Men embrace metrosexuality, no longer raising (plucked) eyebrows

May 31, 2013

The metrosexual male has finally hit the mainstream and women now expect their other halves to take part in a regular beauty regime, according to new research issued by The Co-operative Pharmacy.*

Over half of men (53 per cent) admit to frequently preening and using beauty products to improve their appearance – a dramatic shift away from traditional male behaviours when the term ‘metrosexual’ was coined almost 20 years ago.**

One in seven men (15 per cent) pluck or wax unruly eyebrows, 7 per cent wear concealer to cover up a spot and 1 in 20 (5 per cent) use fake tan.  Almost a third of men work out and around one in 14 (8 per cent) use protein powder to increase their size.

Those aged between 18- 24 are more likely to use extreme measures to improve their looks including using steroids illegally to put on muscle, with 6 per cent of this age group admitting to doing this.  Men aged 25-34 were the biggest users of slimming pills (5 per cent). 

Almost two thirds of men said they undertake their beauty regime to make themselves feel better and to boost their confidence levels.  More than a quarter believe in taking pride in their appearance and around one in 6 (17 per cent) are trying to keep themselves looking younger.

Other reasons for trying to improve their image included doing it for their partner (almost one in 10), feeling under pressure from other male friends to look good (12 per cent) and 9 per cent blame it on media influence. 

Women are more accepting than men when it comes to attitudes towards male beautifying. Over half of females (52 per cent) think that it is alright for men to pluck or wax their eyebrows compared to a third of men (34 per cent) and when questioned, almost two in five women (38 per cent) thought it was fine for men to wear fake tan, compared to just 30 per cent of men.
In addition, women are more open to men adopting techniques typically classed as female grooming activity such as using concealer, as 45 per cent of women believe that this is socially acceptable, whereas 47 per cent of men do not.

However, men were more likely than women to find using steroids or protein powder to bulk up acceptable with 23 per cent of males saying it was fine to use steroids and 44 per cent thinking it was alright to use protein formula.

One third of men said that they would spend up to £50 on a beauty treatment to make them look/feel better each month. The research also found that on average, men were prepared to pay £346 for a one-off treatment during the course of a year to make themselves feel better.  In Yorkshire and the Humber, this rose to £408 and £405 in the North East.
In 12 months, almost one in 10 men would be willing to spend up to £500 on a one-off beauty treatment and eight per cent would part with up to £1,000 for a treatment. 
Matthew Jones, a senior pharmacist from The Co-operative Pharmacy, said: “We have seen a major shift over the last 20 years in male attitudes and openness to using beauty products. The research shows that men are increasingly using a range of products to boost their self esteem and are now going to greater lengths to improve their body image.”

However, there is a more serious message from pharmacists:

Matthew Jones continued: “While many of the methods men use only serve to improve appearance without risk, some men are gambling with their health by using harmful or illegal ways to boost the way they look. Pharmacists can advise on a range of health issues, including grooming products, but more importantly are acutely aware of the dangers of using medication or drugs, such as steroids, for purposes other than that which they are licensed. Items such as these can be bought online, but they should not be used without consulting a pharmacist or doctor first.” 

Body image expert and campaigner, Natasha Devon, said: “I've noticed that there's been a major attitude shift in men under the age of 25 and there's more pressure on men now to 'take care of themselves'.

"I think it's great that men now have the freedom to experiment with how they look, but we have to learn from what's historically happened to women – with beauty and grooming can come a lot of insecurity, if it's not presented and handled in the right way.

"Men need to resist the pressure to conform to an identical look. They should seek to take control and make their own rules."

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Additional Information:

* One Poll interviewed a random sample of 2,000 men and women.  Surveys were conducted among adults across all ages and regions of the UK.

** Metrosexual was a term coined almost 20 years ago by author and journalist Mark Simpson.  The term has evolved to describe a typically young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis where the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are.   It is now regularly used more loosely to describe men who have money to spend, who take care of their appearance and who are comfortable with themselves, wanting to be desired. David Beckham was named a metrosexual icon in 2002.

About The Co-operative

The Co-operative Pharmacy has almost 800 pharmacies across the UK and is part of the Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over seven million consumers.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider, the third largest pharmacy chain and one of Britain’s largest farming operations. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies over 50 commitments in these areas.

The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 100,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn.  Further information is available at

Contact Information:

Alex Wilson
Senior Public Relations Officer – Pharmacy
The Co-operative Group
07540 641368