Shaving: the $59 Billion Per Year Business of Cutting Hair

As it turns out, men don’t like to get old. The idea of Clint Eastwood’s gritty face with a cigarette, riding off into the sunset to the great beyond is no longer as appealing as it once was. The old cowboy image has faded, replaced with a newfound quest for youthful vigor. Men are no exception to the rule; they feel the pains and pressures of aging the same as women.

The dating scene complicates things further, creating a need for men to dress well and groom themselves properly in order to remain attractive to women. That’s why the men’s grooming industry has been growing by about 8-percent per year.

Companies like Dove are increasingly marketing to men with creams and body washes designed to moisturize. Bolstering this growing trend are websites like the Art of Manliness and Esquire, both of which routinely offer fashion advice for the man’s man. A way to “shave like your father” did, etc.

The business is growing among high and low end retailers. There is definitely room for disrupting the razors locked up in a case model that currently dominates the retail atmosphere. How are the makers of toiletries selling to the men of the world?


Facial hair has seemed to make a comeback in the media, with many men donning a five o’clock shadow or a scruffy face over the clean shaven look. The classic Don Draper style isn’t lost though, leaving plenty of room for high-end retailers to sell razors and creams designed to moisturize the face. The bearded characters are tough and rugged, like King Leonidas. Ron Swanson, the dry-humored manly man from Parks and Recreation, brings mustaches back into style with a thick head of full hair.


The Internet has developed a kind of fascination with beards and mustaches. There are shaving subreddits and blogs devoted to teaching men how to shave and recommending products to groom. Bear and mustache contests challenge men to grow their facial hair and show it off competitively. Results are posted to forums and given accolades on YouTube.

Fan art of characters depicts what legendary game and movie characters would look like with beards. These trends become viral, making facial hair a part of popular culture.

Cross Promotion

The beard and mustache trend is not limited to facial hair alone. How often have you seen pictures of someone holding a fake plastic mustache beneath their nose, or driving around with a mustache sticker affixed to the hood of their car? The trend of facial hair has become a kind of status symbol that oozes retrograde cool.

The facial hair revolution might not fund an entire industry, but there is definitely room for an upscale experience in the everyday hum drum of shaving. Most men might say they wouldn’t buy products for themselves, but men also judge the merit of something based on the experience. Present a man with a well-designed razor that gives a comfortable shave and he’ll be a customer for life. The question is who the next provider to break the model will be.

About Shawn Hartley

Creative technologist by day. VP at Corporate 3 Design in Omaha. Proud father and husband.