Makeup brands have discovered a whole new demographic they had never thought to go after: Men.
Chanel recently launched a new line of makeup for men called, Boy de Chanel after Coco Chanel’s lover, Boy Capel. There’s even dedicated men’s makeup lines like Very Good Light where men can buy makeup for their faces and their skin care needs. So what does this mean for a product that men have actively avoided for decades?
Men’s Makeup: An Ancient Trend
Men wearing makeup is not necessarily new, it’s just new to our time. Men in Egypt, India, and China have worn makeup in centuries past. However, makeup didn’t really becoming popular in Europe and the United States until the 1920s. As late as the 1890s, a woman with a painted face was considered to be practically be a sex worker. In the brilliant British TV show, “The Paradise” a department store tries selling makeup to British women from France only to find that while women loved their appearance with the product their husbands would revolt at the idea of a “painted face.”
In the 20th century, different men like Boy George have worn makeup and that did not get men wearing makeup any faster. Makeup, for most of the 20th century has been a woman’s product and for a man to wear makeup has been considered a step too far for many men, including some effeminate men.
Getting Men to Care About Their Appearance
Men have not often faced the same criticism on their appearance as women. Men have economic judgments against them (trying dating with a low income as a man) but not as much for appearance. Men can be fat, have ok skin and other flaws that would cause people to harshly judge a woman. However, that trend is beginning to change and social media is a part of that blame.
Social Media has us being photographed more often than ever before. Before the smartphone camera became commonplace, you only had to deal with pictures around major holidays or maybe a major party where someone brought a digital camera to the party. Now, any moment at any time can be photographed and that means that a certain amount of care to one’s appearance is becoming a standard for many. Making sure that you look “good” at all times is starting to effect everyone, not just image-conscious women.
You Might Wear Makeup to Your Next Job Interview
Ageism in the workplace is becoming more common. Anecdotes from various articles and comments have noticed that getting a job after 50 (or even 40) is exponentially harder. Some people, especially men, have resorted to coloring their hair and using makeup to look younger and compete with younger workers who are more desirable.
Gen-Z Is Leading the Way
Millennial men didn’t do much to buck the trends of men in the past. The generation right after them, on the other hand, is embraced gender and sexual fluidity and have made mince meat of gender stereotypes and standards. They are on the fore-front of culture and for Gen-Z men, wearing makeup is just apart of self-expression. It’s another tool to use to express yourself and your unique brand to the world.
Eating disorders and body dysmorphia are already rising among men. For most of the 90s and early Aughts, the rates were in the single digits however, that rate has skyrocketed to as much as 43% of men who reported that they were unhappy with some part of their appearance or body. The number is higher among gay men. Perfectly lit selfies have already made us self-conscious about our looks, will perfect selfies with flawless skin and contouring make it worse? We already have a crisis of mental health among men that leads to greater rates of self-harm, suicide, and addiction. Will makeup make that even worse, especially for teens?
Will It Sell?
Chanel goes online with it’s makeup line for men this year and other lines are coming with male specific products this year as well. Whether any of the concerns raised will ever come to fruition will be answered by one question: sales figures. If the makeup is a flop, much of this may never be an issue, however, if makeup for men becomes popular, then it remains to be scene what the overall effect will be.