Makeup is changing the meaning of masculinity

Story highlights

  • Men's beauty and fashion products have been outpacing women's since 2010
  • Men using makeup products is somewhat normalized in South Korea

(CNN)A youthful male model rubs moisturizer between his palms. He then applies it to his face, pats on some tinted moisturiser, dots concealer under his eyes and buffs on powder to set.

As simple as that, ASOS, the UK-based online fashion retailer, presents its grooming tutorial "How to do natural make-up for men." The video has amassed more than 750,000 views on Facebook.
    This step-by-step is very different from those demonstrated by male makeup artists such as Patrick Simondac and Manny Gutierrez, who have gained fame and attracted followers in the millions.
    Distinct from the full-faced makeup looks that these "beauty boys" showcase, everyday makeup routines are starting to become attractive to male consumers globally, particularly in regions such as the United States and Europe.
    Almost half of UK men used facial skincare products as part of their daily routine, and 59% agreed that appearance is very important, according to a 2016 survey by consultancy group Mintel.
    The growth of men's beauty and fashion products has been outpacing those of women's since 2010, says market research company Euromonitor, suggesting that men are increasingly becoming interested in shaping their own appearance.
    "Regardless of generation or age, these days, men are invested in their appearance to some degree," said Brendan Gough, professor of social psychology at Leeds Beckett University. He has been researching the behavior of men in the UK for over two decades and says attitudes toward appearance have changed dramatically.
    "Not so many years ago, moisturizer was taboo, and it's now commonplace," Gough explained. "Makeup is one of the last bastions of femininity that men are encroaching upon," alongside other areas traditionally dominated by women, such as cooking and child care.
    Yet the way in which men talk about using cosmetic products is very different. "They make it very distinct from how women use makeup," Gough said.

    Practical, pragmatic -- and masculine

    Garrett Munce, director of grooming at GQ US, frames men's use of makeup as practical and pragmatic.
    "I think that the average guy who's considering using cosmetics or does use cosmetics, it's really an enhancement or some sort of camouflage to cover up something that they're unhappy with," Munce said.