Style, Grooming, Skincare

It’s Time to Make up Your Mind


My earliest memory of a man wearing makeup is Japanese pop idol Takuya Kimura appearing in a Kanebo print advertisement with pink lips and holding a lipstick. That blew many men’s minds out of the water – is Kimura gay? Clearly, the marketing strategy then was to sell lipstick to women as Kimura was the reigning heartthrob then, and everybody wanted a piece of him, even to the extent of “wearing” the same lipstick as him. Twenty-three years later, it is evident that Kimura is undoubtedly heterosexual as his 15-year-old daughter had her successful modelling debut
last year. But the correlation between men and makeup has since been set in stone – that relationship should never exist.

Fast forward to the year 2019, and the preceding years, many “indie” brands have created distinct makeup products, from foundation to mascaras, specifically for men but found little success. In case any men reading this is wondering what the above does, a foundation layers one’s face with powder for a flawless appearance while mascaras help lengthen and darken eyelashes. These will be the same men who would undoubtedly ask, “Why?”

As we progress towards the next decade, and society is warming up to the term “gender nonconformity”, it still comes as a shock that makeup is regarded in a distinct binary way – for her only. While lesser brands have failed to make an impact with their makeup for men, Tom Ford and Chanel seem poised to succeed at changing the game with the latter even naming its range “Boy de Chanel”.

For such major brands to be so specific in their targeting, there must be a demand. If so, does that indicate that men are generally OK with wearing makeup?

However, it cannot be quickly concluded that men really perceive that it is alright for other men or even themselves to wear makeup. While it is no secret that men on TV, especially male celebrities, wear makeup, there will still be misplaced misogynistic comments popping up when men appear to be wearing makeup on social media.

Perhaps, the casual connection between makeup and queer culture has ingrained this stigma in the minds of many men. The rise of many out-loud and proud makeup influencers of late may also have further strengthened this link. The image of highlighted cheeks, colour- shaded eye area, and blockish brows mirrors too closely to the typical amount of makeup that women wear, and this makes men uneasy.


Tom Ford and Chanel’s dedicated makeup range for men are none of the above; they are easy- to-apply products that provide a natural finish. There is also a fail-safe marketing strategy applied to products that are traditionally perceived to be feminine – reframe them as masculine, or at least unisex, grooming goodies. Prime examples of this are nail varnishes with clear matte finish that purport to protect one’s nails and discourage some from biting their nails as well as skincare products that are dressed up in “manly” colours and slapped with the “for men” label.

Dear fellow men, in your bid to boost your charm, you have yet again fallen prey to marketing ploys. Do not be mistaken that this writer is attempting to instigate a global movement
for the entire human race to wear audacious makeup. Instead, the point being made here is that makeup is not inherently female. In fact, all products are created equal unless they are targeted at sexual organs. On days when you are not looking your best, and/or if there is an important event, you should not have any qualms about wearing makeup to get a leg up.

Enter the no-makeup makeup – concealers that cover up that sore pimple and foundations that even out the skin tone.

However, the disclaimer must be made that wearing makeup is an art, and like a colouring book, the initial pages are going to be filled with ugly strokes and patches. The Boy de Chanel Le Teint Foundation prevents this by providing a light sheer finish that looks natural, and yes, men only need to apply it as if he is colouring his face with one shade.


Wanting to look good is not the sole right of any gender. Men’s Folio has delved into the many ways to a healthy-looking appearance, from maintenance with skincare products to instant fixes with aesthetic treatments, but makeup would be the true game-changer. Falling smack in the middle of the spectrum, makeup can protect while providing an instant fix – some foundations also have moisturising and sun- shielding properties – and it can immediately restore the (non-optimal) state of one’s face, albeit temporarily.

If men are willing to take looking good and simple facial coverage to the next level, he can consider picking up the skill of using eyebrow makeup. Men have various thickness of eyebrows, but he can consider wearing a defined set of shapely eyebrows that help frame the face, enhance jawline, and bring attention to the eyes. Fair warning: closer inspections would definitely give away that one is wearing makeup, but why should that matter if he looks good?

Considering that makeup is so affordable and can instantly improve the look of any man, it raises the question: why are men turning away from these products? Is it because it might make them feel not as good when their “bros” judge them? If one is to apply a cost-benefit analysis here, the returns of looking good far outweigh the cost of being perceived as “girly” (bro- speak). It is time men make up their minds and re-evaluate the worth of their ego.

Photo Gucci