The body hair debate: Love Island Vs Poldark

The body hair debate: Love Island Vs Poldark

July 25, 2018
3 min read

As an unusual streak of good weather and high temperatures is hitting the UK this summer, more British men are going topless when relaxing in the sun and revealing their hairy or hairless chests. But could their TV preferences be influencing their grooming routines?

The Love Island effect

In 1994, journalist Mark Simpson coined the term “metrosexual” to describe the growing population of men preoccupied with their self-image. 20 years later, Simpson wrote in an article published in the Telegraph that the trend had evolved into a more extreme and body-obsessed version: the so-called “spornosexual” was born. According to Simpson spornosexuals – a portmanteau of “sports”, “porn” and “metrosexual” – are characterised not only by a hyper-athletic physique, but also by minimal, if any, body hair.

While a number of factors have contributed to the evolution of the trend, reality TV shows such as Love Island and The Only Way is Essex have undoubtedly been the driving force behind the increasing fashion for this aesthetic.


As body hair has become less fashionable for men, a number of beauty brands are launching targeted products. For instance, Nivea launched what it claimed to be the UK’s first body shaving range in March 2018. The Nivea Men Anti-irritation Body Shaving line includes a body shaving stick designed for easy use in the shower, as well as a more traditional shaving gel and an after shave body lotion. Meanwhile, there is scope for razor brands to show how their products are suitable to be used all over the body.

The Poldark effect

On the other hand, the fashion for an ultra-smooth torso is being increasingly challenged by a growing number of far more hirsute male role models, with actor Aidan Turner perhaps garnering the most attention for his performance in the BBC drama Poldark. There has been a great deal of discussion about the principal actor’s appearance, and in particular his body hair.

Credit: BBC

And even in Hollywood there have been an increasing number of men in films with chest hair, including Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Zac Efron in Baywatch the Movie.

As such, the wider prominence of a more hirsute male role model could see men turn away from high maintenance body hair removal, focusing instead on keeping hair under control. Gillette for example, offers a step by step tutorial on its website for its All Purpose Styler, with guidance on how to use the device on different areas of the body.

Jack Duckett
Jack Duckett

Jack Duckett is an Associate Director for Consumer Lifestyles Research. He specialises in reports exploring the attitudes and behaviours of different demographic groups.

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