February 27, 2014
My fascination with makeup for men began sometime after David Bowie and Adam Ant started experimenting with eyeliner and lipstick and before Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford launched their own man makeup lines. I’ve experimented with makeup quite a bit myself: green eyebrows, stickers on my face, metallic eyeliner, but what got me interested the most was the idea of no makeup makeup. No makeup makeup is the almost deceptively subtle, careful application of makeup to gently highlight certain facial features and conceal flaws to appear as if one’s face was naturally that perfect. Perhaps what discourages most men from wearing makeup is the fear of looking too feminine and done-up, but one thing to note is that the transformative qualities of makeup can go any direction: done right, makeup can make men look more masculine. Today I share with you an expanded version of my man makeup regimen, a collection of techniques I’ve picked up online, from talented makeup artists who have groomed me, and from hanging out at Sephora a little too often, modeled by my dear friend Elliott.
Start with a fresh face, cleansed and toned. Makeup looks best on healthy skin.
I like to start with a silicone-based primer; it does a lot in terms of minimizing pores and fine lines, it gives a silky finish to your complexion, and controls shine. I don’t always wear it, but when I do, it makes a difference.
Rub a couple of pumps of primer on to your hands, and apply evenly to the entire face.
For all of you guys who still get breakouts post-adolescence, I strongly recommend Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage concealer, with the matching brush. Each palette comes in two tones that you can blend to perfectly match the skin tone in a specific area on your face. It doesn’t rub off easily, and it doesn’t need powder to set.
Apply concealer on blemishes, a little bit under the eyes and around the nose to minimize redness. For relatively blemish-free skin, I recommend concealing before applying bb cream/foundation for a more seamless complexion tone, and for skin with relatively more blemishes, flip the order so you can concentrate on spot-concealing more carefully.
Of all the BB creams I’ve tried, Smashbox has the freshest, sheer finish, that I think works best for men.
Apply a thin layer all over the face, blending well with your fingers down the neck, sides of your face, and forehead.
The next step is optional, but is a great way of emphasizing your eyes without looking like that punk-rock kid in high school who worked at Hot Topic. I like the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette because it is a collection of neutral browns and beiges, all matte, some of which you can use as eyeliner, as a shadow to smoke out your eyes if you feel like it, or to use for contouring.
Take some dark taupe eyeshadow on an angled brush, dust off the excess on the back of your hand, and gently massage it in to the upper waterline. It makes a subtle, but noticeable difference.
I personally like to wear mascara; on my downward-facing, relatively short lashes, it does wonders at making my eyes seem more open and alert. Men with full, long lashes might be better off just curling them, or using a thin coat on the ends. I like Maybelline’s One by One mascara: it’s thin, easy to apply, and highly realistic.
Fuller, darker brows can really impart a handsome masculinity to the face. This works great for men with sparse eyebrows, or even sparse mustaches. I love Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Brow Wiz: it’s a skinny retractable pencil that goes on quite faintly, and comes with a brush for blending it in, resulting in brows that are very natural and never drawn-on.
Fill in your brows with short, light strokes mimicking the direction of your brow hairs. Fill in the gaps, and if you must, extend at the base and the tips, but try not to go too far.
Blend in vigorously with the brush, blurring out any pencil lines.
As a quicker alternative to an eyebrow pencil, tinted eyebrow gel works to darken and thicken the brows as well as point them in the right direction. I like to use them both for full effect.
Brush upward on the base, sweeping out and down as you approach the tip.
Nude lipstick is another cosmetic that can make one look more manly. In the same way brightly-colored lips enhance the femininity of a woman, de-saturating the lips can have a masculinizing effect on the face. Today we’re using a combination of clear lip balm and nude lipstick, but lip balm+sheer color lip stick combos in nude such as Clinique’s Chubby Stick in Heaping Hazelnut or Whole Lotta Honey work just as well.
Finding the right nude lipstick for your skin tone and lip tone is tricky. I’ve found that lipsticks with peachy undertones work well for fairer, Caucasian skin, and those with brown-beige undertones work great for darker Asian skin. Find one that makes your lips look like a desaturated version of themselves, but not dead.
Always blot on a tissue after.
Go out into the world, a perfectly made-up man, looking like you haven’t got a stitch of makeup on.
products used (clockwise from top left): Bare Minerals Prime Time foundation primer, Smashbox BB cream, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage concealer, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage brush, Sephora angled brush, Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Ebony, Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel in Espresso, Maybelline One by One mascara in black waterproof, MAC lipstick in Velvet Teddy, Caudalie Lip Balm, and Urban Decay Naked Basics eyeshadow palette