The New Normal: Dissecting the Male Ideal

TEXT: Alexander Sauve 

Similar to the female standards of beauty, the male ideal is nearly impossible to achieve and maintain. It’s a standard that continually evolves and is driven by the media and entertainment industry. With Pride month well underway, Novella takes a look at the emerging new standards of male beauty and we find that one size does not necessarily fit all.

1960s: Liberated and Outrageously Sexy

The 1960s was a decade of significant cultural and political upheaval. Before the gay liberation movement, it was absolutely imperative to “pass” as heterosexual. After the Stonewall Riots of 1969, coming out became an act of defiance against the anti-gay establishment. Men in greater numbers would break free from the traditional clean-shaven, perfectly quaffed and overly conservative mold of the ’50s. By the early 1970s, gay men found inspiration in uber-masculine male stereotypes — the lumberjack, the cowboy, the biker, and the construction worker would become the epitome of the masculine ideal.

1970s: A decade of Decadence

In the era of Studio 54 and Bowie and Warhol, a period of decadence and self-expression rolled in. Although the uber-masculine ideal was in full swing, many gay men would begin to defy old-school gender binaries by experimenting with makeup, tight clothes, and longer hairstyles. The look was androgynous, young, and free-spirited. The underground Drag Ball culture of New York was gaining popularity and would eventually become synonymous with the worldwide LGBT community.

1980s: The Athletic Ideal

As the fitness models exercised, sweated, and posed in various states of undress in Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 smash hit Physical, the athletic male ideal was born. Men were muscular, athletic, and tanned to a leathery golden crust. Essentially the “All-American Look” of the 1980s fitness craze would have a tremendous influence on male beauty, fashion, and grooming ideals. A body that is fit, healthy, and lean remains the most sought after body type for both men and women alike.

1990s: The Era of the Supermodel

Arguably the last generation of the true supermodel-models Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss was the envy of every young woman and gay man in the 1990s. But a crop of top male models — Marcus Schenkenberg, Mark Vanderloo, and Tyson Beckford — would set the standard of male beauty in the era of perfection. With their chiseled features and tall and well-defined physiques, these guys were the new epitome of the masculine ideal.

Early 2000’s: The Metrosexual Man

By the early 2000s, we saw an increase of confident and stylish men taking greater pride in their appearance. In this era, men enjoyed high-quality grooming products, designer threads, and perfectly styled hair. The metrosexual is usually found in urban jungles where grooming and shopping is easy. Most often heterosexual, these stylish and well-groomed men put some of their gay counterparts to shame.

2010: The Casual Hipster

In many ways, the hipster would set a new standard for male grooming and style. From full and thick beards to plaid shirts and oversized frames, their casual and uber-sexy style is one of the most sought after styles for millennials. Noted to be somewhat overly trendy, the hipster loves all things organic, distinctive, and individual. Unfortunately, the individuality thing only goes so far, since the term ‘hipster’ goes as far back as the 1940s and saw an reemergence with a different meaning in the 1990s.

Today: The Bearded Beauty

Today it’s all about lumberjack. The new male archetype is bearded, uber-masculine, and is good with an axe (probably not really though). An ode to the lumbersexual and anti-establishment of the 1960s and 70s, beards give a rugged and enigmatic appearance to even the prettiest of male faces. Think Ryan Reynolds in The Amityville Horror (2005), without the crazy.

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Finding Beauty in the Beast: A Guide to Men’s Grooming

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 TEXT: Alexander Sauve

Listen up guys: If you think grooming starts and ends with a simple haircut, you’re missing out big time. Promising to pamper the beast within you without sacrificing your masculinity, these guy-friendly salons offer a little something more than just your simple cut-and-go. From cool shaves and classic retro cuts to trend setting styles, these guy focused barbers and groomers are a cut above of the rest.

Reminiscent of barbershops of the 1940’s but with a modern twist, Urban Philosophy Men’s Grooming promises a luxurious experience. Client favorites in this gentlemen’s haven include Clipper Cut (25$), a retro clip with modern flares, UP Men’s (40$), a classic against the grain straight razor shave, and Mustache and Beard Trim (15$), the standard. With over 18 years of experience, owner Elena Joukova knows a thing or two about male grooming. For Joukova and her team of all female barbers, being in the barber business is all about the client: “We are here for our clients’ needs; from haircuts with head massage and ear and nose wax removal,  to the ultimate barber experience — a complimentary shoeshine. Come on guys, it certainly doesn’t get better than that, now does it?”


If you thought about grooming, waxing, or just plain relaxing, XY Lounge (465 Church St, 2nd floor, Toronto, ON) is your best bet for an unforgettable experience. From one of a kind facial and body treatments and beard and fur care to waxing and massage services, this full-service grooming lounge has you covered from the top of your head to the pride of your man-zone. For Robb Gorman, the owner, educator, and certified esthetician, success comes down to fully understanding the needs and wants of his clients in a largely under represented market: “Men are still dealing with the stereotype that views grooming as not masculine. That has changed dramatically in the last few years. My passion is my clients and I encourage them to embrace themselves.” And you can trust Gorman to know what he’s talking about — XY recently celebrated its fourth anniversary and remains a strong force in the industry.

Beyond a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere, XY offers unique services for all your grooming needs. The Tighty-Whitey (55$) offers a little something for the brave — “cheeks, crack, perineum, groin, and bro-fro taming”. The XY Trinity (55$) is there to help remove those unruly brows and nose and ear whiskers. And the always-surprising Just Crack — I will let you ponder over that for a minute — (55$) will have you smooth sailing. For the ultimate “‘fro taming”, the Half Bro (65$) and Half Bro-zilian are among the most popular at XY — it’s a fun and easy way to express yourself where it sometimes counts the most.

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Quality service and knowledgeable rockstar staff are the constant at Mankind’s three utterly cool locations (477 Richmond St E, 212 Eglinton East Unit 1, and 1398 Queen St W). For the beast in you, the Bundle ($90) includes the Alpha Male for ‘hella good hair,’ and the Smooth Hand Luke for swoon worthy clean and buffed nails. And, by the way guys, women notice these things. And for the man to whom his grooming routine is no laughing matter, Mankind also offers full service treatments — hair, hand/nails, waxing, and brows — such as the appropriately named Leader of the Pack (220$) and Fit for a King (90$).

For owner Anka Miron, the success of Mankind isn’t about the haircut — it’s about the experience: “We take our time. If the client wants a full hour, the client gets a full hour.” For Anka and his team, it’s about bonding with their clients because grooming is more than just styling; it’s about a close and trusting relationship. “In a sense, we become their therapists!” she says jokingly.

After launching a successful men’s lifestyle flagship store in Toronto, the Men’s Room (465 Church St.) quickly expanded to Montreal and Chicago, a considerable accomplishment for a team who started their retail, barber, and spa business only two years ago in 2014. For owners Francis Gaudreault and Stephen Palmer, the driving force behind their successful businesses is the incredible sense of accomplishment derived from long hours and good work ethic. “Watching our store go from a concept on paper to our first actual store then to multiple locations, all the while watching our stores integrate into the community provides an incredible sense of pride,” says Gaudreault.

The classic men’s Cut and Wash ($22) and Beard Trim ($15) are the most popular services offered at the Men’s Room. Other services include the boot camp worthy Straight Razor Face and Head ($55), and the classic Head Buzz ($15). Men’s spa packages and grooming combos are also available for the guy who is prepping for his next adventure. For the lumberjack set, the Men’s Room also carries high quality Canadian beard and shaving brands including Urban Beard ($10.99-$185), Rebel’s Refinery ($9.99-$59.99) and Crown Shaving Co. ($19.99-69.99). The team at the Men’s Room has created the ultimate dude retreat and can clip with the best of them.

Men are paying attention to their appearance more than ever before; they want to look better, feel better, and to look younger longer. And they are going to great lengths and expenses to achieve the perfect look. Go ahead, look around — the guy next to you has his groom on. You probably should too. 

Pretty Boys: Redefining the Male Aesthetic

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Photo Credit: POPSURGAR

TEXT: Alexander Sauve

Fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration and breakouts–the majority of skincare issues men face is beyond frustrating. Gone are the days of simply rolling out of bed, stepping into the shower, getting dressed and being out the door in 15 minutes. Today’s modern guy rocks everything from facial toners and cleansers to masks and moisturizers all targeted toward his specific skincare needs.

With the male grooming industry quickly gaining momentum, men in greater numbers are jumping on the next big trend in male grooming–cosmetics for men, or corrective skincare, as its known some circles. Cosmetics have always been marketed towards women, worn by women, and for the most part, only by women. But with fashion and beauty insiders continually challenging beauty and gender norms, so are the norms of who is wearing makeup.

Believe or not, the trend of men wearing guy-liner isn’t going anywhere. In fact, there are cosmetics brands devoted exclusively to the corrective skincare needs of the appearance conscious male. Similar to the beauty products marketed towards women, these brands claim to cover pimples, hide under-eye circles, and even out skin tone to make you look alert when you’re essentially dead tired, partied out or just plain hung-over.

According to statistics released by Euromonitor International, male consumers spent over five billion on grooming products last year alone, over half of this amount went into cosmetics and skincare. Although men’s grooming sales were affected by a three percent decline in men’s shaving due to the rise in popularity of beards and mustaches. The male grooming industry continues to remain full of diverse products and is expected to bring 21 billion in revenue in 2016.

High profile fashion designers including Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs have released cosmetic lines devoted exclusively to the male consumer. While MAC cosmetics have recently announced its new brand ambassadors–the sons of supermodel Stephanie Seymour and business mogul Peter Brant.

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Photo Credit: POPSUGAR

Harry and Peter Brant have collaborated on a collection for the modern day man. The Brant Brothers collection from MAC offers a full-range of cosmetics for your various grooming needs. The cosmetic line includes eye shadows offered in universal neutral tones ($33), gel cremes for unruly brows ($17), sculpting crèmes to contour the face ($33) and various brushes to complete your picture perfect look ($21-$43).

Tom Ford’s name is synonymous with clean lines and a well-defined male aesthetic appreciated by both men and women alike. Ford’s new line of grooming products made exclusively for men does not disappoint. The collection includes old skincare favorites such as cleansers, toners, moisturizers and serums, but also includes a concealer to camouflage minor skin imperfections ($40), a Bronzing Gel for that perfect summer look ($48), and for those brows a Brow Gelcomb ($45). Ford’s line also plays it safe with respect to marketing and packaging, which will appeal to even the most conservative of male consumers.

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Marc Jacobs Boy tested, Girl Approved offers a full range of cosmetics including mascaras, concealers, eye shadows, nail polishes, a brow mousse, and isn’t entirely meant to be shared between the sexes. In a recent interview with New York Magazine, Jacobs was quick to point out that any beauty or grooming product can essentially be unisex. “I believe that anything can be for a man or women…we live in a world where I see guys walking around with makeup and girls walking around in boys clothes. All that matters is that you’re happy.”

Always a sucker for a fabulous new product, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Marc Jacobs Remedy Concealer Pen ($47). This lightweight concealer promises to balance, brighten and correct the signs of aging.  I must admit I was rather giddy to try my new purchase. The concealer glides on smoothly while it brightens the skin after application. Coverage stays put all day and gives a soft appearance to the face after use. Jacobs Remedy Concealer Pen can be found exclusively online and at Sephora retailers.

For guys considering a little camouflage but are still somewhat apprehensive, don’t be. I started to wear makeup as teenager due to terrible acne breakouts, but was amazed at what cosmetics could do not only for the overall appearance of my complexion but for my confidence as well. Nevertheless, like anything else, applying makeup correctly, choosing the right shade, finding what works and what doesn’t, takes a wee bit of practice. But its totally worth the effort.

From sculpting the perfect male physiques, to spending a small fortune on grooming, clothes and toiletries–men have never been so preoccupied with their appearance. We are currently in an age where the male aesthetic is celebrated with no indication of slowing down. If you have problem skin, or simply want to look better–corrective skincare may be the answer for you.  

On Our Radar: Man Kind Grooming

With her third location now open in Parkdale, located at Queen Street West and O’Hara Avenue, Anka Miron’s grooming studio for men, Mankind, is a new welcomed neighbour in the growing area. The “Proudly Parkdale” sticker from the Parkdale BIA shines in the window under the signature orange gentleman above her door.

“It’s never happened before where we open and we have business owners from around us walk in and welcome us to the neighbourhood and congratulating us,” Miron gushes. “Even saying, ‘wow, you are here! We have been waiting’. I love the community here. It is so friendly.”

Miron’s other locations are at Richmond Street West and Brandt St, which has been open for five years, as well as uptown at Eglinton Avenue East by Mount Pleasant Road, which has been there for three years.

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“It’s interesting how people react after each opening,” she laughs, when asked about further expansion plans for her brand. “After the first, everyone is so excited about something new, and doesn’t ask about the second. Then when the second opens, people are impressed your business is going up but nobody asks about the third. Once the third is open though, everyone is asking about the fourth. I mean, I like having babies, but I don’t know how many! I need a little recovery.”

When the opportunity knocked on her door to open the Queen Street West store, it was too good to pass up. Originally, Miron was looking at Queen Street East but she hadn’t committed to it just yet. When the opportunity for the Queen Street West space opened, she didn’t want to think twice about it.

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“I wanted to mimic the old style of barbershop, with the chandelier and the accent pieces. “Mankind covers head to toe. The evolution of barbershops has come to this and differentiates us from the standard shop. We have implemented the aesthetics and anything that has to do with overall hygiene, like manicures and pedicures. It brings the shop to a trendier look, but also covering the basics of men’s grooming.”

Mankind offers services such as manicures, pedicures, facials, hot stone massages and waxing, on top of all the barbershop services it provides, like straight razor shaves. Each member of Miron’s staff is hand selected by her, based not only on their high level of skill, but on their personality and whether or not she believes they will fit into one particular store in the three very different demographics of Toronto.

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“We present our products through education. I like my staff to be the educators of our clients and that way, they can guide them in their decision,” Miron explains, on why she chooses certain products for her stores. “We have a long relationship with American Crew and our clients have a say in the variety we bring into the store, so we can support them as much as they support us. It’s a constant dialogue between one another, which creates that bond and lasting relationship.”

The most popular service at Mankind is Alpha Male, an ultimate bliss package that includes haircut and style with shampoo and conditioning treatment, scalp massage, paraffin hand wax with hand massage and hot towel with facial toner. As well, the package for the men’s side of the wedding party is a client favourite, where the guys get to come in and get ready together in a fun and relaxed setting.

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The launch party for the third store in Parkdale will be in June, so be sure to keep up with Anka Miron and Mankind on at @mankindtoronto on Instagram and @mankindstudio Twitter.