Blade dodgers

I'm blaming the hipsters, the baristas and a whole team's worth of footballers.

Everyone's noticed the burgeoning of beardiness and a mass of moustaches in Australia in recent years.

Time was when the only beards you'd see were worn by bushrangers in the movies, tramps on the ramble, sailors on shore leave, Albanians and Santa.

Time was when all men were "well shaved, helped by the efficiency of modern razors, electric or otherwise".

Time was when a man's grooming expenditure went on razor blades, some shaving soap, razor blades, anti-perspirant, aftershave and more razor blades.

Now the beard is as ubiquitous as the footballer's tattooed forearm and if a recent report is to be believed, the fuzzy fad is also having a big impact on some companies' bottom lines.

In a fascinating analysis of global fashion trends, Nicole Tyrimou of the market analyst Euromonitor International says shaving products – which have always had the highest market share in the men's grooming sector – are in danger of losing their crown.

"The 'men's toiletries' category has been catching up (to the shaving category)," Tyrimou writes. "In 2013 the two categories will be equal in size, with men's shaving expected to lose its dominance in men's grooming for the first time ever."

Gillette has been the boss of the shaving products game ever since the fantastically monikered King Camp Gillette put the safety razor into mass production 110 years ago.

In previous Man Scape blogs we've looked at the multi-blade razors made by Gillette and the other big razor names – Schick especially. They give a great close shave, but replacement blades are fiendishly expensive.

According to Tyrimou, men's realisation that shaving is costing far too much has seen cheaper brands such as Bic and subscription services such as the Dollar Shave Club take a slice of the big boys' money.

But a greater impact, she says, has come from the growth in the acceptability of unshavedness – whether general scruffiness, or a full beard.

"The desire for an unshaven look is expected to continue, especially in Western Europe where increasing unemployment coupled with stubble being in vogue will continue to damage growth of razors and blades," Tyrimou says.

She also warns of more danger for the razor companies if the trend spreads to Latin America. But, she predicts, before you know it beards will go the way of the 1970s moustache.

"Over the very long term, as with every trend, the wheel will turn and suddenly the fashion will be passé." But maybe even before then, there's a glimmer of light for shaving in this world of full-face fluff.

According to the Esquire Handbook of Style, beards can't just be left to fend for themselves. If you must grow yourself a beard, the handbook recommends that you keep it in check.

To ensure "as good a grip on machismo and gravitas as you do on an employable future", it advises the bearded men to keep everything south of a 2cm band just above the Adam's Apple cleanly shaven.

As the book says: "Stay in control of your beard and you stay in the fight."

Are you reducing your spending on razor blades or shaving products? What grooming products are you buying?