Because the guys are worth it, too

Thu May 10, 2012 10:14am EDT
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By Nina Sovich

PARIS (Reuters) - "Asian men are just crazy about this," purred the saleswoman, cradling one of her most popular products in her palm.

It's a Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque she sells in the Aesop beauty shop on Paris's Rue Saint Honoré, costing 36 euros ($46.55) for 120 milliliters, enough to buy dozens of bars of soap.

It "works wonders" for men in cities like Beijing, where the air can be steamy and grimy in the summer, she says.

Boutiques like Aesop and big multinationals such as L'Oreal, Estee Lauder and Unilever are finding that men, especially Asian men, are increasingly willing to shell out sizeable sums to take care of their skin.

Sales of men's facial products still make up only a small fraction of the $97 billion global skincare market, but it's a growing fraction, despite the economic slowdown. Last year, skincare sales to men rose 17 percent to $2.4 billion, and 83 percent of that growth was in Asia.

"I was struck when I came to China by how uncomplicated and 'no-taboo' the attitude was," said Alexis Perakis, L'Oreal's China manager.

"I want to feel good and look good and be groomed, so I use products," is the no-nonsense Chinese male approach, he says.

While much of the increased demand is from China, where men buy mass-market brands like L'Oreal's Garnier in supermarkets, South Korea is driving sales of specialty products.   Continued...