What Men Want

Mark Smith visits about 30 spas each year across the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, and has been reviewing spas since 2007. He is a writer and media consultant in the beauty and spa industry, and founded the website TheSpaMan.co.uk where he writes about products, spas and treatments. We spoke to Smith about what’s new and hot in the world of men’s spa products.

What is the focus of men's spa products?
The primary focus for men’s spa products tends to be to cleanse and hydrate. Targeted men’s ranges often focus on the essentials as guys like their skin care regime simple and straightforward, with as few steps as possible. Multifunction or multipurpose products are always popular for me. For example, a moisturizer with SPF that is boosted with anti-aging ingredients, or a scrub that acts as a cleanser or gentle cleanser with particles to gently exfoliate are common on the market. An eye cream is a common addition to a men’s spa range. More advanced lines will then drill down into different skin types for oily skin, mature skin, etc., but this is rare at the moment.

What ingredients are popular with men’s spa products right now?
I have noticed elemi as an ingredient in the past year. Elemi essential oil comes from a large tropical tree from the Philippines. The tree is closely related to frankincense and myrrh and exudes a natural yellow resin. It is only when the tree sprouts leaves that the resin is produced. The resin solidifies on contact with the air and is then distilled to produce an exotic, beautiful essential oil. Hyaluronic acid is also an eternal favourite across skin care generally and has seen a real resurgence lately with different molecular weights available. You will always see this ingredient in men’s skin care.

What sort of scents and oils do men tend to gravitate toward?
More woody and robust essential oils like cedar wood, sandalwood and oud [also known as agarwood]. These oils also work well for men’s body care in aromatherapy ranges at the spa. You will find uplifting citrusy notes like lemon, lemongrass and orange in [men’s spa products]. Rosemary and mint are popular in body products as they are great for soothing muscle aches and pains, so are usually in body oils and fitness bath oils. Floral notes such as rose, vanilla and patchouli tend to be much less popular with guys.

Which product companies are becoming popular with men?
I have to say that Elemis offers one of the most comprehensive spa product lines designed just for men. It has more than just one moisturizer, eye cream and cleanser. Beyond that, I really rate Thalgo, Phytomer and ESPA. Refinery from Aromatherapy Associates is a whole range designed just for men and found in lots of Mandarin Oriental spas across the globe.

However, there is some anecdotal evidence that men are beginning to venture beyond the “for men” product houses and explore more high-tech and cosmeceuticals lines like Perricone MD and Murad. It’s quite natural for men to look after their skin and we have lived with the concept of the metrosexual for almost 20 years. Magazines like GQ and Men’s Health have normalized skin care and educate gents about their skin, so they know what they are looking for.

Besides skin care, what concerns do men have that spa products are addressing?
Body scrubs are popular with men as dry skin on the arms, back and legs can be an issue. Anything relating to shaving will be top of the list and there are a number of spa brands who tackle the issue of soothing skin pre- and post-shave. I think this also links into the growing popularity of the barber shop or barbers’ service being positioned in the spa setting.

So shaving and beard care products are making an appearance in the spa?
This is a definite trend I am seeing. I first saw a barber in a spa in Frankfurt, Germany, and more recently at Bovey Castle in Devon, England and the Bulgari Spa in London, England. This is growing and shows how spas are trying to reach out to a new audience. It’s very clever and can be a great way to introduce men who are not keen on spa to the benefits of a spa-like experience. Spa products do tend to include a limited range of shaving products, but some like [Aromatherapy Associate’s] Refinery and Elemis do it very well.

What trends in men’s spa products do you see coming in 2018?
I hope that we see some additional new product innovation in the men’s market. A lot of brands launch their men’s ranges and leave it at that. There is little advanced innovation. Masks have been a huge trend in 2017 and I believe we will see the launch of more masks specifically targeting men’s skin. I also think there will be more advanced anti-aging products for guys too.


by Hermione Wilson | Fall 2017