A masculinity makeover

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Set brows, flawless skin, smoky eyes, supple lips… more and more men use Makeup regularly, aimed at these effects. Recently, a resident of Kolkata posted a photo of himself sporting red lipstick and shared that his mother was ashamed of him because he used mascara. The post won him a lot of attention and encouragement on social media.

For men from successful reality TV shows promoting makeup and fashion blogs and trend-setting brands, masculine Makeup is spotlighted. Ah, why not? Makeup can make you look beautiful and feel good, but no matter what other people say about it, Ronan Mili feels like a makeup artist and a hairstylist. He states, “Makeup is at the same time the most underestimated and overrated product for today’s generation. The right amount of concealer can mask the worst marks, but walking through the thin line through scare others.
While Indian men feel insecure about their looks, Ronan prefers not to wear Makeup for fear of being identified as gay or less manly.’ “I have to suffer catcalls every day, but I love to wear makeup, whether it’s for a casual meeting or a dinner out,” he says. “I’m not looking for the affirmation. Beauty ideals exist, but whether anyone uses Makeup or not, even how much Makeup is used, none of someone else’s business.

Male Makeup has not been wholly stigmatized. Vandana Luthra, the founder of VLCC Health Care Ltd., a beauty and fitness conglomerate, says perceptions are shifting rapidly. The male personal care industry has risen exponentially over the last decade. Although men wearing Makeup are still exceptions today, this is less likely to be the case shortly. Look at the sudden rise in men’s grooming products in recent years, which goes beyond shaving creams and after-shaves. Who would have thought ten years ago that men would use facial washes as part of their daily skincare regimen? In reality, who would have thought that they would have had a regular skincare routine! “She says so.
Men aged 25-45 spend more money on grooming and personal care items than women do. The average Indian man spends 42 minutes on grooming every day, with men in metros spending as much as 61 minutes on grooming, according to Mintel’s February 2019 report.

There is also the growing phenomenon of the “metrosexual” man, which started in the mid-nineties – someone overly concerned about his grooming and appearance, generally spending a substantial amount of time and money shopping for it. This pattern is mirrored in the VLCC health and beauty clinics across India—even in Tier 2 and 3 cities—and in the MEA area.

While just 5-7 years ago, the number of men taking beauty services was low in the single digits, today the situation has shifted significantly. Approximately 54% of clients that enter VLCC on digital channels are guys. Over 30 percent of clients for beauty services, including laser hair removal and aesthetic dermatology, are male,” Vandana reveals.

Men are expressing great interest in makeup products and facial kits, and permanent grooming facilities. Permanent eyebrow shaping, laser beard shaping, and bride grooming kits are a fire. “The male beauty industry is definitely on the rise, going far beyond satisfying only necessities of grooming,” Vandana says.

The growth of male Makeup is a good trend, says Ambi M G Parameswaran, brand coach, and strategist. He says, “The male grooming industry has had a major fillip with the launch of Emami’s Fair & Handsome. Many items pursued to make ‘Macho Indian’ a ‘Metrosexual Male’ as I recounted in my book Nawabs Nudes Noodles—India Through 50 Years of Ads,” he said. Last year, Reckitt Benkiser introduced a male version of Veet’s hair removal cream.

Lockdown also saw a boom in hair trimming aids. The rise of male grooming assistance is not just an Indian phenomenon. I’m not going to be surprised if a smart Indian company were to unleash a men’s lip cream, to be offered in a few masculine shades like Lion Red or Dragon Brown,” he continued. Social media has been an enormous cause of this change in attitude. Dr. Anjali Chhabria, a psychiatrist, and psychotherapist says, “What we see all over the world is more and more gender equality.” She states that “earlier, only women can remove their hair and wax.

What we’ve found over the past ten years is that more men are going for waxing and other ways to extract hair from their hands and thighs, as well as facials. So, beauty treatments are being gender-equal.” According to her, all of the men who face the camera used mascara earlier, so they wouldn’t talk about it.

But I think people are making a statement now and coming out in the open, and there’s no shame in that. Only a few people are doing it, but once the trend has caught up, I’m sure many people will follow. Maybe in the next five to ten years, men and women will swap their lipsticks! “She says so.

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