Male beauty bloggers are breaking out of the internet and coming to a billboard near you, says Amy Dawson
THERE weren’t a lot of males around who looked like me so I started making tutorials,’ says Gary Thompson, aka The Plastic Boy, a London-based beauty blogger with more than 100,000 Instagram followers. ‘I loved sharing my make-up skills on social media. Growing up, I had no other guys to look up to at all, so I thought, why not give it a try?’
Last year, Thompson became the first man to feature in a L’Oréal advert and now a new generation of male beauty bloggers is on the rise. Loved by men and women alike, they represent a growing market – in 2016, the male-grooming industry worldwide was worth close to $50billion and brands are getting in on the act. Maybelline, for example, cast social media star Manny Gutierrez (with 4.2million Instagram followers) in a mascara campaign last year.
While use of male make-up in the UK has typically been restricted to the LGBTQ community, actors and other performers, it is becoming more commonplace. Reality TV stars such as Geordie Shore’s Gaz Beadle happily discuss wearing make-up on a night out, while men’s magazine Shortlist devoted an issue to male grooming. Brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Tom Ford now sell make-up for men, while high-street hero Asos stocks male-targeted make-up range MMUK.
‘We want to use our influence to help our customers feel comfortable trying things and presenting themselves in whichever way they see fit,’ says Alex Scolding, Asos’s head of buying for face and body. ‘We’ve had a great response and expect this area to continue to grow.’
Briton Salih Cikikcioglu (salihsworld. com), also known as The Eyebrow King, has 280,000 followers on Instagram. ‘On my YouTube I have more men watching my videos and a large majority of them come from the LGBTQ community,’ he says. ‘But my Instagram audience is a mixture. I try to create content for men and women.’ ‘My followers are 60 per cent women and 40 per cent men,’ says Thompson, who uses female- and male- targeted products in his fun, friendly videos. ‘Most of my male followers are gay but I’ve had straight guys message me asking how they can conceal a spot or get a natural, flawless foundation base.’
So are we going to see unisex makeup counters in every department store? While male beauty products still represent a tiny portion of the industry, Cikikcioglu believes changes are afoot. ‘There are still many brands out there that haven’t opened themselves up to working with men so I’m looking forward to this changing,’ he says. ‘There’s a whole new world online and a community of like-minded people that can support each other. I love it when I see I’m helping people and putting a smile on their faces.’