Changing The Gender of Makeup


The glitz and glamor of rouge and kohl has gingerly but steadily continued to enamor the opposite sex – the male. Makeup for men has widely been associated with indie musicians, celebrities and, recently, the LGBTQ community. In fact, anything to do with “male grooming” tends to question the “manly-ness” of the gentleman in consideration. Makeup in itself has always been viewed in extremes. Women wearing makeup are judged, envied, criticized and questioned. The decision of wearing makeup appears to be a free, personal choice, nonetheless it is influenced by society’s expectations – at work, at home or simply at the supermarket. Most women wear makeup because they want to, it makes them feel beautiful, confident and it’s fun! So why shouldn’t the men get the same freedom to experiment with different eyeshadows and endure the struggle of finding the perfect foundation?

Men wearing makeup has become more visible and popular these past few years. October 2016 started off by CoverGirl a predominately female oriented magazine announcing its first CoverBoy, 17 years old makeup artist James Charles. This was soon followed by Maybelline showcasing their first male ambassador Manny Gutierrez in their mascara advertisement in January 2017. The social media platform with popular male Youtubers, bloggers and Instagrammers has brought makeup for men in the limelight. They have quite literally changed the face of makeup and most definitely the gender! Big companies like Yves Saint Laurent and Tom Ford have introduced products like the “guy-liner” specifically targeted at metrosexuals. More affordable companies like L’Oreal and MMUK are also realizing the potential for this market as they plan to launch male-targeted department stores in the next five years. Though a niche market at the moment, there is an enormous scope for growth as this trend loses its stigma.

The target market is also seeing a positive inclusion of the more cautious straight males. Using makeup for them is becoming an acceptable means to covering common skin conditions and giving one’s face a youthful and healthy complexion. Makeup start-up companies such as Alter for Men are being launched with clever advertisement to reduce the stigma surrounding male cosmetics. Catering products to men by using interesting monikers like ‘whiskey-infused concealer’ and ‘mascara beard fillers’ is becoming a widely adopted marketing strategy. The retail of these products via e-commerce websites has helped reduce the awkwardness in buying makeup which had been a major constraint.

Though the cosmetic industry has predominantly been monopolized by women centric beauty products, this shift would be a welcome change. The stand on makeup is an always changing debate; having men wearing makeup to work or to the supermarket would be a small albeit important victory towards the goal of gender equality.

This male makeup revolution could break the long-held taboo and change the perception of male grooming. Makeup doesn’t have to be extravagant and colorful. It can be subtle and comfortable or anything in-between. Makeup is just another way of taking care of yourself. Talk about all inclusive!


Vedangana Raj

Women in Business_Bocconi Female Students Association