Relaxation, visiting a spa and having a make-over have largely been in the domain of women for a long time. Men are slowly catching up: visiting the sauna, having a massage or even getting a manicure. Nevertheless, the concepts of relaxation and wellness often mean different things to men and women.
"Wellness was long regarded as a topic for women," says Lutz Hertel, chairman of Germany's Wellness Association. "That's because of the history of the wellness movement in Germany which in its initial phase was treated like a new type of fitness."
The "gentle form of wellness" led to the popularisation of fitness gymnastics and had nothing to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger-style weight-lifting. Thus women had a greater affinity with wellness. "But in the last 10 years men have been attracted to wellness and are quite happy to try out a sauna, visit a gym studio or a spa hotel."
Men now spend more time grooming
A survey conducted in Germany in 2008 showed that men spent 17 minutes a day on average grooming themselves and an extra 13 minutes on caring for their faces. That time did not include taking a shower, having a bath or shaving. "Those figures show that men have overtaken women who spend on average 26 minutes a day on body and face care," Martin Ruppmann, general manager of Germany's VKE cosmetic association, said at the time.
But when it comes to relaxation men have a different goal than women, according to Hertel. "They want to remain energetic and young, to be fit, to look fresh and exude a manly strength." For men it's not the path that's the goal, it's the goal that's of most importance. "That means men often tend to take a much more active and performance-related approach to wellness that is far from gentle."
The phenomenon can be most clearly observed in saunas. "Men like visiting the hottest saunas, sitting on the highest bench and staying as long as they can stand the heat." That not only illustrates that visiting a sauna can be a high performance sport, but that it can also be absurd and even damage your health.
Men should be less goal-orientated
"It would be better if men didn't continually challenge themselves but had a much more tender approach," says Hertel. "Most men need to discover the moment of enjoyment in taking exercise, going to a sauna or getting a massage and not just think about the goal."
Naturally not all men are like that. Many are quite prepared to leave the hard-man image aside and growing numbers are trying out cosmetic products. Figures produced by Germany's VKE cosmetic association from 2010 indicate men are turning towards skincare products. "Sales of men's cosmetics are continuing to grow by six per cent. From year to year men are developing an affinity for cosmetics and skincare products."
Gabriele Haeusler from Germany's Association of Beauticians confirms that trend. "Men are becoming vainer and want care products," she says. Men have different priorities compared to women when it comes to which products they choose. "Men usually don't want to have several products. Instead, they prefer as few as possible or even just the one product that quickly and efficiently does the job."
Men should use care products
Haeusler advises men older than their mid-30s to start using care products. "It's at that age that the skin begins to show the influence of stress and other factors." The three most important parts of the body to watch out for are the face, the hands and the feet which usually get far less care than they actually need.
"It's useful to apply cleansing milk to your face in the evening and which leaves a light layer of oil on the skin. It should also clear your skin of the grime and dirt that collects over the day," says Haeusler.
It's important that the cleansing milk does not dry your skin out. After shaving in the morning you should check to see how sensitive your skin is and then use an appropriate face cream. "In most cases a milky lotion or cream that leaves a trace of oil behind is fine." If the cream is perfumed make sure it matches your aftershave.
Men have a wide range of hand-care products to choose from. "There are creams made with sea salt that leave a thin film of oil," says Haeusler. Wheatgerm or sweet almond oil is also good. "They help keep your nails and cuticles soft and smooth." Care for the feet is even easier.
"Often a callus is a problem especially if you exercise," says Haeusler. Regularly cream your feet to keep them soft. Rubbing a good baby lotion with jojoba or sesame seed oil on your feet after showering will usually do the trick.
(Sapa, February 2012)
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