The male beauty market is China is exploding as men embrace products like serums and sunscreen – and even lipstick – they are re-defining the traditional industry playbook for brand creative, product innovation and experience design.

Data from Euromonitor shows the Chinese male beauty market growing twice as fast as the global average in 2019 (13.5% vs 5.8%) and Chris Krakowski, managing director, China of the Air Paris agency, believes that male beauty will be one of the most exciting growth stories of the coming years.

In the agency’s Male Beauty Report, Krakowski notes that new definitions of masculinity and new lifestyle habits are entering the mainstream to shape a “new Chinese man”.

Alongside an enthusiasm for physical and intellectual self-improvement and a growing “male consumption culture”, there’s a widespread assumption that how one looks has a direct impact on salary.

The report also notes the expectations of a new generation of independent, professionally successful post 90s women: “They bring to the dating game increasingly high demands in terms of style, attitude, culture and physical appearance.”

And as men start to participate in the ‘looks economy’, they’re going beyond skincare to embrace the idea of beautification of the male face through makeup.

“This jump from ‘skin-care acceptance’ to ‘beauty acceptance’ represents perhaps the most consequential shift in mindset at play,” the report says.

And it’s a recent phenomenon: back in 2015, Weibo surveys showed 31% of users ‘strongly opposed’ men using makeup with 29% ‘strongly supporting’ . But just three years later, the share of ‘strongly supporting’ stood at 60% while ‘strongly opposed’ was less than 10% of respondents.

Air Paris divides the male beauty routine into five different stages:

• Grooming: basic hygiene items (shaving, deodorant, body wash, fragrances)

• Skin maintenance: essential items for basic comfort and appearance (cleanser, moisturiser)

• Skincare basic: general purpose items (sunscreen, anti-acne, toner, mask)

• Skincare advanced: specialised items (serum, eye cream, essence, supplements)

• Colour: niche make-up items (lipstick, concealer, foundation, eyebrow pencils)

It identifies the shift from basic to advanced skincare as an important inflexion point: that’s when skincare moves beyond being a necessity ( ‘because I have to’ ) to become a lifestyle pursuit ( ‘because I want to’ ).

Sourced from Air Paris; additional content by WARC staff