"If you learn one thing from this, it's that if you have something inside of you that tells you to do something different, don't listen to the doubts and hold yourself back. Go for it and see what happens."

Growing up

Danny enjoyed life growing up. He was captain of the football team and popular at school. All until he was 12. Three boys made fun of his appearance on the school playground, and his life was never the same again.

This short stint of bullying led to an obsession with his appearance that has lasted for his entire life. At just 12 years old, he underwent major cosmetic surgery to have his ears pinned back.

As a teenager, his obsessions got worse. Worrying about the smallest details in his appearance, hair, and clothes. He would spend hours getting ready whenever he needed to leave the house.

Danny Gray as a child
Danny Gray - War Paint Founder

At age 15, he started getting spots, as most young men do, which really impacted his mental health. His sister helped him by providing a shoulder to lean on and also giving him a concealer to try. He was shocked by the results. He couldn't believe the power of what makeup could do for his appearance and his confidence.

He knew that there must be other men looking for makeup products for them, and the beginnings of an idea for a men's makeup brand was born.

Years later, his partner Kirsty suggested he might have body dysmorphia: A mental health condition that causes people to obsess about their appearance. Since then, he's learned more about the condition and how to manage it with therapy and other techniques.

Living with body dysmorphia never disappears completely, but it hasn't prevented him from achieving things. He's used it as his purpose for starting War Paint.

“if you're going to do it, you have to give it 100%”


While working full-time and raising a young family, Danny built War Paint at every spare moment. He was learning the ropes of what it takes to build a cosmetic brand and scraping money together to make it happen.

After over a year of development, Danny left his full-time job to launch War Paint in November 2018. The brand was already making higher sales in the first few months than Danny had anticipated, and he knew he was onto something great.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing. In May 2019, an advert went viral on Twitter gaining millions of views in just 24 hours... For all the wrong reasons. Thousands of comments were posted slamming the advert and every aspect of the brand. War Paint was accused of promoting toxic masculinity amongst men. It was a terrifying moment, and Danny thought it was the end of War Paint.


A few weeks later, Danny was due to appear on Dragon's Den. He knew this was the perfect platform to tell his story about why he started War Paint.

This was his chance to change people's minds about the brand and explain why his mental health had led to him starting War Paint.

Up until this point, only a few people knew about Danny's experience of body dysmorphia. It felt like a huge risk for the business and himself.

Telling his story on national TV changed the trajectory of the business for all the right reasons.