Is make-up for men mov­ing into the main­stream? Panna Mun­yal finds out

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Is make-up for men mov­ing into the main­stream?

When Chanel launches a foun­da­tion, lip balm and eye­brow pen­cil as part of a new col­lec­tion en­ti­tled Boy de Chanel, you know things in the make-up-for­men arena are get­ting se­ri­ous. Again. Be­cause, as it turns out, our fore­fa­thers were just as fond of a berry-stained lip and kohl-rimmed eye as our fore­moth­ers were.

Some­where along the way, per­cep­tions of makeup shifted dra­mat­i­cally so that by the early 20th cen­tury, the only men don­ning make-up were play­ers per­form­ing women’s parts in the the­atre. Mean­while, young girls from the West pinched their cheeks to put colour in them in­stead of risk­ing their rep­u­ta­tions by ap­ply­ing a touch of risqué rouge. Cin­ema can be cred­ited for mak­ing make-up main­stream again, as both male and fe­male ac­tors looked to cos­met­ics to make their skin ap­pear blem­ish-free on cam­era. Fash­ion run­ways were quick to fol­low, and even though male mod­els only re­ally rose to promi­nence in the past decade, they did so with grease­paint firmly in place.

But is your reg­u­lar guy re­ally ready to em­brace this new trend? Who is wear­ing make-up in the 21st cen­tury? “A spec­trum of men,” ac­cord­ing to celebrity make-up artist Char­lotte Til­bury, “from city slick­ers to ath­letes. Men are aware of the trans­for­ma­tive, youth-boost­ing pow­ers make-up has for women – and they want to ex­pe­ri­ence that, too. From hid­ing [tiredness] to sim­ply be­ing an in­stant pick-me-up, you can never tell that they’re wear­ing any with the right prod­ucts. It’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar for men to take much bet­ter care of their skin, and to in­vest in lux­u­ri­ous prod­ucts. I am for­ever hear­ing sto­ries of men steal­ing their girl­friend’s Char­lotte Til­bury Magic Cream,” she says.

Of course, men have am­ple choice when it comes to prod­ucts specif­i­cally cre­ated for their skin types. With a thicker epi­der­mis, larger pores and more ac­tive se­ba­ceous glands, they have their own groom­ing and cos­metic needs. Higher lev­els of testos­terone not only re­sult in in­creased hair growth, but can also cause acne, while reg­u­lar shav­ing makes the skin sen­si­tive and prone to break-outs. And brands are for­mu­lat­ing their of­fer­ings to re­flect this. DTRT’s Boys Be Bold BB cream, for ex­am­ple, has fine par­ti­cles and a non­sticky for­mula for those who per­spire ex­ces­sively, while Më­naji’s pop­u­lar Camo con­cealer is de­signed to with­stand the higher oil pro­duc­tion of men’s skin, and comes der­ma­tol­o­gist-rec­om­mended for use on acne and ir­ri­tated or sen­si­tive skin.

Nonethe­less, opin­ion con­tin­ues to be di­vided when it comes to make-up for men and how ac­cept­able it is these days. Ac­cord­ing to Ryan Sad­dik, re­gional man­ager for the Mid­dle East and Africa at Foreo, for in­stance: “Men are more com­fort­able now with skin­care; ev­ery­body wants to look, and feel their best. But there is still a long way to go when it comes to the stigma of men and make-up.”

Foreo fo­cuses on care rather than cos­metic prod­ucts, and has a num­ber of male-cen­tric skin­care of­fer­ings, such as the Luna 2: a three-in-one sil­i­cone fa­cial brush for pre-shav­ing, which re­moves dirt from pores and ex­fo­li­ates to give a smoother shave. “Var­i­ous stud­ies and re­search have shown that skin con­fi­dence leads to an in­crease in self-con­fi­dence, [so] we fo­cus on the real chal­lenges many men face within their groom­ing rou­tines, such as ex­cess oil, shav­ing rashes and re­duc­tion of in­grown hairs,” says Sad­dik.

On the other hand, Me­nat El Abd, re­gional artist at Ben­e­fit Cos­met­ics, says: “We’ve def­i­nitely ob­served some changes: more and more men now openly ad­mit to us­ing con­cealer and eye­brow prod­ucts as part of their groom­ing rou­tines. It is still rare to see male clients spon­ta­neously com­ing up to the counter, but it is not that rare to see women buy­ing make-up prod­ucts for their hus­bands.”

For men who are new to the game, El Abd, says: “I would rec­om­mend start­ing with prod­ucts that naturally en­hance your fea­tures, such as a bright­en­ing con­cealer match­ing your skin tone to erase dark cir­cles or blem­ishes, a lip balm and def­i­nitely eye­brow prod­ucts. Eye­brows are the frame of the face and they make such a dif­fer­ence.”

Ben­e­fit of­fers a Goof Proof Brow Pen­cil, which helps fill and shape the brows, and the ef­fects of which can be locked in with its 24-Hour Brow Set­ter trans­par­ent gel. “There are re­ally no rules with make-up. If you are feel­ing more con­fi­dent, you can add a touch of High Brow high­lighter to the in­ner cor­ner of your eyes,” adds El Abd.

Diane Nakauchi, chief brand of­fi­cer of Ja­panese cos­met­ics com­pany Koh Gen Do, says that nat­u­ral­look­ing prod­ucts are key. “With foun­da­tions that look like nat­u­ral skin, men are wear­ing make-up with­out feel­ing any [shame]. Vis­ual acu­ity is get­ting higher with cell­phone cam­eras and so­cial me­dia, and men are be­com­ing more aware of and in­ter­ested in their skin.

“They know how flaw­less skin can change their looks, which may be the be­gin­ning of los­ing that stigma. Our most pop­u­lar prod­uct for men, for ex­am­ple, is the Maifan­shi Mois­ture Foun­da­tion. It’s been used by Johnny Depp, Den­zel Wash­ing­ton and Tom Hanks. It’s tinted, but very light, so it feels like a mois­turiser with skin-en­hanc­ing prop­er­ties.”

Nakauchi of­fers some ap­pli­ca­tion ad­vice. “Al­ways prep your skin with a mois­turiser, so the foun­da­tion does not have a splotchy fin­ish. Make sure the foun­da­tion shade matches your skin tone, and don’t use high-cov­er­age con­ceal­ers un­til you know how to blend to a nat­u­ral skin fin­ish. Men can also get their part­ners to check for vis­i­ble mis­takes, es­pe­cially if the light­ing is poor dur­ing ap­pli­ca­tion,” she sug­gests.

Vis­ual acu­ity is get­ting higher with cell­phone cam­eras and so­cial me­dia, and men are more aware of their skin

Ac­cord­ing to re­search com­pany Euromon­i­tor, the growth of men’s beauty and fash­ion prod­ucts has been out­pac­ing that of women’s since 2010, and com­pa­nies are re­spond­ing ac­cord­ingly. This month, The Dubai Mall saw the launch of two skin- and hair­care sa­lons for men: the 1847 groom­ing lounge and Dun­hill’s bar­ber shop. The mod­ern-day man, it seems, has be­come some­thing of a groom­ing afi­cionado, and it fol­lows that he would turn to the magic of make-up to hide any per­ceived flaws.

“There is cer­tainly more con­ver­sa­tion around men’s groom­ing and skin­care, with ed­u­ca­tional con­tent read­ily avail­able on­line,” says Fiona Firth, buy­ing di­rec­tor at Mr Porter. “Men are grow­ing more con­fi­dent in the groom­ing space and, as a re­sult, brands are adapt­ing to their needs. We now see our cus­tomers mov­ing be­yond the ba­sics of cleans­ing and mois­tur­is­ing to anti-age­ing prod­ucts, oils and serums, round­ing out their daily regime. Of course, men tend to pre­fer quick, eas­ily ap­plied prod­ucts that they can in­cor­po­rate into their morn­ing rou­tines,” she adds.

While most skin­care ex­perts and make-up artists agree that foun­da­tions, con­ceal­ers and brow pen­cils are grad­u­ally gain­ing ac­cep­tance and ac­knowl­edge­ment among men, lip­stick, eye­shadow, blush and other colour-de­fined state­ment make-up prod­ucts are not. Like­wise, most men who are will­ing or keen to ex­per­i­ment with make-up seem to be seek­ing out prod­ucts that are fuss-free, easy-to-use and as nat­u­ral-look­ing as pos­si­ble. And Chanel has clearly cot­toned on to this new re­al­ity.

Boy de Chanel is be­ing pro­moted as “three con­fi­dence-boost­ing, long-wear make-up prod­ucts to in­vis­i­bly erase im­per­fec­tions”. Le Teint tinted fluid is a lightweight and shine-free foun­da­tion with SPF 25 for nat­u­ral cor­rec­tion, and is made from a poly­mer that re­sists ex­cess sweat. Le Baume Lèvres Matte lip balm walks the line be­tween make-up and skin­care, and is packed with jo­joba oil, shea but­ter and vitamin E, for lips that re­main soft, but with­out any shine. And the wa­ter­proof, oil-based Le Stylo Sour­cils eye­brow pen­cil de­fines and fills out the brow line with an easyto-use spi­ral brush and ta­pered tip.

The range will sit easy in a starter kit or a longestab­lished rou­tine. Im­por­tantly, it ac­knowl­edges that make-up for men is the way for­ward. As the brand said in a state­ment: “Just as Gabrielle Chanel bor­rowed el­e­ments from the men’s wardrobe to dress women, Chanel draws inspiration from the women’s world to write the vo­cab­u­lary of a new per­sonal aes­thetic for men. By cre­at­ing [our] first make-up range for men, Chanel reaf­firms the ever-chang­ing codes of an un­chang­ing vi­sion: beauty is not a mat­ter of gen­der; it is a mat­ter of style.”

Clockwise from be­low, a make-up artist works on a male model back­stage; the Foreo Luna 2 fa­cial brush for men ex­fo­li­ates the skin for a smoother shave; Dun­hill’s bar­ber­shop; and the 1847 groom­ing lounge both opened in Dubai this month; the Goof Proof Brow Pen­cil from Ben­e­fit Cos­met­ics; and Chanel’s Le Baume Lèvres Matte mois­tur­is­ing lip balm for men

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