As the world is slowly but steadily striving for gender equality, the case for male makeup is gaining momentum. It is a revolution that has been buoyed by social media, Youtube stars and beauty bloggers, where sharp eyeliner flicks, glowy highlighters and eyebrows on fleek are not just women’s prerogatives. As a matter of fact, while male beauty influencers were amassing millions of followers on their social media channels and showcasing professional skills and creativity, the industry saw an opportunity to promote a more relaxed attitude towards men wearing makeup.

The influence of social media

In the US, Covergirl and Maybelline appointed their first ever male brand ambassadors – James Charles and Manny Gutierrez, respectively. Furthermore, Snapchat embraced the male makeup trend by launching a Discover channel called ‘Boy Beauty’ in January 2017, a platform for popular male beauty bloggers to engage with Snapchat users globally about their beauty routines. This offered a huge level of exposure to young men who may never have come across these vlogger celebrities before.

Social media has played a crucial role in bolstering the profile of men’s beauty, and research from Mintel’s Beauty Retailing UK 2017 report suggests that young men are the most trusting towards beauty bloggers, with nearly half of male 16-24s agreeing that they value the advice of beauty bloggers more than store staff when buying items such as skincare, fragrance or cosmetics.

Male grooming products still under-represented in most beauty retailers

The high level of engagement with beauty blogs among young men may in part be driven by the fact that male grooming products and services remain under-represented in most beauty retailers, resulting in young men preferring to seek advice online, from sources that they trust and identify with.

While the appointment of male spokespeople by popular makeup brands represents an unprecedented step towards inclusion, there is still a long way to go. In the UK, a number of brands already cater to the male cosmetics market, including online retailer MMUK MAN. Leading beauty retailers could do much more to cater to male consumers’ needs. After all, 15% of UK male under-45s bought makeup in 2016, although this could be for themselves or someone else.

Towards gender-neutrality

As well as expanding their grooming offer to specifically target men, retailers could consider a more gender-neutral approach when it comes to marketing makeup. Presenting items such as concealer in this way could help boost young men’s confidence. As noted in the Mintel Trend, The Next Genderation, consumers are moving away from traditional gender stereotypes and expectations. As such, they are going to come to expect brands to push a gender-neutral message to the fore of their new product development and marketing campaigns.

Alice Goody is a Retail Analyst at Mintel where she writes the daily retail news and keeps an eye out for the latest innovations across the retail industry. Prior to Mintel, Alice worked in the fashion industry for retailers including Coast, Ted Baker and Debenhams.