For the first time in centuries, men wearing makeup is not completely taboo. Thanks to social media and the emergence of male beauty influencers like Charli X Boi, makeup is becoming more gender-inclusive. This concept, however, is hardly new.
Charli X Boi as he is affectionately known in the beauty industry is also beauty squad member for Clicks SA.For generations, makeup has been seen as a “girls-only” enterprise, so we forget that it wasn’t always that way.
For millennia, stretching from 4000 BCE through the 18th century, men traditionally used makeup in myriad ways. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that makeup was relegated to one end of the gender spectrum. At that time, the influential Queen Victoria I of Great Britain deemed cosmetics vulgar, a view corroborated by the Church of England. During the Victorian era, makeup was considered “an abomination” by both the crown and the church, creating strong, widespread associations between makeup, vanity, femininity, and “the Devil’s work.” As religious values continued to permeate cultures around the world, mainstream definitions of masculinity narrowed.
By the 20th century, makeup was seen as a girls-only pursuit.
Today, the world is finally coming back around and growing to accept different gender expressions. We hope the trend continues, but society can’t move forward without looking back. Read ahead to learn about makeup trends for men throughout the ages.
Though makeup for men was and is no means the standard, social media has allowed male beauty gurus to share their artistic expression on a large scale, helping to break down centuries-old stereotypes. Major beauty companies like Covergirl and Maybelline took notice and announced the first male faces of their brands.
Makeup has evolved through the years . Men have found a way to use makeup very simply and organically, to create everyday looks for themselves without any stigmas behind it.
As the rules of gender presentation become more and more flexible, makeup continues to slowly infiltrate some men’s everyday routines—not necessarily always in the larger-than-life fashion of YouTube gurus, but in subtler ways. Skincare is much less stigmatized. But the acceptance extends to colour cosmetics as well—a little concealer on a blemish here, a little brow gel there.
It is also a point to note makeup doesn’t always mean femininity, not in this day and age. You also have boys with beards wearing full faces of makeup, and it’s acceptable. Gender-neutral ad campaigns from brands help the denaturalization of makeup as a feminine endeavor. This paints an even more exciting vision for the future, as well. The industry has changed so much—there is so much room for merchants and new brands , and social media has played a big part in that change. There’s more accessibility. Personally, we can’t wait to see what comes next.