Smell good. Shave. Moisturise. Sounds like a checklist for a first date.

In fact, it’s the average British male’s defence against the credit crunch.

Job losses have already begun, but more men than ever are realising that if they spend on smartening up, they can keep the P45 at bay.

In the past year, sales of men’s toiletries are in strong growth. Deodorants, shower products and shampoo have all shot up about 10% [TNS 52w/e 18 May 2008]. Skincare has also maintained its healthy glow, posting sales of £77m, up 20% on the previous year. This equates to an average annual spend of £3.40 per man. That’s still a long way short of the fairer sex’s £20 yearly spend but further growth could be on the way as suppliers throw money at new products.

“Skincare is the biggest opportunity,” said Murray Bisschop, category strategy manager, Unilever UK health and beauty. “L’Oréal and Nivea have done a good job in creating the men’s skincare category but our products [including Lynx] need a more no-nonsense image.”

Others, however, are still targeting the metrosexual male. Boots has recently developed a No7 For Men range, which includes an anti-fatigue eye stick. Last month, Superdrug went one step further with a new make-up range for men. 

Morrisons has also got involved, launching what it claims to be the cheapest self-tanning moisturiser for men, priced at £2.99.