Warning: beard catfishing is on the rise. That’s when a man sports fulsome whiskers to appear more attractive than he really is. Research by Wilkinson Sword this year found 43% of guys had grown their beard to hide unsightly features such as a baby-face, double chin and problem skin.

This shortcut to improved pulling power is yet more bad news for shave brands, who in recent years have watched value slip in the bristly face of hairy hipsters and men’s more casual approach to grooming. Razors, blades and preparations lost £23.3m this year - an alarming acceleration in decline since last year’s £4.6m loss.

“The continued relaxation of appropriate work attire means there’s less and less need for men to shave daily,” says Diana Graovac, regional segment manager for north west Europe at Wilkinson Sword owner Edgewell. “This has been a major driver in the fall of shave frequency.”

The category is suffering “unprecedented levels of disruption” warns Ian Morley, group sales director for northern Europe at Gillette owner P&G. This is down not only to changes in shaving habits but also the arrival of direct-to-consumer services such as Unilever’s Dollar Shave Club, which made its UK debut at the start of 2018.

DTC shave brands “threaten the traditional category sizes of the big retailers” says Jeremy Carson, founder of post-exercise grooming startup Fit Kit. On the plus side, he says DTC could be “a great opportunity for men’s skincare brands”.

Not that they’re in bad shape. Skincare clawed back a fair bit of value as leaders Nivea and L’Oréal slowed their declines and Bulldog’s seemingly unstoppable rise continued with value sales of an extra 17.4%.

“Men are increasingly aware of the ability of skincare to offer targeted solutions that assist common imperfections,” says Bulldog founder Simon Duffy. His brand this year added Age Defence Eye Roll-On to help reduce fine lines and puffiness.

Bulldog’s main focus recently, however, has been all things eco. Having launched bio-plastic packs in late 2017, the brand this year unveiled a razor with a bamboo handle. “We will continue to see a growing backlash against conventional plastics in personal care,” Duffy predicts.


Lynx Gold

Lynx Gold, Unilever

Lynx continued its bid to appeal to an older, more sophisticated crowd with the launch of Gold in February, the follow-up to 2017’s stylish You variant. Featuring notes of oud wood and dark vanilla, it promises to be “a modern and refined fragrance” that lasts all day. Available in body spray, antiperspirant and roll-on formats, Gold was the main focus for Lynx during 2018, supported by £6m of promotional activity. It worked: Gold secured listings in all major retailers in just 12 weeks.