Shahid Kapur Image Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Tall and dark? Then you are not likely to be deemed handsome, going by current trends, even though India has always worshipped dark gods.

The metrosexual look is gaining popularity — and that means men are chasing fairness creams and chemical peels, thanks to the publicity to promote them.

Commenting on the Indian man's growing fascination for fair skin, Apollo Hospital senior cosmetic surgeon Anup Dhir said: "I get around 8-19 inquiries every month from men to improve their skin tone and help them look fairer".

"There are times when a man accompanying a woman client ends up taking skin-related treatments after consultation," he said.

Dark deities like Krishna and Rama are deeply embedded in the Indian psyche.

But the country has always shown a bias in favour of light skin as far as mere mortals go.

Ever since the macho look was replaced by the metrosexual look, men have started taking a greater interest in their appearance.

From visiting parlours for manicures and pedicures to spas, they are concentrating on every aspect of grooming.

And that means falling for fairness products.

"Buying fairness creams or getting regular massages, facials, manicures and pedicures done is just an indicator that today men, like women, want to pamper themselves," psychiatrist Sanjay Chugh said.

Various cosmetic brands have launched fairness creams for men and with Bollywood celebrities such as Shahid Kapoor and John Abraham endorsing them, they have become a craze.

In 2005, Emami was perhaps the first one to launch the men's fairness cream Fair and Handsome.

Two years later, the company roped in superstar Shah Rukh Khan as its brand ambassador.

This was followed by HUL's Fair and Lovely Menz Active that came in 2006 and the very next came Nivea for Men Whitening Moisturiser and Nivea for Men Multi-White Whitening Facial Foam.

The same year actor Anuj Saxena's company Elder HealthCare came out with Fair One Man Cream.

In 2009 cosmetics brand Garnier India entered men's skin care with the Men's Powerlight range that also includes face wash and moisturiser. Its marketing manager Richa Singh said the grooming habits of Indian men had evolved.