Why You Should Consider Wearing Makeup – And How To Get Started
If you are a man and you don’t wear makeup, why not? No, really. Why not? We can think of only two reasons: a) you have nowhere to be today and are enjoying some time browsing MR PORTER – thank you very much – and no one will see you anyway, or b) for whatever reason, you assume that makeup simply isn’t meant for men.
Mr Danny Gray, the man behind the makeup brand War Paint for Men, is familiar with the latter reason. He launched the brand after being unable to find simple, easy-to-use makeup that he felt was made for him. Sure, in theory, all makeup is for everyone, but if you’re new to it, it can be a bit overwhelming to sort through all the tubes, bottles and pots on the shelves. “I want to get rid of the myth that wearing makeup is really hard or complicated, because it’s really not,” he says.
I have been wearing makeup regularly since I was about 16, when, much to my mother’s displeasure, I started covertly applying her YSL Touche Éclat concealer to cover up my spots (good stuff, by the way). And Mr Gray is right. Using makeup isn’t that complicated. The tough part is getting over the stigma of putting it on in the first place. It’s taken me more than a decade to feel truly comfortable wearing makeup to the point that I’ll proudly admit to it here and say that, yes, tinted moisturiser is liquid confidence, far more potent than anything they serve in the pub. Dismantling your fragile masculinity and preconceptions about what you “should” be doing as a man takes effort. And if that means going through life with amazing-looking skin, then so be it.
Where to start? For any man reading this who similarly feels he wants to have a crack at wearing makeup, but can’t tell his concealer from his tinted moisturiser, we’re pleased to present the following guide. It’s not intended to be read as a full routine. Instead, we hope that you will find something useful here and feel a little more comfortable adding some makeup to your grooming kit.
01. Get your base right
“Makeup on men is all about the art of subtlety,” says makeup artist Ms Siobhan Furlong. “It’s about perfecting what’s already there and hiding little flaws rather than changing anything too much.” In other words, less is always more.
To ensure your makeup looks natural, you first need to make sure your skin is in the best condition it can be. After cleansing, Ms Furlong recommends exfoliating, to buff off any dead skin cells that can make makeup look chalky. “I start with Sisley Buff And Wash Facial Gel to get any roughness away from the skin and smooth it out,” she says. She follows this with a moisturiser. “I use Sisley Hydra-Global cream with a few drops of rose hip oil mixed in and massage that into the skin. This gives a really good base and makes skin look really fresh.”
A further option is to use a primer, which will even out the texture of your skin and help the makeup to stay on for longer. War Paint’s one is particularly good because it gives a matte finish, which is great if your skin is on the oilier side (and can even be used on its own to control oiliness). A word of warning on primers from Ms Furlong, however. “Like a painter with a canvas, you can put as much primer on as you want, but if the canvas is threadbare, it’s never really going to look good, so make sure you get your skincare right first,” she says.
02. Applying foundation or tinted moisturiser
Worried about redness, dark circles or an uneven skin tone? Foundation can help with all of the above. Before getting your trowel out, however, it’s important to exercise restraint. “I would never apply foundation all over a guy’s face,” says Ms Furlong. Nobody’s skin is all one tone, so it’s often better to apply the foundation under the eyes, in the corners of the nose, or anywhere else you feel could do with a bit of coverage.
“It’s nice to leave that little bit of freshness or ruddiness in the cheeks or spatter of freckles or a tan across the bridge of the nose or forehead,” says Ms Furlong. “It gives the skin a bit of life, rather than making it all look one tone or being too heavy.”
You can use a brush or sponge to apply, if you prefer, but with a lighter foundation, such as War Paint’s, your fingers will do just fine. If you have facial hair, take care not to rub the product into your beard. Simply wipe any excess off the hair with a tissue.
An alternative to foundation is tinted moisturiser, which you can apply all over your face. It will give much sheerer coverage, with a natural finish. You can also put a drop of foundation into your moisturiser to achieve much the same result. “I use my hands to apply tinted moisturiser,” says Ms Furlong. “It’s more tactile because you can feel the skin and it blends in better.”
03. How to use concealer
If you aim to mask a sleepless night or a volcanic zit, you’ll be needing some concealer. “If you want to cover a blemish or a spot, I’d go with a matte-finish concealer,” says Ms Furlong. “Anything that’s dewy is going to catch the light and make it look more obvious, so with a pimple, for example, you’re trying to flatten it as much as possible. I use a small brush to pinpoint the product exactly. When covering a blemish, it’s good to be precise so as much clear skin shows through as possible and so you’re putting the product only where you need it.”
Both TOM FORD and La Mer make handy concealer sticks that are great if you’re on the go and you don’t need a brush to apply. Also see Perricone MD No Makeup Concealer, which comes with a built-in brush and SPF20. As the name suggests, it gives a natural finish and is ideal for covering redness and dark circles.
04. Should you use powder?
Powder is great for mattifying your skin and setting your makeup so it lasts longer, but you should approach with caution. “Powder can be quite an old-fashioned look,” says Ms Furlong. “It depends on the skin whether you use it or not.”
If your complexion is particularly oily, for instance, it’s good to have a translucent blotting powder handy, but again, less is more. “If I’m using one, I try to concentrate on the T-zone, in and around the corners of the nose or the edges of the mouth and chin and leave a natural texture on the cheeks,” says Ms Furlong.
This, she says, will bring a bit of depth to the face so it doesn’t just become flat and monotone. Powder should always be applied last and with a powder brush.
05. Try out some bronzer
If you haven’t had the chance to go on holiday and get a tan this year, you’re not alone. While a tan from a bottle isn’t quite as appealing as a fortnight in the sun, it’s pretty much the only option the pale-skinned among us have got right now.
“If you want to feel a little bit more sunkissed, a bronzing gel is great,” says Ms Furlong. A subtle bronzer should give your pallid complexion a soft tan that looks natural and won’t leave you with an orange glow and a biscuity aura.
Like foundation, bronzer shouldn’t be applied all over the face. “Put it on targeted areas so it doesn’t look makeuppy,” says Ms Furlong. “Think about where the sun would naturally hit your face, on the higher planes of the face, the brow, the bridge of the nose and the top of the cheekbones – that kind of look when you’ve sat out in the sun for a little too long.” If only!
06. The finer details
Looking well-groomed isn’t just about having glowing skin. If your eyebrows are a little unruly, for instance, try some eyebrow gel. “Guys can have pretty wild brows, so it just kind of keeps them in check if you want to look a bit more well-groomed and more in control,” says Ms Furlong.
“I’ll also do a sugar scrub on the lips, just to get rid of any dryness,” she says. “It makes the blood flow to the lips, too, so they’re suddenly fuller and a bit red. They look alive without looking like there’s any product. I’ll also use a lip balm, but nothing too shiny.” We like Dr. Barbara Sturm Lip Balm, which is nourishing without being glossy and will keep your lips in good nick, especially through the winter.
Illustrations by Mr Iker Ayestaran