WHO’S A PRETTY BOY?
Men are catching on that a little make-up can make a big difference – but for blokes, subtlety beats statements. Michael Hennegan gets out the bronzer
When Johnny Depp turned up at the premiere of his latest film, The Lone Ranger, recently, he looked a little, well, polished. The signature tinted glasses were there, so was the pinstripe suit (Ralph Lauren) and dodgy jewellery. What was also apparent, though, was the full face of maquillage.
“Anyone who works in TV or film knows the importance of powder in front of the camera,” says Terry Barber, a director of make-up artistry at Mac, but Depp had taken it a step further, seemingly wearing concealer, matt powder and bronzer contoured around the cheeks. And who can blame him: he’s not bad looking for a fella of 50, but wearing a bit of make-up is like having your own personal Instagram filter.
He’s not the only one getting in on the act. September will see the launch of TomFord’s grooming range for men. “I don’t think it’s ever been done properly,” Ford says. “You need a good base, a cleanser, a moisturiser, something to deep-cleanse your face, and there is a bronzer and a cover stick. A lot of men I know steal a little bit of their wife’s foundation if they have a blemish, or even if they were out late. It’s time men stopped being embarrassed about it.”
But men have to be careful, says Barber, “It’s fine if you look like Bowie, but most of us don’t.”
It seems that, with men and make-up, you either do or you don’t. “I don’t wear make-up,” says the model Oliver Cheshire. “I use a L’Oréal Men Expert eye roller and moisturiser and that’s it. I think, to be a modern-day man, you want to be groomed. You have to look after yourself, but don’t be over-groomed. It’s not a good look.”
Even those who do use, don’t like to say the words. “I wouldn’t necessarily call it make-up,” says Ford. “Yes, today I have on bronzer and some concealer around the sides of my nose, because as you get older you have broken capillaries there. So why not cover that up? It’s easy.”
It’s not all about vanity, however. It can also help you in the workplace. “Statistics show that men’s chances of promotion drop considerably when signs of ageing show and when appearance is poor,” says Richard Hawkins, the director of education and development at Guerlain (whose Terracotta pour Homme was one of the first men’s cosmetic products).
“It’s about looking your best,” says the bag designer Jack French. “I’m forever seeing men in the gym with make-up in their washbags. No matter what industry you work in, it makes such a difference to look well rested, and sometimes you need a little help.” Or, as the British reality TV star Ollie Locke says, “I worked in nightclubs for years, and when you’re doing six nights out in a row, you have to have something to make you look better. Everyone wants to look the best they can. It’s just common sense.”
So let’s stop pretending you’re not interested, because you are. The global market for men’s grooming products is worth $26 billion, according to Euromonitor. The mood in men’s make-up is all about the no make-up look. In the flesh, Ford looks glowing and fresh, but not made up. “Men are still men and are really only attracted to products that can’t be seen, but improve discreetly: healthy glow moisturisers, concealers, bronzers,” says Hawkins.
I tried Dr Hauschka Pure Care Cover Stick in 03 on a recent night out (purely for journalistic purposes) and got several compliments as to how “fresh” I looked.
It takes a strong man to march into the beauty hall and ask for advice, so if that’s too much, you could opt for a tan instead. “I’ve seen a 50 per cent increase in male customers – bridegrooms, actors, male models,” says the celebrity tanner James Read. “Their schedules are backto-back, so they really need something to help them look fresh.” And we’re not talking fake-looking tangerine either. “Guys like a light layer for the face, it can just give you a great glow.” Be careful, though, fake tan can be tricky with stubble (Read recommends using a fine spray that gets between your whiskers and giving your beard a careful wipe after application).
Attitudes to grooming are definitely changing, and sometimes for the most primitive of reasons. As Locke says, “If you want to be a lad about it, if you look better, the girls will like you more. It’s that simple.” Well, quite.