At first you think, “I just won’t shave today.”
By day two, you think, “Hey, this stubble is kind of working for me.”
Before long, though, you face the Shakespearean-esque question that confronts all men eventually: To beard, or not to beard?
L’Oreal Paris wants to show there are more complex ways to answer that than a mere yes or no. That’s why the company recently set up a pop-up Men Expert Barber Club VIP lounge at Mankind Grooming Studio in Toronto’s hip Parkdale area, where guests could get a free beard trim along with a chance to try out its first line of oils, creams, moisturizers and three-in-one face wash designed specifically with facial hair care in mind.
According to Chris Lee, a marketing manager with L’Oreal Paris, the Men Expert Barber Club line has already quietly launched overseas in German and U.K. markets. The Canadian debut offers a way to test the waters in North America before the line makes its way to the United States.
Whereas being scruffy might have been a badge of honor for men in the past, Lee suggested that the way we present ourselves through digital images on a daily basis is changing the idea of what’s acceptable and attractive in the space between our nostrils and the bottom of our chins.
“The Instagram generation is a big part of it,” he said. “Also, think of all the new dating apps, where you need to make sure your facial hair looks good.”
Of course, L’Oreal is not alone in targeting the male grooming segment. David Beckham’s House 99 line, for instance, recruited an army of social influencers to offer similar products. The difference is that L’Oreal is aiming to make sure its Men Expert Barber Club line can be easily found in drug stores and other retailers at reasonable prices.
“That’s our trademark — to take what’s fashionable and democratize it to the masses,” Lee said.
The Barber Club line uses Cedarwood essential oils, which is intended to ease what most guys refer to as the “insanely itchy stage” of growing a beard. Other spicy, woody fragrances in the line include sandalwood, black peppercorn and hints of vanilla. The result is a smell that’s not too overpowering — and a little more manly than the stuff your wife or girlfriend keeps in her side of the medicine cabinet.
“There needs to be a safe space for guys to talk about their grooming needs without feeling too feminine,” Lee said.
If that sounds like you, welcome to the Club.