It seems heterosexual men no longer need a Queer Eye For the Straight Guy.
Which is just as well since the reality TV show featuring a gaggle of gays grooming style-deficient men has been off the air for three years now.
Ubersexuals are the new metrosexuals, only more confident, more masculine, more stylish and more competitive.
"Men's skin care has been reinvented," said Brian Robinson, president of Zirh, which is a manufacturer of men's skin-care and shaving products. "It is no longer taboo to care about your appearance and to try to beat the aging clock. With the economy the way it is, one must keep up appearances—renewed and refreshed."
Sales of men's grooming products in the U.S. have increased 24 percent from 2002 to 2005, to the tune of $5 billion, according to NPD Group, a market research firm.
The new boom is powered by graying Baby Boomers (anti-aging products) and the advent of the Internet (anonymity and ease), Robinson said.
Conventionally, the luxury skin-care market was the sole domain of women. But in the spring, the company launched Zirh Platinum; and former Arizona State University football players Barry Alford and Jefferson Hoffman started Alford & Hoff in Neiman Marcus stores. In the luxe field, shave cream can cost $32 and moisturizer $125.
In the mass market, Gillette recently expanded its line to include face washes, scrubs, shower gels and moisturizers. Axe body spray added shampoos, conditioners and hair-styling products. Nivea, Mennen, Vaseline and Old Spice now include esthetician care, too. In the mass field, shampoos cost about $4.99 and moisturizers are in the $3 range.
"We found it quite interesting that 89 percent of men in North America and Europe believe that good grooming is essential to their professional success," said Cherry Robinson, a founder of the Mensgroom skin-care line. "And that 70 percent of men were now shopping for themselves, up from just 48 percent four years earlier. These numbers are significantly larger than the 'metrosexual' population."
Yup, it's the rise of the ubersexual.
Face the Experts
So we asked a panel of pros if they think men's skin care has gone straight.
Tony Sosnick, founder of Anthony Logistics for Men: "I think maybe about 10 years ago the demographic was geared to gays, but I don't think that's true anymore. There are more men's magazines out there. More men are living a healthy lifestyle. And there is more competition in the marketplace."
Chad Richter, Florida market manager of Kiehl's: "Of course, in South Beach there is a strong male market. They really take care of their body and love to show their skin. So guys there are a lot less shy and are more comfortable asking about products. At other stores, you'd see wives and girlfriends bring their men in. But I have noticed that now the guys come in themselves. They even bring in a buddy and suggest that he try something that worked for them."
The Makeup Trend: From Guy-Liner to Man-Cake
Even manly makeup is making it in the real world, not just in Hollyweird. Get that image of Boy George out of your head.
Fall Out Boy rocker Pete Wentz isn't the only one wearing guy-liner or man-scara. (You think he shares with wife Ashlee Simpson?) Celebrities such as Zac Efron, John Mayer, Jesse McCartney, Ryan Seacrest and Sean Combs have been caught wearing man-cake.
Wentz has a line of five vegan pencil eyeliners called WentzPentz. He says David Bowie and Mick Jagger are his macho makeup muses.