NOT LONG AGO, the concept of sophisticated male skin care was restricted to a well-groomed few. How times have changed. "The male consumer on average spends 30 per cent more on grooming today than he did 10 years ago," says Sharon Codner, regional spa director at The Peninsula Hong Kong.
"Celebrities such as David Beckham, George Clooney and actor James Franco, who recently modelled in campaigns for Gucci, have helped inspire men and helped make male grooming one of the most rapidly growing markets in the cosmetics sector," Codner says.
"Men have become very savvy in their skin care and the results they want to see from both homecare and professional facial treatments," says Karen Alekisch, spa director at the Mandarin Oriental.
"The message that prevention is easier than reversal works for all skin types. Men understand that this is not a gender-isolated issue."
According to Codner, men in their mid-thirties generally spend more than other age groups on products and, in particular, on spa treatments. This is a trend that's particularly strong in Hong Kong, notes Codner, stating that male guests make up 40 per cent of The Peninsula's spa clientele. That percentage is even higher on the mainland and in Japan, she says.
Anna Treier, founder of Sense of Touch, says that while massages, facials, waxing and manicures are now the norm for men, more invasive aesthetic procedures like Botox, fillers and laser treatments are also becoming popular as male consumers look beyond grooming maintenance to anti-ageing and firming investment.
Botox for crow's feet, the forehead and the area between the eyebrows are the most popular treatments at Sense of Touch. Prices start at HK$3,000.
"I have noticed a greater number of male clients seeking cosmetic treatments for anti-ageing compared to when I worked in Sydney," says Kim Le Sambolec, the director of The Cosmetics Concierge, a Hong Kong-based aesthetic consultancy.
"It's mostly professional males in demanding jobs and public roles that seek out cosmetic treatments," Le Sambolec says.
Adventurous grooming is also on the agenda for the men of Hong Kong. "The latest trend we've seen is for a stylised beard," says the Alekisch. "If the beard is well-maintained, even professional workers can wear this on a daily basis. The look is very post-war: short back and sides but with an edge."
A hectic lifestyle can leave skin dehydrated and looking dull and tired. Products with brightening benefits can help reverse these signs of tiredness, leaving skin looking refreshed and revived. Look for products that offer additional benefits such as anti-ageing and clarifying for maximum results.
Biotherm Homme's new Excell Bright range packs a double punch of brightening and clarifying benefits, helping to disguise pigmentation and acne scars, while banishing dullness thanks to a radiance boosting blend of red algae and vitamin E. Try the brightening peeling moisturizer (HK$520/50ml at Lane Crawford).
To pep up dull, tired skin try Shisiedo Men's Active Energizing Concentrate (HK$440/50ml at Lane Crawford). It works like a battery to re-energise skin cells and brighten and firm skin.
For anti-ageing with brightening benefits, La Biosthetique's La Creme Energie (HK$540/50ml at Harvey Nichols) is an intelligent anti-ageing cream that fights signs of tiredness and stress.
Regular shaving can lead to sensitive skin issues, such as irritation and redness. These formulas are designed specifically to calm and soothe ravaged skin.
Vichy Homme's Code Purete Purifying Hydrating Fluid (HK$220/50ml at Lane Crawford) has been formulated for sensitive skin but also helps to control shine and imperfections. Boots' Botanics Men's Sensitive Moisturiser SPF15 (HK$79/75ml, at IFC Mall) calms, protects and hydrates with revitalising ginseng.
La Roche-Posay's Toleriane Ultra Light (HK$280/40ml at Mannings) soothes sensitive skin problems like itching and burning with an extra light, non-greasy, easily absorbed formula.
A close shave
Investing in some serious shaving equipment is essential for this season's stylised looks. But don't forget the aftercare - balms and oils offer multiple benefits.
A razor set from D. R. Harris & Co (HK$3,050 at Joyce Grooming) will help you create a sharp beard or sideburns with control and style. The Refinery range from Aromatherapy Associates includes multipurpose shave oil (HK$340/30ml at Sense of Touch) that is full of vitamins and antioxidants to help soothe and rejuvenate skin.
Gentlemen's Tonic's Soothing Aftershave Balm (HK$385/100ml at Landmark) restores the skin's natural moisture levels as well as soothing and nourishing freshly shaved skin thanks to the inclusion of arnica and aloe vera.
Treatments aimed a solving specific skin problems such as sensitive skin and brightening dull complexions are becoming more popular.
Hong Kong spa Flawless's Brightening Revolution Facial (HK$1,600 for 85 minutes) combines microdermabrasion and a whitening treatment with an amethyst stone detox massage to help treat and prevent pigmentation and brighten dull complexions. Their Red Alert treatment (HK$1,380 for 60 minutes) is designed for hypersensitive skin, particularly those prone to redness and inflammation.
Designed to restore strength and vitality to the skin, Chuan Spa Hong Kong's Metropolitan treatment (HK$1,088 for 90 minutes) includes a back scrub, warm paraffin mask, massage and purifying facial.
For a head-to-toe treatment, the Men's Purifying Facial with Shoulder and Scalp Massage (HK$1,000 at The Peninsula), uses the ESPA range of products.