Historically, many laser and IPL treatments were predominantly associated with women, with male clients avoiding them due to societal expectations or stigmas. However, as self-care becomes an essential part of modern masculinity, a growing number of men are seeking out laser and IPL treatments. Whether it’s targeting unwanted hair, minimising the signs of ageing or addressing skin concerns, these treatments have become the go-to for male clients seeking longlasting results.
It’s not just women who are looking for a contoured look with a defined jawline and cheekbones. For men, a sharp, clean beard line can be achieved through laser hair removal, which is able to target precise areas of unwanted hair.
Charlotte Lundy, regional nurser trainer at Sk:n Clinics, explains, “Lots of men are now turning to laser and skin treatments. It’s popular for men to come in and have laser hair removal on their cheeks and cheekbones to give clear definition to beards.”
As well as saving time on daily maintenance, this treatment option reduces those pesky ingrown beard hairs that many men struggle with and also helps to treat folliculitis.
Laser tattoo removal is also on the rise as trends in tattoo design continue to evolve. Eddie Campbell-Adams, trainer and national sales manager at Advanced Esthetics Solutions, says, “The proliferation of tattoo design trends has increased demand for laser tattoo removal, where large multi-coloured tattoos are being removed.”
Aside from removing unwanted hair and tattoos, male clients are also turning to laser and IPL to treat skin concerns. Lisa Mason-Poyner, group director of aesthetic services at Élan Laser Clinics Groups, explains, “Treatments using devices such as fractional lasers and IPL systems are addressing specific concerns for men, such as acne scars, uneven skin tone, fine lines, and wrinkles. These work by stimulating collagen synthesis and resurfacing the skin to improve its overall texture.”
Acne treatments for men have also become increasingly popular. Depending on individual need, these can target the sebaceous glands, reducing oil production and minimising acne breakouts. “IPL treatments can also target bacteria and reduce redness associated with acne,” adds Mason-Poyner.
“Laser hair removal is also a particularly effective solution for men who suffer with conditions such as pseudofolliculitis barbae – achronic inflammatory disorder of follicular and perifollicular skin characterised by papules, pustules, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.”
Although the fundamentals of laser and IPL treatments are the same for both male and female clients, there are some noticeable differences when treating male clients for laser hair removal, particularly concerning variations in hair growth patterns, skin thickness and hormonal influences, so it’s important to take all of this into consideration.
Mason-Poyner says, “Men tend to have thicker and coarser hair that is commonly found on the face, chest, back and shoulders, so laser settings may need to be adjusted to accommodate different hair types and ensure optimal results.
“This can also be affected by hormones, particularly testosterone, that contribute to the growth of coarse, dense hair and causes hair to grow back over time. This may lead to male clients needing more sessions or maintenance to manage the regrowth.
“Male skin is also generally thicker, meaning that they can potentially absorb more laser energy, so it’s important to adjust the laser intensity and duration to avoid adverse events such as burns or hyperpigmentation.”
Campbell-Adams adds, “A solid state laser using both Alexandrite and Nd:Yag will be able to target both the melanin pigment within the hair along with the blood supply to the hair to get a better result. Being able to deliver both wavelengths simultaneously gives better results, requires fewer treatments and is less painful than using a single wavelength or even consecutive pulses of two wavelengths.”
For tattoo removal, Campbell-Adams advises that having a tattoo removal laser with ideally three wavelengths to tackle as many colours as possible is important in order to get results on the modern multi-coloured and large area tattoos. “Different types of laser work on different colours; a mixed modality laser is helpful in tackling multiple colours in a single pass,” he adds.
As is the case for many beauty and aesthetic treatments, the rise in social media and the pandemic Zoom era have played a part in boosting the number of men seeking laser and IPL treatments.
This boom in popularity has also been bolstered by advances in technology, which have made treatments more efficient, accessible and tailorable to different skin types.
Cause for change
“Men are becoming much more aware of the various aesthetic options available to them,” says Mason-Poyner. “There has also been a cultural shift destigmatising male grooming and skincare, and encouraging men to invest in treatments that solve their skincare issues and also have the potential to raise their self-esteem.
“With the growing accessibility of information through the internet and social media, men are learning about different treatments and their benefits and realising that they can benefit from them just as much as women. This increased awareness has encouraged more men to explore laser treatments.”
Campbell-Adams adds, “Fitness and a positive body image are certainly increasing in popularity amongst men in recent years, and especially amongst young men in their teens, 20s and 30s. This rise in male grooming corresponds to the rise of internet dating, social media, TV shows such as Love Island, and celebrities being more open about the treatments they have.”
While building a male customer base for laser and IPL may not be something all beauty business owners are giving thought to when making their business plans, it definitely makes sense to consider it.
From a business angle, men make up roughly half of the population so by not actively targeting and catering to male clients, you’re missing out on half of your potential profits.
But more important than this is the care and openness which the beauty industry is built on. Lundy says, “It’s important for treatments to be open to everyone; after all, in this industry we want to give people confidence and increase self-esteem – treatments can help people in so many ways and give them that boost they have always been wanting. Why shouldn’t men be able to take care of themselves and feel the benefits?”
Attracting male clients
So, how can you entice more men into your business? Mason-Poyner advises starting with adjusting your marketing messages to be more accessible to men. “Education through a variety of platforms is key to attracting more male clients. Content that explains the benefits and results associated with each treatment, and that includes visual representation of men undertaking treatment, is hugely important, as well as testimonials and reviews that male clients can relate to,” she says.
Collaborating with male influencers or bloggers who have an audience interested in male grooming or aesthetics can also be beneficial.
“These partnerships can help generate buzz, reach a wider audience and create authentic content that resonates with potential male clients,” adds Mason-Poyner.
“As the demand from men grows, businesses that cater to their needs will have an influence on the development of new products, services, and advances in aesthetic technology. This creates opportunities for innovation and specialisation within the industry, and that can only be a good thing.”