Eight out of 10 men in India believe being well groomed has a positive impact on success at work. One out of three men today spend more time taking care of their skin, with over a third of those surveyed even going in for facials.

A survey commissioned by Kaya Ltd, a skincare firm, and conducted by ACNielsen across Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, targeting men in the 18-50 age group belonging to affluent households, which concluded in October, has come up with findings that show that Indian men are finally realizing the importance of personal grooming for workplace success. More important, they are actually doing something about it. Delhi-based Bipaschit Bose, who runs a headhunting firm, agrees there is a sea change in the thinking on the subject. “Unlike earlier, when if a man spent time and money on more than a haircut it was thought to be morally wrong, attitudes have changed," he says. This attitudinal change is reflected in the survey, where 64% perceived that men using skincare/grooming regime were confident as opposed to 17% who regarded them as effeminate.

Face value: Grooming also relates to hygiene issues.

Prashant Yadav, a hotel industry veteran, who now runs a luxury travel company, Liberty India, says that while hiring, he gives 50% weightage to how well groomed the candidate is. “In my hotel days that emphasis used to be 70%," he says. For him, personal grooming implies not just being well dressed, but also hygiene issues such as clean nails, good skin, being fit and neatly trimmed hair.

Bose points out that there is an unwritten code in multinational companies for better appearance, especially since the staff represent the company’s image to the outside world. And it seems to be cutting across ranks. For instance, at Super Religare Laboratories Ltd, phlebotomists have to ensure that their nails are clean and they use a deodorant to guard against body odour.

Although the Kaya-Nielsen survey says that around 50% of the men surveyed were confused about which skincare products to use, it also shows that they are not shy about going to salons to find the answers, with around 43% saying a regular skincare regime included salon visits.

Agrees Dharmendra Manwani, chief executive officer of French salon chain Jean-Claude Biguine in India, who says that today the typical life cycle of a male consumer is taking care of his hair and then stepping up the grooming ladder to work on his skin. “The demand for in-salon skincare treatments by men is increasing 40% year-on-year, according to third-party sources," he says. These include professional treatment for acne, pimples, blackheads as well as regular facials.

Men are also getting increasingly conscious of keeping an eye on their weight. Body and head massages and rejuvenating spa treatments are all now sought after by male executives too. According to Kavya Madappa, managing director, Amanvana Spa resort, Coorg, “We definitely see an upward surge in men taking spa treatments." Not surprisingly, outfits such as the Mumbai-based spa, Cosmic Mandala 15, are devising special spa menus for men (treatment pick-me-ups for those short on time as well as energizing facials). As Bose says: “Increasingly, people who are moving up vertically very fast are realizing that you have to audit the price you are paying personally for that success. So a lot of effort is being put to maintain ‘stress free-ness’."

Yadav says while salons and spas are feel-good elements, a basic level of personal grooming can be achieved on one’s own.

Here are some basics points to keep in mind:

• Colour coordinate and stick to blues and whites and blacks. Take particular care of your shoes, polishing them every day. “I find that shoes are something that 80% Indian men don’t bother with," says Yadav.

• Hair should be neatly trimmed. These days a high percentage of men colour their hair, but usually don’t do a good job of it. “There are certain dos and don’ts to cover the greys effectively," says Carole Robequin, head of training, Jean-Claude Biguine, India. “The two primary elements of colouring your hair are timing and coverage. Once you have covered your hair which needed treatment and sat with it for the prescribed time, all you have to do is rinse hair thoroughly. Do not think of recolouring or applying (a) double coat," she says.

• According to Veena Aggarwal, head, research and development, VLCC group, “Men too need to follow the routine of cleansing, toning and moisturizing." She adds that a good intake of fruits and water also helps.

• Nails should be neatly trimmed. Take care on a weekly basis.

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