Over the last decade, the men’s cosmetics trend has seen a meteoric rise in popularity. Whether this is due to a general increase in male grooming habits – or let’s be honest, a general begrudging of the beauty options a woman has at her disposal 24/7 – it’s hard to say, but the good news is that there’s now more brands ‘for men’ than you can shake a stick of Manscara at.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Straight off the batted lash, Manscara (while it definitely made you smile the first time you heard of it) isn’t necessarily something for you. You don’t need to go full-on RuPaul’s Drag Race. That’s the beauty of it though (cliché pun absolutely intended) in that there’s now the whole range of transformative cosmetics to choose from. If you fancy yourself as the next Sasha Velour, you’ve got the chance to be – though maybe hold-off on shaving all your hair off just yet. Equally, you can use these men’s products for as little as shaking off the ‘I should’ve gone to bed earlier’ look, to shifting knowing eyes away from your ‘I-am-more-hungover-than-Charlie-Sheen-stuck-in-a-room-made-of-cocaine’ stare.
I sat down with John Axton, spokesperson for UK purveyor of men’s makeup Mankind, to get to grips with the spectrum of what’s available.
Best Man: There seems to be just as many options for men as women nowadays – how would the discerning gentleman go about choosing something to help cover-up, without shouting to the world ‘I’m wearing make-up, look at me’?
John: ‘Men are not really afraid of wearing make-up any more. The search for subtlety is just to make sure it’s not the only thing someone focuses on when they look at you. We’ve all had that moment where you can’t stop staring at the foundation line on someone’s neck where their skin completely changes shade, because they haven’t blended correctly or chosen the right tone.
Concealer is our top-selling product, for certain, and it’s important to know what works for you before purchasing. You’ll want to know what tone to go for, and ideally how to apply it. Don’t worry about that though, a million Youtube tutorials will show you the basics, and it’s really not hard.
Eyebrows are really important too. while you can go overboard with it and make it a little obvious, a touch-up to your brows with a good pencil can really enhance your look with minimum effort. The Lord and Berry Magic Brow pencil is a really high-seller, and it’s got a brush on the other end for you to shape them if you fancy.’
Best Man: If you were looking for something a bit more exotic or flamboyant, what would you recommend?
John: ‘It really depends on how far you want to go with it. Blusher, bronzer and foundation definitely work for a cover-up and allow for contouring without looking ‘out-of-place’, as it were. You can really accentuate your cheekbones and make your jawline stand out without having to apply a mountain of products, and again, Youtube will be your bible here.
For something a bit more out-there, you can work your way through the eye-liner or mascara ranges, they give a really bold look. You don’t have to sacrifice a masculine look either, as eye-liner can definitely give you a striking, simmering stare. Delilah do great liquid liners, or anything in the Butter London range if you want a pencil. If you do fancy something a bit more feminine, the lash-extending effect of the mascara works to make your eyes shine. Even then, when combined with a strong beard, you can look fierce and fantastic at the same time. Look at [Eurovision 2015 winner] Conchita Wurst.’
Best Man: I’m glad you mention Conchita, as I wanted to know about the drag side of things. Would someone wanting to wear drag still use ‘men’s’ makeup?
John: ‘It’s up to the consumer really, and what products they like to use to get the effect they’re after. Of course, anyone can use any makeup, whether it was ‘designed’ for one sex or the other. At Mankind we certainly offer enough of a range to get any look, whether you’re just wanting a touch-up or a full-on makeover.’
Best Man: Being a wedding magazine, the big question is: What would you recommend for a couple for their wedding day?
John: ‘Bold and adventurous or subtle and slight, the choice is up to you, and depends on what you want, and how you want to represent yourself. You’ll know how you’ll want to appear on your big day, and you should go for that. Oh, although I imagine that with Granny in the stalls you might not want to go too OTT. For someone wanting to appear au naturale, I’d recommend a base concealer or anti-shine powder. Menaji have a great selection of these – and then you need to contour. Illamasqua do a contouring stick that’s easy to apply, and combined with a set of brushes you’ll be able to make yourself look like you’ve been sculpted by angels, which is exactly what I’d want walking down the aisle.’
Best Man: How about the wedding photos? Any tips on what to wear to get them looking the best?
John: ‘A good photographer will be prepared to make sure not to get your bad side, but unless you’re wearing something particularly shiny you shouldn’t even have to think about it. If you are worried, try applying a layer of powder to your cheeks and forehead, and that should prevent any unwanted glistening. Just make sure it’s blended!’