A Brief History Of Men Wearing Makeup

The Tonys are this Sunday, and with it comes a trendlet worth noting: Both Neil Patrick Harris and Alan Cumming are up for nominations for makeup-heavy performances. Sure, they're for roles, but thanks to mainstream recognition of Cumming, NPH, and quite a few other famous dudes with a penchant for cosmetics, men and makeup are once again having a moment.
Way back in the dusty days of the pharaohs, men rocked kohl-rimmed eyes that would have made Lily Allen envious. It was the beginning of men wearing makeup, but this movement has been an up and down roller coaster over the years, from pre-French Revolution and its super-powdered faces to the early 20th century, when movies made it necessary for heartthrobs — hiya, Cary Grant! — to look their best.
But, it didn’t really become the centerpiece of a guy’s look again until the ‘70s, when men on the rocker fringe began to dig it again. And, even as guyliner gradually made it into pop culture, makeup was still so feminized that no one wanted to talk about the fact that everyday guys might want to cover up a zit — despite the fact that the guys wearing the makeup were the ones everybody had crushes on (Johnny Depp? Brandon Flowers? Yeah, we definitely put their posters up on our bedroom walls).
But, extreme looks usually dilute into a socially acceptable format, and recently, more guys have been open about wearing the occasional bit of makeup. You can also probably thank Zac Efron’s bronzered cheekbones for part of the $5 billion Americans spent on men’s skin care and cosmetics last year. It’s becoming quite the thing again, and the men that follow paved the way for your boyfriend to steal your concealer stick today — even if he doesn’t admit it to his bros.

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