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Make-up for men is going mainstream

These four make-up brands are normalising men who want to look as good as they feel.

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.


    “Like women, men want to look good too, but they don’t want anyone else to know they’re wearing cosmetics,” says Ewan Munro Belsey, who launched Tony & Munro with co-founder Tony Tsianakas in 2019.
    According to Belsey, theirs is the first Aussie brand focusing on “fusion cosmetics” made for men. In other words, products that are “more absorbent, non-greasy, pore-minimising and leave a matte finish”. Its bestselling products are the eye gel and BB cream. “Our eye gel reduces under-eye puffiness and the BB cream moisturises, protects, revitalises and provides natural-looking, full coverage. During the pandemic, we sold a lot of these two. Consumers moved from wanting to look good and feel confident when going out to looking great for work video calls.”

“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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