Today, men can opt for a wide range of beauty treatments, just like women, says Ajay of the Shahnaz for Men. The salon, which has branches all over the country, offers the same beauty treatments to men and women. "Even for men we have facials like the pearl or the gold facial, which are becoming increasingly popular. Eyebrows and threading of upper lip is now as essential to a well-groomed man as a shave or a haircut. After all, if given an option, who would like to have bushy eyebrows or joined eyebrows?" he counters.
One of the customers of the reputed chain of the Shahnaz parlors, remarked that earlier it was considered effeminate for men to groom themselves or dress up for an occasion. According to Bipin, "But now the entire outlook has changed. A man has an equal right to make himself look good as a woman. And for me nothing is more relaxing than having a facial on a Sunday after a hectic week."
In this race to look good, professional compulsions also seem to have played a part. Bipin affirms that most of his friends in the metros were regular visitors to the Shahnaz parlour. Roy who works in the client servicing section of an international advertising agency pointed out that in metros like Mumbai where there is cut throat competition in every sector, it is a must for a man to be well groomed in order to be successful. "Being well groomed gives me the cutting edge. I’m sure my clients won’t like to interact with a sales person who has dirty nails or smells awful. Besides, my hectic schedule leaves me little time for relaxation or grooming myself. Hence a visit to the parlour is a must," he said.
For professionals like Bipin and Roy, hailing from middle-class families but holding plush jobs, shelling out Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,500 a month for the beauty regime is "money well spent." For the likes of actors and models, operating in an industry where looking good is mandatory, the monthly expenditure is often as high as Rs 4,000. "The John Wayne era of tough, hard-looking lover is gone. The new age women prefer men who are not only well dressed but well groomed. To keep with the times, manicures have become a bare necessity for them.