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Make-up for men

Les hommes sont-ils prêts pour le maquillage?

By Deborah Berlioz and Rebecca Connell

The ultra virile man (or alpha male) seems to be about to disappear or is he? We entered the metrosexual age a few years ago. Now, men are much more receptive to the whole grooming concept than they have ever been. Moisturisers, exfoliating gel wash, anti-wrinkle creams,all have their place in men’s toiletry bags. And a regular visit to the beautician to wax their chest or back and shoulders or have a manicure and pedicurte is not unusual anymore. Massages, facials and mud baths- pleasures previously exclusive to women- are now being enjoyed by men on a frequent basis. It seems they have finally caught on to the benefits of a little pampering and are no longer ashamed to book themselves in for a session instead of sneakily using our face masks in the privacy of their bathrooms, but does this mean they will also stop discretely stealing our touche-éclat and actually start buying their own?
Men take care of their skin
Men take care of their skin

It is worth noting that men using make-up is not so much a step forward as a leap backwards: not so long ago, more precisely 300 years ago men beautifying themselves was comon practice in the courts of Europe where face powder, beauty spots and eye make up were all used. We could look even further back to the ancient Egyptians and thank their pharaos for inventing life saving eyeliner! 

The idea that make-up should be exclusively for women is a comparatively recent one, which begs the question: why has it become simply a woman's prerogative to paint her face to appear more beautiful? There have, of course, been a few mavericks who have chosen to go against the grain- such as David Bowie, Adam Ant and Boy George amongst others- but though admired and occasionally emulated, they did not redifine male grooming so much as toe the uncomfortable gender line...

These times they are changing. Launched by Johny Depp's eye-liner laden Captain Jack Sparrow, make-up has slowly wormed its way into our boys 'lives. What started as a craze amongst punk-rock and indie youths has now become a fixture in many mens' daily routine. And why not? why shouldn't  men take as much care of themselves without immediately being classified as effeminate?

Some women still gasp at the thought of their boyfriend standing next to them in the bathroom to apply a touch of concealer before going out, and until recently I was one of them. That is until, one day not so long ago, whilst browsing around Sephora on the Champs Elysee with a friend, I suddenly found myself infront of a small screan showing Jean-Paul Gauthier's latest make-up range. We were transfixed: there, in front of our eyes, were shot after shot of men applying not only concealer and foundation, but  bronzer, mascara, eyeliner... and God were they beautiful. These were not effeminate boys, but virile, gorgeous, muscly men. We simply could not look away and, judging by the sales girls' amused glances, we were not the first to be taken in by the show.

Yes! Change, my friends, has come: Goodbye 80s where even using deodorant identified a man as 'gay', where in order to be considered a real man you had to smell like one. Now, even Lawrence Dallaglio can be seen advocating anti-wrinkle moisturiser in Nivea's latest face-cream add.

An entire new market has been created, but companies have had to be cunning in bringing this change about. They realised that the word make-up itself still sits uncomfortably with most men and so, in answer to this, the product ranges have been re-branded. The "M" word is no longer used, one now refers to it as a "cosmetic enhancement product" . As one sales assistant for Yves Saint Laurent in Harrods specified: " We do not say make-up, we say grooming products. Men don't wear make-up".

We have since seen the launch of Guyliner and Manscara by the British company Taxi, followed by a version of Yves Saint Laurent’s concealer, Touche Eclat, marketed specifically for men. But the brand which has invested the most in men’s make-up remains, without a doubt, Jean-Paul Gaultier, which has created a wide range of cosmetics under the name “Monsieur”, from eyeliner to powder bronzer.


Men's version of "Touche Eclat", by Yves Saint Laurent
Men's version of "Touche Eclat", by Yves Saint Laurent

And to re-inforce the fact that these new products for men are nothing like the women's version, they all come in sleak, masculine packaging. In the case of Yves Saint Lauren's eponimous Touche Eclat, this has ment changing the signature gold tube to grey and emblazoning it with "L'Homme".

The companies it is not just a case of changing names and packaging: men also seak different results from their products. This is why most of these brands keep on insisting on the fact that these cosmetics are “invisible”. Men want to look polished not pretty. 

Powder Bronser, by Jean-Paul Gaultier
Powder Bronser, by Jean-Paul Gaultier
“Men do not want to look effeminate”, said the sales assistant for Yves Saint Laurent. “Our product (the men's version of Touche Eclat) actually makes them more masculine. It is not a concealer, it  just plays a light trick, which highlight the most beautiful parts of the face.”

In the same way, Jean-Paul Gaultier offers a Powder Bronzer which is supposedly “undetectable”, giving your man the appearance of having just returned from a sunny break, and a Brow Groomer (not brow pencil, be careful), a transparent gel, which invisibly tames thick, bushy brows. “The Powder Bronzer is a success”, said a sales assistant for Jean-Paul Gaultier in Harrods. “We have a lot of English guys buying it because there isn't that much sun here… I also use it sometimes when I feel a little tired and not so good-looking.” Fair enough.

Man putting eyeliner
Man putting eyeliner

But what about products such as the eyeliners or the nail varnish? These are a little bit more garish. “Just a few men buy these things,” admits the young man before adding: “and most of the time they are gay”.

So, maybe things haven't completely changed, but we are cerrtainly getting their. And why not, I am perfectly for cleaner smelling and fresher looking men, just as long as their new beauty regime comes out of their own pocket and not out of my make-up bag!


What do you think? Is this is a trend you could embrace?

 What's the price of men's beauty?

The men's version of "Touche Eclat" by Yves Saint Laurent: £22.50

Powder Bronser by Jean-Paul Gaultier: £30

Lib Balm by Jean-Paul Gaultier: £12

Jean-Paul Gaultier Brow Groomer: £15 



20/03/2010 - t_doran a dit :

I really think that more men should start wearing make-up. I really don't see what the issue is. Why go out with a huge blemish on your face when you have the option to cover it up? Or why not stick on some eyeliner and mascara if it makes your eyes stand out more. Plus eyeliner on guys is actually really sexy!

30/09/2009 - julie a dit :

For a wide selection of makeup for men see


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