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More men try out beauty salons

February 27, 1997

By ELLEN LYON

Staff Writer

For Dr. Gerald Falke, a monthly manicure is a pat on the hands for a job well done.

"It's sort of like pampering my hands. I figure a lot of people look at my hands because what I do is sort of a hands-on profession," said Falke, a Hagerstown podiatrist.

"I think people should be kind to themselves. I consider it showing my gratitude to my hands for providing me with a good living," he said.

Falke, 59, is one of a growing number of Tri-State area men who are taking advantage of services to improve their appearance - such as hair coloring, manicures and pedicures - that used to draw only women customers.

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Local beauty salon operators report that while area men lag behind a national trend that has led to skin and hair product lines specifically designed for men, they are seeing an increase in male customers.

"That is the market to target - men," said Linda Colella, owner of the three Ace of Blades salons in the Hagerstown area.

"Men are just starting to get the courage" to try some of these grooming treatments and products, Tammy Shindle, manager of Sagittarius salon at the Venice Inn, said.

"That's the hard part, getting men not to think it's sissy," said Sharon Frey, owner of Pure Pizzazz salon on Dual Highway.

"It's a slow thing. They're catching on," Barbara Clopper, owner of Excalibur salon in Waynesboro, Pa., said.

Many male customers still feel shy about broaching the subject and rely on their stylists to suggest something like coloring their gray hair, Shindle said.

"We're the ones that need to bring it up," she said. "They want to say it but they don't feel comfortable."

Shindle, a hair stylist for 15 years, said she has about 10 regular male customers who get their hair colored.

Younger men tend to want highlights to give their hair shine and the appearance of more volume, while middle-aged and older men often want to hide the gray, she said.

"Sometimes, they just want something to blend with it, camouflage it," Shindle said.

Colella said that her male customers come in for permanents and manicures but hair coloring is not as popular.

Some men get permanents, not for curls but to give their hair more volume, Shindle said.

In the last year, Ace of Blades has started carrying two lines of men's skin and hair products - Icon by Matrix and American Crew, Colella said.

Excalibur also sells American Crew, which has an "herbal, manly scent," Clopper said.

It's easier to sell men's skin care products packaged as shaving products, she said.

But men need to pay attention to their skin, Clopper warned.

"They're going to age the same as women. Women have been taking care of their skin for years," Clopper said.

A few of Sagittarius' male customers have tried facials.

"Once they do it they're hooked," Shindle said. "Everybody needs to learn to take care of their skin."

Manicures are popular with men who work with their hands, such as doctors, she said.

Salesmen and jewelers like to get them so "their hands are presentable," Colella said. "I think it's more appealing when someone hands you something if their hands are clean."

Some men have other motives.

Clopper said she once had a roofer, whose girlfriend was going to be visiting that weekend, come in for a manicure "because he was going to be holding her hand."

Massage and wax

Some manicures and pedicures include massaging the hands and feet and dipping them in hot paraffin wax, which softens the skin, Frey said.

"It's great for people with arthritis. It actually stimulates circulation," podiatrist Falke said.

Although he has never gotten a pedicure, Falke said he would like to try it some time and has recommended it to patients.

"Massage of the foot with some kind of emollient cream is always beneficial," he said.

Men's manicures differ from women's manicures in two ways, Ace of Blades Certified Nail Technician Stephanie Mariotti said.

Men get a deeper hand massage because their hands are more muscular, and only a clear polish is used on their nails, Mariotti said.

Men from all professions request manicures. Construction workers come in to get the dirt off their hands, Mariotti said.

Sticking with tradition

But there are still some men who prefer old-fashioned barber shops.

A peppermint-striped barber's pole hangs outside Bill's Barber Shop on National Pike in Clear Spring.

"I just ask for a regular haircut," customer Dean Kretzer said.

Kretzer, 55, said he tried to "change his image" about 15 years ago but it didn't work out. He went to a salon a few times, but didn't feel comfortable.

"Up here, we're basically country folks. That's the way we were trained and raised," he said.

Kretzer said he prefers Bill's Barber Shop because it's a place for "regular guys," where they talk about cars, sports and women.

But beauty salon operators are hoping more and more men will make use of all the services they offer.

"It's out there for everybody. Everybody needs to feel good about themselves," Shindle said.

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