Men and Makeup

What comes to your mind when we say the word Makeup? “women”, “it’s a girls thing”, “men don’t use it” right. That’s the notion around the use of makeup in the world from eons. But what if I told you that in the earlier era, make up was as much for men as it was for women. 

We can’t move ahead until we look back, so let’s rewind and revisit the relation between Men and Makeup in the olden days. 

Up until the 18th century, men used makeup in many ways until the mid 1800. 

The Ancient Egyptian-Roman man indulged in display of Vanity. From using scented oils for men working in the sun (acting like a modern day perfume) to using powder to lighten the complexion, rouge to add color to the cheeks and paint nails with pig fat and blood, the men of the ancient era have done it all. 

Makeup in the Egyptian times was used not just to enhance the looks but also for medicinal and magical reasons. Like men in Ancient Egypt used green eye pigments to evoke the God of Sky and Sun, Horus. Eyeliners were applied to not just beautify the eyes but also to ward off the flies and protect the eyes from infection. So it was very common at that time for men to beautify their eyes before stepping out. Also, the color and length of one’s nails marked their social status in the society. 

Ancient men with eye makeup. It was a prerequisite in that Era for both men and women to wear eye makeup.
Image courtesy Google.

However, the then Queen Victoria I, promulgated makeup as Vulgar and evil and the Church of England resonated with that view. And since religion dominated the culture at those times, there was a shift in the trend and gradually make up was seen as “Women only” pursuit. 

But early cinema and modern movie making, male vanity was spoken of again. From hair to skin, men and makeup resurfaced. And by the late 20th century, men also picked up the brush and became makeup artist.

With the change in time and notion, men are taking more and more pride in their appearance. With the gender roles becoming blur with time, the outlook for fashion and makeup has also become more liberal. 

By early 2000, the pop bands started using makeup as a form of expression for their looks and hence the concept of “Guyliner” was introduced. And with the spike in the concept of metrosexuality, beauty brands began to design and introduce make up for men. Yves Saint Laurent which released its male version of Touché Eclat in 2008. Givenchy, M.A.C and other brands also joined the bandwagon. And that’s not just it, international cosmetic brands like Maybelline and CoverGirl even have “Male face” for their products now.

As the rules on gender presentation are being relaxed, make up is slowly and gradually infiltrating men’s daily routine and lifestyle. However, in Korean and Japanese culture, make up has been a part of men’s daily routine for some time now. Infact with the popularity of K-pop culture and idols, makeup is not only mainstream but is also trending. 

Popular K-Pop idols adorning makeup. Image Courtesy Google.

Millennial men around the world are now spending their income on self-grooming and makeup. Even the Indian markets are tapping the male cosmetic market and introducing products for the GenX men with facewash, face creams and other grooming products. Many male actors, influencers and socialites have taken to cosmetics to hide those blemishes and blend those dark circles away. They are jumping into the trend and embracing what was once considered “Female Only”. Men are not just using makeup but now coming out in open and acknowledging the fact, shedding all inhibitions. Social media has also given a broader platform to men to showcase their inclination towards cosmetic by creating videos and content around it. 

Content Creator Abhinav talks about skin exfoliation.
Content Creator Ankush Bahuguna is an actor and has also created a dedicated page “WingitwithAnkush” to talk about makeup and also creates make up looks for his friends and self.

Makeup for men is here to stay. It’s a booming industry as men are now being more and more conscious about their appearance and unapologetically use their wife, mother or sisters make up to amp up their looks. A modern day hetrosexual men are as good in kicking a football as they are now in redefining their jaw line with makeup. 

The gender-based stigma for cosmetic is blurring the lines and creases with cosmetic and its time we accept and acknowledge the trend. 

Image courtesy Pexels

This post is part of Blogchatter’s “CauseAChatter” campaign where in the month of March I am talking about Gender Neutralization.

23 replies on “Men and Makeup”

Many make up artists are men so why can’t they use makeup? Everyone want to look good and make up add up to the beauty.

Wow such an interesting and unique topic. I agree now time has changed and men are equally conscious about their look and appearance and make up is best way to enhance your look. it is really great that men are using this way that is typically used by women in our society to enhance look and appearance.

This is a fascinating topic. Especially liked reading about the history of men’s makeup dating back to ancient Egyptian and Roman civilizations.

This was such an interesting read ! While I still am old fashioned enough to gawk at men wearing lipstick or rouge , fashion is now getting androgynous and we should let men embrace make up and not be judgmental about it.

Truly said makeup is indeed genderless. It is right from past eras and till now. I have also heard that many male actors also do makeup not just to hide their flaws but also highlight their features.

This is really amazing topic to discuss. Yes, men can wear makeup, too. More and more makeup options for men signal that beauty norms are changing day by day. Men makeup looks are all over social media.

Time changed a lot and there are so many men makeup artists, this is such a unique topic you have shared. I loved the perfect way you conveyed the right message.

When my son was around 2 years old, he asked me for the first time to put nail paint on his nails and color on his lips. Well, that was my moment of realization that makeup can’t be just for girls. And, I did what he had asked for. The step towards gender-neutral parenting is not that difficult. Loved your post!

Men wearing makeup is a fashion statement now, and know what, they’re good at it too. About time we let our reservations go and accept it as a gender-neutral thing.

Loved reading your take on how our society is biased gender-wise and how makeup is not just a women’s thing anymore. Indeed this is one segment that was hushed earlier but now coming to the front and I love how its there to stay as there is nothing wrong with men and make up. Its just as natural as women doing make up. Reasons might vary but intentions are good.

Such a cool post. Usually there is a stereotype that makeup is always for women and as you said as per the history that is not true. The ornaments and the makeup have been used by men in the past and it should not be a gender thing as to who uses what.

Well chosen topic. At times when we are talking about Gender neutralization, males shouldn’t be overlooked. Well chosen topic!

Leave a Reply