Is The Name ‘Beauty Boy’ Relevant?

There is so much talk about gender, inclusivity and diversity in the beauty industry it feels like we are under-going a well overdue revolution. For years if you asked me to describe men wearing makeup I would think of drag queens like Heidilicious or Grayson Perry painting it on thick and then taking it off to look like ‘regular’ men for their day jobs.

So inclusive the world of beauty has become, early this year brands such as Maybelline and Rimmel have used male vloggers / grammers in their advertising campaigns as their ambassadors. They are called ‘Beauty Boys’ and are using make up in a well executed, glamorous way. They seem to be inspired by the likes of Kim Kardashian and know all of the contouring and blending tricks.

I can’t help thinking that ‘Beauty Boy’ is not a relevant term to use when talking about diversity and inclusion. To me it is a title which suits a media headline and refers to a young gay male who is into make up. ‘Beauty Boy’ perhaps creates a space where gay men can wear make up, but what about the straight, mainstream man? There is even an online magazine called ‘Beauty Boy‘. Surely the ideal is to encourage any man to feel comfortable covering up a blemish with foundation or putting on mascara to make his eye lashes longer and thicker and to be genderless within beauty?

17 year old Beauty Boy Lewys Ball is the face of Rimmel (53.5k followers on instagram)

Beauty Boy Manny Guitierrez is the face of Maybelline (3.3m followers on instagram)

How can we make skincare and cosmetics truly inclusive?
Since the 1990s men’s grooming has been growing and no longer just means a trip to Boots or Sainsburys to stock up on razors and deodorant. Many brands are creating product collections for men – Clinique, Aesops, Kiehls and Bulldog to name a few. Perhaps now make up is coming into the men’s market will we see a series of men’s make up ranges for the every day man who wants to look finely groomed. And what about standalone stores (other than barbers) dedicated to men’s beauty and grooming?

‘Beast’ on Earlham Street, Covent Garden is the only men’s beauty retailer I have come across when recently researching brands for our new beauty client. The store and the brand is stylish, modern and masculine and isn’t aimed at ‘pretty boys’ or ‘beauty boys’ but just men in general. They have a great name and they seem to be leaders in breaking down the boundaries of beauty and gender. On one hand it is a very positive step to create a masculine, men only beauty store as it creates a safe place for men to buy skincare products. On the other hand it means we could be looking at male and female beauty stores rather than just mixing everything up which is the true spirit of diversity. Is this an example of diversity but not inclusion?

My recent visit to the Sam McKnight hair exhibition at Somerset House highlighted only too well how beauty (up until now) has only been for women. McKnight is discussed as a ‘hair stylist who has transformed women’ with 190 International Vogue covers on display to show his success.

The exhibition was brilliant for showcasing a man’s career and brings the spotlight onto hair stylists who don’t get much of a credit for a photo shoot or campaign. Hair, as they say transforms a person and hair design should be respected. You can go out wearing anything and look amazing if your hair is looking it’s best.

It was very interesting to see not one image of a man showcased in the exhibition. Men’s hair styles have seemingly never been especially interesting presumably due to the length or lack of it. When I think of men with long hair I stereotypically think of a rocker with un-washed long matted hair, or a hipster with a hairbun or hairdressers like Nicky Clarke who have a bit of a 90s bouffon look.

Maybe the next stage will see men’s hair styles becoming even more diverse. I am imagining the straight guys in our studio coming in with coiffed and styled longer hair and using dry shampoo mid-afternoon to keep their hair looking good for the evening. Us girls will have to up the ante in light of this new competition for looking beautiful!