Growing up in London, Michael Cross (54) remembers a period in his life when wearing make-up wasn’t such a good idea: “Male make-up wasn’t new in the 1980s – 10 years before, under the influence of Bowie and Lou Reed, plenty of us borrowed girlfriends’ or sisters’ eye-liner. But in south London going out like that was a seriously bad idea – not when the Skins were out looking for queers to bash.” Kevin(36) often encountered problems too: “Growing up in Rhyl I used to get quite a lot of grief about wearing make-up and how I liked to dress.”
Of course wearing any form of make-up has always been popular among your usual rock stars,bright lips and lots of eye shadow were usually mixed in with some wild crazy hairstyles. For them it was an extension of their character, a way of expressing themselves outside of the normal boundaries of being a pop star.
However this proved just that little bit too out there for the average man on the street, who thought wearing make-up was something that only creative types or gay men did.
Beth James from London recalls: “When I was 16 I had a boyfriend who wore nail varnish and when he turned up to pick me up my dad asked me if he was gay.” It was also a cause for concern for Tina Francis’s uncle: “My uncle nearly (really) made my cousin Tim leave home when he came back wearing eyeliner one night.”
Fast forward a few decades and it seems attitudes have now changed. Here are few highlights of the decade that saw the rise in the male grooming industry.
First up in 2000 saw Emo (short for Emotional) become a more popular trend in both music and fashion. Although it first grew from punk music in the 80s and 90s, Emo guys are well known for wearing eyeliner.
The start of this decade also saw the birth of the metrosexual man. This also coincided with the rising popularity of David Beckham; suddenly it was ok for men to start caring about their appearance. David Beckham is a very heterosexual man who is not afraid to be seen embracing his feminine side. This was especially the case when he wore a sarong and proudly declared his love for body waxing.
There was also of course that famous Parkinson interview back in 2001 when Victoria Beckham declared that her nickname for him was Goldenballs and he liked to wear her thongs.
In 2001 Russell Brand was busy establishing himself as a presenter on MTV and DJ on Xfm. He raised quite a few eyebrows with his appearance, but was most famously known for wearing black eyeliner.
Back in 2003 Johnny Depp appeared heavily made up in full make-up in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, and subsequent Pirates of the Caribbean movies in 2006 and 2007.
In 2007 Zac Efron showed up on the red carpet to promote his new movies Hairspray and High School Musical 2 wearing a full face of make-up, foundation, blush, bronzer and even lipstick.
In 2008 Stuart Pilkington was named as the “spokesmodel” for Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Éclat for Men – dubbed “guyliner” after appearing to be wearing eyeliner during his time in the Big Brother house.
Whereas previously with Michael Cross(54) wearing make-up would have been a serious issue, today Pete (34) has no such problems: “When buying from the high street I haven’t experienced any problems, as I suspect that many of the sales assistants believe I am buying for my fiancé, and the few times when I have explained what it was for, my matter-of-fact attitude has had positive reactions.”
The subject of heterosexual men wearing make-up has now become more common and even accepted, Pete (34) from Nottinghamshire: “I am quite open when I am wearing make-up, and rarely – if ever – have I encountered any problems. I believe that confidence is the key, and since I do not make an issue of it, then neither does anybody else.”
The popularity among men wearing make-up, has helped to generate a whole new industry in the male grooming market, with men now enjoying as much choice and variety as women. Simon of Bulldog cosmetics [www.meetthebulldog.com] said: “We have been pleased that demand for our products is high.” Male-only grooming salons are also on the increase. Matt from the Menace salon [www.menacegrooming.co.uk] explains: “We are a male only salon, whereas before they would have had treatments in very feminine environments.”
As a result men are now becoming more knowledgeable when it comes to buying and wearing make-up. Pete (34) isn’t exactly clueless and knows precisely what he likes to buy: “When shopping for new make-up, the brand is less important to me than the colour, as I generally prefer colours that are not fashionable, e.g., darker shades red rather than brighter colours. It is more important for me to find the right shade than be concerned about the name of the brand.” Kevin (36) also has no problems when it comes to buying make-up for himself: “I’ve been buying make-up in High Street stores since I was 15 so no real issues with going to Superdrug to get it!”
So now finally men everywhere can now be proud of having their own section in the bathroom cabinet.
Image courtesy of google images-beautyblitz.com