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New standards of male beauty are emerging in the men’s cosmetics sector

It's a confusing time to be a man: New standards of beauty are emerging and the advertising industry is constantly showing the athletic 'ideal' body.

All this means that men are turning from beauty and good looks to health.

According to Victoria Buchanan, visual trend researcher and beauty expert at The Future Laboratory, this new standard of beauty shuns perfection and is instead rooted in health.

"Men are now more body-conscious than ever," she told CNBC via email. "They are increasingly pursuing a toned and muscular physique, in the mode of actors such as Daniel Craig or Ryan Gosling.

"A survey by the Centre for Appearance Research found that 78 percent of British men wish they were more muscular, and one in three would give up a year of their life if they could achieve their ideal body weight and shape."


Actor Ryan Gosling
Getty Images
Actor Ryan Gosling

This is supported by market research from Mintel released this week which highlights that young men are rethinking their priorities in the face of advertisers using attractive male models and celebrities to promote products.

According to the research, 45 percent of men say that being in good shape is a priority for the future, compared to 38 percent who prioritise getting married or being in a long term relationship

Furthermore, 17 percent of young men aged 16-24 think male models in advertising have made them more self-conscious of their appearance, and 26 percent of all men surveyed agree that men are sexualised in adverts just as much as women.

"The trend for using hyper-athletic male models and celebrities in advertising has grown significantly in recent years and resulting in men today being just as sexualised in advertising campaigns as women," said Jack Duckett, consumer lifestyles analyst at Mintel, in a press release.

"Whilst this holds a level of aspiration for some men, for many more it has resulted in feelings of inadequacy."

While Mintel's research suggests these ads are not connecting with men (just 8 percent of men said they are inspired by the way men look in ads), Buchanan suggested that these ads represent a more nuanced expression of masculinity.

"Brands are realising that they need to be more savvy about connecting with a diverse male audience. Even (men's cosmetics maker) Axe has finally ditched its passé babe-magnet ads with a more modern depiction of diversified male beauty," she said.

"Promoting a broad view of what is attractive, the brand's latest advertising campaign reflects the changing notions around gender and identity."

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