• Tue, May 14 - 2:00 pm ET

Makeup For Men Is Supposedly No Longer Taboo

johnny depp

Well, good news, men wearing makeup is no longer taboo! At least according to The Daily Beast. They claim:

American consumers spent over $5 billion on men’s grooming products last year, over half of which went into skin care and cosmetics, according to the market data firm Euromonitor International (in 1997, by way of comparison, they spent $2.4 billion). By becoming attuned to the beauty industry, men are now openly availing themselves of the same opportunities afforded to women.

But what kind of cosmetics are they buying?

An interview with Harry Brant for IntoTheGloss.com in early March (where I was, at the time, an associate editor) focused on the extensive cosmetic routine of the teenage son of Stephanie Seymour and Peter Brant. He noted: “If you have bad skin, why would you want to let it hang out?” Commenters praised his confidence, but added that they would be uncomfortable with a male partner who wore more makeup than they did. “Concealer for spots…I would be cool with,” one wrote, “but I reserve the right to be half as superficial about certain things men are superficial about. Foundation/ lip liner/ blush = dealbreaker.”

I think this is a pretty interesting distinction. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a boyfriend with cover-up for spots, but I think I’d still be surprised if they had a tube of lipstick (and if I found one lying around their apartment and they claimed to use it, I might assume they were cheating on me and trying to cover it up.)

There are some aspects of makeup – lipstick, in particular – that I still associate strongly with femininity. Maybe that’s simply because lipstick always seems marketed towards women. However, I think we also make the case that make-up should just be a fun way to do art on your face, and men should have as much right to that as women. And the men who have worn make-up have generally been pretty cool. The Daily Beast notes:

Makeup artist Tilbury said, and noted that among other men in history who have worn makeup (including the ancient Egyptians and Romans, the court of Louis XIII, the members of Kiss, David Bowie, Keith Richards, Johnny Depp), Alexander the Great, who was “ridiculed throughout ancient literature for wearing make-up … was undefeated in battle and ruled the largest empire of the ancient world. Go figure.”

You know, if it worked for Alexander the Great, maybe more men should give it a try. Johnny Depp and David Bowie both look pretty good.

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