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Male makeup is slowly permeating mainstream beauty

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.

Makeup for Men? How Male Cosmetics Became a Booming Industry – Robb Report

‘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.

As Beauty Norms Blur, One-Third of Young Men Say They'd Consider Wearing Cosmetics

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.

Male-centric companies have been most successful at tapping into this new market, at least thus far.

Many big industry names mistakenly repackage female branding in order to target men, which inadvertently dismisses a large chunk of the market that wants to experiment with cosmetics designed specifically for them.

It’s not enough to recycle old products and ideas – many are looking for something uniquely tailored to their demographic.

Male grooming and men's makeup on the rise | in-cosmetics Connect

War Paint, an out-and-out male brand that recently opened the world’s first store dedicated solely to selling makeup tailored to men, does just this.

Launched three years ago with a mission to portray the idea that all men wear makeup, its founder Danny Gray is a passionate believer in encouraging men to do whatever they need to be their real selves.

‘Beauty products have to be genderless in order to truly grow, because everyone wants to be their own version of beautiful,’ he says.

‘Today’s man is more than happy to indulge in skincare as self-care. The connotations of whether it makes them less ‘manly’ may not apply as widely because people are now taking pride in looking after themselves.’

War Paint, makeup for men, uses toxic masculinity to sell foundation - Vox

Gen Z is adopting this approach, refusing to allow how they look to be dictated by a desire to appeal or to appease others, but to feel comfortable with who they are.

Right now, men wearing makeup may not be an everyday sight, but there’s no denying that more are embracing a practice previously only associated with women.

From the millions of tutorials available on social media to the proliferation of brands offering male makeup, the countdown seems to be on to finally make beauty everyone’s business.

Now it’s the cosmetics industry’s turn to meet the demands of a generation with more than enough influence and buying power.


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