by Sydni Chapman
She wakes up every morning to her daily routine – gets up, brushes her teeth, jumps in the shower, does her hair, looks in the mirror, then envisions what she will paint with her makeup today. She delicately picks up her brush and begins the carefully executed process, mixing the colors in her palette to create her masterpiece. Finally, she leaves her house proud and confident with her bold lips and striking eyes.
Now let’s go back and tell that story, replacing “she” with “he.” In this new age, men are picking up their brushes and beginning to paint themselves in the same way women have for ages.
This trend is so prominent that it is beginning to influence big-name beauty brands that are taking on a gender-neutral approach to their marketing. A report by “The Innovation Group” found that 56 percent of Generation Z shops for clothing without restriction to gender (Laughlin). Lucie Greene of the J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group explained, “It’s this very self-confident, hyper-individual generation who are constructing their identity in fashion and makeup outside of their traditional gender buckets” (Thomas).
This movement towards gender fluidity makes it necessary for beauty brands to start creating products for all people – not just the traditional female. Popular brands like Sephora and Cover Girl are teaming with male makeup artists and vloggers (video bloggers) to advertise their products to this new demographic. Luxury brands are also moving toward gender fluid beauty. Giorgio Armani released a line of tinted lip balms “for him/for her” with their fall makeup collection (Thomas). In addition, new brands such as Milk Makeup are designing products for “experimentation and self-expression.” Milk Makeup’s promotional strategy includes models of many types of gender identities and encourages beauty with “no rules.”
A big part of this trend is credited to YouTube vloggers like Jeffree Star and Manny Mua who are normalizing makeup for men in the mass media. While men in makeup were previously associated with drag, these vloggers stress their separation from drag and simply identify as boys who wear makeup (Tonic). This statement has inspired other men and the media to accept the idea that men can wear makeup and remain masculine. For vlogger Jeffree Star, his reach extends beyond the beauty world – as a singer/songwriter he’s been featured on the cover of the music publication Alternative Press, and curated both male and female fans alike. Of course, Star is not the first male musician to wear makeup. Artists Marilyn Manson, Steven Tyler, Jared Leto, Billy Joe Armstrong, and David Bowie preceded him. But Star’s aesthetic differs from the thick black liner and striking face paint as it aims to transform traditionally feminine beauty standards.
While makeup for men is most relevant in the mass media, the trend is slowly taking hold in the lives of everyday men. In an Allure article, a 45 year old man explains how his wife influenced him to begin using makeup. He explained, “I was out with some friends on Friday night fairly late. When it was time to get ready my better half told me I looked terrible after being out half the night. After some back and forth I let her make me up so I didn’t look like death warmed over” (Jacques). He was impressed with the results and received so many compliments that he knew he could never go back to life before makeup. He encourages men to try makeup and expresses how things, such as filling his brows, makes him feel “more masculine”.
In a culture where self-expression surpasses gender, ‘men in makeup’ is not a bizarre concept. It is an expected and natural progression, which could easily become less stigmatized and even ‘normalized’ over time. Sam Cheow, chief product accelerator at L’Oréal, predicted a growing market for men’s’ makeup, “In the next three to five years, there could be some really interesting products coming out” (Thomas). This is truly an exciting time in the beauty world for men and women alike, who are celebrating more beauty freedoms than ever before.
Jacques, Renee. “You Need to Read This Man’s Story About His New Love for Makeup After His Wife Put It on Him.” Allure. Allure Magazine, 26 June 2016. Web. 09 Oct. 2016.
Laughlin, Shepherd. “Gen Z Goes beyond Gender Binaries in New Innovation Group Data.” JWT Intelligence. N.p., 11 Mar. 2016. Web. 25 Oct. 2016.
Thomas, Ellen. “Is Makeup for Men a Fad or the Future?” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 19 Oct. 2016. Web. 06 Oct. 2016.
Tonic, Gina. “15 Male Beauty Vloggers Who Know That Makeup Doesn’t Care About Binaries – VIDEOS.” Bustle. Bustle, 26 June 2016. Web. 17 Oct. 2017.
“Us – Milk Makeup.” Milk Makeup. Milk Makeup, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2016. <https://milkmakeup.com/us/>.