By Moriah Campbell
Lipsticks, concealers and face powders have filled women’s vanities since the 1920s, when the movie industry boomed and Hollywood starlets attracted females to the world of cosmetics.
Now, 100 years later, the cosmetic industry is beginning to welcome a new wave of consumers: men.
With the rise of social media platform like YouTube and Instagram, men applying and wearing makeup is becoming an accepted part of mainstream culture. Beauty influencer Bretman Rock has gained a following of 9.7 million on Instagram for his hilarious selfie-video makeup tutorials, and YouTube sensation Jeffree Star, known for his loud and proud makeup looks, has over seven million subscribers.
Major cosmetics brands have jumped on the bandwagon as well, featuring male brand ambassadors in ad campaigns. For example, Covergirl led the charge when it show Beauty YouTuber James Charles in it So Lashy advertisement sporting smoked-out pink shadow and his signature faux freckles. Annabelle took a more natural approach in its Perfect Flawless collection campaign by shooting a male model wearing a “no makeup” makeup look.
And it’s not just the big brands that are responding to this new wave of consumers. Dale Millstein is the founder of Zuse, a Toronto-based company that carries cosmetics and grooming products designed for men. Millstein says he has noticed a change in attitudes and an increase in male customers looking for men’s makeup, but he still feels there is a stigma to overcome.
“At a certain age, mothers take it upon themselves to teach their daughters how to apply makeup for the first time. Fathers, uncles and grandfathers don’t tend to initiate that same education when it comes to shaving or grooming,” says Millstein.
That’s where Millstein comes in: He also organizes classes and events through Zuse to help educate his local customers about proper use and application of products.
“I wanted to create a comfortable environment for guys to ask questions and buy products specifically for them,” he says.
Understanding the different needs of men’s skin when it comes to makeup and skincare is an important factor, says Toronto-based dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett.
“Men have a thicker epidermis and dermis than women,” says Dr. Kellett. Having this thicker layer of skin and facial hair gives men slightly more protection from sun exposure, but it also makes it more difficult for skincare products to penetrate the dermis.
“I recommend moisturizers and sunscreens that are clear, alcohol – or water-based for men, because it is difficult to put cream on a hair-bearing area,” says Dr. Kellett.
Water-based formulas tend to be thinner than oil-based creams, more easily absorbed by the skin and less likely to get trapped in the hair above.
Similarly applying makeup over stubble and hair growth can prove to be a challenge, and that’s where tinted moisturizers like Mygeo’s Fonteint Hydrating Enhancer can help. These products are designed to enhance and even out the skin tone, without leaving a foundation of residue on facial hair.
Although the attention that is being given to male-specific products is unprecedented, national makeup artist for Dior Jeffery Pearson (a.k.a. Jefferson) says, men have been using women’s products for decades, but it’s important to find those that enhance rather than recreate your features.
“When I wear makeup I want it to look like I’m not wearing makeup, and I think there are a lot of really great men-friendly products in women’s lines,” says Jefferson. “For example, my go-to product is Dior’s skin perfecting super primer DreamSkin – it minimized the look of pores and it can look flawless with ot without a foundation or tinted moisturizer.”
Tinted moisturizer and concealer to cover up dark under-eye circles are the key sellers in men’s makeup. But for those who want to wear a little more without delving in RuPaul territory, there are natural ways to enhance your look.
“Wearing a brown mascara can be a really good way of subtly bringing attention to the eyes without being obvious, and you can always moisturize the lips with a good-quality balm with just a hint of colour,” he says.
Companies are saying that male-targeted makeup counters in department stores are closer than we think. Until then, Millstein’s advice it to explore for yourself and try as many products as you can to find out what works for your skin. “Don’t pay mind to what people think,” he says. “What matters is being comfortable with what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.” A-men.