For years the beauty industry has stayed afloat off the back of female insecurity. Blemishes, wrinkles, bags under the eyes, there’s always a product to purchase. And now men are being encouraged to do the same.

Just one more dab and I'll be right for a beer with the blokes. Image: Erica Harrison

From ‘moisturising aftershave’ to ‘Urban Camouflage concealer’, it’s all very metro-macho. Unsurprisingly, make-up for men seems to be taking off in the land of the plastic fantastic - the United States. According to an American study, the amount of money spent on facial skincare products for men grew 11 percent from 2010 compared to 2011.

Sure, the packaging is more cigar box than bath-bomb princess, and it’s never directly referred to as ‘make-up,’ but sales of men’s toiletries are expected to hit $3.2 billion USD by 2016. Products beyond the standard aftershaves, shampoos and deodorants are an increasingly large percentage of this figure.

As the labels say, these new products are all about ‘power,’ and ‘coverage’. But does this strategy actually work on Australian men?

Most Aussie guys pride themselves on bravado and ‘sun-kissed’ skin, but they’re no strangers to a bit of pampering either. Thousands of them take medication like Roacutane to avoid acne-pockmarks, and even more spend money going to the hairdresser. Sites like makes money packaging moisturisers with endearing labels like the ‘Big Boy Pack,’ and ‘Good on You Shampoo.’ But makeup? Surely Aussie men are too proud for that.

Most women I know wear make-up because it’s expected and it makes them look good. It highlights the nice things and covers the bad. So why are men who have been told for decades that all they need to do is spray deodorant to get laid, suddenly reaching for the foundation bottle?

Maybe it’s because we’re a generation obsessed with ourselves, trying all the while to look our very best. But who said a polished, immaculately smelling man is best? It’s no secret that ‘rugged’ is a term of endearment when directed at guys. I’d go so far as to list ‘stubble’ a desirable characteristic.

One thing’s for sure, if men do make the choice to dabble in concealer or de-wrinkle their face, the reaction if you’re found out ain’t pretty. Mark Zuckerberg was crucified for wearing make up during a video filmed before Facebook’s public launch. Apparently he was trying to hide the circles around his eyes.
You’d hope that the wheels of paranoia which have convinced women for decades they need altering haven’t caught up to men. Gender roles are fluent and I’m all for equality, but ‘cake-face’ isn’t a term Australian men should aspire to.

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    • Sniper says:

      05:49am | 27/06/12

      What’s most amusing is that you believe this shit on your face actually works.  Pretty sure men aren’t that overall men aren’t that gullible.

    • Abe says:

      07:36am | 27/06/12

      Nothing more needs to said.

    • marley says:

      08:37am | 27/06/12

      From what I understand, male cosmetic products represent one of the fastest growing sectors of the beauty industry.  Maybe men are more gullible than you think.

    • Sniper says:

      08:45am | 27/06/12

      Right marley because if ONE buys it, that means it’s the fastest ‘growing’ because women already buy it.  No wonder you fall for this stuff.  You will swallow any bullshit and believe it’s real.

    • M says:

      09:14am | 27/06/12

      Well, they do reckon that metrosexualism in cities is on the rise, so I’m not surprised by the fact that it’s a growing market.

    • Condor says:

      09:21am | 27/06/12

      How do you know it’s not just gay men that are buying it? They are a different market to straight men. Also “fastest growing” is pretty simple considering make-up has been around since the ancient Egyptians, thus any growth will seem like fast growth in a new market if all other markets are saturated.

      Most intelligent straight men know that this stuff will dry up a vagina almost as fast as an empty wallet. A good suit, a good shave, a good shower and good deodorant is all a man needs.

    • Fiddler says:

      09:48am | 27/06/12

      Sniper, I think makeup does look good on women - so long as they use it sparingly and it accentuates, not over-rides their looks.

      It’s like putting spices in your cooking, if it enhances it’s good. If all you can taste is the spice then no. Problem is lots of chicks simply have no clue about this.

    • marley says:

      09:50am | 27/06/12

      @Sniper - well, let me put it this way.  The cosmetics manufacturers think the market is growing, and I don’t think they’d be investing in producing products that won’t sell. 

      Here’s an interesting little in-house piece on the matter:  note that 20% of American men use face cream regularly.  That’s a lot more than can be accounted for by the gay male population or by wishful thinking on the part of the vendors.

    • Jack says:

      10:17am | 27/06/12

      Yeah, men are definitely less susceptible to stupid cosmetics marketing. No way they would spend $20-40 a fortnight on something that does the same job as a 15c alternative because of the way it is packaged and sold to them.


      (real men wet shave with a DE blade)

    • Markus says:

      11:59am | 27/06/12

      @Jack, the marketing may be stupid, but a multi-bladed razor does indeed do a hell of a lot quicker job than a single bladed one, resulting in less time spent on personal appearance.

    • M says:

      01:08pm | 27/06/12

      I’ve done the research, anything with more than 3 blades is a waste of money. Those four bladed ones just manage to get heaps of hair stuck in them.

    • Jack says:

      01:56pm | 27/06/12

      Markus: thanks for proving my point. Now, quick - I heard there is a twelve bladed model coming out, which will result in fourfteen percent fewer unAwesome Shaves*

      *research provided by Gillette.

    • Markus says:

      02:11pm | 27/06/12

      @M, that would explain why Gillette advised a couple years back of a more extensive ad campaign to push consumers from the Mach 3 to their new models, sales must be extremely poor.

    • the other M says:

      03:32pm | 27/06/12

      @marley - face cream is one thing, but I’m sure you’d agree it’s hardly the same as make-up in the form of foundations and concealers. I use a daily scrub and regularly moisturise (at the gf’s behest, not of my own doing but don’t tell her I think it might actually help in any way), both products are relatively cheap supermarket brands, not hardcore cosmetics. I would argue this does not constitute the same crime against nature as if I were to be powdering up every day.

      @M - agreed on the 3+ blades. I got a Gilette 4 blade for free and it sucks for getting clogged with hair.

    • Fiddler says:

      06:17am | 27/06/12

      I blame Jersey Shore for this.

      I’m sure acotrel will blame Tony Abbott

    • M says:

      07:22am | 27/06/12

      I kinda like Acotrel’s abbott rants. It’s like a labrador that shits on the carpet, you want to slap him and pat him at the same time.

    • Alfie says:

      08:41am | 27/06/12

      I prefer to think of Acotrel as more of an annoying leg-humping chihuahua.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      11:33am | 27/06/12

      I also blame Jersey Shore. And Glee. I don’t know why Glee, but I’m sure it is the cause of most of the worlds ills.

      On a side note, man those Jersey Shore chicks are gross. And I think it says a lot about a woman who is attracted to a man who wears fake tan and make up.

    • M says:

      06:23am | 27/06/12

      Meh, I’m good looking enough as it is.

      I imagine it’ll sell well in urban centers though.

    • Craig says:

      07:26am | 27/06/12

      Frankly I despise make-up on women as well.

      Anyone who believes they need to conceal or highlight their features to look good is suffering from a self-esteem issue which will cripple them in life.

      Why aren’t more women in boardrooms? Why do women consistently earn less than men? Why are women considered chattel in some parts of the world?

      An inferiority complex that has been culturally embedded and is sustained through impractical clothing, uncomfortable hair removal and a hatred of natural female faces and bodies is one of the stronger underlying causes that isn’t being addressed.

      Sure we all like to have beautiful women around - but that’s a chain used to bind women into slavery, a cultural artifact. What is beauty? What is ‘looking good’?

      It doesn’t come out of a bottle, and never has.

      While women demean and torture themselves how can they expect the men in their lives to treat them any differently?

    • Emma says:

      07:52am | 27/06/12

      Women invest so much in their looks because they know/believe that beauty is still their biggest asset when it comes to finding a partner. I have not met one man that doesnt want a good looking woman at his side. This whole market of sexy dessous, laser hair removal or whatever would not exist if it didnt work at all. Dont you like your woman in some nice undies? Some women definitely overdo it but bottomline our life evolves around sexual attraction. Thats just how the cookie crumbles.

    • M says:

      08:18am | 27/06/12

      Emma gets it.

    • Fiddler says:

      09:44am | 27/06/12

      Emma, 99% correct. But most blokes prefer the woman sans undies

    • bec says:

      09:49am | 27/06/12

      When you have the distinct privilege of being a conventionally unattractive woman, then you get a say in it.

      I am not pretty. I was born with a number of congenital defects and more to the point, my face is pretty plain. A small amount of makeup allows me to get about my day without taunts or unsolicited advice/feedback.

      What you’re really saying is “be beautiful - but don’t be a lying bitch and deceive us into thinking it’s natural if it’s not”. You’re still not going to give any sort of positive feedback to a 5, even if she is dressed appropriately and is behaving well.

      You’re no different to the people telling women that we need makeup to look good - your message is just far more insidious in its condescension.

    • M says:

      10:24am | 27/06/12

      Bec, who was that aimed at?

    • Emma says:

      07:43am | 27/06/12

      Hmm I guess it is a bit unfair that we expect men to be naturally hot. We want a flat stomach but we dont like the idea of men spending every day in the gym kissing their abs and posing infront of the mirror. We want full hair but we dont want them to fuss over it. It should be “naturally” full and always a hint untidy. We like to watch them play rugby or do manual labour but they shouldnt stink afterwards but smell manly sexy.

      But as a side note: Not many women I know cake makeup on their faces every day. A little bit of mascara maybe and some lipstick. But no war paint just to go to the supermarket. The rule is “Your make up is perfect when noone can see you used make up”.

    • Mahhrat says:

      08:45am | 27/06/12

      You didn’t grow up in the 80s, did you Emma? smile  Make-up back then was atrocious.

      Mum never wears makeup, though she moisturises.  My fiance wears more, especially when we’re gothing up, but then she feels better doing it, so who am I to say?

      What gets me is that it seems more important to look good for all the strangers out on the street than the ones you love.  I see my lady in the morning, with the bed hair, no make up, whatever - to me, she is never more beautiful than in that first minute of the day, yet she feels the need to make herself up for everyone else.  It seems strange to me.

    • M says:

      09:18am | 27/06/12

      Mahhrat, you realise the females are competing with other females for mates, right? Of course they’re going to want to out do each other.  Doesn’t matter if they already have a boyfriend/husband (although some do tend to let themselves go after marriage), at the end of the day they’re going to get male attention because they’re female, what they’re doing with makeup/clothes/pushup bras is maximising the advantage over other women.

    • Mahhrat says:

      10:23am | 27/06/12

      M, if my girl is competing with the others, then she’s an idiot, cos she’s already got me.

    • marley says:

      10:53am | 27/06/12

      @Mahrat - maybe your girl figures she has to compete just to hang on to a stud like you smile

    • Emma says:

      10:58am | 27/06/12


      Dont overestimate a womans intelligence when it comes to looks. We are pretty stupid in that department.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      11:51am | 27/06/12

      So women want guys who put little effort into looking good, but look good anyway, have a bed head, and smell sexy even when they sweat…

      Sex doesn’t even smell sexy.

      Oh yeah and play sports, but not watch them too much. But only those sports that require them wrestling other men in a suspiciously homo-erotic way.

      Sounds like too much hard work. I can’t remember the last time I even saw a gym, but I have a flat stomach. I think because of the way I lean forward to turn my xbox on. I also have a bed head, and could care less what it looks like. I want a beard, but can’t really grow one, and I don’t care for most sports, especially ball sports with a history of guys putting fingers in each others bums. Call me weird.

      The only time I would consider wearing makeup is during the zombie apocalypse in order to disguise myself as a zombie so as to sneak past them and into the relative safety of a shopping mall, which everyone knows is a stupid idea and would never work. It’s just unrealistic.

      “Dont overestimate a womans intelligence when it comes to looks. We are pretty stupid in that department.” - There is truth in this, definately. Don’t even bother trying to convince a female they look better without makeup

    • Hartz says:

      09:15am | 27/06/12

      HAHA - The Aussie male is dying and the metro sexual wine sipping collar poppers are proliferating. I never thought i’d see the day…!! Judging by my wifes response I’m not sure it will attract women the way they think it will… Maybe my wife is old fashioned but I think a “blokey” fella will always be the alpha dog and never short of a girl or two. I know the first of my friends to show up wearing make up will be teased mercilessly.. In a good natured aussie blike kinda way ; )

    • Jack says:

      11:31am | 27/06/12

      Tell us more about how much of a Good Ol Fashioned Aussie Bloke you are.

    • Hartz says:

      09:26am | 27/06/12

      My friend Ben is one of these guys - I’m almost sure he wears make up everyday, his hair is immaculate. He loves sipping wine spritzers while watching the tennis. Then he went and got a girlfriend and freaked us all out… apparently our assumption that he played for the other team was incorrect and he just grew up in a privileged environment where being a metro was encouraged… we love him but I hope it doesn’t become the norm through out society..!!

    • Jamin says:

      10:44am | 27/06/12

      maybe it’s a Ben thing or it could be an upper crust society thing… A guy I work with, also called Ben, is a likely candidate for the make up if it becomes fashionable. He always brags about his high IQ so I’m guessing he’ll figure out mascara soon enough. He too was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and wears his air of superiority like a stinky cologne; but he fails to notice that his primped hair and finely decorated polo shirts are not attracting the attention he seeks… One time he was mistaken for a lesbian, which was funny coz he shrieked in horror which made him sound even more effeminate… Oh well, it takes all types to make the world go around and if the earth had more Ben’s then I would be all the more “manly”  - Good onya Ben ; )

    • Emma says:

      11:33am | 27/06/12

      Funny that both your examples are on “financially blessed” men. So its the idea that rich guys pay more attention to their looks? I think its just a different style. But I must admit when I picture a man with make up then I think of your examples as well. I cant really picture a bikie with make up.

      And anyone ever thought that you would have to super perfectly clean shaven to be able to apply make up?

    • Not as pretty as Ben says:

      12:31pm | 27/06/12

      maybe us fellas from the wrong side of the tracks just have a more rugged charm about us that we don’t need to hide behind all of the prettiness these guys aspire to… I’ll never be as pretty as the “Bens” but i’m happy to be a little rough around the edges…

    • The Real Jamin says:

      12:32pm | 27/06/12

      Damn you Hartz.  A little bored today are we?

    • AdamC says:

      01:10pm | 27/06/12

      Jamin, that conjoured a really clear, very funny image.

      In my experience, less than half of metro/girly men are actually gay.

    • The real real Jamin says:

      01:49pm | 27/06/12

      Is that you Ben..?? What’s up - did someone steal your lip gloss ; )

    • SKA says:

      09:46am | 27/06/12

      Most of my friends and colleagues are masters of the natural ‘make-up” styling - which means their eyelashes might look a little longer and their skin a little clearer when they are wearing it but they are still 100% recognisable and attractive wearing none at all. I do know two people who “cake it on” - they are both very pretty without makeup and I can’t understand why they haven’t realised that they looking shocking when they plaster foundation on themselves (actually, in the case of one, orange bronzer… nothing worse than someone with ultra fair skin with an overlay of orange bronzer all over).
      I like to wear make-up at work and when going out, partly because I work in a company where I am expected to and partly because it gives me a confidence boost - if guys want to wear a bit of foundation to hide acne like women do, as long as they don’t smother themselves in it, I figure they can do what they want. Whenever I have break-outs, I am glad for foundation and I used to feel sorry for men that they couldn’t hide theirs if they wanted.

    • Ally says:

      09:56am | 27/06/12

      Nothing wrong with men’s face care products - cleansers, scrubs and moisturisers are all great and more men should use them to look after their skin.

      But unless you’re a clown, men’s make up is a big fat no for me. I used to work with a guy we all swore wore mascara and foundation and it was just a huge turnoff. Most women do not want a man that’s prettier than them.

    • Katie says:

      10:18am | 27/06/12

      My fiance and I went to buy him some aftershave the other day.

      We had no idea what we were looking at. Apparently, the days where a bottle of aftershave is just labelled ‘aftershave’ is gone! It’s all ‘rehydration cream’ or ‘epic moisturising balm’ and the like.

      In the end we went with one of two we found that was labelled ‘aftershave’. At least we knew what the heck it was.

      Note: Female cosmetics confuse me as well, but at least they usually label them as what they are!

    • Blind Freddy says:

      02:11pm | 27/06/12

      And what about men’s deodorant fragrances - steel, ice, gravel etc.

      WTF do any of those things smell like?

    • M says:

      03:32pm | 27/06/12

      Pure testosterone.

    • andrew says:

      11:04am | 27/06/12

      i’d always just relied on shower gel,deoderant and toothpaste as my only cosmetic products until i started getting dermatitis over the last few years. I’m now allergic to soap and have to use soap-free wash like dermeze or QV, also if i don’t moisturise a couple of times a day my hands will dry out to the point where they will crack and start bleeding. I seem to be allergic to some degree to most moisturisers including sorbolene cream (my GP was very surprised when i told him this) so after trying most of my girlfriend’s selection i found that for about $3 a bottle AVON hand and nail cream does the trick.

      Other than that i shave most days at my girl’s request as she doesn’t like her face being scratched by stubble, Previously it was generally every second or third day - or the day before i went back to work if i was on annual leave.

    • Lucas says:

      11:56am | 27/06/12

      I am a man that wears moisturises every day. My father died of skin cancer and it was recommended to me by my doctor, but it is the sunscreen that is the important bit. But normal sunscreen smells bad, so SPF30 moisturiser it is

    • prosperity says:

      12:21pm | 27/06/12

      It’s amazing. Depending on the context, gays are either a minuscule percentage of all men, or they are some huge percentage of the male population who can underwrite millions of dollars in a consumer category.

    • Dene says:

      01:40pm | 29/06/12

      Exactly - Punch commentators are more like this than they would ever care to admit smile Gay Marriage? Only 1% of men are gay and it is a pointless issue but 100% of men who wear make up MUST be gay- because god forbid the rest arent just “blokes”

    • Pricey says:

      12:35pm | 27/06/12

      Hartz I like where you are going,

      I work with a guy who I am sure has started to wear make up to work. I have worked with him six months and come 4 in the afternoon he usually rocks a decent beard. Nowadays the females in the office have noticed his ‘flawless skin tone and kind eyes’ I started paying attention and even I can notice sublte changes. I brought this up with him and he denied it quickly. I figure if he wants to do it then at least be proud of it.
      The only success I see is that now he has a lot of female ‘Friends’ but he still complains about striking out. So what has he really achieved?
      I am successful with Soap, shampoo and cologne.. and until that changes why do I need revitiliasing moisture enriched skin toner. Well played to the genius marketers who managed to lull a whole swag of people into thinking they need all these products for a better life.

    • renold says:

      12:48pm | 27/06/12

      Don’t need any of that stuff, blessed with good skin and good looks. Have no need to shave the hair of my chest either…who came up with that crap actually?

      One tiny flaw in my good looks, I’m slowly gaining a bit more face…but apparently that’s sexy, well thats my excuse anyway and I wont be going to Asley and Martin

    • Soos says:

      03:07pm | 27/06/12

      @ Emma says:10:58am | 27/06/12
      Dont overestimate a womans intelligence when it comes to looks. We are pretty stupid in that department…
      ...and anyone else who chooses to use the royal “we”...
      please speak for just yourself!

    • L A BORE says:

      03:41pm | 27/06/12

      a man?
      is there any left?
      they are all gay!

    • Jock says:

      05:59pm | 28/06/12

      Um, I’m a bloke and I’m a homo and I wouldn’t go near any of this metro crap. A shower and deodorant, and a shave when we start to look like hobos, is plenty for me and my bf

      Homosexuality =/= metrosexuality.

    • Budz says:

      03:47pm | 27/06/12

      Guys that straighten their hair, now that crap I just don’t get! Seriously? What’s wrong with you people?

    • Sandrine says:

      11:48am | 28/06/12

      Truly, all I can see coming is another “you’re not good enough” marketing campaign to promote product. 
      There seems too, to be a push to rid the world of anything less than perfection.  It keeps everyone’s shoulder to the wheel and the money circulating.

    • Kim says:

      06:16pm | 28/06/12

      I’d personally like it if more men started wearing makeup. I loathe the gender stereotypes we all corner ourselves into. Enough with the “women should do this” and “men should do that”, already. People - and genders - can not be generalised so easily.

      I want to live in a culture where either - makeup or no makeup - are considered to be OK, and people are free to make a decision for themselves without fear of being judged either way.

    • Dene says:

      01:52pm | 29/06/12

      Most straight guys I knew in Sydney were all dressed “Gayer” than my gay friends - the stereotyoes etc are all being perpuated by feral bogans who genuinely still believe burping in public is sexy!

      Melbourne - where i was born, now live, - is more neutral but getting just as bad!

      So many here have said that the pretty biys dont get the girls? Of course they don,t - Women don’t want the nice clean guys! ??? Yeh right..


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