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Men’s Skin Care Requires Different Fragrance Approach

By: Nancy C. Hayden
Posted: November 19, 2010, from the December 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

Men’s products have been slowly emerging and testing the waters during the past 25 years, and with the advances made in skin treatment and new efficacious ingredients available, more men are using products that maintain healthy skin. There was a time when a rugged, alcohol-based aftershave was the only acceptable product. While growth in men’s products has not burgeoned as projected in the mid-2000s, it is still making strides.

Years ago, I debated with Bernie Mitchell, the founder of Jovan, about turning the rage of women’s musk oil into a man’s after-shave lotion. “No,” he said. “I am afraid of entering the men’s fragrance market, where American men only accept a Brut, Old Spice, English Leather, Aramis or Paco Rabanne. Men have to be comfortable with a tried-and-true fragrance and have an aversion to fussy fragranced men’s toiletry products.” However, the overnight success of the men’s fragrance that was launched forced us to extend the line into grooming aids, and it is still going strong today.

Fast-forward to today’s stage of personal care products’ evolution and the explosion of men’s fine fragrances, and there is a distinct division occurring in the intent of product functions that determine the strength and character of the fragrance. What started as line extensions of signature fragrances such as Givenchy Gentleman, Paco Rabanne, Polo, Armani and Calvin Klein became grooming aids to add to the fragrance experience. But now there is a whole new generation of men’s skin care products that require a different type of fragrancing. These product lines are still limited in many department stores, where they are usually found in the women’s cosmetic section, but mass marketers are also now entering the field through drugstores and mass chains, hoping to expose male customers to new products designed for them.

Looking good is no longer just a clean shave and an after-shave lotion. A plethora of new formulas for skin moisturization, line smoothing, acne treatment, skin plumping and color enhancement—as well as everyday products such as deodorant, shampoo, soap and body washes—demand a new approach to fragrancing, including sometimes no fragrance Many of the major players have designed men’s specialty lines, such as Lauder’s Lab Series Skincare For Men and offerings from Clinique, that are serious skin products that use no fragrance.

Positioning Impacts Scent

There seems to be a correlation with the positioning of products and the type of fragrance used or whether the product is fragranced at all. Often, if a derma or doctor brand uses fragrance, it is often naturally derived plant and fruit extracts. In some cases, if the formula contains ingredients with off-notes that have to be masked, masking is done with naturals that are subtle and clean-smelling.