In­tro­duc­ing the male makeup move­ment

With the rise of male beauty blog­gers, top cos­metic com­pa­nies are tak­ing note of the lat­est trend: men in makeup. Ziyaad Bassier re­ports.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents - By Ziyaad Bassier

it’s of­fi­cial: men are wear­ing makeup. And they’re not just dab­bing a lit­tle concealer here and there af­ter their morn­ing shave. No, siree. The male species is boldly bar­ing its beauty knowl­edge, ex­per­i­ment­ing with high­lighters, bronz­ers, mas­cara and even lip­stick.

In­ci­den­tally, men wear­ing makeup isn’t en­tirely new. Way back in 30th cen­tury BC, Egyp­tian pharaohs wore black kohl on their eyes to pro­tect them­selves against the ‘ evil eye’, and in the 15th cen­tury, King Ed­ward IV and his male courtiers are said to have worn lip rouge.

In more re­cent times, late rock le­gends Prince and David Bowie caused a stir in the ’ 70s and ’ 80s with their bold and eclec­tic fa­cial styling. And let’s not for­get Jared Leto and Adam Lam­bert, who helped pioneer the ‘ guy­liner’ trend on the red car­pet.

Boys in beauty

Fast-for­ward to 2017 and we find ma­jor beauty brands adopt­ing a gen­derneu­tral ap­proach to cos­met­ics. Over the past year alone, May­belline, L’oréal Paris, Cover­girl and Milk Makeup (worn in the pic­ture on the left) have all part­nered up with a grow­ing num­ber of ‘ boy beauty in­flu­encers’ from In­sta­gram, Snapchat and Youtube. At just 17, James Charles made his­tory when he be­came Cover­girl’s first-ever male spokesper­son, ap­pear­ing in ad cam­paigns with fel­low am­bas­sadors Katy Perry and Sofía Ver­gara. Fol­low­ing in his foot­steps, 25-year-old Youtube star Manny Gu­tier­rez was quickly ap­pointed by May­belline as its first male am­bas­sador, and fronted their new mas­cara cam­paign.

L’oréal Paris was next, call­ing upon UK makeup artist Gary Thomp­son, 26, to star along­side Blake Lively and He­len Mir­ren in its #Yourstruly cam­paign ear­lier this year.

Com­bined, these men have nearly six mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers, plus thou­sands of shares and tags across Face­book and Twit­ter, mak­ing them the pi­o­neers of this new male makeup move­ment, which cel­e­brates in­clu­siv­ity, di­ver­sity and em­pow­er­ment.

Here in SA, 21-year-old Univer­sity of Cape Town stu­dent and blog­ger Bran­don Berg has been ex­per­i­ment­ing with makeup since the age of 15.

“I used to steal my mom’s or my sis­ter’s concealer and put it on be­fore I would go to the movies with friends,” he says. “As I got older, my best friend, Anthony, and I used to spend hours in my room get­ting ready be­fore go­ing club­bing: putting on foun­da­tion, us­ing dif­fer­ent face washes and mois­turis­ers, tweez­ing our eye­brows, coiffing our hair to within an inch of its life – the whole she­bang.”

Bran­don’s makeup tu­to­ri­als on Youtube have clocked over 3 000 views – and count­ing. “I think males should have just as much cos­metic recog­ni­tion as fe­males,” he says. “We also have

“I used to steal my mom’s or my sis­ter’s concealer and put it on be­fore I would go to the movies with friends.” – Bran­don Berg

faces! We get bad skin, we get bags un­der our eyes. I re­ally think the makeup in­dus­try will have to tar­get males in the fu­ture, be­cause it will be­come more nor­mal for ev­ery type of male – straight, gay, bi­sex­ual or trans­gen­der – to wear a bit of makeup. It’s the ex­tent of makeup that will dif­fer from per­son to per­son.”

Githan Coopoo, a 22-year-old jew­ellery de­signer from Cape Town, shares sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments.

He, too, dis­cov­ered the magic of makeup while get­ting ready for par­ties, but over the past two years has in­cor­po­rated makeup into his daily look. “I use makeup as a plat­form for self-ex­pres­sion,” he says. “I do be­lieve, or hope, that it’s on its way to be­ing nor­malised for men. I don’t see why makeup, as an aes­thetic en­hance­ment, should be re­stricted to women.”

Both Bran­don and Githan’s fam­ily and friends were sup­port­ive of their new (oh-so-per­fectly con­toured) en­hance­ments. Un­sur­pris­ingly though, not ev­ery­one is in favour of this grow­ing trend. Eigh­teen-year-old Jauan Durbin, who openly shares his show­stop­ping makeup looks on Twit­ter, was re­cently scolded by his mom for wear­ing makeup, with her threat­en­ing to dis­own him. He shared a screen­shot of the con­ver­sa­tion with his fol­low­ers and cap­tioned it, “Lol, this hurts. It re­ally does. But I’m go­ing to live in my truth un­til the day that I die.”

Chang­ing views

While crit­ics like Jauan’s mother con­tinue to voice their dis­ap­proval, the beauty in­dus­try’s tar­get au­di­ence – Gen­er­a­tion Z or post-mil­lenials – isn’t in­ter­ested in gen­der stereo­types.

The 20-some­things of to­day, con­nected by selfie likes and Snapchat views, are cre­at­ing their own iden­tity in fash­ion, beauty, work and love, outside of the tra­di­tional gen­der brack­ets.

In their world, makeup is not aimed ex­clu­sively at gay men, but rather at all men. Gen Z’s ap­proach to sex­u­al­ity is as fluid as its ap­proach to gen­der it­self. La­bels like ‘gay’, ‘straight’ and ‘bi’ have been ripped off and dis­carded in favour of ac­cep­tance and per­sonal free­dom.

With is­sues like #Womensmarch, #Black­lives­mat­ter, #Tran­sis­beau­ti­ful and #Lovewins dom­i­nat­ing head­lines, this emerg­ing gen­er­a­tion is send­ing a sim­ple, strong mes­sage: the doors to cer­tain op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­ter­ests and ex­pe­ri­ences won’t be closed to any­one.

In­flu­encers like Jaden Smith and Harry Styles, who both iden­tify as ‘straight’, have proudly shown off their ap­pre­ci­a­tion for lip­gloss and nail pol­ish, as well as women’s cloth­ing.

And why shouldn’t they? “Just a few years ago, men openly wear­ing makeup was un­heard of,” says Smash­box makeup artist Will Mal­herbe. “Now, makeup for men is pretty stan­dard. It’s all just part of look­ing your best. With each year that goes by, the gap be­tween male and fe­male be­comes less marginalised.”

The cur­rent stats back this up. Last year, men in the US spent more than $5 bil­lion (about R67 bil­lion) on skin­care and cos­met­ics, ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­search pub­lisher Global In­dus­try An­a­lysts. The com­pany also pre­dicts that, within the next two years, the coun­try’s male groom­ing in­dus­try will bring in over $40 bil­lion (about R540 bil­lion).

The way for­ward

The rev­o­lu­tion isn’t re­stricted to lip gloss and rouge. The fash­ion in­dus­try is also tak­ing note, with male mod­els sport­ing black lips, rosy cheeks and play­ful mo­tifs at re­cent Thom Browne, Charles Jef­frey and Burberry shows.

At the 2017 SA Menswear Fash­ion Week, all the mod­els for local de­sign­ers Alexan­dra Blank, FMBCJ and Im­print ZA strut­ted their way down the run­way with bold red lips, glit­ter-laden eye­lids and blue eye­shadow.

So, let me ask you this: what maketh the man? Is one in­stantly less mas­cu­line be­cause of the added touch of concealer or can we be­gin to lower arched eye­brows and raise an eye­brow pen­cil in sup­port and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the man un­der the flaw­less makeup?

At the end of the day, the only la­bel we should truly care about is the one we choose to buy at a store.

I don’t see why makeup, as an aes­thetic en­hance­ment, should be re­stricted to women.” – Githan Coopoo

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