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Ethnic Men's Skin Care Gets a Boost

March 5, 2007


Ethnic Men’s Skin Care Gets a Boost

LaToyah Burke
Associate Editor

Ethnic men’s skin, particularly Hispanic and African American, is prone to irritation and damage from shaving. While new products aim to alleviate this issue, the root of the problem is still under review. According to NPD, men’s prestige skin care reached $32 million in the first half of 2006 it grew to about 46 million by year’s end. Sales may be low but marketers should keep an eye on the segment.

“Today’s ethnic population is already having an impact across all beauty categories. That is a fact the beauty industry must recognize right now. People of color are diverse, rapidly changing, and defy generalization,” said Karen Grant, beauty analyst, NPD.

Men’s moisturizers and treatment shave products represent 51% of men’s total skin care sales. Although ethnic mass men’s skin care products are few and far between in prestige channels. Barc, New York, NY, is attempting to change that by producing high-quality, efficacious products for men of color. Barc has introduced a line of skin care for men of color, which includes Barc Bump Down, a cream that addresses the irritation and shaving bumps men of color suffer post shave.

Ethnic Men Seek Skin Care

According to Chris Hayes, chief executive officer and co-founder of Barc, “the particular skin care needs of men of color have been ignored because their was both an ignorance about men not caring about the condition and appearance of their skin and no one would develop the high-quality product that is needed to address these problems.”

Barc researchers found that, for men of color, irritation, bumps and damage associated with shaving are due to ingrown hairs or the hair’s preponderance to grow back into the skin. Since it doesn’t grow straight out, like Caucasian hair for example, the texture of ethnic men’s hair has been directly related to the irritation that comes from shaving.
“We learned that 85% of men of color suffer from razor bumps vs. 15% of Caucasian men. Much of this is due to most men of color having thicker and curlier hair that grows not away from the face, but back toward the skin and actually penetrates the top layer, which quickly heals itself and traps the curled up hair inside.”

Barc insists on developing products that will provide the maximum results while promoting long-term health and appearance to skin.  According to Mr. Hayes, many products on the market are low grade, parity brands that offer a “quick fix.”

“Most of these formulations contain harmful chemicals and whitening agents that can create other unhealthy skin conditions, leaving customers with a strong chemical smell or worst yet, create other skin conditions that were worse than the condition they were treating,” he added.

Although there are many products that attempt to address the problems associated with razor bumps and ingrown hairs, most products only make a few bumps disappear.

“Already problematic skin doesn’t respond well to long term applications of alcohol based products with harsh fragrances,” insisted Mr. Hayes.

The company’s Bump Down is alcohol-free and contains chamomile extract and glycerin to calm and hydrate the skin.

Filling the Void

Personal grooming is becoming more important to men, with male consumers placing an emphasis on body care and maintenance. “Men don’t want to use products that require an extra step. Simple, multi-purpose products that are part of a basic regimen are key,” explained Ms. Grant. More specifically, men of color are looking to products that improve their skin’s overall texture and tone.
“Having visibly noticeable skin problems can greatly affect someone’s level of confidence, as well as their general ideas of self-image. These play a great role in a person’s daily attitude and performance,” noted Mr. Hayes.

With products like Bump Down, Barc seeks to revolutionize the ethnic men’s skin care market. Barc is focused on addressing various skin conditions that are prevalent among African-American and Hispanic men. With products such as Cutting Up shave cream launching next month, All Over body cream, Game Face face lotion, Smack lip moisturizer and All Over face and body wash, Barc hopes to make a lasting impact on ethnic skin care.  But Barc isn’t the only innovative company in the men’s ethnic skin care category.

Breej, a marketer of advanced treatment cosmetics products for problem skin recently introduced Bump Zapper.

In the case of shaving bumps, Dr. Anaebonam holds a different view and states “shaving bumps are primarily caused by the trauma from shaving leading to inflammation of the shaved area manifested as shaving bumps.”

Dr. Anaebonam continued ingrown hair is caused when hair grows [entrapped] in an existing bump causing additional inflammation through “foreign body” reaction. Skin inflammation from shaving bumps leads to skin damage and on exposure to UV radiation inflamed skin becomes darkened. Bacterial and/or fungal infection may result if shaving bumps go unresolved.  

Dr. Anaebonam discourages pulling out ingrown hairs as breaking/puncturing the skin to pull them out leads to additional inflammation, skin damage and hyper pigmentation.”  

The Bump Zapper line consists of the Bump Zapper severe bumps kit and the Bump Zapper skin repair and brightening cream. Other Breej shave ware products include Anti-Blemish Face Wash, Anti Bump Pre-Electric shave lotion, Anti Bump Soothing Aftershave Lotion, Anti Bump Conditioning Aftershave lotion and Anti-Bump Healing lotion.

The African-American shaving bumps segment is underdeveloped, and offers tremendous growth potential, according to Aloysius Anaebonam, president and chief executive officer for Breej Technologies, Lowell, MA.

Dr. Anaebonam insisted that in order to maintain skin in a smooth moisturized and conditioned state, consumers must get rid of existing shave bumps before resuming shaving. He cautions that consumers should never shave over existing bumps because that causes more inflammation.

Dr. Anaebonam states that proper cleansing before shaving, lubrication, shaving technique and proper post shave treatment will help prevent shave bumps in African American men. According to Dr. Anaebonam’s research, over six million African-American men suffer from shaving bumps.

The ethnic men’s skin care market remains untapped. More information on the causes of ethnic men’s skin care is necessary in order for marketers to produce the formulas to treat them. “Other marketers should take note that if an 18-28 year old man is not only willing, but excited to spend a substantial amount of money on clothing trends, is concerned with their appearance and intent upon expressing personal style, none of these are in sync with an out of control skin problem or grooming habits that would deter from the rest of the package that is decisively put together,” said Mr. Hayes. As more ethnic men put an emphasis on their physical appearance, it is imperative that marketers come up with products that enhance and treat their skin.

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