Remember the fuss about David Beckham's "boyzilian" in an underwear advert? Or Frank Lampard's waxed armpits? Well, the male beauty regime is about to get a whole lot more complicated. Last week Harvey Nichols launched Jean Paul Gaultier's new make-up range for men. Monsieur – a range of 17 products for men, which includes bronzers, a brow pencil and eyeliner – is the latest part of a rapidly expanding male grooming industry.
A spokeswoman for the Knightsbridge store said on Friday that Monsieur was proving popular with "fashion-conscious straight men to metrosexual and gay men. In general there has been a great boost in male grooming products, and men's make-up is a natural extension of this trend." She added: "Many men already borrow their girlfriends' products."
The men's toiletry market was worth an estimated £806m in the UK last year, up from £639m since 2002.
Men's make-up is nothing new, with everyone from David Bowie in the 1970s to Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz going heavy on the eyeliner. The Labour MP Andy Burnham went on the defensive in February, denying he wore mascara, after BBC1 viewers accused him of making a cosmetically enhanced appearance on Question Time. But it seems men's make-up is no longer a joke – now subtle bronzers, concealers and tinted moisturisers are acceptable additions to the beauty regime of any image-conscious man.
Lee Kynaston, grooming editor at Men's Health magazine, said examples such as Clinique's M Cover stick had made men's make-up a mainstream product. "Anything that can make you look better has to be worth investigating. Men shouldn't see these products so much as make-up as camouflage," he said.
For any man embarrassed by the idea of visiting a department-store make-up counter, the internet is ideal. Indeed, "camouflage" products make up 20 to 30 per cent of sales for the male grooming website Mankind.
Its founder, Hilary Andrews, said men were turning to make-up as solutions for skin problems. Male concealers are one of the company's best-sellers.
Although many male grooming products are make-up, there is reluctance in the industry to call it that. A Clinique spokeswoman admitted M Cover had been left in the "skincare" range to avoid embarrassing men.
Mr Kynaston sounds a note of caution for men considering lip gloss and an application of "guyliner": "I'm a big advocate that grooming should be invisible with men. Does the average woman want a guy to wear more make-up than her? Men still want to be men, and women want men to look like men." However, he added: "No one would have predicted hair removal to explode as it did. Who knows what's next?"
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