Johnny Depp (and his spiritual and sartorial forefather, Keith Richards) knows all about the power of eyeliner. So do David Bowie and reams of '80s and '90s electronic music fans. Now a new generation of dudes is getting in on the look, rimming their eyes in black (aka "guyliner") and trying other cosmetics as well.
If you think guys wearing makeup is "wrong," "unmanly" or "weird," you don't know your history. Contrary to popular assumption, men wearing makeup goes all the way back to ancient times. As Charlotte Tilbury sums up on her site:
"The earliest records of men using cosmetics were in Asia — in China and Japan 3000 BC, men and women used tinctures of gum arabic, gelatin and egg to stain their fingernails to signify their status in society. Flash forward a couple of thousand years and the Ancient Brit warriors were daubing their faces in blue woad and became known by the Romans as Picts — the painted ones. The Romans themselves painted their heads to disguise premature baldness (can’t imagine that was hugely convincing ...), a precursor to the wigs and male beauty spots of the court of Louis XIII (who went bald at 23 and hence pushed wigs as all the rage). Harlequins, Dandies and Macaronis followed."
Not only has it been common at various times in the past for men to wear makeup, there are also other countries where it's much more accepted. Socially conservative, male-dominated South Korea is probably the most well-known country where men-in-makeup is normalized. (It's popular in both K-Pop but also for working men.) College student Cho Won-hyuk told First to Know, “Having a clean, neat face makes you look sophisticated and creates an image that you can handle yourself well. When I wear makeup on special occasions, it makes me more confident.”
Even in the U.S., there are well-known male makeup artists, some with their own lines of cosmetics, and in the Age of the Internet, plenty of guys have taken the trend of painted men and run with it, publishing vlogs, Tumblrs and Instagrams focused on makeup techniques and themes. There are even gender-neutral makeup blogs like the Glittered Age. Thomas Halbert is one of these new cosmetic creators (see his video for a gold eye below); he runs a fabulous Instagram feed as well as a YouTube channel.
Men who wear makeup do it for a variety of reasons (as women do), from wanting to stand out to wanting to cover up to wanting to experiment with what they look like depending on their mood.
Daturia-Barsik Kiki, a commenter on the Buzzfeed article linked above, writes: "I'm a guy who never leaves the house without makeup. I wear tons of makeup but no-one can really tell if I don't tell them. Wearing makeup doesn't necessarily mean looking more feminine - in my case, since I have very light-colored facial hair, when I use brow powder to darken my brows and mustache, I actually look more masculine and grown-up than natural. Makeup is magic if one learns how to use it to enhance your features, and I don't think only women are allowed to explore that."
What do you think about men wearing makeup?
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