Men and Beauty: Asia vs Africa

Across Asia, male consumers are spending more to look and feel fabulous, improve their self-confidence, and experiment with their sense of identity which is why male grooming products rank among the region’s fastest-growing consumer segments.

In Asia, men are employed to promote beauty products, they become brand ambassadors or influencers for products aimed at women and the results are quite surprising. Secondly, the consumption of beauty products by and for men is also experiencing strong growth with the emergence of specific offers or brands.

These male ambassadors and influencers are leading the change, and men in Asia have changed their attitudes toward skincare and makeup. For instance, the average Korean man uses about 13 cosmetic products on a monthly basis.

In this region, brands launching makeup dedicated to men are very popular which shows that there is a real demand for products designed and formulated especially for men. Makeup for men started with brands offering foundations and concealers to help cover blemishes in a very subtle, imperceptible way. The idea was to get a no-makeup makeup look to enhance the skin.

In many urban centres across Asia, men and women often share the beauty experience, frequenting beauty counters and enjoying beauty treatments together. At M.A.C. Cosmetics in Singapore, nearly one in three shoppers are men. It’s now the norm for men to compete with women or rather, to join with them in seeking a look that conveys personal perfection, self-expression and life success.

Ideals of male beauty are changing around the world though not always in the same direction and at the speed we see in Asia. For example, sales of men’s grooming and beauty products in Brazil have more than doubled in the past five years, and cosmetic surgery is increasingly common in a culture that puts self-expression on display, as during Carnival.

While in other emerging and developing markets, men are using a wider variety of products than ever before, including lip glosses, BB creams, foundations and more.

According to The Men’s Grooming Products Market 2020-2026 report by Research and Markets, it estimates nearly seven per cent compound annual growth for the men’s care market in the Asia Pacific from 2020 to 2025. The report notes that shifting male attitudes to personal care products will drive especially strong sales growth in India, Thailand, China, and Indonesia.

While in Africa, as global cosmetics brands rush to tailor products to meet consumers’ needs, Datamonitor Consumer says there is an emerging audience that cosmetics firms should pay attention to which is “Black African Men”. Major global brands such as L’Oreal, P&G, Estee Lauder, and Unilever have already developed expansion strategies to capitalize on Africa’s potentially lucrative beauty market.

According to Siphiwe Mpye, a trends consultant based in Braamfontein, the culture of skincare has been growing rapidly across Africa, with South Africa leading the way. As a former editor of South Africa’s GQ men’s magazine, he knows what he is talking about.

He says that growth in the beauty and grooming industry is being driven by black African men buying products. It is partly because of global trends but also because sustained economic growth in Africa has been giving men greater disposable income.

Datamonitor Consumer researcher Massiata Barro warns that the reality of poverty and unequal distribution of wealth in Africa cannot be ignored despite the growing focus on looks and appearance.

Barro also says that beauty brands wishing to establish themselves and succeed in Africa could benefit by limiting their target audience at least in the initial launch stages to a niche segment like young professional men who can afford to buy mid-high-end products.

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BBC News, Johannesburg: The New African: Male Beauty Industry Hits South Africa (

Africa flagged to be the next male grooming market (

Male Beauty in Asia (

Men’s Beauty Goes Big In Asia (

Five Reasons Why Male Grooming is Booming in Asia (