With the many liberal subcultures in our society pushing boundaries, questioning gender roles is a popular topic.
Wearing makeup has been a part of your typical women’s routine for a long time but this societal norm is being challenged more and more with efforts to expand the scope by helping makeup become genderless. That being said, the concept of makeup being genderless is not recent at all. As far as we know, makeup was first used by the ancient Egyptians and the artifacts we see as examples of this display both women and men wearing full faces of the classic ancient Egyptian look. Somewhere throughout history, we began to view makeup as something that was strictly feminine placing a stigma on men who wore it by labeling them with effeminacy. Although there have been celebrity icons who rebelled against these notions providing some kind of platform, it didn’t prove to be enough to shake the perspective of the broader public. Today’s society is more accepting of men who chose to wear makeup which appears to be a result of the support behind gender fluidity movements.
This pretty much means that although this is something that we see a lot more and there is less judgment towards it, the associations have not really changed. Most male makeup influencers in the media still do hold some kind of shock value to most.
As for the men who are interested in wearing makeup whilst wanting to do so in a way that’s more fitting to their “everyday man’s” character, society’s association can make them feel that it is more than part of their grooming routine when it doesn’t have to be. Fortunately, there are brands in the industry who are recognising this issue and attempting to spread awareness. They have set up their brands in the exact same way as a male shaving and skincare line would in order to blur the line between men cleansing/moisturising and just applying a bit of powder, concealer, or colour corrector.
Male makeup and cosmetic lines have aimed to mascilise their brands by alining their advertising decisions towards male-orientated choices. This begins with sensory branding. Benny Hancock is a great example of a brand that utilized visual and tactile branding; they have kept their packaging design simple and straightforward, from colour scheme to font whilst bringing a professional luxurious feel through the reflective matted choice of material. It’s quite common to find simplified bulky packaging on male grooming products as it has consistently received great response.
Choosing a smell can also be kept quite simple by using a subtler fragrance or scents inspired by popular men’s grooming/perfume lines. The type of products being offered is another thing that these brands do in order to keep it directed towards a male audience. Whilst feminine brands sell an extensive number of products, these brands limit their range to products that are just meant to freshen up as opposed to exaggerating certain features in a way that could cross the line into making them stand out in a way that they do not want to. For example, applying a small amount of concealer or contour rather than a bold red lipstick.
These male-directed brands are important because even though some brands that are popular amongst women have begun to offer male lines such as Chanel Boy or Mac’s unisex collection, it defeats the purpose of attempting to separate the association between makeup and taking on feminine characteristics because these brands are generally preferred by women.
This has become a highly controversial topic receiving copious debate on Twitter. The brand War Paint, in particular, has been repeatedly accused of promoting “toxic masculinity” for the purpose of advertising. Many have expressed their opinions on how makeup should be viewed as genderless without brands trying to achieve sales through making men feel that they have to view makeup as War Paint in order to be acceptable. Whilst this is true, the founder of War Paint Daniel Gray makes it clear that this is not his intention at all whilst referring to his website where he explains how the skin differs between men and women making it perfectly appropriate for men to use products specifically formulated for men.
In terms of societal concerns, anyone should be able to wear any kind of makeup without judgment interfering. However, there is a mass selection of men who are more drawn to masculine branding and have been put off by makeup due to its feminine associations. Surely they deserve their own corner in the market in the exact same way that has been done with male grooming brands.