Marriage Equality, Social Media Helping Drive Male Makeup Trend

Wednesday August 11, 2021
Originally published on August 6, 2021

Once seen as the province of women, makeup is steadily becoming more a part of the male grooming arsenal. Marriage equality is helping drive the trend, as same-sex couples and non-binary celebrants show off their best selves on the way to the altar; just as notably, as Brides magazine reported in a recent article, heterosexual grooms are making the most of their wedding days by complementing their tuxes with some specialized attention to their hair and faces.

As makeup artist Amber Amos told the magazine, "The reality is that regardless of gender, everyone wants to look as flawless as possible." Grooms, she said, go for "a little concealer where needed or powder to take away any shine."

"Weddings have grown to include a truer reflection of society," confirmed makeup artist Alexandra Baranoff. Gender notions aside, she added: "Everyone involved wants to look as great as they can, especially with the influence of social media."

That's not just true on wedding days. Social media users are catching on that a little judicious makeup will give a lift to their selfies, not to mention their Instagram and Tiktok videos.

But an awareness of how we look on laptop and workstation screens is no longer confined to the realm of Facebook and frivolity. One significant change wrought by COVID-19 has been a mass migration to video services such as Zoom during the workday. That's translated into a burgeoning interest in skincare and makeup among that most practical class, the working professional.

Japanese businessmen have been quick to adapt, as the Associated Press reported last spring. Tokyo salon owner Takumi Tezuka noticed how even older businessmen were suddenly coming into his salon, looking to "show a slightly better version of themselves" on video conferences, the Associated Press reported.

[READ: 8 European Skincare Brands We're Obsessed With For Summer]

While COVID may have accelerated the makeup trend for men, the pandemic did not start the shift; it's been accelerating for several years. "According to research company Fuji Keizai Group, the men's cosmetic market grew from about 600 billion yen ($5.5 billion) to an estimated 623 billion yen ($5.7 billion) from 2018 to 2019," the AP noted.

Rooted in the "metrosexual"-era realization that skincare, hair care, and manscaping can bring out male beauty in service of the beast, today's awakening to male makeup shows that guys are catching on to something women have long known: A little touching up can pay off with a big boost in confidence — and confidence is a huge part of the mindset of success.

The market is catching on, as well, Barron's noted in an article that contained the following anecdote from businessman Pergin Pervez, who went to a major makeup retailer looking for something suited to his needs.

"As I looked around more, I was really kind of confused," Pervez recounted, adding that he found himself thinking: "I want to go to a meeting tomorrow to close a deal, where's that look?'"

Not finding it to be ready-made, Pervez took matters into his own hands and co-founded Tribe Cosmetics, which is "aimed at men and male presenting people who don't necessarily see themselves represented in conventional makeup products."

Pervez took note of how the current moment is the perfect storm for what his company offers. "You have this entire generation that is basically saying they don't have these gender roles as defined," he told Barron's, "and then at the same time you have the pandemic with Zoom calls" in which attention can drift to "imperfections."

Matt Rodrigues, Perez's partner in the company, took note of how makeup used for professional purposes could end up being adopted for more casual use. "Now is a great opportunity to try something new, to cover up a blemish, and then realize, 'If I look good on Zoom then I might feel more comfortable wearing it out in public,'" Rodrigues pointed out.

Not that men's makeup has to altogether ditch outmoded expectations — not when it could put a fresh face on vestigial gender roles. Enter War Paint for Men, a new British brand that capitalizes on the narrowing gap between culturally ingrained and contemporary views of masculinity. Perhaps not surprisingly, the brand's founder, Danny Gray, has something extra mixed into his mission: Male mental health.

"For me, it was so important that this wasn't just about opening a shop to sell products," Gray told Salon today about his newly-opened London shop.

"I wanted to create a relaxed, inviting place to help men feel comfortable to have a conversation and learn more about makeup, get a haircut or even talk about mental health," Gray added. "Everything we're trying to do as a brand is about normalizing men using products and tools to help them feel more confident, and our store is here to do just that."