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Men and makeup: The perfect glow-up to start 2021

By Timothy Rawles, January 2021 Issue.

Can men wear makeup? The short answer is yes.

But it might be intimidating to them when all they see are male celebrity makeup artists fully painted with bright eyeshadow, full lashes, and enough highlighter to block out the sun.

Fortunately, there are options for men who want to feel better about themselves in 2021 without looking like a well-blended stained-glass window. Maybe with enough confidence, it could lead to that if it’s in your heart, but most people would rather start out small.  

Social media influencers are good at their jobs. They should be, as the makeup trade is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. With that kind of reach, you would think everyone would know the difference between Morphe and CVS. If you don’t, you’re not alone.   

What better reason than a new year to try it all out? Especially for men who simply want to even out their tones or hide a blemish or look slightly refreshed after a rough year.

Gen Z kids already seem comfortable using their faces as a canvas, but there are men out there who want a simple “glow up” with natural colors, not an entire paint-by-numbers looking celebrity palette. They want to take baby steps.

We talked to the CEO of Alpha Male Cosmetics, Anttoni Lopez, about where curious men should start. He says he understands how some men want to look and feel good with makeup but are afraid of overdoing it or appearing too feminine.

“Alpha Male Cosmetics was created for these exact men who pose this question/concern,” he says. “Our line does not offer any female inspired/tailored products, i.e., eyeshadow, lashes, blush, etc.”

Anttoni Lopez of Alpha Male Cosmetics

His omission list reads like the gender-bending tools of the trade 40 years ago when pop musicians challenged masculinity. Boy George was probably the most controversial. When he came onto the scene with thick eyeliner, red lipstick, and blush, the world wondered about his masculinity.

In the ’90s, successful men were criticized for their skincare treatments and were coined “metrosexuals” — straight men who routinely used moisturizers and other expensive products on their faces and hair. They, too, were mocked for taking longer in the bathroom than women.

Social media started to take off in the latter part of the 2000s, and companies such as Facebook and YouTube became places to monetize big ideas. The MUA (Makeup Artist) celebrity was born.

Today successful makeup companies are started by influencers who end up making millions. It has become a high stakes environment complete with corporate espionage and cheaper black market knock-offs. With all of this bombarding your newsfeed, it’s easy to feel intimidated. You don’t want to look like Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. You just want to look good doing regular, everyday activities like grocery shopping or taking Instagram selfies with the family.

Lopez believes that men are afraid to use makeup for fear of being judged by their peers because the market is so hyper-focused on women.

“In addition, I believe the fear of the unknown also plays a part,” he adds. “A man with semi- to problematic-skin may want to feel more confident but doesn’t want his masculinity to be questioned — this is just a man that lacks self-confidence. When did we really begin to care what others had to say about us?”

For the answer, Lopez gives us a lesson in fashion history. “It was basically normal in the 1800s for men to not just wear makeup but wigs and shoes with heels. Crazy how the world has shifted over the centuries. I have to blame social media for the downturn in men’s self-esteem and confidence in more recent times. We live in a microwave society that is pushed by false lifestyles and visuals of what is accepted as beautiful. Alpha Male Cosmetics was made for men that stand out amongst the crowd, the men who are not afraid to stand up and be the Alpha regardless of his personal at-home grooming regimens.”

Lopez suggests beginners start with three basics: a BB cream (a tinted moisturizer), a hi-def concealer, and “our camera-ready primer is always a perfect addition to prepping the skin as it provides hydration and a smooth layer of protection.”

Three things seem manageable amid the gridlock of other commercial products shilled on social media. Lopez says there is no time like the new year to start your exploration into using makeup.

One thing that is most important on your journey is the right color; it must match your skin tone or come close to it. The same goes for concealer; the wrong color could out your secret.

Women aren’t the only ones who get dark circles under their eyes or acne scars, or breakouts. Men get these things too, and for some, it can affect their self-esteem.  

With a little practice, anyone can perfect their look, whatever it might be. For people who are shy about shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, there is always the internet.

“If you are a man looking to try makeup for the first time, Congratulations!” says Lopez enthusiastically.

Behind his encouragement, there is also an empowering message. “You have just embarked on the beginning of a journey that may change your life forever. Remember that the makeup does not make you; you make the makeup! Never forget why you decided to try using cosmetics.”

He does warn that anyone with problematic skin, such as unhealed sores or inflammation, should hold off until they mend. And even then, he recommends consulting a dermatologist. But after that, the sky’s the limit. His website also makes tutorial videos to help you figure out how it all works. “Lastly, walk with your head held high; you just took the next step toward the rest of your life!”

Extreme makeup on men is a subculture that has its roots in the art of drag. As the public becomes more educated about the LGBTQ spectrum and rejects the heteronormative-fueled stigma of men using cosmetics, guys can slowly abandon their fears of drowning beneath a beauty blender.    

There’s power in powder, and since 2021 might be the perfect time to start your “new year, new you” attitude, why not give in to curiosity? Who knows? You might become Lord of the Ring Light.


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