Makeup for Men? Evolution of the Men's Grooming Sector

on August 17, 2021
Shakeup Cosmetics a hybrid men's skincare and cosmetics range made specifically for men's skin type and concerns. 
Men are wearing makeup for a variety of reasons, from movie stars to models. They are doing so not only to enhance their appearance but also to boost their confidence.
Luxury brands like Tom Ford and Chanel have long been known to push the limits in men's beauty aesthetic looking for increased growth in the male grooming sector, however, we now see niche startups targeted specifically to men's beauty and cosmetics.
Top Right: James Charles for Covergirl. Top Center: Milk Makeup plays with gender neutral makeup in their campaigns. Center Left: Manny Gutierrez for Maybelline New York. Bottom Left: Lewys Ball aged 17 for Rimmel Cosmetics. Bottom Center: Boy de Chanel expanding to the USA. Bottom Right: Tom Ford leading the way for men's makeup way backin 2013.

The Beauty Influencers

From male celebrities proudly showing off their new looks to male beauty bloggers on YouTube and Instagram, it’s clear that the taboo is fading away into nothingness. We chart the evolution of the men's grooming sector. 
In 2016, James Charles (17mil. subscribers, 16.5mil. followers) popular influencer, broke stereotypes becoming CoverGirl’s first male spokesmodel alongside Katy Perry. This was an initial first big step for men and makeup. There are thousands of male makeup influencers on social media platforms YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Companies have capitalised on this and employed a multitude of male beauty influencers to push the limits in the male grooming aisle. 
  • Somizi Mhlongo, local TV and radio personality, idols judge and famous reality TV star became the face of makeup brand, Black Opal South Africa in 2018.
  • Manny Gutierrez, (4.8mil. subscribers, 4.3mil. followers) social media icon became the first male face of makeup brand Maybelline in 2017.
  • Lewys Ball, (418K subscribers, 228K followers) became the first male face of Rimmel Cosmetics in 2017 at the age of 17.
  • Chanel launched Boy de Chanel, its first men’s makeup line in 2018 in South Korea. It included 3 products lines. In 2019, it launched the line in the USA. Chanel has expanded its line in 2020.
  • Tom Ford launched Tom Ford for Men, in 2013, which included face cleanser, moisturiser, eye treatment, purifying mud mask, concealer and bronzing gel.
  • Milk Makeup a fast growing cult indie brand from Los Angeles, regularly features male’s in their campaigns. Their success can be attributed to their unisex packaging.
Huge brands like, L’Oréal Pari and Dior have all partnered up with male beauty influencers to grow their male grooming sector. 
Gary Thompson is the first male spokesperson for L'Oreal
Fenty beauty by Rihanna teaching men how to wear makeup

New Industry Players

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna uploaded two men’s makeup tutorial in 2018 and 2019 that have been so successful that the company now sells the same 5 piece set used on the models on their website titled “Gentlemen’s Fenty Face”. Fenty Skin launched in July 2021 is a no gender skincare brand, the singer has enlisted Lil Nas X and A$AP Rocky to help her launch what is expected to be a hugely popular skincare line.
Charlotte Tilbury added a tab button “Makeup for Men” to their website and have also uploaded men’s makeup tutorials.
Asos the online retailer with revenue of £2.4 billion in 2018, started selling men’s beauty on their website through a dedicated tab button for men back in 2017.

The Celeb Factor

David Beckham’s simple smudge of green eye shadow on the cover of LOVE magazine created countless headlines. Frank Ocean shared his skincare routine in a GQ cover story. Fenty Beauty set Twitter alight when it revealed Daniel Kaluuya wore the brand’s foundation to the 2018 Oscars. Pharrell William’s bold eye liner stole attention at Chanel’s December runway show

Left: Harry Styles often wears makeup on the red carpet and is spotted with light makeup when out and about. Right: David Beckham has influenced male culture from the very beginning of his career, be it hairstyles, tattoos, clothing and now makeup.


Currently, one could think that most of the growth seen in the industry is from non-binary, metrosexual, and the LGBTQ community. Industry players need to develop and market products that will cause them to view makeup as an acceptable and masculine product. Shakeup Cosmetics is at the forefront of this.


In the past, there was a strong connection between women and skincare, much like the connection between women and makeup. Men felt ashamed to show interest in their skin. Currently, it is common sense for men to own their own skincare products.
How did this change come about?
In 2010, when the idea of men’s skin care was relatively new, Dove released a skincare line that was made specifically for men. They disrupted the industry with their Dove Men + Care line.  They offered 3 facewashes and 3 moisturisers. Their products were sold in slate grey containers to appeal to male consumers. They marketed these products as way to “take better care” of your face. Dove Men + Care outperformed other huge industry players such as Nivea and L’Oréal.  The male grooming sector is ripe for its next disruption. 
In the past 3 years, purchases of cosmetics by men has steadily been increasing. Men are becoming more comfortable in taking measures to improve their looks. Men want to look better, and a good way to improve anyone’s appearance is makeup.
In 2017, Google’s trend report, based on the world’s most common searches, showed a massive increase in men searching for skin-enhancing products like skincare and cosmetics. The most common items purchased by the average male are products that enhance their natural beauty. These include but are not limited to: concealers, colour correctors, beard/ brow gel, and tinted lip products. Subtlety is what most men look for when buying makeup.
In 2018, Google searches for male-modified beauty terms increased by 18% in skincare, 17% in colour cosmetics, and 13% in fragrance, according to Gartner L2’s recent report on the men’s beauty industry. While skincare searches outpace those for colour cosmetics on Google, the opposite is true on YouTube. Over the past year, YouTube search volume for “makeup for men” has been consistently higher than comparable searches for “skincare for men”. 


Men's cosmetics are here to stay with brands looking to expand their growth and reach in the male grooming aisle. It's only a matter of time before we all will be applying a lightly tinted moisturiser and wondering how did we survive before.