragrance, and razor companies stress achieving the closest possible shave because "women love it!" All of these techniques, besides their unfortunate physical effects, reinforce the underlying message that personal care is basically a feminine activity, so men must find a way to do it that doesn't conflict with their manliness. And while, thanks to modern marketing, male grooming techniques are beginning to reflect a more aesthetic recipe, the major objection men have in learning new ways to care for the skin remains the gender-based fear of embarrassment or shame. Men need liberating, too!
Your male client, particularly one new to the spa environment, may require some time to settle in to the relaxation you want him to experience. His trust in you may not be won immediately, and he may look about the room, talk, or ask nervous questions about the procedure or that scary dental-looking device standing next to the facial chair. A man may also be reluctant or unable to express his personal feelings and preferences (as men are generally conditioned to behave like) so it is important to introduce him slowly to the culture of high-efficacy personal care. Men like information, especially when they feel off-balance or alien, so be sure to offer plenty of it as you proceed. And do not expect a man to convert right away to your treatment recommendations and instructions. Give him a chance to enjoy the experience, to build some trust in you, and to open up to an altered idea of himself as a legitimate man in this strange new world.
Men who have already adopted the culture of aesthetic care can be a true joy to work with. They love the freedom to fully express themselves, enjoy the sensations of professional spa services, and can be remarkably loyal customers. Such men have no problem buying and using aesthetic skin care products, and are ready for the latest information on technique and ingredients. He is a vast and lucrative market for the spa owner that's willing to invest the time to learn about his unique characteristics and values.