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.
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.”
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