Made-up men: trend or taboo?
Earlier this month, Nykaa, India’s biggest online beauty store, launched Los Angeles-based cosmetics brand Wet n Wild in India with an unusual choice of model—makeup artist Faisal Khan. In its social media post on Instagram, Khan is not wielding the brush or applying mascara to a model. Instead, he is himself wearing the makeup, displaying perfectly done brows, eyes and face with a bold midnight metallic blue lipstick and eyeshadow. Khan, 21, comes from a conservative Muslim family in which even the women don’t wear makeup. Yet, his tryst with wearing makeup started early. By the age of 10, Khan had started sporting smoky eyes and wearing makeup.
At 15, Khan, who is openly gay and super flamboyant, took up his first job as a makeup artist for Canadian colour cosmetics brand Faces. Thereafter, he went on to work for Make-up Art Cosmetics (MAC) and is now with Nykaa. According to Khan, men are curious about trying makeup but are afraid of being judged. Until recently, use of makeup among men was limited to some in the LGBT community, and among Bollywood celebrities and models as part of their costumes. For instance, earlier this year, Ranveer Singh was seen at a public event with kohl-lined eyes, donning a look from his upcoming movie, Padmavati. In 2015, Shahid Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor walked the ramp as show-stoppers sporting smoky eyes for designer Kunal Rawal at the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai.
But these looks or completely made-up men are yet to become mainstream. However, boys wearing lip balm and following a basic cleansing, toning and moisturizing routine has become ordinary. This is a natural progression of the male grooming trend. Until about 10 years ago, mens’ salons were very few. Men seeking services such as manicures, pedicures, threading, waxing and hair styling was unheard of. Men used to go the barber shop for an haircut and shave.
Today, hair styling gels and beard care products are among some of the fastest growing consumer packaged goods segments —a reason why large companies like Marico Ltd and Emami Ltd have acquired stakes in male grooming start-ups Beardo and The Man Company, respectively, in the past year. About a fifth of the users on Nykaa are men, says Falguni Nayar, founder of nykaa.com. While Nayar is yet to launch an exclusive range of makeup targeted at men, she is of the opinion that men shopping on Nykaa use concealers and foundation. Men are looking after their skin and hair, buying better and more specific products as they want to look better, she says.
Globally too men’s beauty is a trend that’s catching on. Last month, Tom Ford launched his first stand-alone beauty store in London. The store offers personalized make-up consultations and services for everything from getting your own customized fragrances to beard trim and wet shaves.
Likewise, it was only in July this year, that one of the largest online fashion and beauty stores, UK-based Asos started selling make-up to men. The retailer stocks products such as beard and brow filler, manscara, under eye liquid concealer, and liquid foundation for men from MMUK Man, a beauty brand that is geared towards male consumers.
The past year has also seen global high-profile beauty brands such as Maybelline, L’Oreal Paris, Rimmel London and CoverBoy get male models on board for the first time. While men may still be a negligible market for most of these brands, the need to be part of conversations around shifting gender barriers may have led them to extend advertising inclusivity to men.
For sure, there is a lot of conversation happening around male makeup. For instance, Faisal Khan’s picture on Instagram was shared by Vogue India and Cosmopolitan India on their social media handles. On Vogue India, the picture got more than 4000 likes and 100 comments. Globally, James Charles, makeup brand CoverGirl’s first male model, has over 2.7 million followers.
On YouTube, there are over 6,340,000 results for male makeup tutorials with the most popular tutorial on natural everyday makeup application having over 2,90,000 views. A video on wearable party or wedding makeup for Indian Men has over 33,000 views. It comes with a guide on makeup used in the video and how to source it.
These are telling signs. We are now seeing the rise of the selfie generation. For this generation, appearance is power. So why should only girls look their best?
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