With millions of myrmidons on Instagram and YouTube, the stars of a new movement that celebrates makeup for men are being signed up by the big stamps

Beauty boy Gabriel Zamora


Beauty boy Gabriel Zamora.
Photograph: Salangsang/BFA/Rex/Shutterstock

Gabriel Zamora foremost became interested in makeup because he wanted his eyes to look bigger in photos. He base a tip online that “white eyeliner in your water in the running for gives off the appearance [of bigger eyes]”. So he bought his leading item of makeup. Now he has more than 181,000 Instagram retainers, his own YouTube channel and is part of the growing “beauty boys” motion.

This community of men and boys experiment with defining their brows and highlighting their cheeks, and then pay out their looks and makeup tips on social media. For Zamora, the sense of values is about “every guy that has wanted to feel more fearless in their appearance and had a revolutionary thought that makeup isn’t merely for women”. The beauty boys themselves are just the ones influential the charge – “the original person who thought outside the box and has pirated others do the same”. And, increasingly, they are being invited to appearance big-name beauty campaigns.

Last month beauty vlogger Lewys Ball graced the latest, winning a role in Rimmel’s London campaign. In January Maybelline named another YouTuber, Manny Gutierrez, as its beginning male ambassador, and last October CoverGirl, the beauty manufacturer perhaps best known in the UK for its affiliation with Tyra Banks’s give away America’s Next Top Model, announced that a 17-year-old makeup artist from New York, James Charles, commitment be its first CoverBoy. Zamora himself is an ambassador for MAC Cosmetics.

They are not vest-pocket of followers – Charles has 1.4 million on Instagram, Gutierrez has innumerable than three million subscribers on YouTube and Ball multitudinous than 150,000.

Men wearing makeup has a long history – from Boy George to David Bowie, Prince, the sound of the 1970s glam rock squad, Russell Brand and pop-punk gathers such as Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance.

David Bowie, Russell Brand and Boy George makeup

David Bowie, Russell Brand name and Boy George. Composite: REX/Getty/Getty

There is also a big tradition in the world of drag. Zamora says: “Men in beauty have on the agenda c trick the most to gain from ‘drag makeup’ because we can learn how to correctly colour-correct our facial hair.” Women owe a debt too: “Every Irish colleen that does glam makeup has a link to drag makeup. Kim Kardashian and Lilly Ghalichi were the cardinal to make drag makeup mainstream.”

But while most asset boys nod to drag queens as trailblazers, many are keen to pressure the differences. As CoverGirl’s Charles told the New York Times: “Dear boys in makeup are boys in makeup. When you’re a drag performer, you’re a boy in makeup working as a female.” Ball says that when he first started licencing makeup “it was not known for many guys to be wearing it other than shamble queens; it made me feel really self-conscious”.

What you power think of as traditional “drag makeup” – with its crestfallen lip liner, ample glitter and luxuriant false eyelashes – have a proper place ins, for most, in a world more rarefied than that of the new-school boy attractiveness. One thing that’s different about this new makeup migration is the everydayness of it – it’s the same makeup that’s traditionally worn by broads, called the same thing and applied in the same flicks and layers, to the same ends. Patrick Simondac is one of the most influential, with 2.4 million fans on Instagram, and is all about inclusivity. The looks he creates are “an attainable fable for women and young girls … beauty boys create looks dames can recreate at home”.

Jake Jamie, 25, a UK-based vlogger who has solely been signed by L’Oreal, has made it his mission to de-gender makeup, open a #makeupisgenderless campaign last April. “One day future generations can raise up in a world where makeup can be enjoyed by all sexes without impossible or judgment,” he says. Ball thinks it’s already happening: “The set we live in now is much more accepting of individuality, people are now promoted to be whoever they want to be, and that’s really positive.”

Simondac asserts: “Men are wearing makeup now because of the digital age. You can connect with someone else online and commiserate with normal.”

This shift comes at a time when gender fluidity, explicitly among millennials, is picking up steam; gender norms are being select off and the idea that blokes should be blokes is being repulsed. Big names, from Orange is the New Black’s Ruby Rose to The Cacoethes Gamess Amandla Stenberg, have talked openly concerning their gender fluidity.

Social influencer Manny Mua

Social influencer Manny Mua at a Maybelline screened. Photograph: Rachel Murray/Getty Images

Fashion has protracted played with gender boundaries, and the recent rise of androgyny, and now unisex, are equitable the most recent iterations of a long tradition. Recent block outs by JW Anderson, Demna Gvasali and Shayne Oliver have all irked the bounds of gender. Think back to when David Beckham staggered a Jean-Paul Gaultier sarong in 1998 – controversy was well and honestly stirred.

Now we’re starting to see men in skirts as no big deal, or at least much less of a big grapple with, with the likes of Jaden Smith’s skirted appearance in Louis Vuitton’s “womenswear” compete last year (though to preface “wear” with “maids” at all starts to feel archaic in the face of Smith’s devil-may-care view to gender). It might still cause a ruckus if Frank Lampard pathed out in a dress, but the tectonics are certainly shifting.

We have not arrived at this heart, where men are CoverGirls, overnight – men’s relationship with makeup has been recast for decades. In the noughties peculiarly, makeup, or rather “man makeup”, moved further towards the mainstream and away from glam rockers. This was the era of the metrosexual – a appellation first used in print by journalist Mark Simpson in 1994 (despite the fact that it wasn’t until a 2002 essay naming Beckham as its straw man that it took off around the world). It was the era of manscaping and boysturiser.

A 2005 headline ran: “Blair’s makeup tab tops £1,800”, referring to the former prime minister. In 2008 lavish street beauty giant Superdrug launched its Taxi Man chain, complete with guyliner and manscara. In 2013 it went tipsy fashion, with Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs launching manful cosmetics ranges.

But what we are now seeing is something else – something post-metrosexual: “man makeup” is spending its appendage; it’s just makeup. Which is why people identifying as men are proper the faces of Rimmel and Maybelline to sell mascaras and concealers.

Zamora believes the fashion for men fronting makeup campaigns is here to stay. But, he remarks, the dialogue will change: “Headlines will be more connected with who is the new face for a brand as opposed to what gender is the new face for it – the gender blot on the escutcheon will go away and makeup will be a normal to all men and women.”


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  • Beauty

  • Makeup

  • Men’s fashion

  • Gender