Redefining masculinity, men’s make-up has grown in popularity, driven by the K-wave with K-pop idols openly wearing and experimenting with make-up.
Sienna Piccioni, Head of WGSN Beauty, shares the need-to-know brands and strategies for catering to this new cohort.
South Korea leads the way
In South Korea it is common for men to wear make-up to enhance their complexion and experiment with colour. Young males are the early adopters, with 21% saying they wear make-up on special occasions. The meteoric boom of K-pop worldwide has influenced men’s aesthetics as well as the rise of video calls during and after the pandemic, which saw men spending time looking at themselves on-screen and scrutinising their appearance.
Dedicated men's make-up brands
The demand for glowing, flawless skin will see natural make-up for men gain widespread popularity. Rising TikTok star Zac Heath’s natural male make-up tutorials regularly hit over 500k views, while brands such as Warpaint (UK), Fivism x Three (Japan) and Shakeup Cosmetics (China) are catering to this need with easy-to-apply and lightweight complexion-boosting make-up such as concealer, bronzers, BB creams and skin tints.
Skincare-makeup hybrids will also gain popularity, with formulations that deliver double the benefit. Japanese S-ration’s multifunctional CC cream for men is a foundation, concealer, primer and sunscreen in one.
Men are also embracing colour, ignited by a post-pandemic outpouring of creativity. Driven primarily by Gen Z, make-up is used as a form of creative expression and fluid self-identity as traditional gender norms are broken down even further. Celebrities such as Harry Styles and BTS and influencers such as Indian-based Siddharth Batra create colourful looks that embrace their feminine and masculine sides. Brands that facilitate degrees of experimentation will be sought after by those trying out make-up for the first time and those who want bolder looks.
South Korean gender-inclusive make-up brand Laka offers buildable pigments that start sheer and can be layered and mixed gradually, making them less intimidating for those who want to try colour, but don’t know how. Pleasing’s make-up collab with Marco Ribeiro is purposefully designed for infinite experimentation with pressed and cream pigments that can be applied freestyle with fingers or mixed with water to create different hues.
Want to add some colour to your palette? Check out our Future of Men's Grooming 2026 report for further inspo. Not a subscriber yet? Request a free personalised tour and one of our experts will be in touch to find a day and time that best works for you and your team.