Facial hair isn’t the only thing that have Philly men turning to the cosmetics aisle. There’s a new school of image-conscious guys out there who go bespoke, have serious opinions on beard oil, and aren’t afraid to wear a little bit of mascara. We saw it coming: Last fall, fashion and beauty industry moguls like Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford dropped male grooming lines that featured everything from lip balm to bronzer and concealer. (Yes, bronzer.) For ages, women have had the upper hand when it comes to fixing their “flaws” with makeup. Love it or hate it, we’ve at least got the option to wear a bit of concealer when we have a zit, or a smidge of blush when we’re looking pallid. Guys, though, they’re on their own. Well, until now.
Local makeup artist B Wilson has seen a significant increase in men wearing makeup. “In the past two years, it’s grown tremendously,” she says. “Whereas maybe I would have, like, one person a year, last year I had about 30 guys.” Wilson is primarily a bridal makeup artist, and she often gets requests to work with the groom before the wedding. “They like to call it ‘touch-ups’ so it doesn’t seem like makeup. It’s makeup,” she says.
For many guys, keeping the word 'makeup' out of the equation is key. Male-grooming brand Mënaji refers to their cover-up product as 'powder'—a popular buy among guys who have oily skin and want to reduce shine. But the stigma is slowly dissipating: Products geared specifically toward men are coming out now more than ever. In fact, a Euromonitor International report anticipates a nine percent rise in U.S. male grooming products sales by 2017, making it a $6.1 billion industry. Global sales are projected rise five percent this year alone to an impressive $17.5 billion. The male beauty market is huge—and men are starting to take notice.
"Guys are trying to find a subtle way to fix things they're self-conscious about, but still hold on to their masculinity," says Kasey Golden, a makeup artist with Cheryl Stuart Artistry inside Newtown's David Witchell Salon and Spa. Her male clients request a range of cosmetic services, and she points them to Clinique's men’s skincare line and Cheryl Stuart’s private label unisex line.
Some of Wilson's clients are counter-shy: They ask her to pick up the more serious makeup items (think: foundations and concealers) for them, and then they stealthily retrieve the goods from her later. (It's like the most glamorous drug deal ever.) But her number one request from men? "They want me to pull out their lashes [and] use mascara to make their lashes look long and luxurious,” she says.
She, too, fields lots of products requests: For lashes, she recommends Benefit's They’re Real mascara and Urban Decay’s Big Fatty. (“I feel like [the men] probably lie and say it’s for their girlfriend,” she says.) She also lauds Tom Ford's collection (like the bronzing gel for a hint of sun-kissed color), EvolutionMan products and Luxury4Him. And the best part about these? You can make your purchases online, show up to work after a long night looking like a million bucks, and no one will be the wiser.
We won’t tell.