Foundation, concealer, a little eyeliner… More and more men now put on makeup on a daily basis. Priya Elan meets the influencers behind the trend – and has a makeover himself.
The first time I tried on makeup I was six years old and my older sister decided to cover me in sickly raspberry-coloured glittery lipstick following the “more is better” mantra and the ethos, “it’s not on the lips, it’s around the lips.”
As I was presented to my parents, like a trussed up lamb to the slaughter beamed in from Laboratoire Garnier, Paris, the reaction was resoundingly reticent. Things turned into a Pinter play. My father was quietly horrified, refusing to talk for about six hours, and the incident was largely ignored by my mother who retired to the kitchen to gently throttle a metre of pastry. In the silent judgment that followed, I picked up on the vibe: boys don’t wear makeup. Clearly, I wasn’t born with it, whatever the Maybelline advert may say.
My next encounters with makeup were equally bizarre (mainly in various school plays wearing discoloured tones of bronzer, looking like child beauty pageant queen) and didn’t dislodge this idea. “The word ‘makeup’ has such feminine connotations,” Stéphane Marais, the makeup artist who has worked with Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Emma Watson, told Vogue Homme last year. “No man wants to admit he’s wearing makeup, as that would necessarily imply that he’s becoming more feminine.”
And yet today something (ie my big face) is looking very different. “You look really good!” a friend says, quickly eyeing my face to work out why. It’s New Year’s Eve and, nervously, I’ve taken the plunge. I’m wearing a subtle layer of male-specific makeup; concealer under my eyes and tinted moisturiser on my face. (“It’s hard to put on with facial hair,” my wife said as she dabbed the stuff on to me earlier in the day.)
Lads on the lash: not convinced? Seven starter steps for men, by James O’Riley
1. Weekly exfoliation is essential as it’s the easiest surefire way to naturally restore, resurface and illuminate the skin.
2. If the idea of wearing foundation or base to even out the skin tone is a step too far, opt for a tinted moisturiser or SPF as they are more natural in appearance and have beneficial skincare properties .
3. Over-shaping the eyebrows will feminise the face. Try brushing into place in the natural direction using a clear eyebrow gel to set in place.
4. Choose a lip balm with a matt or satin finish, as opposed to gloss, to nourish lips for a natural moisturised look.
5. Concealer should be no more than one shade lighter than true skin colour for a natural effect and, if trying to neutralise blue or purple under-eye circles, choose a shade with warm peach undertones.
6. To reduce unwanted shine opt for a mattifying gel instead of a powder for a look with no visible residue.
7. Gel bronzers will give you a believable translucent natural tan as opposed to powders that will look more like makeup.