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Markets & trends

Trends: Towards hair free bodies?

While it is still considered fashionable for men to have beards, and while a number of charitable initiatives and pro-hair organisations campaign to convince women to embrace a more natural look, both men and women - in particular the youngest - are feeling an increase pressure to remove hair.

For today’s men, hair removal has extended past a simple shave of the face. According to a new research from Mintel [1], 50% of all Brits admit there is more pressure nowadays for men to remove or groom body hair.

Over the last 12 months, some 55% of men say they have removed hair from their head, this is followed by the pubic region at 29%, chest at 13%, underarms at 12%, back at 9%, bottom at 6%, arms at 5%, legs at 4% and feet 2%. Just 30% of men say they have not removed hair from their body in the last year. Additionally, a quarter (25%) of Britain’s men admit to removing hair from their eyebrows.

It is becoming increasingly commonplace for men, particularly under-30s, to remove hair from their body as behaviours once described as metrosexual are becoming increasingly mainstream,” said Charlotte Libby, Senior Beauty Analyst, Mintel.

Social pressure

Overall, one in five (19%) men claim they feel expected to remove hair from their torso, while around the same number (18%) say they feel the pressure to remove hair from their underarms and 13% from their legs. Furthermore, it is younger men in particular who are feeling the pressure to achieve a hair free body, with some six in ten (58%) 16-24-year-old men agreeing they feel pressure to remove or groom body hair, compared to 22% of over-65s.

And while 42% of Brits believe it is fashionable for men to have beards, almost the same number (39%) say they feel pressure from others to keep their facial hair neat and tidy. As many as six in ten (59%) consumers believe it looks unprofessional for men to have an ungroomed face in the workplace.

Of course, it is not just men who are feeling the pressure to remove hair, almost three quarters (73%) of all UK consumers believe there is more pressure nowadays for women to remove body hair. Indeed, just 8% of women have not removed hair in the UK in the past 12 months. Some 82% of women remove hair from their legs, while a further 78% remove hair from their underarms and 57% from their pubic region. And it doesn’t stop there, the quest for a hair free body sees a further 15% removing hair from their arms, 7% from the feet, 4% from the chest, 3% from their bottom and 2% from their back.

The impact of charitable and other initiatives such as ‘Armpits 4 August’ and ‘Hairy Legs Club’ that have tried to initiate a trend towards un-groomed body hair and a more natural look appears quite limited.

Impact on sales

In terms of sales, whilst the UK men’s shaving and hair removal market was impacted by price promotions and fashion leading away from a clean shave in 2013, it has returned to growth with sales of an estimated GBP 624 million (about EUR 794 million) in 2014, up 2.1% from sales in 2013 which reached GBP 611 million (EUR 777 million).

Innovation in the shaving and hair removal market continues to focus on male-oriented products, with a particular trend towards male body hair removal and a return to tradition-inspired shaving and facial hair grooming,” Charlotte Libby continues.

The NPD Group also noted during the summer that sales of women’s grooming appliances, like electric shavers and many other in-home personal grooming and hair removal devices, are rising in the USA.

Inundated with promises of being hair-free by way of a plethora of products and services on the market today, women are compelled to seek smooth skin,” said Debra Mednick, executive director and home industry analyst, The NPD Group. “However, the cost and inconvenience of repeated waxing, laser, or other hair removal services outside of their home may have women looking for simpler, more affordable options.

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