Makeup for Men? Why?

guyliner, men and makeup, makeup

As makeup becomes more socially acceptable for men to wear, the benefits of it are called into question.

So I came across the article “Makeup for Men Is on the Rise—and No Longer a Taboo” the other day and couldn’t help but wonder about the second part of that headline. You see, for makeup to stop being taboo it means men have always wanted to wear it, but just couldn’t because of society rules. Now is that what’s really happened?

Let’s look at this from an evolutionary standpoint. Millions of years ago a cavewoman would want a man who had qualities to make him a good partner to have children with and to help her take care of their offspring.

I imagine she must have considered in him things such as heights and muscle mass to chase after lions and what have you, but taking care of a family probably meant much more than that. That’s what I always think about when I see a rich old man with a beautiful young girlfriend. People are very quick to judge them, but if you think about it from an evolutionary point of view both are making the best possible choices.

You could argue that men should be showing the same sort of behavior, but you’d be forgetting to consider that women have a lot more at stake when it comes to sex—and the very likely possibility of getting pregnant—so unlike us they need to be very picky. For millions of years (and for many women still today) pregnancy not only puts her health at risk but will often hinder her ability to provide for herself, not to mention the difficulties in taking care of the baby after they’re born. Not everyone gets to be born in 21st century Sweden.

That’s also why silicon implants in men have never made any sense to me. After all, not only women usually look at much more than just looks, what good can come from fake muscles if when push comes to shove he won’t be strong enough to defend her? And I know breast implants in women aren’t very evolutionarily smart either, but for men they have fewer implications in the success of their lineage so they don’t mind. Yes, we’re just very superficial that way.

We are not, of course, living in caves anymore and arguing from the perspective of men fighting lions sounds as stupid as getting biceps implants, but what I want to understand about the whole “breaking the taboo of makeup for men” is what good can come from introducing yet another useless, impractical beauty standard into our lives? Especially to a part of the population that today is moderately healthy in its approach to looks and fashion (at least compared to women)? Should we all just get on-board and suffer the agonies of high heels and hot waxing too?

What I would love to see is gender equality going in the opposite direction, where expensive makeup and plastic surgeries were ridiculous to both sexes, instead of bringing men into this beauty-magazine insanity.

Cosmetic companies have long tried to convince men to buy their products, but until now they’ve all failed over the fact that, let’s face it, men never really needed to look that good to impress women. In fact, we learn that men who “try too hard” must be overcompensating for a weakness he’s hiding, which naturally makes them unappealing to the opposite sex.

But times they are a-changing and we’re reaching a point where men “are allowed” by society to wear makeup. Though I am sure there is a portion of the male population who’ll enjoy the idea, the whole thing just smells like consumerist agenda. Like marketing forcing men to buy things they don’t need, cosmetic companies doubling their markets and more of us getting miserable and insecure about the way we look.

Photo: Hye Soo Nah/AP

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About Ramon Pedrollo Bez

A Brazilian native, Ramon Pedrollo Bez is back after years working for various startups in the UK and is Head of Growth for ResolveAí, a Rio-based taxi app startup. You can connect with him on Twitter @ramonbez or @ramonbez Linkedin.


  1. “What I would love to see is gender equality going in the opposite direction, where expensive makeup and plastic surgeries were ridiculous to both sexes, instead of bringing men into this beauty-magazine insanity.”

    I have to agree with this standpoint. There is now such a push for females to look genuine, that makeup, weight etc don’t matter as much as confidence does. I believe the Dove product line very much looks at minimalism in beauty, rather than going over the top. The idea of “real women” (or more appropriately, average shape and size) as models is gaining ground….yet now there is makeup for men?!? It doesn’t make any sense at all, push for women to be their most genuine selves, but men to begin wearing makeup..

    • Exactly. That’s the whole point. I’m all for anyone wearing makeup if that’s what they really want, but I’m 100% against needless consumerism in any gender.

  2. “Especially to a part of the population that today is moderately healthy in its approach to looks and fashion (at least compared to women)?”

    I don’t know about that. Healthy with regards to the amount of time spent on it? Yes.

    But options? There’s none.

    Spending little time on something you have zero option (or close to) isn’t particularly spectacular.

    If you can pick a black or a white car, will you spend hours at the dealership looking at engines and wheels?

    But if you can pick every part, every option and decide if you want to add or remove stuff, and hand-color every part of the car, even have special personalized stickers put on it – wouldn’t you possibly spend more time at the dealership?

    That’s the difference between men and women’s fashion options. The difference between men and women’s hair dye options. The difference between deciding between “the usual or the casual” for your clothing vs opening your wardrobe and wondering for 30 minutes because you have dozens of possibilities.

    • But Schala, do you not think that this lack of options you describe is the chicken and not the egg in this scenario? That there isn’t a lot of options because there is no market for it yet, instead of the other way around?

      • There is no demand for it because it’s reputation suicide for most men (ie barring Dennis Rodman-like options. Because of the cultural narrative.

        It’s not that men “naturally prefer drab clothing”, it’s that men’s gender role is defined as functional, performative, robotic, clone-like.

        As such expression is considered an handicap, a shirking of his duties.

        So we shame men who adopt any colorful, artistic, or prefers aestheticism to function in clothing, hair etc (for himself).

        This shame results in anxiety towards anything perceived as “too creative/artistic” and is a VERY big part of the reason why arts are female dominated, from piano to ballet to painting (at the amateur level). It’s not natural, it’s created because it makes men easier to control for our consumerist society somehow.

        Then they can spend on women and dates instead.

        • KC Krupp says:

          The funny thing is this being “reputation suicide” is a recent development.

          The idea that men using make-up is defying traditional gender norms is hilarious, that is unless you define “traditional” only by the last 100 years. Historically fashion, including the use of make-up, was enormously important for men, and women’s fashion followed men’s fashion.

          Men have used all sorts of dyes, make-ups, and other things throughout history to “primp and prime themselves” and you only start to see the “rugged no-make-up, simple-dress man” in recent history.

          Think of all those kings, queens, emperors, and celebrities throughout history. The dapper British dandy used to be one of the pinnacles of sophistication, and men were supposed to primp, prime, and prepare themselves even up through the 1950s.

          • Just watch The Forbidden Kingdom.

            The Jade Emperor has copious amounts of face makeup (mostly around eyes), and long nails.

            And I know it historically was truthfullly a sign of aristocracy (the long nails) to “handicap yourself” regarding physical work. And good make-up was to show off. Slaves didn’t need to show off. Spartacus slave women having make-up (in the TV show) is a bit weird, except when they play prostitutes and are groomed by their owners for it.

            Dyed and powdered wigs, the mark of the rich and high status.

          • What guys primped and were pampered? The 1% perhaps, but the 99% had real problems to deal with…

  3. Great to see you on here. Here’s an article you might like on the link between impracticality and status in Western culture, and why men stopped wearing high heels:

    • Very interesting. That reminds me of how long nails in men are very popular in parts of Asia, to show you don’t do manual labour.

      • Yeah. Times change. These days, there’s status for affluent white people in having a perfect tan. It used to be that upper class white people would demonstrate status by having no tan at all (as in: “I never have to work out in the sun”).

        • Hah- a few years ago my son played on a soccer team about 1/2 Anglo and 1/2 Hispanic. The Hispanic moms, mostly, sat on sunny days under umbrellas while the Anglo moms were catching rays.

    • Jameseq says:

      ive always been a supporter of the hemmelhack position, glad her reading of history is getting a wider audience. there are still some who believe that the high heels just spontaneously and simultaneously appeared in the west, without any influence from the then more developed east.

      just like some victorian historians tried to construct a similar narrative about a number of things that ‘magically just popped up’ in the west, like guns and gunpowder ( i remember history books in the 1980s that conceded that while the chinese may have had gunpowder, they never manufactured weaponry but instead used gunpowder just for fireworks)


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