Makeup is no longer just for women. Gen­der­less prod­ucts are break­ing down the beauty in­dus­try’s fi­nal bar­rier.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Souzan Michael

Gen­der­less makeup is break­ing down the beauty in­dus­try’s fi­nal fron­tier.

It’s no se­cret that beauty has al­ways been fash­ion’s friend­lier, more ap­proach­able sis­ter. It’s in­clu­sive of peo­ple of all shapes and sizes, and it casts an even wider net when it comes to so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus. If you can’t af­ford a de­signer bag, a de­signer lip­stick al­lows you ac­cess to the brand at a frac­tion of the price. How­ever, is­sues of race and age re­main. And while there is still a ways to go, strides have cer­tainly been made when it comes to in­clu­siv­ity. To­day, many brands of­fer a wide range of shades that cater to dif­fer­ent skin tones. En­sur­ing a di­verse age rep­re­sen­ta­tion has been a slower process, but when Char­lotte Ram­pling and Su­san Saran­don landed cam­paigns for Nars and L’Oréal Paris, re­spec­tively, at age 69, it be­came clear the tide was be­gin­ning to turn. That brings us to gen­der, the beauty in­dus­try’s lat­est bound­ary. While men have worn makeup as far back as an­cient Egypt, it was celebri­ties like Boy Ge­orge, Prince and David Bowie who be­gan the male beauty move­ment in the ’70s and ’80s. “They were so over-the-top,” says Karen Grant, global beauty in­dus­try an­a­lyst at mar­ket re­search firm The NPD Group. “They were these su­per-styl­ized in­di­vid­u­als who were so leg­endary and fa­mous and out of reach.”

But the nee­dle started to move in the di­rec­tion of mor­tals in the fall of 2015, when M.A.C (which has al­ways said it is for all ages, races and sexes) col­lab­o­rated with model Stephanie Sey­mour’s sons, Harry and Peter Brant, on a col­lec­tion of gen­der-neu­tral prod­ucts. The broth­ers, who have been wear­ing makeup since high school, launched a sec­ond col­lab with M.A.C—which in­cluded brow gels, lip stains and eye­shad­ows—last sum­mer. And within the past year, ma­jor brands have signed lead­ing “boy beauty” so­cial me­dia in­flu­encers as their am­bas­sadors: May­belline New York tapped Manny Gu­tier­rez, Cov­er­Girl en­listed James Charles and Rim­mel London em­ployed Lewys Ball. But, to be clear, this isn’t drag. They iden­tify as male—they sim­ply en­joy do­ing, and wear­ing, makeup.

“The younger male is very open to look­ing bet­ter,” says Grant. “There is less re­sis­tance to things that can en­hance a man’s look.” And whether it’s the vlog­gers men­tioned above, who are known for wear­ing a full face of makeup—glit­ter cut

creases, sharp con­tour and enough high­lighter to light up a small vil­lage—or Hol­ly­wood ac­tors, who rely on con­cealer, bronzer and brow gel to get through a red car­pet ap­pear­ance, men ex­ist on a spec­trum in terms of how much they’ll wear. Men are not only wear­ing makeup but also us­ing the same prod­ucts as women.

The beauty in­dus­try’s re­sponse to this has been swift. There’s a move to­ward a uni­sex, or gen­der­less, ap­proach to makeup, which WWD in­sists is due to “Gen­er­a­tion Z’s dis­in­ter­est in gen­der iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.” Grant agrees. “This gen­er­a­tion is so not think­ing ‘You can’t do that,’” she says. “If you tell them they can’t do some­thing, they’ll want to do it.” But it’s not just mil­len­nial brands like Milk Makeup and Anas­ta­sia Bev­erly Hills, both of which feature men and women in their cam­paigns, that are tak­ing a gen­der-neu­tral ap­proach. Char­lotte Til­bury, the makeup artist and the brand, is known for be­ing hy­per­fem­i­nine, yet it’s clear that her new Uni­sex Healthy Glow mois­tur­izer caters to both men and women. “If the mar­ket [for uni­sex prod­ucts] were big­ger, I would have done it ear­lier,” she says, adding that she no­ticed that men were start­ing to buy her skin­care prod­ucts, like Char­lotte’s Magic Cream and Won­der­glow. “Men are just as tired, hun­gover, what­ever, as women. Yet as women, we can wake up and paint the health back into our faces. I find it un­fair that men never had that.”

Celebrity groomer Kumi Craig, who has worked with Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest names (like Justin Bieber, Drake and James Franco) for 18 years, has no­ticed a change in her clients’ at­ti­tudes. “I re­mem­ber when guys didn’t even use mois­tur­izer,” says Craig, who uses bronzer, con­cealer and a translu­cent pow­der on all of her clients. “Now they’re very in­volved.” She at­tributes much of the shift to HD cam­eras and the in­stan­ta­neous na­ture of so­cial me­dia. “You can re­ally see the lack of sleep and fly­ing on air­planes on their faces. I was work­ing with a client, who was about 65, who said: ‘Back in the day, we’d do all of this with­out any­thing on. Now I get my makeup done for a ra­dio in­ter­view.’”

Grant ac­knowl­edges that cam­eras play no small role in these evolv­ing at­ti­tudes. “We’re liv­ing in a selfie-driven world,” she says. “Guys want to look great [in pho­tos]. Younger males have been in­tro­duced to groom­ing from an early age, so the con­structs and stigma aren’t there.” Ma­cho cul­ture is cer­tainly not as prom­i­nent as it once was, and cul­tural dif­fer­ences may play a role in that shift.

When K-beauty ex­ploded in pop­u­lar­ity a cou­ple of years ago (think BB creams, dou­ble-cleans­ing and cush­ion com­pacts), it brought with it more than just in­no­va­tive prod­ucts for women; it in­tro­duced us to Asian ideals of male beauty. “Western cul­ture has al­ways po­si­tioned dif­fer­ent cul­tures as ‘other,’” says In­grid Mida, fash­ion re­search col­lec­tion co­or­di­na­tor at Ry­er­son Univer­sity in Toronto. “The dom­i­nance of a cer­tain kind of mas­culin­ity in Western cul­ture plays into that. Whereas in South Korea, it’s very com­mon for men to spend a lot of money on their skin. Now these [gen­der] bi­na­ries are fall­ing away.”

Craig adds that many of the male celebri­ties she works with pick up on the im­por­tance of beauty and groom­ing when they’re in the East. “They go to China or Korea to pro­mote films, and they re­ally no­tice that men there are groom­ing their eye­brows, get­ting fa­cials and wear­ing foun­da­tion and makeup.”

Grant pre­dicts that the beauty in­dus­try in North Amer­ica will adopt a sim­i­lar at­ti­tude, view­ing makeup as an ex­ten­sion of groom­ing, but it won’t be on the same scale. “There are trend­set­ters who are mak­ing it more ac­cept­able for men to ven­ture into this space, but I don’t think makeup is ever go­ing to be some­thing that works for the ma­jor­ity of males,” she says. As for the future of makeup, Grant be­lieves the ter­mi­nol­ogy will sim­ply change over time. “I think we won’t call it ‘makeup’ any­more. It’ll be gen­der-blurred, like the term ‘hair gel’ is. If a guy uses hair gel, we don’t think ‘Oh, that’s a girl prod­uct.’ We just think of it as hair gel.”


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