Few companies throughout history have been edgier and more innovative than Chanel, and the French maker of fine fashion, fragrance and beauty products are once again ahead of the curve. Jumping on a trend that has hit many parts of Asia and Europe, Chanel has launched its first line of makeup for men, Boy de Chanel, rolling out an eyebrow pencil, lip balm and tinted moisturizer in South Korea this fall before debuting it in the U.S. in 2019.
Some believe that makeup for men is becoming more and more mainstream, buoyed by makeovers on Queer Eye and an expansive attitude toward masculinity among American youth. Makeup and skincare for men are now not just accepted, but seen as tools men should use to practice self-care, but also just to look and feel better.
Chanel, one of the most important and cutting-edge names in the industry, acknowledges gender fluidity with the release of Boy de Chanel: “Just as Gabrielle Chanel borrowed elements from the men’s wardrobe to dress women, Chanel draws inspiration from the women’s world to write the vocabulary of a new personal aesthetic for men. Lines, colors, attitudes, gestures…There is no absolutely feminine or masculine prerequisite: Style alone defines the person we wish to be.”
Although research is limited, men’s skin appears to differ from women’s in certain ways. A 1975 study, the most up-to-date on the topic, found that male skin tended to be thicker than their female counterparts, but that it lost more collagen with time. Men also tend to have different complaints about their skin than women, often focusing around the hairline or eyes.
But men and women don’t really have different product needs from a dermatological perspective. Most people can benefit from sunscreen and a moisturizer if they have dry skin. Beyond that, there’s not much data to support the need for additional products, although some can reduce the appearance of fine lines.
Historically, few men have had to concern themselves with the politics of makeup. But if men’s makeup becomes mainstream, they may find themselves facing some of the same pressures women feel—and, perhaps, gaining some of the same opportunities for expression.
By now, it’s clear that there’s plenty of interest in men’s makeup—whether that will translate into more cosmetics marketed exclusively to men (particularly in the U.S), and all of the opportunities and pressures that might come with that, remains to be seen.