top of page

How will Changing perceptions of Beauty impact the Beauty industry?

Men for Makeup

What is beauty? The answer will, of course, be different for everybody, and it is a definition that is continually altering with the times. These changes in perception will and must create a direct impact on the industry. The Beauty industry, like any other, must adapt and change to remain relevant in our everevolving culture. Today’s cultural climate is radically different from what it was 50 years ago. As Quoted by Niomi Wolf in ‘The Fashion Myth’ “The ideology of beauty is the last one remaining of the old feminine Ideologies.” While many would hope that this outlook is changing, with the rise of representation and diversification is there now one definition of ‘Beautiful?’


Moreover, is it still appropriate to be marketing makeup to the majority of women? Make-Up is an art form that has been around almost as long as people have in some form or another. Many consider the true beginning of makeup application for beauty purposes goes back to the ancient Egyptian times. As Journalist and senior editor at the Readers Digest- Anna Walker explains. “Men and women of all classes would decorate their eyes with coloured kohl.” This alone shows that historically makeup was never meant just for women. Historians even suspect that Alexander the great would be makeup to keep himself looking healthy. It is reported that “As he travelled around Asia, Alexander would send plant cuttings home to a friend in Athens so that they could create a garden, especially for beauty products. “(Walker, A no date). But as society evolved and hypermasculinity became more prominent in western day to day society.


The Idea of a man in makeup became almost laughable. Over the past hundred years or so, men have stayed away from makeup, but things are changing, and the beauty industry must adapt to keep up with customer needs and values. The start of these necessary changes can be seen in many areas of the industry. In late 2018 Chanel launched their first beauty range targeted at men’ Boy De Chanel.’ the collection consists of - eyebrow pencil, foundation and a matt lip balm and was relative initially in South Korea, where men wearing makeup is not so unusual. After this was announced, Chanel stated, “Beauty is not a matter of gender, it is a matter of style,” Tom Ford has done a similar thing, and these two brands are the front runners and pioneers in the male beauty industry. (Niven-Phillips, L.2018)


However, why is it that we are living in a society that accepts and celebrate men that choose to wear makeup, yet there is still such a divide between men and women’s beauty products in terms of marketing? Now it is fair to say that some brands are taking steps to widen out the audiences that they are promoting themselves to — brands such as Covergirl. In October 2016 Covergirl had their first male cover girl. At the time non-celebrity seventeen-year-old, James Charles became the first man/boy to model for Covergirl. Now Charles is one of the most famous people in the beauty industry, and Covergirl was one of his early accomplishments (Safronova, V 2016). Since then, he has gone on to work with massive makeup brands such as Morphe. These are significant steps in the right direction, but will there come to a point where makeup is marketed as makeup, for anybody? It is no surprise then that the men’s makeup and beauty industry is on the rise. Even Hyper masculine magazine- Men’s Health put out an article recommending products for men- foundation, concealer even bronzer. More interestingly while they did recommend a brand like Boy de Chanel, they also recommended brands not specifically for men such as NARS and Milk (Abad, M 2018). If such a ‘Manly’ Magazine is promoting the use of makeup to men that are thinking about it, a significant shift in the perception of masculinity must be happening.


The independent predict that over the next couple of years, there will be considerable growth in popularity for gender-neutral makeup. In a similar way to the ridiculous notion of things like toothbrushes being gender-specific. If makeup such as concealer or foundation can and is worn by people of all genders, then the marketing of such products should demonstrate this so as not to exclude and isolate certain groups. (Simon, A 2018)


The effect that social media is having on the beauty industry is undeniable. (L, Jones and H, Gelbart 2018) Explains how millions watch YouTube makeup tutorials daily. Male influencers such as Patric Starrr, James Charles, Manny Gutierrez, Reuben de Maid and Jeffree Star as just a small pool show the need for male representation in this field.


In a survey done, 68.75% of people did not think men and women’s beauty needed to be marketed separately. (Evans-White R 2019) This proves that this change is something that the people want and that in this social climate they feel is necessary. Tom Willson is a makeup artist that specialises in SFX and Drag; he wears a full face of makeup almost every day. He predicts that in the coming years more men will be used in beauty campaigns saying- “I think it will occur naturally as the industry’s ratio between men and women evens out.” There is, of course, the matter of discrimination that some men can receive if they are obviously wearing makeup. “I do wear makeup daily, and I’ve received negative comments a couple of times for it but nothing to stump my enthusiasm for it.” Willson, T(2019). However, as opinions change and mindsets evolve, for the most part, this disapproval will likely dissipate, and most people will become more accepting and supportive of self-expression. As with everything in life, there will be people who are not open to changes and new outlooks, but the important thing is that the general consumer mindset is shifting and therefore, so must brands.


As people push for self-love and selfacceptance in a world with so much selfloathing, beauty brands can be a stepping stone on the consumer’s journey to feeling beautiful. In the same survey as previously noted, when asked ‘Do you accept your flaws and find them beautiful?’ thirty per cent answered no and everybody else’s answer was that they are working on it. In this random selection of people, not one person’s answer was yes. (Evans-White R 2019) This demonstrates the lack of confidence and acceptance that people are internalising. If a makeup brand can have even the smallest effect on making somebody feel beautiful then surely, they should do all they can? If they are made to feel like a genuine part of the brand’s community, not just one of the few men that use the product. Then they are more likely to exude confidence and ideally promote the brand. As said by one of those in the survey, “If you don’t feel good on the inside, it won’t translate externally. Therefore, internal and external beauty make up a person’s identity because they are inextricably linked.”

Beauty brands may be concerned, wondering why they would change the marketing strategy that has served them so long. By exclusively marketing to one gender, you are excluding half the population. While not all will buy into the product, there is a significant percentage that may consider it. I would argue that the more readily available it is made to them, the more likely that percentage will grow.

As explained in (Sethna, Z and Blythe, J 2019, pg.43) “There is a view that somehow marketers can persuade people to want things.” If this is the case solely from a financial standpoint and not thinking of the ethical side, why are they not already using men in their advertising? Forward-thinking and inclusive approaches to marketing will only put the brand in a positive light in the eye of the consumer. While this is something that is predicted to happen shortly, certain brands pride themselves on diversity. These brands, such as Fenty Beauty, M.A.C and Milk Makeup, just to name a few, need to be pioneers in this area. According to Philippe Pinatel Senior Vice President and Global General Manager at M.A.C cosmetics, “M·A·C is all ages, all races, all genders.” (Estée Lauder companies, no date) Rianna for Fenty said a similar yet less gender-inclusive statement “so that women everywhere would be included.” (Fenty Beauty, no date) Milk Makeup state that “Our community and culture have always been our inspiration.” (Milk Makeup, no date)

For these brands, if inclusion and culture is such a core value, for them to appear genuine and sincere about their approach and beliefs, they will need to start making moves when it comes to the male population that does wear makeup, whether that is a full face daily or simply a little concealer to cover some discolouration or blemish.

To conclude, perceptions of what is beautiful are and have been changing vastly. Men are now allowed to be beautiful through makeup and celebrated for it from small touch-ups to all-out glamour. A percentage of the male population have a want or need for makeup products. As a result of this, makeup and beauty brands must adapt their marketing strategies and expand their pledges of inclusion. If a brand wants men to be included, the brand will have to make it so that the male sees themselves realistically in the product. It can’t be just men playing fancy dress as women (unless of course, it is precisely that). During many periods of history, it has not been unusual for men to wear makeup and that is once again becoming the case. The overarching message, of course, being- look how you want and do what makes you happy whether that can be makeup or if it is something else entirely. If brands realise this, they could be making a lot of money, and the economy of the beauty industry will continue to thrive. If they do not, they could be losing out on a lot of potential money.



bottom of page