A Primer on Male Clients

Most men are reasonably logical, simple, and benefit driven. Therefore, in a skin care product, they look for something with ease of use that feels good and produces results (benefits). Let me give you an example of an ideal product and description: category - after shave conditioner (not spoken of as moisturizer, by the way) - one that leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth, has a soothing, outdoorsy feel and smell, and protects the abused, freshly shaven skin from environmental trauma and sun damage (SPF 15).

Ladies, there's a different language we must learn in order to effectively communicate and satisfy men's skin care needs. And while men are becoming more advanced in their knowledge of skin care, they still don't pay attention to what the active ingredients are, how much they cost, how long the product lasts, etc., as long as it works and they like it. Again, we need to speak in terms of benefits, not features.

Here's the skinny on the average man's skin care needs: a great shaving gel, a cleanser (typically gel based for cleansing predominately oily or combination skin), sometimes a scrub or enzyme for exfoliation (mostly for the non-shaved portion of the skin) and an after shave conditioner (again, moisturizer in your terms), as well as the fastest growing product category, an eye gel or cream.

And let me make a disclaimer here, early on, so we are all clear – much of our discourse today will be based on societal generalities of the male species and their specific skin care needs. No intent of gender based prejudice in relation to the definitive uniqueness of the individual man is intended. As always, we need to treat all of our clients as the individuals they are. In addition, I'm gearing this to the females that make up the overwhelming majority of our industry, with no disrespect to the males reading this.

In addressing the needs and issues that men encounter on a daily basis, we must try to understand the differences between us and them. We understand shaving from perhaps the standpoint of underarms, bikini lines, and/or legs, but imagine shaving your face and neck daily, and then having a starched shirt collar, together with a noose-like tie, choking and irritating your neck with every turn of your head. Can you spell irritation and ingrown hair?

Now, how about the differing needs of the many "non-suits", who work predominately outside, sometimes year round? Knowing that they take that same, freshly shaven face (with the protective acid mantle temporarily stripped) out into the environment on a daily basis, and expose it to sun, wind, harsh cold, pollution, and toxins in the air, we suddenly see the importance of convincing our male clients to find an after shave conditioner they can use faithfully.

Another assumption that remains today: most men have larger pores (God's gift to a species that, at least in the past, couldn't be bothered with moisturizer?) and thus, oily or combination skin. Their "combination" skin can be widely disparate, when you consider the difference between the upper t-zone area (oily, maybe congested) and the beard area, which functions in some form of an irritated, stripped, chaotic imbalance.

Therefore, a typical break down of products in a men's skin care regime should include the following, in no specific order:

Shaving Products: The trend today is to not use foam because it clogs the new razor blades and irritates the skin, so probably a gel should be recommended. Also note that some cleansers can also effectively be used as pre-lubrication for shaving. Men want something with maximum lubrication, that also has effective ingredients (i.e. witch hazel, tea tree oil, aloe, etc.) to reduce infection, irritation, and ingrown hairs.

After Shave Conditioner: Remember the terminology here. Moisturizers are for women. A good after shave conditioner will leave the skin feeling soft, have an outdoorsy, mild smell, and will protect the freshly shaven skin from the elements, including the sun. Look for something that gives a matte finish as men do typically produce more oil than women.Ingredients should be antibacterial, and also have hydrating, protecting, and soothing properties.

Cleanser: Because of the oily/combination assumption, a gel is the clear choice. Creamy cleansers may possibly be used for the morning cleanse, or perhaps during the winter months in a cold, hostile climate, but normally they won't leave a man's skin feeling clean enough. Scrubs on a daily basis, because of the shaving angle, probably are not a great idea; ditto any cleanser with alpha or beta hydroxy acids. If the male client doesn't shave regularly, anything goes!

Eye Area: The eye gel or cream should be simple to apply - one pump does both eyes, and nothing with a perfume smell. Gels from most companies are geared to stimulate blood flow, helping with puffiness and discoloration. Eye creams, on the other hand, most often tend to be about hydration and wrinkle protection. Choose based on your clients needs.

Exfoliation: Here again, because of shaving, this can be tricky. The best rule of thumb is to assume the beard area is self sufficient in being exfoliated by the razor, whatever the frequency of shaving. Therefore, we should have our "boys" concentrate on actively exfoliating the upper face and t-zone on a bi-weekly/weekly basis, depending on skin type, climate, season and any other variables. Assuming this area to be slightly oily and congested, a scrub alone probably won't cut it, but in combo with an AHA or stronger enzyme, will be a great alternative.

Night Lotion: See, I'm sticking to my guns and still won't call it moisturizer. Because of the daily abuse a man's skin takes, my top choice for evening (assuming you can train the dog, so to speak, to use a product at night) is something with strong antioxidant properties. Vitamin C, green tea, grape seed extract, pomegranate extract, etc. are some ingredients that neutralize free radicals because of their antioxidant properties.

As men slumber, they tend to recoup from the daily onslaught of "life", and therefore, having a night lotion to offer our male clients that helps the facial skin recover along those same lines is a key element.

Let's now take a look at what men most appreciate as far as in-spa treatments:

Massage is by far the most popular service, with manicures, reflexology, waxing, facials and pedicures coming in a distant second. When providing and guiding men through a service, give simple verbal instructions and keep conversation minimal. Men are usually at the spa to relax, not to talk.

Don't believe me?Check out this interesting fact. Men, on average, use more words on a daily basis than females. The caveat here is that it's the workplace where they expound profusely, so anything outside the work environment needs to be a respite for them. Use this information as Cardinal Rule #1 – keep conversation at a minimum, unless of course he dictates otherwise.

Here are a few more sweeping assumptions to help you give the best service possible. Most men want deep tissue massage. Use products, especially when doing a facial, that are either specifically designed for men, or that are not too "flowery" or fragrant. When doing nails, brow waxing, or any enhancement, the goal is to make them look better than when they came in, but not so good that anyone (ie: another male buddy) overtly notices. This becomes an interesting dance.

Men are incredibly loyal clients once they discover a spa and operator they trust and are comfortable with.You can bet on their return for treatments and products when you win them over. The best and easiest way to get new male clients is to convince your loyal female clients to purchase them a gift certificate for one of the more popular services, like the one detailed below:


INTRODUCTION: This facial is customized for a man's skin and addresses deep pore cleansing and gentle, but thorough exfoliation.It is also soothing and hydrating for environmentally damaged skin.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Freshly shaven, sunburn, windburn, active rosacea


Be straight forward

Give a great massage

Limit extractions first time

Use products specifically for men

Keep conversation light

Explain service before hand

Let them relax


STEP 1: (3 min) Have client slide under covers of facial bed, all jewelry removed - offer gloves or hot mitts (ask when he has last shaved)

STEP 2: (3 min) Initial cleanse - do a first cleanse using men's facial cleansing foam - done to get surface impurities off so skin is primed for 2nd cleanse - wipe off with hot towel

STEP 3: (3 min) 2nd cleanse-designed to deep pore cleanse using a man's exfoliating gel - wipe off with hot towel. (Explain treatment during cleansing steps) Can do this during steam if it is preferred.

STEP 4: (5 min) Analyze skin

STEP 5: (5-9min) Peel - Do no apply peel to freshly shaven areasPlace eye pads over the eyes and massage neck andshoulders during peel.

STEP 6 (5 min) Extract where necessary.Disinfect with appropriate toner on a cotton square using a downward stroke.

STEP 7 (5 min) Facial massage using gentle pressure and an unscented face massage cream with a drop of relaxing lavender essential oil.

STEP 8 (10min) Apply final mask - perform shoulder and neck massage while mask is on - take off with hot towels.

STEP 9 (2 min) Tone, eye cream, and apply your men's hydrating conditioner.

Conclusion: Well, there you have it, ladies, a short course primer on how to treat men in your spa. Men are unique and different creatures, and thus we need to amend our terminology, techniques, and policies in regard to how we treat them as clients.

If you choose to learn the ways of understanding and keeping men happy, you'll not only have access to one of the largest growth trends in our industry, but you will increase your repeat customers exponentially, as you'll also take advantage of men's high "provider loyalty factor".

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