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Exploring the male make-up movement across the world

Man using eyebrow brush
Greta Hoffman/Pexels
Apr 25, 2023 By WGSN Insider
Updates from WGSN

More than a year on from our podcast on challenging masculinities, our experts revisit the topic with a focus on the male beauty scene.

A new version of masculinity is arising, driven by male beauty brands founded by celebrities such as Pharrell Williams and Brad Pitt. But this trend is manifesting differently across the world and contrary to what you might think, the average Korean man does not dress or wear make-up like a K-pop star. So what are the must-know brands and strategies for catering to this rising cohort?

WGSN’s Executive Editorial Director Bethan Ryder finds out in this episode. We cover everything about the male image, from gender stereotypes to make-up stigmas across the West to East Asia, how dating apps and the pandemic have spurred the shift away from such social constructs and more.

Men looking in mirror doing facial procedures
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Representing the new masculinity

“All of these male celebrities are launching nail polish brands, including Machine Gun Kelly, Tyler, the Creator and Harry Styles. They’re also having ambassadors – UN/DN LAQR enlisted basketball player Jalen Green as its newest ambassador. All these founders and ambassadors represent a diverse array of males and show that it’s cool and sexy to wear nail polish.”
– Sienna Piccioni, Head of WGSN Beauty

Woman in white long sleeves cleaning man's nails
RODNAE Productions/Pexels

Moving away from social constructs

“That point about the lockdown is crucial because it took men away from their peers who would have been hyper-critical of this stuff. So it allowed men that space, and comfort and reassurance of a more nurturing group that were around them, or maybe just on their own to forge their identity.”
– Nick Paget, Fashion Senior Strategist, WGSN

Man in brown crew neck T-shirt holding round mirror
cottonbro studio/Pexels

Redefining norms in East Asia

“This sensitivity manifests in a very subtle way, such as taking care of their skin and complexion or getting professional facials and hair implants. Korean men are really cautious about losing hair – people either have hair implants or wear wigs if they are balding and a lot of males get their eyebrows tattooed for more articulated face impressions.”
–  Jaeyeon Park, Youth Fashion Strategist, WGSN

To hear the full discussion, tune into episode 74 of our Create Tomorrow podcast, The Male Make-up Movement: Celebrity Game Changers, Eyebrow Tattoos and Blending Gender Norms, on Anchor, Apple and Spotify.

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