Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. And it seems women are very flattered by men stealing their shampoo, moisturiser and, believe it or not, hair products, in an attempt to copy a feminine beauty routine.
- More grooming tips from Man Scape's Richard Hughes
A survey for social beauty network beautyheaven.com.au found one in five men are stealing their wife's or girlfriend's products, costing women about $300 a year. Strangely, the ladies aren't that bothered
"Ninety per cent are happy for the men to be taking the stuff," Beautyheaven editor Carli Alman told Man Scape.
Alman says anything that encourages men to look better is viewed as a plus by their partners.
"It's good to keep the lady in your life happy," she says. "They like it that you want to look better for them. But it's a good idea to buy your own stuff."
Alman says the most commonly-lifted item is moisturiser. Shampoo and bodywash are frequently borrowed, too – not surprisingly, since they're usually sitting in the shower caddy with a great big 'Please Use Me' sign on them (well, that's the way men read it).
Some men are even letting their curiosity get the better of them and experimenting with leg wax, eyeliner and hair spray.
Slow on the uptake
Men's knowledge and understanding of products such as moisturiser - and why we need them - has grown in recent years. We know we should use this stuff, which explains why moisturiser tops the list of 'stolen' goods. We're a bit slower on the uptake when it comes to exactly what products to buy ourselves.
There's ignorance and then there's indolence. According to the Beautyheaven survey, a quarter of men don't know what to buy and a third simply can't be bothered (but want to use the products if they're 'available').
But maybe women are stunting their man's personal growth? Research reveals that a third of women have bought a women's beauty product for him.
"Men seem reluctant to spend their own money on grooming products," Alman says. "They're happy to let the females do all the beauty shopping."
The general message from the survey, Alman says, is that women think it's OK for men to look after themselves. It's not, generally, seen as unmanly to look or smell nice.
"Women think their man looks better for it, but she wants you to buy your own stuff," Alman says. So what sorts of stuff should you be buying?
If you're not sure what it is you need to get, the team at Beautyheaven has come up with some men-friendly alternative products:
1.) Do you steal her face wash? Use Molton Brown Deep-Clean Mineral Ions Facewash instead.
2.) If you're nabbing some floral-scented body wash, you might prefer Lab Series Active Body Wash.
3.) Using her favourite facial moisturiser, you could try Clinique for Men Anti-Age Moisturiser.
4.) If you're sneaking some of her shampoo, use the double-duty TONI&GUY Hair Meet Wardrobe 2 in 1 Anti-dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner.
5.) If you're trying to use her hair spray to style your hair, try LYNX Messy Look Reworkable Paste.
As Alman says: "Men want to use these products, and it's a good thing that they do, but they may need to use more manly versions – ones with a scent, for instance, that has more masculine overtones."
As British couturier Hardy Amies wrote 50 years ago, in his wonderful ABC of Men's Fashion: "I do not think there exists a woman who does not like a man to smell nice; by nice she means a smell which is as far removed as possible from the kind of scent she uses herself."
The moral of the story is that by now, you should be buying it yourself, and for yourself.
Do you beg, borrow and steal? Go your own way? Or does a bar of generic soap still do the job?