Male Grooming Going Into Overdrive

Ugandan men were largely not known to take beautification processes any seriously.

While traditionally, a bride-to-be was, for instance, kept in a room and smeared with ghee to soften her skin, grooms just marched to their weddings with their everyday skin and nails. Cosmetologists, however, say that this has changed. Dennis Waigolo and Isaac Bakabulindi both say they are seeing more men seeking their services both have seven years’ experience.

They tell us about the services, previously ignored by men, being sought after more and more by the ger sex. Cosmetologist Dennis Waigolo got the shock of his life when “two boys” once walked into his salon, Didi’s Salon located at Mabirizi complex, and asked that he makes them up.

He had had interesting beautification requests from men before, requests such as styling of men’s dreadlocks, but the make-up thing was the queerest by far and just bowled him over.

“How can a man wear make-up? I couldn’t do it so, I directed them to another salon,” Waigolo recalls.

He cannot say whether their request was met at the other salon. But it likely was, as another cosmetologist, Isaac Bakabulindi of Tiner International School of Beauty, says makeup for men is readily available in Uganda and is not something that is shunned as such.

Dreadlocks, treated hair:

“We see dreadlock-wearing Rastafarians who want special styles, often preferred by women, for their hair.

“Men can be very interesting after some have had their dreadlocks repaired, they ask that we style their hair,” Waigolo, while shaking his head, says.

Top-knots and buns, which are rather feminine, are not frowned upon by these tough, and very masculine-looking, rastas. One Ugandan man, who spends most of his time in the US, was surprised that his then-new Ugandan girlfriend did not apply hair polish to her beautiful mane of hair.

“You have to take better care of yourself,” he chided her, adding, “Hair polish is good for you as it helps your hair shine.”

Clearly, some men just love their hair. Al-hajji Nasser Ntege Ssebaggala, the former mayor of Kampala, boasts of spending some good amounts of money on grooming sessions in the salon. Among the activities he spends money on is the cutting and treatment of his hair kaweke (tough coiled hair) just won’t do for him.

“I have to look good. You look at this house, don’t you do repairs to it when it ages?” he has said in a previous interview where he was asked why he felt there was need for him to go the extra mile while grooming.

Ssebaggala lovingly patted his hair during that interview. Some men do not treat their hair, but looking at it, you can tell that they demanded that a skilled, detail-oriented hairstylist works on it.

Edwin Musiime, currently hosting the Property Show on NTV, looks like one such man. His haircuts look like a protractor was used to measure and create the precise edges he wears.

Give us make-up, please!

Foundation and powder for men? Sixty-one-year-old Wilson Ssemanda would find it quite interesting that such items, for men, exist. This is because he scoffs at and ridicules his sons when he sees them applying lotion to their skins he does not think men should be engaging in any beautification process.

“Men don’t need to wear lotion,” he says and in a bid to encourage his sons to ditch their feminine mannerisms, he shows his skin off and asks: “Don’t I look alright? I have never worn skin oil or lotion, but I look good.”

Far away from the views Ssemanda holds however, some men think dabbing a bit of powder here and there is great for a man. A case in point is the two boys Waigolo talked about. Bakabulindi, who is a make-up artiste, says performing artistes and bridegrooms sometimes fancy a little make-up.

“Men wear light make-up. I often apply translucent powder and water-based foundation on them so that their faces don’t shine too much [from the oil],” explains Bakabulindi.

The make-up also serves to hide their blemishes and highlight their handsome parts. Colourless lip balm then tops off the man’s translucent-powdered and foundation-laced face.

What do you use on your skin?

Some men, going by Waigolo’s testimony, love to have some good skin.

“I had never paid attention to my skin tone but a number of men, especially those who appear on TV, have asked me what I use on my face,” an amused Waigolo relates.

And in a bid to get themselves good skin, some men have resorted to getting facials, using scrubs and face creams one very public man was even accused of having his skin bleached. Amooti, of the Amarula Family comedy outfit, was recently shown on Bukedde TV’s Kifa Nsalira, a beauty and grooming show, getting himself a facial.

Among the things he said he enjoyed about the facial were the cosmetologist’s gentle massaging and the fact that his skin would look better after the facial.

“The facial removes dead skin, making my skin softer,” the funnyman said.

Amooti’s receiving of a facial seems to underpin Bakabulindi and Waigolo’s assertions that men in the public eye are now resorting to make-up to help them look better.

Eyebrow shaping and waxing:

A hairy man is a sexy man, some women would say. But some men seem not to have heard these women say this, as Bakabulindi says that he once had a man procuring himself a waxing.

“That man did not look straight [heterosexual] though,” Bakabulindi, looking bewildered for once by a man who goes the extra grooming mile, says.

Iqbal Ahmed, a hairstylist with Aisha’s salon at Kisementi, does not skip a beat when admitting that some of their male clients ask for waxing sessions. He is, however, slightly uncomfortable with male clients who ask that their eyebrows be shaped.

True, a well-shaped eyebrow has the ability to turn a dull face into a radiant one, but going by Ahmed’s slight discomfort on mentioning men and eyebrow-shaping, he does not think that a radiant face is worth a man shaping his eyebrows. He is, therefore, quick to point out that the men who seek eyebrow-shaping services “are very few.”

Face creams and scrubs:

Scrubs remove dead skin, a process that is important in skin-softening, says Bakabulindi. While Waigolo is of the opinion that excess grooming should be left to the women, Bakabulindi is of the view that men too need to groom and scrubs and facials are good for them.

Special face creams for men, he says, do the trick.

“Men’s face creams are milder [in fragrance] and less oily than women’s,” Bakabulindi says.

Manicures and pedicures:

All the cosmetologists list haircuts, beard-trimming, facials, manicures and pedicures as the most-sought-after services by men.

“Wives once used to clip their husbands’ nails or the men did it themselves. They would buy razor blades and cut their nails in the most ragged manner. With more exposure however, they realised that their nails could better be trimmed in salons and they highly seek this service,” Bakabulindi says.

Bump-control aftershaves are also a must-use these days.

“In those days, you would find men with bumps all over their area where their beards had been removed. But today, men will not have that. You [barber] will have to use bump-control so that the men have a smooth skin.”

Why the trend:

As has been mentioned earlier, male performing artistes and public figures feel a need to look good, accounting for the increased uptake in beauticians’ services. In addition, men have been exposed to men from the West and no longer feel that it is too effeminate to wear lip balm and lotion.

Cosmetologists obviously feel that it is beneficial for men to seek their services because, they say, it improves their looks. However, cosmetologist may also be consulted on disorders such as a flaky scalp.

“A flaky scalp may be as a result of dry skin. Some hair lotion, to replace the oil lost in our hot weather, is good,” reasons Bakabulindi, highlighting the kind of help a man may receive by consulting a cosmetologist.

Source : The Observer

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