Makeup for men is on the rise, there’s no denying it. With male celebrities and influencers flooding our Instagram feed with smoothed out skin and artistic eyeliner, it’s becoming much less of a taboo for the regular guy to try something for themselves.

Male grooming products have come a long way in recent years. We challenge you to ask your mates what they’re using on a daily or weekly basis. The likelihood is your friends are no longer stealing their girlfriends’ moisturiser like they were a few years ago, they probably have their own (as well as a host of other grooming products they’d rather not go without). Self-care for men is on a huge upward trend which isn’t going anywhere. Men take care of themselves and are proud to do so. 

When did men start wearing makeup?

Men in makeup isn’t a new concept. In fact, men have been wearing makeup throughout history. In Egyptian times men wore elaborate eyeliner designs to reflect their masculinity, wealth and status. Green eyeshadow was also believed to ward off illness.

In Elizabethan times, men wore makeup to show their social status through the trend of a painted pale face and red lips (we’re glad that’s not a thing anymore). However Queen Elizabeth I said that makeup was an abomination, only worn by ladies of the night. This is likely to be where the feminisation of makeup in more recent history stems from.

Fast forward to the 70’s and 80’s when gender-bending celebrities like Boy George, Prince and Davie Bowie took to the mainstream with ‘guyliner’ and rouged lips. Not to mention metal bands who wore makeup to scare the parents of fans. They challenged everything about gender, sex and society which led to the ‘metrosexual’ man of the 2000s.

Do men wear makeup all over the world?

In Eastern countries, makeup for men isn’t a new thing either. The Korean beauty industry was reportedly worth over $10.3 billion in 2019, and 10% of that is attributed to men. This has grown massively thanks to K-pop stars openly wearing makeup and playing with gender norms. 

This trend has spread to Japan where a ‘genderless Kei’ subculture called has emerged. For genderless Kei, playing with fashion and makeup isn’t about being masculine or feminine, it’s about enjoying what you want to enjoy and being authentically you. Who doesn’t want that?

Over the past 5 years or so, men in makeup have become much more accepted in Western culture too. Large brands such as Chanel, Tom Ford and Maybelline have all brought out product ranges specifically for men, and Milk and Covergirl have used men in their ad campaigns. 

Scroll through your Instagram and it will paint a similar picture. In the US, major influencers like James Charles and Jeffree Star proudly show their artistic skills. In the UK there are major players like Gary Thompson, Rowan Young and Lewys Ball, who has become the first male ambassador for Rimmel. 

Think about it, everyone on TV has to wear makeup for the cameras. And there are plenty of male celebrities are proudly wearing the stuff on the red carpet and in creative shoots such as Jared Leto, Harry Styles, Zak Effron, Ansel Egort, football legend David Beckham and Johnny Depp (just to name a few).

Where to start when wearing men’s makeup

You don’t have to be a TV star to try makeup for yourself, it’s much less complicated than you might think. When Joel Stein, a columnist for TIME, tried makeup for the first time off-camera he said “I thought the whole process would take 30 minutes, but it took less than five. I could do this!”. According to Statista, 35% of men take between 16-30 minutes to get ready in the morning, and 29% of men take between 30 minutes and an hour. 

In the past, makeup has had a very feminine association, but why would putting on concealer make you less of a man? Does choosing nice clothes to wear, styling your hair, or working on your appearance by going to the gym? This archaic view has to change. It’s not about feminine vs masculine any more, it’s about doing what you want to feel good about yourself. 

Founder of War Paint, Danny Gray, uses makeup to feel good about his appearance. “When I was 15 years old and I started getting spots as most people do, I went to my sister and used her concealer, and it changed my life forever. I couldn't believe the power of products and what they can do.”

At War Paint, we say if something makes you feel good about yourself and it doesn’t hurt anyone else, then just go for it. If you can walk down the street (post covid) feeling like you look fresher than usual, with your spots covered, you might feel just that little bit more confident. Sounds pretty good.

If you’re considering trying makeup for the first time and you’re not sure where to start, our tutorials pages. If there’s someone whose makeup skills you admire, why not ask them for tips too!

March 03, 2021 — Jalpesh Patel

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