Masculinity is an ideology or a social construct that has been changing through the years. Since the definition of masculinity keeps on changing, so does its association with the way men dress, behave and carry out their roles in the society. Masculinity also differs from region to region, Kilts are masculine in Scotland whereas Dhotis are worn by men in India. Similarly, men have had an ever-changing relationship with makeup.
Egyptians loved a black smoky eye, the Greeks preferred eye creams, Muslim men have an evergreen relationship with Surma and Romans were into pig’s blood manicure.
In the 20th century, men’s relationship with makeup started to fall apart as makeup started to have feminine associations attached to it. David Bowie and Prince were one of the major influencers who used makeup as a way of expression defying the notions of masculinity.
It seems like the face of makeup is changing again. Men have started to wear makeup, James Charles became the first cover boy for the magazine: Covergirl and luxury brands like Chanel, Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs have launched cosmetics lines for men etc. There was an introduction to men’s makeup about 15 years ago by Jean Paul Gaultier. Gaultier launched Le Mâle Tout Beau Tout Propre, a range of makeup for men which included a moisturizer, bronzer, lash and brow groomer, concealer, and eyeliner. But it wasn’t a successful attempt and the collection soon vanished from the market.
The recent launch of men’s makeup focuses on making the men look groomed rather than made-up. It is still in infancy and the makeup industry is experimenting with products that won’t overwhelm men. It can easily be noticed that the elaborate makeup is more common with the gender-queer men and not the straight, stereotypically masculine ones. One thing to keep in mind is that this generation was born off of the internet and they consume what they see online. Even though the gap between the associations of makeup between genders still needs to be bridged, we have come a long way.