The rise of male make up featuring MMUK MAN...
I’m male, I’m 25 and I wear make up almost daily. I can go from subtle make up to hit the local shops or full blown androgynous glamour for red carpets & photoshoots, all in a days work for a fashion writer and social media personality. I’ve been dabbling in make up for over 11 years now, starting when I was about 14 and still at secondary school in a small village. It was 2006 and still not really socially acceptable for a man to wear casual make up without causing any attention, but accepted enough for me to be able to get away with it. Why did I do it? Because I was a teenager with teenage skin, I lacked confidence, and I simply wanted to look fresh and feel my best. I didn’t want glitter eyeshadow or to look ‘gay’ but I did want to look like my skin was clear and confidently put my best face forward. Teenage years can come with crippling anxiety and a huge lack of confidence, so a little bit of concealer and foundation over my spotty problem skin really helped me, and it gave me the boost of confidence to kickstart my life. Fast forward 11 years and I’m still in the concealer, but it truly has changed me. I passed my exams at school and got an NHS job, I pushed my passion for fashion hard in my spare time and created my own brand on social media. I had the confidence to push my career to be able to attend London Fashion Week every season. I walk red carpets, I mingle with celebrities and I have the confidence to nail any opportunity that comes my way, whether it’s being a Judge for the FDC Young Designer Awards back in October or brand ambassador for my favourite products. Simply feeling confident in my skin has changed my whole outlook on life. This was my story, but it’s a story that is becoming increasingly popular, but not just with gay men like myself, where this behaviour is slightly more accepted, but with straight men alike. The male grooming and cosmetics industry has expanded and exploded, just as women’s beauty has over the last decade. The growth of social acceptance towards men wearing makeup has also been significant since the turn of the century. With celebrities such as Russell Brand, David Beckham and Mark Wright all having confessed to resorting to makeup for men to boost their perfection, the spotlight is now very much on modern day men to get in on the action. The market is changing too, showing that the shift in acceptance is real. According to Mintel, cosmetic launches targeting men have increased globally by 70% between 2007-2012 and the UK market grew by 12% going from £512 million in 2007 to £574 million in 2012 with it expected to rise by another 6% by 2017. On top of that, Mrporter.com reported a 300% growth in men's beauty and grooming products in 2015 alone. Men wearing makeup isn't exactly a new thing in the history of humanity however, as far back as 3000 B.C. men in Egypt were known to wear black kohl on their eyes to shield them from the "evil eye," and in the fifteenth century, King Edward IV and his male courtiers were said to have worn red rouge on their lips. Elvis Presley and David Bowie also rocked makeup and were proud of it too, but for some reason, the stigma still surrounds men in make up, but it’s changing, and it’s changing rapidly. With the rise in demand comes the rise in variety and accessibility of male oriented cosmetics, so I’ve decided to try out the UK’s number one brand. Who are MMUK MAN? MMUK MAN is a new brand on my radar but they have been around for a few years with an ever growing and very happy army of male customers. They operate from mensmake-up.co.uk, a site specifically designed for men, by men. They understand the importance of modern day men wanting to look their best everyday and the rise in male beauty and grooming. They are super proud to offer the UK’s widest and best range of makeup for men products offering everything from concealer for men, to guyliner and foundations. All the products are to help simply look completely fresh and polished in a natural, none girly made up way. They set out to produce formulas which, once applied do not shine, cake or streak – the look men certainly want to avoid. Instead, they promote finishes which ultimately scream freshness and perfection whilst upholding your alpha male status! As I said before, men’s beauty is exploding and it isn’t just the fashion lead fellas in the following anymore. Gay, straight, masculine or feminine, male beauty is growing and is set to stay. The brand also have a regularly updated mens make up blog, offering hints, tips and reviews from the industries leading makeup specialists to influencers and male make up users, so that’s worth a look if you’re interested or want to know more!
I have tried a selection of MMUK MAN products which you can buy from mensmake-up.co.uk and tested them myself. As I have been wearing make up since I was 14 (that was 11 years ago now!) I have had a good experience of products already available, but those products are primarily aimed at women. This can be daunting for men to shop, and at the same time we don’t all want glittery feminine foundations and highlighters, we simply want to look groomed and be confident. We are men, and we want to look like men, just better. Below are some of the products I have tested myself with a mini review for each item, my top pick? The MMUK MAN Pro Finish Foundation For Men!
MMUK MAN Pro Finish Foundation For Men A super easy to apply cream foundation that comes in a handy black case with a sponge applicator. I tried this product first as I’m always on the hunt for a perfect foundation, having struggled with bad skin, a good foundation can give me the confidence to cover my skin issues and conquer the world. This product starts as a cream in the compact and as I applied with the sponge I did wonder if it would be cakey and difficult to manage, however it was easy peasy as they say, and within two or three minutes I had finished my face. Gently patting the product over my face and any imperfections that I have. The product to my surprise was certainly a full coverage foundation, covering my redness, spots and any dark stubble shadows. It created a pretty good, natural finish too which I was impressed with, having no nasty “I’m wearing make up” vibes in sight, just a matte finish. I had the N5 shade myself but found it to be too dark, I actually have very fair skin so next time I’ll purchase a lighter colour. Don’t worry if you’re unsure as the brand have colour charts online and a facility to match you to your perfect shade. This was my favourite product out of the collection that I have, but the website offers many different types to choose from. A perfect grooming product for a full, yet subtle coverage which is enriched with camouflaging enzymes designed to tackle and remove the appearance of even the most stubborn imperfections.
Above: The left side of my face contains no product showing my redness and skin issues. On the right side of my face I’ve used the MMUK MAN Pro Finish Foundation For Men. If you look closely at my chin, you can see the visible line from the product, where bad skin meets good skin thanks to the compact foundation.
MMUK MAN Brow Shadow The next product I was impressed with and enjoyed using was the MMUK MAN Brow Shadow. I have very thick but sparse brows, so to look groomed and fresh I often fill any gaps in my brow using a powder. I tested this product hoping it would give natural definition to enhance my brows, and it did just that. I used a small brow brush and carefully went over my brow hair, filling any gaps I had and hey-presto, I had thick, natural looking brows that helped framed my eyes. The powder is a lightweight medium coverage formula available in many different, natural looking shades on the MMUK MAN website. Brows are also big business being one of the key grooming tips for men, a good brow and fresh clean & clear looking skin.
Above: the difference a brow can make!
MMUK MAN Manscara Put simply, a mascara for men. A product to define the eyes without looking drag-like, this simply lengthens lashes and helps you looked groomed and gives you beautifully defined eyes, and everyone finds good eye attractive right? The MMUK MAN site described this product as a “water resistant lengthening cream based formula are a few tricks of the trade to amplify your look, maintain your manhood and create a striking illusion, certain to attract.” Having tester this myself against many other products which are primarily for women, I could totally see a this difference. This was a natural looking finish, unlike some other items out on the market. The dark black colouring around my blue eyes seemed to be enhanced and the lashes looked longer, but natural.
MMUK MAN Eyeliner For Men I teamed the above Manscara with the eyeliner in black from the MMUK MAN range. This product was super easy to apply, and as a thin black pencil gave a more natural look unlike some thick liners, I also noted it lasted all day which was great and it didn’t irritate my eyes at all. Now for men that want a completely natural look you may stay away from eyeliner, however it’s a product that can help define your eye and elevate your look. Male celebs such as Russell Brand and Adam Levine have made guyliner and other makeup for men products a real hit in the entertainment industry over recent years and it’s a product worn a lot by men at gigs and red carpets, so maybe if you have a special event you could have a little play and change up your day to day look without looking camp or draggy. Remember it maybe make up but these products are to enhance masculinity and just make you look and feel better.
Above is my finished look using all the products mentioned, I also added a little powder over the top of my foundation to help matte down my skin, as I find I have a naturally oily skin type. This is my experience of male make up, and for me, I see foundation and a good brow powder for the future of my face, that is unless my skin suddenly becomes perfect. As the face of male beauty changes, and the industry follows, who knows what the future holds, but for now I’m feeling the best I’ve felt, and to me that’s worth the cost of a simple concealer.
Are you interested in any of the products? Visit www.mensmake-up.co.uk for more details, photos and links to ask more questions.
You can read my interview with the brand at https://www.mensmake-up.co.uk/blog/an-interview-with-stefan-howarth-at-howste/
You can also follow the brand on Instagram @MMUKMAN for news of special offers, tips and more photos.
You can also follow myself on my adventures in the fashion and beauty industry @HOWSTE on Instagram & Facebook and @HOWSTEFASHION on Twitter.