Unless you work in a very image-conscious industry – say in the realm of Hollywood, rock stardom, or fashion – “makeup” and “men” are probably two words that you’ve rarely heard used in the same sentence.
After all, makeup is intended for women as part of their morning beautifying routine; and men (being men) just don’t usually beautify that way. But thanks to many goings-on in pop culture and in the media, the walls that prevented these two words from coming together are slowly being broken down.
Perhaps the biggest influence over this was the preponderance of 2004’s term ‘Metrosexual’ which was coined for guys who indulged in what used to be considered feminine vanities such as facials and high fashion clothes – without feeling the least bit emasculated.
The Metrosexual moniker was a big hit, and quickly became part of everyone’s vocabulary. Euromonitor reported a 5.7 percent annual rise in demand for men’s grooming products from 1997–2005. Skin-care counters experienced a surge in new products proclaiming with bold bravado that they were meant to be used by people who carry a Y-chromosome.
However, Metrosexuality soon became a bygone term, like many trends before it. “The Metrosexual is dead: long live the übersexual,” declared Paul Harris in a The Guardian article. “The modern male [will see a] return to old-fashioned, masculine values,” he added.
Curiously, it seems like the trend had the last laugh: it encouraged cosmetics companies to venture into uncharted territory—specifically, makeup for men.
Jean-Paul Gaultier was one of the most prolific early adopters, with his Tout Beau, Tout Propre range that had an eyeliner, a concealer pen, and a bronzer sold next to skin-care staples like a men’s shaving cream. Earlier this year, he re-christened his cosmetics under the Monsieur umbrella, reworking his earlier offerings.
Clinique, a skin-care brand famous for its makeup, already had a men-only range called M Groom. This included a concealer stick, M Cover.
American designer John Varvatos sells a concealer under his John Varvatos Skin line.
The smartest move these companies made was putting a lot of thought into the packaging. Besides wrapping everything in dark colors, everyday guy-friendly items are manipulated to fool the uninitiated.
Monsieur’s concealer, for example, looks like a normal Bic ball-point pen. KenMen, a Canadian organic skincare brand, sells tinted face powder in a sleek black case that can be mistaken for a cigarette holder.
But no amount of marketing and manufacturing magic matters if the men don’t respond.
According to various reports, such as published articles at Salon.com, makeup for men is doing well in many European and Asian countries. Hesitation still lives in the mind of the American consumer, but these men may soon be willing to give this emerging sector the same shot as his Atlantic and Pacific neighbors, given enough prodding.
Whether this is the beginning of the gender divide gap shrinking further, or whether makeup for men is another trend that’s will make a quick buck and then be discarded as quickly, remains up in the air.
What matters right now is that the male consumer will always have his needs addressed whenever he stops by the personal grooming section of the local mall…even if this means a Sales Associate recommending him to buy concealer a shade lighter to better hide his blemishes.