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'Sharper and slimmer': Reporter undergoes 'personal training' men's beauty course

Atsuhiro Kaneko, a beautician at Shiseido Co.'s "Passage Beaute" salon, offers instructions on skincare methods to Mainichi Shimbun reporter Takayuki Hakamada, in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on Dec. 24, 2019. (Mainichi/Emi Naito)

TOKYO -- The men's beauty industry is growing in Japan amid changes in trends among young generations, motivating many cosmetics firms to come up with new brands and even establish salons in which beauticians offer lectures on skincare routines. After noticing an increase in his own wrinkles, this Mainichi Shimbun reporter experienced frontline treatment to better fight them.

On the seventh floor of a building facing the main street in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district, I found the salon, decorated with a monochromatic color scheme. I entered a private room and saw my face -- red and bloating from alcohol the night before -- in a mirror measuring about 1.7 meters in diameter, placed in font of a huge window.

Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido Co. opened the "Passage Beaute" in July 2019. Men who make up some 30% of the customers can choose from three special menus offered only for guys.

I chose the "Personal Training" menu, a 90-minute course where customers can learn about skincare and scalp-treatment methods from a professional beautician for 16,500 yen.

Mainichi Shimbun reporter Takayuki Hakamada receives advice while getting a scalp massage at Shiseido Co.'s "Passage Beaute" salon in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on Dec. 24, 2019. (Mainichi/Emi Naito)

Due to my straight, stiff hair, I've had a lot of issues with hairstyling. Though I'm 39 now, I haven't changed my routine of going to a hair salon and getting a perm once every two months since my late teens. However, it was the first time I learned about skincare and scalp-treatment methods at a salon.

I had gotten a checkup of my scalp before the treatment and it was diagnosed as dry and oily. Of the approximately 10 types of shampoo they had at the salon, I was treated with the one that best suited me.

Atsuhiro Kaneko, a beautician working at the salon, told me how to shampoo my own hair at home. "In order to avoid damaging your scalp, you shouldn't scrub it too hard," he said while washing my hair. The 29-year-old added, "When you rinse your hair with water around 37 degrees Celsius, it makes it easier to remove oil from the pores."

Mainichi Shimbun reporter Takayuki Hakamada puts on a face mask at Shiseido Co.'s "Passage Beaute" salon in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on Dec. 24, 2019. (Mainichi/Emi Naito)

The beautician washed my hair from the neckline to the headline, as if massaging my scalp. I felt a tickling sensation, but it was relaxing at the same time. When I told Kaneko that I wash my hair with normal temperature tap water all year round, he said it could also damage my scalp and recommended me to stop doing so.

After rinsing, Kaneko placed a face mask soaked in toner on my face, then applied cream to treat the scalp -- which was so soothing I almost fell asleep. I was told that applying treatment after removing dirt and oil from the pores helps keep the scalp healthy and moisturized.

Following the removal of the mask, I applied serum that the salon had picked for me. I was taken by surprise how smooth and silky my skin felt -- for the first time ever. I had also gotten a checkup of my skin with a special device that took pictures and evaluated its condition.

Finally, Kaneko showed me how to dry my hair efficiently and to use wax by creating a hairstyle he chose for me. I took a peek at the mirror, and my face seemed to look sharper and slimmer than before. I learned how to care for my scalp and skin, which I had never previously considered, and it was exhilarating to experience putting on a face mask for the first time. It offered me time to forget about work and chores, and I felt refreshed.

"Passage Beaute" beautician Atsuhiro Kaneko, left, styles the hair of Mainichi Shimbun reporter Takayuki Hakamada, in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on Dec. 24, 2019. (Mainichi/Emi Naito)

Many cosmetic firms are enthusiastic about developing beauty products for men. Japan's Pola Orbis Holdings Inc. created a comprehensive brand focusing on men's makeup in September 2018, while French fashion house Chanel has launched its "Boy de Chanel" lineup -- both popular in Japan. Sales of Shiseido's BB cream for men debuted in March 2019, which can be used as both a face serum and foundation, are performing about three times better than the firm's initial expectation.

Such growth in the cosmetics industry is shaped by changes in men's beauty trends, especially among young generations. According to an online survey conducted in October 2019 by Nivea-Kao Co., which owns its grooming brand for men, the ratio of guys who use toners stood at 18% for those in their 50s, 27% for those in their 40s, 41% for those in their 30s and 45% for those in their 20s.

"It's not rare to see men in their early 20s wearing makeup such as eyeliner," said Gaku Fujimura, a 47-year-old "beauty researcher." He pointed out that it's becoming outdated to think that only women care about beauty.

More companies are likely to launch new products and expand services in the men's grooming industry, which is expected to further grow in comparison to the women's beauty industry which has expanded to a point of saturation.

(Japanese original by Takayuki Hakamada, Business News Department)

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