Men's makeup is on the rise. No longer a tool reserved for A-list celebs walking red carpets, movie stars padding their appearance before arriving on set, or performers and punk rockers, cosmetic cure-alls are surging in response to shifting gender norms. What was once falsely flagged feminine — see: Harry Styles' nails — now winds up in nearly every issue of GQ, the one-time totem for traditional masculinity.
"Makeup doesn’t feel quite so transgressive — nor quite so erotically charged — anymore. In our consumerist, identity-obsessed age, it’s become an easy, low-stakes, inexpensive tool that allows everyone to experiment and publicly display the result," New York Times Magazine's Megan O'Grady wrote earlier this year. She sees the ever-growing group of men using makeup as revolutionaries — especially so in the age of toxic masculinity.
But that same paper, in a 2010 story called "Men’s Cosmetics Becoming a Bull Market," proclaimed the impossibility of men adopting makeup as a part of their daily routine. In fact, it begins with a trope wherein the husband, a Border Patrol Agent, secretly starts wearing the wife's makeup. She notices a bit's gone missing, confronts him and assures the interviewer he's not the type you'd expect to wear makeup. A whole damn lot changes in a decade.
That being said, the evolution since the days of David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, Boy George and Prince donning makeup has been exponentially more significant. (And expectedly so — it's been 54 years since Bowie's debut album.) Nowadays, men are consumers in a market increasingly protected from gender polarization. Dipping your toes into the hair and nails aisle, for example, isn't (nor should it have ever been) grounds for public shaming from your peers.
Not only has consensus shift in cultural standards contributed to the rising number of men more conscious of their appearance, but design has, too. Subconsciously the way a product is packaged still impacts how we perceive it. Is it dark and brooding? Probably men's, our advertising-trained brains assume. Macho and combat- (or Sasquatch-) referencing? Definitely men's. But newer products toe the line between appealing to men and being approachable to all — and they're casting a wide net with those who wear it.
Hims tapped MLB legend (and J-Lo ex) Alex Rodriguez for their Blur Stick debut; Rapper Lil Yachty is launching a nail polish line of his own called Crete (which comes packaged like a marker instead of as a blotter brush and ink); A$AP Rocky and Lil Nas X starred in a campaign for Rihanna's Fenty Skin collection; Rami Malek rocked Kosas' colored LipFuel on the red carpet last year; it's rumored that Harry Styles has his own signature line of cosmetic products in the works, too.
Sure, it might be difficult to dream of a day when curling eyelashes is a mainstay in a man's morning routine. Blush might be a stretch, too. (28-percent of men say they already or at least would consider using concealer, while only 11-percent said so about bronzer.) However, men should approach makeup and other adornments with less hesitance — and be generally more accepting of those that have already embraced them. Who really cares, anyway? Chances are there's a product out there for you, too. Perhaps one from the list below.