Unless you’re referring to “makeup sex”, most guys have little to no interest in makeup—period. At least, that’s what we’re supposed to think. But apparently there are some dudes out there—quite a few of them, actually—who’ve envied the fact that women have a socially acceptable way to camouflage a zit or hide under-eye circles.
There are enough, in fact, of these otherwise masculine guys pinching their girlfriends’ concealer and tinted moisturizers (on the sly, of course) that some companies began slowly, and ever so cautiously, introducing corrective skincare—a.k.a—makeup products for men. They’d never, ever use the “m” word, of course…but in practice, these products do virtually the same thing as the kind in your girl’s beauty bag.
But is there really a market for this stuff? In a word: Yes.
“Drugstores are doubling their shelf space to meet the demands of the market,” says Michele Probst, the president/founder of Menaji Worldwide, a high-end men’s makeup line carried at Nordstrom.com and department stores. “Guys in the US are spending upwards of $33 million a year on corrective products.” Probst, a celebrity makeup artist, has powdered and primped many famous faces, including President Barack Obama, news anchorman Tom Brokaw, and musical artists including Enrique Iglesias and Tim McGraw.
She says that this emerging trend started on the other side of the globe, where business-focused countries, like South Korea, have been making serious bank on grooming products for men since the early 90’s. “Appearance is power,” is a popular local saying that explains it all, according to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article that details how these Asian men, as young as their early 20’s, are using corrective skincare products to project confidence, sophistication and social status.
Health, to many guys here in the US, means hiding flaws—especially wrinkles—which is why some guys are into tanning. But a better, safer solution may be tinted creams, not UV rays.
“Many of my male patients like tinted skincare products and sunscreens,” confirms dermatologist Tess Mauricio, MD, co-author of the new book California Total Beauty and founder of the Scripps Ranch Dermatology & Cosmetic Center in San Diego, CA. “These men, who dress well and work out, want to present their best to the world, regardless of their sexual orientation,” she notes.
Still, would it be OK if your date found your beauty stash in your vanity? “I’m cool with my guy using Kiehl’s body wash and Redken styling wax, but bronzer or concealer? That’s crossing the line,” says Joanna Douglas, senior beauty and fashion editor of Yahoo! Shine. Even though she isn’t surprised that straight men are no longer embarrassed to buy fancy, expensive, nice-smelling beauty products, it’s simply not sexy.
Until American women start getting turned on by men in lipstick like South Korean women do, the trick it to wear barely-there corrective skincare products. We asked one brave tester—a 30-year-old NYC-based banker—to give the some of the leading men’s lines a try.
“I’m foreign to men wearing makeup, but I’m open to it,” he says. “We use other grooming products; I think this could be an extension of that.”