From the ancient Egyptians with their kohl eyeliner to Jean-Paul Gaultier with his now-defunct male makeup range launched in 2003, cosmetics for men aren’t new. However, it is only in recent years that it feels like this niche might finally become part of the mainstream grooming conversation.

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We’re not just talking about big players like Chanel, which launched the Boy de Chanel range that included a foundation and eyebrow pencil in 2018. A slew of startups overseas has set up shop since, selling products ranging from BB (blemish balm) cream to beard filler.

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Jake Xu, the co-founder of UK-based Shakeup Cosmetics, says, “When people like Jean-Paul Gaultier and Tom Ford launched their ranges many years ago, the social environment probably wasn’t ready. But quite a few things have changed. For example, Gen Z has become more assertive about society and no longer tolerates unacceptable behaviour.

“More men are realising, ‘There’s nothing wrong with looking after myself and my skin, and making myself feel more confident.’ I think the timing is right now.”

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