Sunday, May 11, 2008

Men and cosmetics, from eyeliner to guyliner - am I missing something here?

Are more men wearing makeup than meet the eye?

This is the text of my That's Men column in The Irish Times on Tuesday 6th May, 2008. "That's Men - The best of the 'That's Men' column from The IrishTimes" is published by Veritas.

Is there a hidden world out there of guys who wear makeup? Or is it a not-so-hidden world? Am I completely out of touch with trends in the male world?

I have to admit that I am one of those guys who won't be seen wearing makeup this side of the funeral parlour. In fact, I would gladly declare that "I won't be seen dead wearing makeup" except that the decision will be out of my hands.

In all this, I think I'm still a member of the majority - but the world of men and makeup is changing, however slowly.

My eye was caught recently by a blog by journalist Natasha Hughes in the Sydney Morning Herald in which she expressed amazement at seeing the groom at a wedding wearing what she called "slap-full coverage foundation."

What is "slap-full coverage foundation"? I guess it's something you slap on your face and that's awfully obvious to the onlooker, especially to the sharp-eyed female onlooker.

Natasha's amazement at the groom with the foundation mirrored my own surprise at another manifestation of the interest of men in makeup. Last year on my blog I wrote a single paragraph piece under the heading Men, eyeliner and sex appeal. It was just a little link to something I read somewhere else. Since then, that headline has drawn readers to the blog day after day. Never mind my more serious meanderings on the meaning of life. No, it's eyeliner and sex appeal that gets them going.

Why? You don't see that many guys going around wearing eyeliner unless they're Goths and I don't think the Goths are big readers of mine.

Do some of us have a secret habit? Are there lots of guys standing in front of the bathroom mirror wielding the eyeliner and slapping on the "full coverage foundation" and then removing it before the wife comes home?

Well, I guess there are some, but that many?

And anyway are we reaching the stage where fellows won't feel the need to whip off the eye shadow when they hear the key in the front door?

Right now, being caught wearing your wife's make-up might result in several expensive therapy sessions - but it's all a matter of context and maybe context is changing to the point where the makeup thing just wouldn't matter anymore.

Indeed, I read that Boots has a men's makeup line and that the H&M stores stock a line of men's mascara, in London at any rate. I don't know whether they stock it in their stores here. Maybe one of the lads would drop in and check it out?

In the music world, barriers are increasingly being breached when it comes to men's cosmetics. High School Musical star Zac Efron set tongues wagging last year over his fondness for foundation. Other male stars' attachment to eyeliner has given the world the word "guyliner."

And how much money does/did Bertie spend on makeup? Is it €5,000 a day or €5,000 a month? It doesn't really matter, does it? It's the principle that counts. [Note: Bertie Ahern, former Taoiseach - Prime Minister - of Ireland]

And the major question is this: will Bertie keep wearing makeup when he's no longer Taoiseach and he's not before the television cameras every day of the week?

Should a grateful nation not provide him with a small 'makeup' allowance so that he can look his best when, say, he's being filmed entering and leaving the Mahon Tribunal over the next decade or so?

You might think that this is all on the fringes and I suppose it is, but fashions have a habit of working their way from the edge into the centre.

How long is it since a man would be embarrassed to be seen buying a male moisturising cream? Not long at all - but now nobody could care less.

Actually, there is a possible use of male make-up which I hadn't come across before and which just might appeal to Irish boyos. One guy responding to Natasha Hughes' article revealed that he finds "a little concealer" is always useful "to hide those bags under the eyes after a big night."

So there you are. If a night on the tiles has left you unable to face your jumbo breakfast roll, just dab on a little concealer and make those bleary eyes vanish.

1 comment:

Gene said...

I am a straight man that uses fake definition on my stomach,It Cosmetics, but would never use any makeup on my face.I dont think theres anything wrong with it, lots of men were makeup.Woman use makeup to make themselves look better or feel better why cant we?