The key to approaching make-up for men

March 24, 2015
4 min read

Men’s grooming routines are becoming more complex and while Western men might not be ready for men’s make-up, the time is right for men’s BB, CC and DD creams with a focus on skincare and “hidden” coverage.

In an increasingly image-conscious society, men aren’t about to be left behind when it comes to looking good. This heightened self-awareness of image is good news for the beauty and fashion industry. However, while male consumers aren’t yet ready for make-up, there is certainly potential for hybrid skincare products that feature some disguised cosmetic benefits. By taking inspiration from the BB and CC creams for men available in Korea, as well as new technologies and ingredients like smart pigments that blend into the skin, brands can create a “no make-up” effect. Western brands can similarly launch multi-functional creams that contain moisturising, anti-ageing, correcting as well as “hidden” tinted benefits.

Taking inspiration from South Korea to innovate in the West

Men’s skincare is thriving in South Korea and much inspiration can be taken from the market. While it is generally acknowledged that Korean men have more effeminate beauty standards than in the West and that Asian men typically have more sophisticated skincare routines than Western men, Western interest in men’s grooming and beauty products is growing.

In the UK, male facial skincare products have seen the strongest growth rate over the past year, increasing sales by nearly 8% to account for 16% of the men’s toiletries market. The increasing male usage of products such as lip balms and eye creams signals that men’s skincare routines are becoming more sophisticated.

Although still small, the usage of BB creams by UK men doubled over 2013-14. This is especially interesting in light of the fact that BB creams designed for men are virtually absent from UK store shelves, which suggests men are using BB creams originally marketed to women.


By contrast, BB and CC creams for men in South Korea is a well-established segment, with brands launching new textures such as L’Oréal Men Expert BB Men Instant Skin Fixer BB Moisturizing Gel, a blue gel containing pigment capsules that break open once applied to the face. Other local brands like Laneige have introduced cooling BB creams to combat a sweaty face and Skinfood has launched Color Gel BB for Men also containing cooling agent and coloured capsules in blue gel. Others are already a step ahead with Cushion technology like Iope Men Air Cushion.

Finding the right message in the West

Finding the right positioning for men’s make-up in the West is the key to success. Facial moisturisers are used by one in five British men, while one in five Italian men are interested in trying face make-up to cover dark circles. In the UK, while one in 5 female skincare buyers look for facial skincare products that offer both skincare and cosmetics benefits, like BB creams, a smaller but significant one in 12 men look for this attribute.

Positioning products with subtle colour and coverage effects, and highlighting cosmetic benefits such as anti-fatigue (to avoid the feminine illuminating or brightening claims), correcting skintone or camouflaging blemishes will be more appealing messages for a male audience. White or transparent creams with encapsulated pigments which break open on the skin or that contain smart pigments that fuse with the natural skin tone would avoid the impression of foundation. The recent launch of Biotherm Homme Total Recharge CC Gel Instant Healthy Look in the West uses this trick featuring “Invisi-Pigment Technology”, the transparent gel formula contains capsules of pigment that give a healthy look when breaking on application.

Men like using multi-functional products to save time in their daily grooming routines but they want to take care of their skin and their appearance. While BB creams are a ‘must-have’ product for most beauty brands, CC (Colour Correction) and DD (Daily Defence) creams are quickly growing in popularity. Taking inspiration from recent DD cream launches, highlighting protection against external aggression and anti-pollution claims in multi-functional skincare products is likely to appeal to active and urban men.

For more information on the men’s beauty industry, discover our range of reports available to purchase on our Store.

Emmanuelle is Mintel’s Global Fragrance and Colour Cosmetics Analyst, working across several beauty categories, with clients around the world providing trends, markets and innovation insights and analysis. She is frequently a key speaker at leading beauty tradeshows and is regularly called to contribute to international, national and trade publications.

Emmanuelle Moeglin
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