Andrew Chim had finally had enough. The thing that tipped him over the edge?
A fluffy towel.
“Because hairdressers are unisex, they’re always nice, soft environments aimed at women, where they do things like cellulite reduction treatments,” he says.
So in 2006, Chim founded Detail for Men, a salon aimed at men. Understanding that many men would rather have their toenails pulled out then pedicured, the salon jettisoned rose petals and pink towels in favour of the beer fridge and sports television. Chim says it’s a safe haven for men.
“In the past, guys used to have barber shops,” he explains. “But they disappeared because of unisex hairdressing.”
This means blokes have nowhere to go for advice on ordinary, everyday concerns like the havoc that shaving can wreak. As a result, Chim claims, lots of men are reduced to pinching moisturiser from their girlfriends.
Wayne Bonnici, director of Face of Man in the Strand Arcade, agrees. Face of Man is Australia’s oldest salon for men, open since 1978. Bonici says things are better than they used to be.
“Things are a lot more open now and men are much more comfortable with waxing and taking care of their skin,” Bonnici says.
But it must still be hard to get a man to have his first facial, much less have his body hair ripped out by hot wax. Bonnici says it’s often pressure from girlfriends that starts the ball rolling.
“The ones that have never had a facial don’t know what to expect. Once they have one, they realise the benefits,” he says. “It’s really about education. We tell them they’re looking after an organ, and that skin care and being aware of sun damage is as important as not smoking or eating healthy food.”
Increasingly, men are also under pressure to look better for business reasons. “When a businessman shakes hands, his hand has to be groomed,” says Bonnici. “Presentation is very important.”
Chim, whose business has become one of the largest of its kind in the world, says that grooming is such an issue that Detail for Men now runs seminars for corporations. “The reason we’re in the city is because we cater to the business market,” he says. “We can tell guys how they can get a haircut that will make them look good in front of clients, but which will also make them look cool when they go out.”
Which all sounds good in theory, but where’s the proof? To test the proposition, Where magazine sent our publisher, Tony Hutton, along to Detail for Men for a face treatment.
“It was very nice,” Tony reports, adding that he’ll happily go back. He also admitted he’d taken the opportunity to stock up on moisturiser. “The consultant looked at my skin and said I had sun damage.”
So these people clearly know what they’re talking about.
Oh, and Tony’s been glowing ever since. We barely recognise him.
This article originally appeared in Where magazine.