Decoding the potential of gender neutral male cosmetics

October 2, 2019
3 min read

In recent years male and gender-neutral cosmetics have been growing in popularity. Despite makeup still being categorised by gender in Western societies, brands are slowly starting to adopt a more gender-neutral mindset

A new awareness regarding the negative impact of rigid masculine stereotypes on men’s mental health linking masculinity to physical power and emotional restraint, have recently grown. It has led to the social encouragement of expressions of affection and emotions.

Across different industries, brands are starting to acknowledge the new mindset around gender diversity. For example, transportation network company Lyft launched the campaign #TwoIsTooFew which promotes gender inclusivity. It allows users to choose the pronouns they wish to be addressed with by chauffeurs (They, She or He) or to indicate if their pronoun is not listed or if they prefer not to say.

Challenging male stereotypes

Masculine stereotypes are being challenged. Advertisements have moved away from displaying men’s hardness and physical power to values that do not depend on gender, such as individuality or empowerment. The need to look manly is no longer a priority for men when looking for grooming products. Only around a third of US men would see the word ‘manly‘ as an ideal descriptor on personal care product packages. Looking healthy, handsome and laid-back is more important for them.

Men’s confidence and willingness to use grooming has increased in recent years, with 16% of French and 9% of German consumers buying makeup products in the last six months. Although the figures displaying makeup purchase appear low, they signal changing attitudes towards male grooming and beauty. 

Draw inspiration from Asian makeup brands

In South Korea, male makeup is fairly accepted, with the younger demographic using BB Creams and brow shaping products. Partly due to the K-pop wave, a softer and sophisticated take on masculinity has emerged. Asian brands have explored male makeup beyond the face to address specific areas linked to men’s needs, such as makeup for the hairline and skull.


Jenny House Salon Code, a South Korean beauty brand, has developed the Hair-Fit Cover Cushion, a product offering coverage for sparse or grey hair and M-shape hairlines for up to 36 hours, while adding rich volume to create a youthful look.


A’Pieu Volumising Hair, another South Korean brand, has launched the Hair Cushion Bong, a product designed to define uneven hairline, giving a graduated colour.


What we think

Although male makeup is fairly accepted in South Korea, it is still viewed as predominantly feminine in the Western world. Marketing makeup products through traditional masculine aesthetic territories can thus be perceived by many consumers as incompatible. Brands can reduce this perception by adopting gender-neutral positioning, making the category more approachable and relevant by normalising its usage ‘for all’. 

Niche brands such as Milk Makeup and Fluide paved the way to a makeup for all through expressive looks. Today, brands should conquer the white space of gender neutral products to appeal to men who wish to use makeup for subtle enhancement and self-confidence more than self-expression. Chanel Boy and Givenchy Mister are makeup lines that target men through their names with gender neutral products. Instead of just adapting their existing feminine makeup ranges to men, brands can think of creating innovative functional formats and clear benefits that can appeal to all consumers wanting to achieve a natural look, regardless of gender.

Margaux Caron
Margaux Caron

As a Global Beauty Analyst, Margaux works with international clients to future-proof brand strategies and fuel ideation for product innovation. She specialises in Colour Cosmetics and Fragrances.

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