Fuelled by social media and changing attitudes towards masculinity, the beauty industry is shaking off some of its most deep-rooted stereotypes, creating and marketing products specifically for men.
The beauty landscape has undergone radical changes in recent years.
The once-rigid distinctions between traditional gender identities are steadily becoming blurrier, and fluidity is now regarded as a valid and appreciated form of self-expression. The result is an industry that is more diverse, accepting, and perhaps most crucially, profitable.
The male makeup industry is predicted to be worth over $80bn by 2024 – and is expected to fill a market gap that’s been wide open for decades.
Chanel’s 2018 launch of BOY (Be Only You), a range of cosmetic products aimed at men, serves as an example of a leading brand recognising this shift in attitudes. The company itself stated that ‘beauty is about style – it knows no gender’ alongside the launch.
It’s not the only brand jumping into this new market, either. FENTY, Estée Lauder, and L’Oréal are all rejecting the stigma around male grooming in favour of the surging demand for male makeup.
While all this is exciting new ground, however, it’s important to note that the male beauty shift still remains in its early stages.
‘To reverse consumer behaviour and mentalities takes time,’ explains Mintel analyst Sam Dover, addressing the sizeable risk many brands aren’t quite ready (or perhaps willing) to take.
Simply put, while social media is working hard to make it more acceptable for men to buy and wear makeup – just as it is to include them in the body positivity conversation – a challenge still lies in winning over the mainstream.
‘It’s a very unspoken rule that most guys don’t want to talk about wearing makeup in general,’ adds Dover.
‘When it comes to delving into it, it’s not so much a decorative element as more of a fixer.’
However, while the phenomenon may not be taking off at lightning speed, it’s certainly making progress.
Last year, Mintel reported an almost 80% increase in internet searches for ‘male makeup looks’ during April compared to the same period in 2019, as well as an increase in searches for tips on hiding dark circles or blemishes.
A similar trend was found on video platforms. TikTok saw 230 million views for the #boysinmakeup hashtag and over 550 million views for #mensgrooming last year.