In the wealthy Jardins neighborhood of Sao Paulo, one street boasts five beauty salons, but the Mr Jardins shop stands out from the pack — catering to a male clientele.
Men stop in for traditional haircuts and shaves, but also come for other treatments — waxing, waist-slimming massages, youth-boosting facials, skin cleanses and even manicures and pedicures.
In Brazil, men are the new target of a booming beauty industry, where services and products are no longer reserved for the fairer sex.
Gregorio Mendes, the owner of Mr Jardins, says his salon welcomes new clients “every day” who come in for a haircut, and end up daring to take advantage of the other services on offer.
“It’s a growing market. The misconception that a man who waxes is maybe not a real man is beginning to disappear,” Mendes said, referring to the concept of machismo still lingering in Latin America.
“Men of all ages come here, either because they want to or because their wives, girlfriends or daughters bring them. It’s not a gay or straight thing. The important thing is that they want to look good,” he said.
Marcos Costa, a tall, slim 44-year-old entrepreneur at Mr Jardins, explains that he does “everything possible” to make himself more attractive, but still sees a bit of a stigma attached to male primping.
“Women love for us to be well-groomed and smell good, but if they see us at the hair salon getting a manicure, that bugs them,” Costa said at the salon, which opened five years ago.
According to the Brazilian Association of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Industry, the beauty sector has grown 10 percent annually over the last decade, as 40 million people joined Brazil’s booming middle class.
Last year, the beauty market in Brazil generated US$42 billion in sales, accounting for 10 percent of the world market, putting it in third place behind only the US and Japan.
Earlier this month in Sao Paulo at Beauty Fair, which organizers say is Latin America’s largest and the world’s third-biggest beauty product and appliance expo, commercial deals totaled more than US$200 million.
Dyes and tinted shampoos, matte nail polish, beard grooming products, moisturizers and hair removal creams for those afraid of hot wax are just some of the products being peddled to men, industry professionals say.
“Men are less and less ashamed to take care of themselves. The sector hasn’t seen a boom quite yet, but we’re getting there,” said Marcia Sandim, marketing director for the Ikesaki boutique chain, a major player in the Sao Paulo beauty market.
A spokeswoman for French cosmetics giant L’Oreal said: “We all see that this is a growing market that we are following carefully.”
Sergio Piao, an official with US consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble, said that “growth in sales of products for men practically doubled last year.”
With less than a year to go before the Brazil World Cup, soccer stars Lionel Messi and Pele are part of the company’s advertising campaign for its just-launched anti-dandruff shampoo for men.
At Mr Jardins, Mendes says his biggest problem is finding male estheticians trained in beauty services for men.
“We need more professionals,” he said.