Beauty

‘No longer the secret it once was’: men’s makeup has gone mainstream

In a recent Mecca Instagram ad, a model is shown putting on a very standard face: moisturiser, concealer, a bronzing serum, and highlighter. It's an ad so standard, I doubt I would have been able to recall it in any detail if the model was not a man.

Rihanna's Fenty Beauty and Charlotte Tilbury also have ads featuring men wearing their products.

Makeup for men is on the rise. And, no, I don't mean makeup for the also expanding cast of Drag Race (although such products do, of course, also exist if you would like to sashay away in a bold lip and glitter eye).

Incredibly standard items – concealer, foundation – are now being marketed with men in mind.

Really, we are talking about "no makeup" makeup for men: makeup used by men in the same way as women might use it – covering spots, enhancing features, and not necessarily wanting to draw attention to the fact they have it on.

According to Allied Market Research, the value of the men's personal care market is expected to reach $166 billion by 2022, a compound annual growth rate of 5.4 per cent from 2016.

Meanwhile, 2016 Roy Morgan data shows 3.7 million Australian men purchased a skincare product in a six month period.

The big luxury players have moved in: Chanel's Boy de Chanel range, released last year, proclaims "beauty knows no gender" as it offers up a men's foundation, eyebrow pencil and lip balm.

Even the types of skincare available for men are also starting to shift; concerned more about anti-ageing and aesthetics than just cleaning your face. The Clinique For Men range, for example, has an eye cream (although, bless, they call it a "maximum hydrator eye 96-hour hydro-filler concentrate", like it's a power tool – a common theme in this space, where makeup is rarely called, well, "makeup").

Sawyer Trice, from Sydney, started wearing concealer when he entered full-time work.

The digital marketing strategist says he was always self-conscious about the dark circles under his eyes, but, although the concealer did the trick, he was "embarrassed" to use it because of how it was advertised to and for women.

Mr Trice started his own line of beauty products, The Others, in 2017. It is sold on a website which contains more basic information than you would find on that of a mainstream beauty brand, explaining exactly how to apply concealer, for example, and what effect it has.

"Male customers need a lot more product education to ensure success," he says.

Concerned about men who don't have experience buying beauty products attempting to choose the right shade for their skin, the website also uses an algorithm to colour-match customers using a photo they upload.

The men's grooming industry is "no longer the secret that it once was", says retail analyst Brian Walker, CEO of Retail Doctor Group, who sees the growth of men's beauty as associated with an increase in men purchasing fashion for themselves.

In Australia, Mr Walker says a number of factors could be driving men's beauty sales, including multiculturalism (the biggest global market for men's skincare is Korea: a 2018 GlobalData report indicated that three-quarters of Korean men undertake a beauty treatment – such as a visit to the salon or an at-home facial – at least once a week), as well as awareness of the need for skin protection in a harsh climate (sunscreen is skincare!).

However, while men are more open to purchasing beauty products, he says there has still been a "covert nature" to the industry's growth: men are much more likely to buy skincare and cosmetics online than women, and are not looking for an in-store experience.

"This male beauty trend is a singular activity … men don't tend to get together and discuss what type of exfoliant they're using."

Of course, the question in all of this is: Why do men need their own beauty products? Is there not something a bit uncomfortable about men being embarrassed to wear a women's product, so needing their own (identical) tube?

"In the same way as the women's beauty industry is based on 'what a beautiful woman looks like', this is about 'what a beautiful man looks like'," says Mr Walker.

Mr Trice says his decision to create a men's brand is largely based on their relative lack of knowledge about cosmetics.

"Men have no ingrained knowledge of makeup, whereas women have a lot, so from a marketing perspective, these are two very different customers, and so the way we have to sell the products is different," he says.

"Women know what a concealer is, men often do not, so the product page on my website needs to explain the product in simple terms. As men's beauty and makeup becomes more accepted, and more men are familiar with these products, I think we'll see more unisex makeup brands."

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