How Metro is Too Metrosexual?

In I am... on July 13, 2010 at 11:33 am

I thought I wasn’t attracted to metrosexuals– until I found out that most men today are indeed, metrosexual. It’s pretty rare nowadays for a man not to have a stack of products lining his bathroom mirror, even if he’s not entirely sure what purpose each one serves. There is without a doubt, a peculiar and fast-growing pressure on men to step up their grooming habits.
‘Grooming’ is probably an understatement, I would describe the average 21st century male’s daily routine as something closer to ‘beautification’.  Gone are the men that were content with a toothbrush, a razor, some aftershave and a splash of water. Now it’s all about facial masks, anti-wrinkle creams, professional manicures, exfoliating gloves, eye creams and toners– I don’t even know what toner is really used for!

Before hair straighteners...Steve McQueen

All wrong... the infamous David Beckham speedos


The manly men are dropping like flies. I would suspect Crocodile Dundee now uses moisturizer by the riverbed and somewhere, a National Geographic subscription is being replaced with EuroMan at this very moment. Even JimMorrison, who I once prized for his ‘I couldn’t care less’ look, had a bottle of fake tan for his face, hidden behind his toothpaste. Oh, the disappointment (and the sniggers).

So what is the cause behind this surge of metrosexual behaviour? Why on earth does a man find it necessary to straighten his hair? Why, oh why? First of all, we can’t blame it entirely on David Beckham. The simple boy from Leytonstone, England was more a victim of giant marketing machines trying to push their products. The fact is, none of these products were on the market ten/ fifteen years ago. Not that a simple moisturizer wasn’t available for men to use, but it wasn’t marketed so ingeniously. Take Kheil’s for example, a very popular brand for recently converted ‘metros’. They’ve cleverly attached masculine words to products and come up with things like “Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub” or “Facial Fuel Health Bronze”. Packaging and presentation has tapped into men’s concern for hygiene, giving liquids a clinical blue colour and bottles a pharmaceutical-looking label. With health scares becoming a fixture in modern media, what starts innocently enough with some cleansing wipes to remove grime from the subway eventually turns into the full collection of his favourite brand’s seasonal products.

Seacrest... Out

But where do we draw the line? What do women find acceptable and unacceptable? What is too metro? Hair straighteners for me is big no-no. Manicures, I can let slide because they do relate to hygiene and to men sometimes being babies that like to be pampered. But hair straightening is inexcusable, utterly vain and personally, I find that it diminishes all masculinity. If I walked in on a boyfriend with a pair of tongs, I would walk right out and never come back. Make-up? Don’t even go there. If he takes longer than I do in the bathroom, not only is it annoying, but it reveals that he is too self-involved and ultimately, that means less attention for me. Yes we like men to smell nice and there is a standard of grooming that most of us expect to be met, but according to human nature, women are supposed to be the attractive sex. Men are supposed to demonstrate their manliness, their ability to fight each other for our affections and rescue us from the jaws of death. Having perfectly straightened hair and silky smooth legs was never part of the package. So boys, sorry– men! If you are reading this and you’d like to be well-groomed but you’re unsure what will be acceptable and unacceptable to your next girlfriend (unless she looks like Jordan, in which case, yes, anything goes), please observe the following guidelines– and stay away from any kind of spa treatment that includes the words ‘sack’ or ‘crack’ in its title.

American Crew, Classic styling wax,
Although gel can work for men with longer hair for the mediterranean, sleek look, wax is a more subtle alternative that doesn’t make you look like you’ve just dunked your hair in a massive tub of vaseline and then proceeded to form spikes like Bart Simpson– what is that style even about?
£12.50, from Carter and Bond

Dovo of Solingen Buffalo Horn Cut-Throat Razor:
This old-fashioned razor might take some getting used to but if you can hack it, it’s an incredibly sexy way to shave. It shows skill and it shows fearlessness.
£210, Carter and Bond

The ‘St James’ Faux Ivory Shaving Brush
An elegant and mature addition to your washbag.
£55.95, Carter and Bond

Ralph Lauren Polo cologne
Although we prefer your natural body odour (as long as it’s not right after a trip to the gym), we do like the occasional spray of cologne in the evenings. Please don’t over spray. You hate it when we choke you with sickeningly sweet perfume, so keep your chosen scents simple and old-fashioned. Ralph Lauren has developed a classic range over the years.
Prices vary

Kheil’s Facial Fuel Moisturizer with SPF 15
We understand you get dry skin, so treating yourself to a nice moisturizer is perfectly acceptable. Kheil’s packaging is suitably masculine too!
£32, Kheil’s

Acqua Di Parma Shaving Cream, £22; Colonia Intensa, £23
A favourite name with old Hollywood, having these products in your wash bag shows great taste.

Eye Cream, Anthony Logistics, £31
Because we know those circles under your eyes have started to bother you when you look in the mirror. You work hard and those early mornings take their toll, so you deserve this one. Take it from us girls though, none of these ‘miracle’ eye creams actually succeed in eliminating dark circles completely. They simply help soothe, de-puff and restore the skin colour by the time you get to the office. The circles will re-appear the following morning.

Hair Trimmer and Nail Clipper Set, £65
Pretty simple– keep your nails and your nose hair short!

(Click lilac links to shop)

  1. Very nice article Nessy and I couldn’t agree with you more. Being an extremely manly man myself I believe that all men should take care of themselves but not get too carried away. Keep it simple, keep yourself clean and thats all women can ask of you. The products you recommended are all very good but I would suggest getting rid of all the shaving stuff and replacing them with the full kit from ‘The Art of Shaving’. I just recently started using the kit and let me tell you first hand its the bomb. I would also include a pair of tweezers to get rid of any unwanted stray hairs 🙂

  2. How come you’re not this funny in person?

    As an alternative to the straight razor, Merkur make some awesome and attractive double edged safety razors, which take traditional wrist-slitting razor blades.

    Aside from the obligatory badger hair brush, the avocado oil shaving cream by Taylor of Old Bond Street is a favourite, if you’re going to do it properly.

    King of Shaves also basically rebrand silicon-based lubricant as a friction-reducing agent for shaving, and there’s something to be said for that.

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