Fast forward to today, and the landscape of male beauty couldn’t be more different, with everything from niche perfumes catering to the most discerning male nose, to skincare lotions targeted to the unique needs of men’s faces, to entire brands dedicated to beards. Oh, and of course, a new throng of makeup brands made with men in mind.
If you had riffled around a man’s wash bag ten years ago, it would have most likely made for a sorry sight, with a toothbrush, a can of Lynx and an electric shaver seemingly meet the grooming needs of all men circa 2000.
“I have been a cosmetic user since I was a teenager, due to rosacea flare ups and skin blemishes,” confides ShakeUp Cosmetics Co-Founder Jake Xu. “But I struggled to find makeup that suited my needs as a man and knew I wasn’t alone in this fast-growing group of modern men who seek the help of cosmetics in order to look and feel their best.”
Jake and Shane Carnell-Xu, his co-founder and twin brother, tried hundreds of products that were designed for women, but found many of them too dewy or too heavy. “We realised the reason was that, even though makeup should not have genders, our skin does. Men’s skin is physiologically and structurally different to women, therefore naturally, the products we use will need to have taken this into account,” Jake explains. Shakeup Cosmetics launched to offer three carefully formulated makeup products – a concealer, a BB tinted moisturiser and a lip gel (more than a balm, less than a gloss). Ingredients include peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil that helps to brighten and alleviate congestion or in-grown hairs (useful for any shavers).
Then there’s War Paint For Men, which has just launched into the beauty hall of John Lewis Oxford Street as well as online. The brand boasts a comprehensive range of men’s makeup products including bronzer and foundation and concealer. “Self-care isn’t just for women – we know that men. want to look and feel great too which is why we continue to invest in services and products to help them achieve this,” says Charlotte West, John Lewis Partners Beauty Buyer. The department store has seen men’s styling sales increase by over 150% in the last year, and sales of War Paint products have already exceeded expectations by more than 50%, proving that attitudes are indeed changing.
To gauge demand a little further, we asked 20 men if they would consider wearing makeup (if they didn’t already), and if not, why. The results were overwhelmingly open-minded, with all but two respondents claiming to be “open to it”, and eight claiming to wear makeup regularly. “I wear concealer everyday,” says John, 30. “And a little bronzer if I’m sleep deprived.”
“I wear BB cream everyday, and if I’m going out or am attending an event where people will be taking pictures, I add some highlighter onto my cheekbones,” says Derek, 24.
Other respondents admitted that although makeup wasn’t part of their daily grooming regime, they would be open to trying it. “It’s just never crossed my mind – but that’s not to say I wouldn’t. I would love to be able to put some concealer over a spot, but I just don’t own any products – yet.”
Only one participant was completely adverse to the idea, saying “I moisturise, but makeup is a step too far for me.” The same participant admitted to using contact lens solution as hair gel (“it’s saline, so it’s basically a salt spray”), so we’ll just leave that there.