Dear Men, It’s Totally OK To Wear Makeup

Not that you need permission.
More makeup options for men signal that beauty norms are changing.
PeopleImages via Getty Images
More makeup options for men signal that beauty norms are changing.

The skin care and cosmetics markets have long been dominated by women, but men are increasingly joining in, too.

Slowly but surely, the beauty industry seems to be moving in a much more inclusive direction, both in terms of racial and gender diversity.

Just a few examples: Brands such as CoverGirl, Rimmel and MAC recently put men at the center of their marketing materials. Earlier this year, “Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya walked the red carpet at the Oscars wearing Fenty Beauty foundation. And cult favorite brand Milk blurred the lines even more with its gender-fluid approach to beauty.

These examples signal a shift in beauty norms. And if the positive responses they’ve garnered are any indication, it appears a lot of people are ready to live in a world where men feel welcome to wear makeup if they so choose.

But we’re not totally there yet. It’s still seen as a little out of the ordinary for guys to use concealer or foundation to hide a blemish or two, likely because makeup is largely marketed to women.

“[My mom] was like, ‘OK, let me just put some of my makeup on you,’ and she took out her cosmetics bag and I was kind of scared.”

- Andrew Grella, founder of the cosmetics brand Formen

Andrew Grella, the Toronto-based founder of Formen, a cosmetics brand targeted specifically to men, is trying to change that.

Grella founded Formen in 2015 after he noticed a gap in the market for men’s cosmetics. His first foray into anything related to cosmetics came a little earlier, when he was getting ready for his high school prom. Like many teenagers, Grella was dealing with breakouts and asked his mom for help.

“I said, ‘Hey mom, what do you suggest? How do I fix this?’ She was like, ‘OK, let me just put some of my makeup on you,’ and she took out her cosmetics bag and I was kind of scared,” he said.

Instead of taking his mom up on the offer right away, Grella set out to buy his own products; only he couldn’t find what he was looking for. Ultimately, he caved and let his mom put some of her own makeup on him.

“You always think someone’s going to be like, ‘Hey, that guy’s wearing makeup,’” he said, adding, “When I saw what the product actually did for my skin, I thought there should be a brand that was dedicated to that specific target demographic. Pretty much just targeted toward me.”

Grella’s initial attitude toward wearing makeup falls in line with one of the most common misconceptions about men and makeup: that it would make them seem more “feminine,” as Sue Katz, former makeup artist and co-founder of AmazingCosmetics, told HuffPost.

AmazingCosmetics is also tapping into the male demographic with its AmazingConcealer. The brand’s products weren’t always targeted specifically at men, though Katz did note the company has plenty of male customers. She knew it was time to open men’s eyes to concealer when her 25-year-old son asked her for a tube, she said.

Katz explained that men from older generations “were taught growing up that guys don’t use that stuff,” and noted that it’s a tough rule for many to break.

But, she said, “if we start with the younger generation and tell them, ‘It’s OK to cover your blemish. It’s OK to use these products,’ then I think they’re going to be very receptive to it.”

The key, according to both Grella and Katz, is to educate men on how to properly use makeup in a way that suits them. From a young age, many women learn that makeup is just a part of life, but most men aren’t taught that lesson. Ease of use is also important, especially for the low-maintenance guys out there.

Since starting Formen, Grella said he’s noticed a shift in how people are educated to use and interact with beauty products.

“That whole kind of taboo notion [that] makeup for men is a bad thing, in my opinion, has drastically decreased,” he said, noting that this may have to do with brands like L’Oreal and Dove releasing skin care lines for men.

“I think the industry as a whole is really educating men on how the products work and they’re realizing that they can use them in their daily lives,” he said.

Actor Daniel Kaluuya, wearing Fenty Beauty foundation, attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018.
Christopher Polk via Getty Images
Actor Daniel Kaluuya, wearing Fenty Beauty foundation, attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018.

In terms of why men should be using makeup, Grella had this to say: “I think men should hop on the makeup bandwagon because it lets you put your best face forward. It can give you self-confidence if you have an important event, like how I needed it for my prom, for a meeting, or a date.”

“Men who don’t already use anything should try it out,” he added. “It can correct an issue or enhance features in your face ― but also promotes overall awareness to taking care of your skin at any age.”

Katz said she believes the desire for men’s products is there, but admitted the shift toward total acceptance isn’t going to happen overnight.

“I know [men] don’t want to walk down the street with all this redness on their face,” she said. “And so if we can have them walk down the street without that redness, without anyone knowing that they have a blemish or that they’ve covered it. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate goal for them?”

We’re beginning to see makeup for men become more prominent in popular culture these days, too. On Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness introduced men to green stick ― another product meant to reduce the look of redness ― and even influenced viewers to try it for themselves.

“It’s a confidence-booster,” Katz added. “It’s to help them feel better about themselves and not be self-conscious that they have a rash or blemish. None of us want that.”

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