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    ‘He wouldn’t be seen using it…’ Men’s use of male grooming products as a form of invisible consumption

    Byrne, Angela and Milestone, Katie ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7291-5881 (2023) ‘He wouldn’t be seen using it…’ Men’s use of male grooming products as a form of invisible consumption. Journal of Consumer Culture, 23 (1). pp. 146-167. ISSN 1469-5405

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    Skincare products are well-established amongst female consumers. The market for male skincare products is far more recent and little research has been undertaken on this emerging sector. The practice of men using what was traditionally a product almost solely aimed at women poses some interesting questions about changing gendered identities and practices. Themes emerged from a series of interviews with respondents and key informants from industry about men’s use of skincare products. Based on our findings, we explore the importance of age as a factor in terms of men’s willingness to engage with this form of consumption. Our research showed that men are not comfortable talking with others about their grooming practices. We argue that men’s skincare consumption is an invisible form of consumption. As our findings show, men do not tend to speak openly about whether or not they use moisturiser and other facial skin care products. We concur with Hakim’s (2016) analysis about the pressure for men to continually improve their bodies in order to try to obtain market advantage in a cut-throat neoliberal context. However, with the case of skin care products, men may introspectively gaze in the mirror in contemplation of their improved appearance gained from using facial skincare products but they want this consumption to remain invisible to others. This invisible consumption could be viewed as an indication of wider uncertainty about masculinity in late modernity and the continuing trend for men to feel that there are certain aspects of their life that they feel they should keep to themselves.

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