The male cosmetics market in Asia has yet to take off in the manner frequently predicted, but manufacturers are gearing up for another go, this time focusing on making products more accessible.

Eight or nine years ago, men were being seen as driving future growth in skincare in markets as diverse as Japan, India and China, but it is only in Korea where the trend has made any major inroads – with spending per head here ten times higher than in the US or France, for example.

“The pressure to look youthful is very, very strong in South Korea. In jobs, you have to look like a 20-year-old – but have 20 years’ experience,” according to Michael Nolte, creative director of cosmetics trend forecasting company BeautyStreams.

One reason for that is the success of K-pop’s boy bands, which have highlighted flawless good looks in men in much the same way women have always had to face – and which have helped the growth of men’s counters in cosmetics stores in Korea.

And with K-pop’s wider regional success, manufacturers believe there are real opportunities to be grasped in this category.

“We are convinced that targeting men’s specific needs will lead the industry to real innovation in application techniques, in new products with multiple uses, and new formats,” Chanel told Reuters.

The French brand launched its ‘Boy’ range in South Korea in September, and plans to roll it out across Asia, the US and UK next year.

The latest generation of men’s cosmetics is also moving away from traditional designs in order to have a greater appeal to the perceived male aesthetic – for example, a foundation bar can be applied with motions similar to using an electric razor and comes in a shape that recalls an e-cigarette, while a (subtle) eye shadow opens with the flick of a thumb as if one were using a Zippo lighter.

After some false starts, there are signs that this time the male grooming market in the region is ready to move beyond shaving products and deodorants.

Earlier this year,, one of China’s leading e-commerce companies, reported that the number of male consumers buying make-up in the first 17 days of a special sale period in June this year had jumped 61% from a year earlier.

Sourced from Reuters; additional content by WARC staff