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Injection of interest in beauty industry as men turn to ‘Brotox’

Injections of Botox go directly into the face muscles and work for approximately six months Creative Commons
Injections of Botox go directly into the face muscles and work for approximately six months
  • Males want ‘poker face’ over Zoom calls
  • Mubadala invests in South Korean Botox maker
  • Beauty and personal care on rise in Gulf

Botox injections are becoming increasingly commonplace among men in the business world, but could they really prove the difference in securing that big, career-defining deal?

It may sound far fetched but businessmen in the Middle East are turning to botulinum toxin type A, as the pressure to look good in the “Zoom Boom” era continues to gather pace.

Harley Street plastic surgeon Dr Maurizio Viel, who opened the Cornerstone Clinic in Dubai earlier this year, says the number of male Botox patients is growing fast.

Part of the demand for what has jokingly been referred to as “Brotox” is due to some businessmen wanting a “poker face” when driving a hard negotiation.

“We know of a patient who used it when he created a company takeover so his opponents couldn’t read his expressions,” revealed Viel, who operates out of a space within Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina.

Practicing as a plastic surgeon on Harley Street, London since 1990, Viel is recognised as one of the world’s leading plastic surgeons and beauty specialists. 

“Botox has now become a mainstream treatment for both men and women,” he told AGBI. “The majority is still women, but the market for men is growing too.

“Botox became even more acceptable during Covid days when Zoom was the only form of communication.

“Never had so many people spent so much time staring at themselves on their computers and large PCs.

“Previously when people had face-to-face meetings they had very little self-awareness of that they looked like when they spoke or expressed themselves.

“When we look in the mirror our face tends to be in a state of rest. When we speak on Zoom we are far more expressive, and you can see wrinkles, frowns and expressions that we might not like.

“People who had previously never considered Botox definitely started using it. It definitely increased the marketplace for clients.”

Dr Charles Galanis, who operates a clinic in Beverly Hills, California, and is a visiting doctor for CosmeSurge in Dubai, also said that Botox, fillers and liposuction in particular have dominated the Dubai market since the pandemic.

“With the growing beauty demands of Dubai residents, the industry will only continue to advance in the region,” Galanis said.

The increasing appetite for Botox was enough to convince Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company to join a group of Asian companies to acquire nearly half of the stake in South Korean Botox maker Hugel from Bain Capital last year.

The sovereign wealth fund was part of a consortium led by Singapore-based healthcare investment firm CBC Group in a transaction estimated to cost $1.5 billion. At the time, Hugel had a market capitalisation of $2.5 billion.

Viel’s comments come as recent figures from Euromonitor International showed that per capita spend on beauty and personal care is on the rise in the Gulf, with the UAE leading the way with $229, followed by Saudi Arabia with $164.

Analysts said fragrances accounts for the largest share of the sector in Saudi, at $1.56 billion in 2022, up by four percent from $1.49 billion in 2021. This is followed by haircare ($1.01 billion in 2022), skincare ($738 million), colour cosmetics ($641 million), and men’s grooming ($542 million).

The total Saudi market of $5.5 billion in 2022 represents a 2.6 percent increase over 2021.

Male aesthetic treatments have risen hugely in recent years with statistics from The Aesthetics Society showing the number of non-invasive cosmetic procedures on men increased by 20 percent during 2018 and 2019.

In the US, Botox was reported as the most popular treatment for men with a 400 percent increase from 2000.

Person, Human, Performer
Joe Jonas, the American singer, songwriter and actor, revealed he began using Botox when he started to see frown lines

Singer Joe Jonas recently opened up about getting injections to improve his frown lines and reduce a scar between his eyebrows and said there should not be any shame in getting work done.

According to Viel, male clients have grown from 10 percent when he first started his practice in London to about 30 percent of patients, with men aged between 30-60 years old most commonly seen in the waiting room. 

“Some patients have younger wives or girlfriends and want to look younger,” he said.

“However, there are many men who are now moisturising their skin, going to the gym regularly, taking supplements and taking great care of themselves. Botox is now part of their wellness regime.”

Many male patients also have Botox injections in their armpits to help with the issue of oversweating while they are also recognised by the NHS as a relief for migraines.

So could Botox become as commonplace as a haircut as part of a regular grooming and wellness routine?

The answer, according to Viel, is a resounding yes.

“There is always a little vanity in men and women,” he said.

“When people look youthful like Tom Cruise who is almost 60 and Jennifer Lopez who is 52, many people also want to look like a better version of themselves.

“Three decades ago Botox was so expensive it was [only] available for the rich and famous but now it is much more available to all.”

In Dubai Botox treatments should cost between AED1400–2000 ($381 – $544) on average, depending on the number of units used.

“Anything around AED500 is not correct – this means that the products are fake, or the practitioner is diluting the product,” Viel said.

“Botox should last on average three months. We always recommend seeing doctors who have a proper business and trade licence.”

Person, Human, Suit
Dr Maurizio Viel

According to a report by Persistence Market Research, the global market for men’s grooming products could grow by eight percent per annum until 2031, to be worth nearly $100 billion.

Another gap in the market may be home services. If male users are shy, they can get beauty treatments to come directly to their residence.

Nitesh Agarwal, regional head of the Middle East for Urban Company, Asia’s largest home services marketplace, does not offer Botox but said it has seen a rise in male clients using grooming and at-home beauty services in the UAE.

“That is a growing market, especially post-Covid,” Agarwal said.

“In our Indian market men’s grooming used to be a sub 10,000 haircuts a month category for us back in 2020. Within a matter of six months it went to 200,000 deliveries a month, but we saw similar uptake in men’s grooming [in the UAE] post-Covid,” he said.

Turn that frown upside down

  • What is Botox? Botox is a neurotoxin (botulinum toxin type A) that is safe for injection directly into a muscle in very small quantities. A skincare staple for many, Botox has grown massively in popularity and was approved over 20 years ago by the FDA. 
  • How does it work? Botox blocks the neurotransmitters that contract muscles associated with various facial expressions, thereby freezing the area to prevent wrinkles from forming or developing further. Botox is not a permanent fix and slowly your body will break it down and normal muscular function will return. 
  • Who needs Botox? Anyone over the age of 18 can have Botox, however many start the treatment in their mid to late twenties as a preventative measure, or early thirties as they start to notice newly formed wrinkles. Although commonly known for and used as a cosmetic treatment, Botox can be used to treat teeth grinding, uncontrolled blinking, lazy eye, excess sweating and migraines. As collagen levels start to decline around the age of 25 there is little advantage to doing it any earlier, unless for a medical reason. 
  • How long does it take? Botox is a quick and straightforward aesthetic treatment, taking a matter of minutes with no recovery period. The results then last for up to six months, but results will differ from person to person.