More & more South African men are dabbling with makeup kits

30 July 2017 - 00:02 By REA KHOABANE
Kennedy Thabiso Molekwa does his makeup. Picture: Alaister Russell
Kennedy Thabiso Molekwa does his makeup. Picture: Alaister Russell

The model is impeccably groomed, as one would expect for an advertisement for an international cosmetics brand. There's just one difference: this makeup model is a guy.

In August 2016 beauty blogger Gary Thompson became the first man to star in a cosmetics campaign. The 26-year-old was featured in L'Oréal's #YoursTruly campaign.

Birmingham-based Thompson says he began playing with makeup when he was 15.

"I would always carry makeup wipes in my bag because I was scared of people judging me, and I always used to take my makeup off before I got home.

"I feel like I am more myself now because I don't try to hide who I am," he told the Daily Mail.

A month later CoverGirl featured a "Cover Boy" in its advertising for the first time — 17-year-old teen Instagram star James Charles.

South African freelance beauty editor Mathahle Stofile says gender is no longer as simple as it once was.

"Diversity is the buzzword at the moment and more and more people don't want to be boxed into categories," she says. There's also the fact that more men are ... buying grooming products.

David Bowie was famous for his androgyny.
David Bowie was famous for his androgyny.

"I've seen men wearing makeup — usually it's the odd eyeliner and definitely some form of coverage."

Men use makeup for the same reason women do — "to feel more confident, like they are presenting their best selves", Stofile says.

"I imagine everyone feels better when their skin looks flawless, no matter what their gender.

"Also, these men are usually performers or artists or just general nonconformists. But when it comes to skincare, I feel like all kinds of men are playing in this field now."

Siphiwe Mpye, who runs a website dealing with men's issues, says he has been using grooming products for years and he's not shy about it. His daily routine of moisturiser includes a corrective cream that takes away shine.

"I don't use makeup, though. I know there are men who secretly or openly use makeup daily, and that shouldn't be a problem. I do not judge what others choose to use on their bodies," says Mpye.

In 3000BC the Chinese started painting their fingernails with colours extracted from natural sources to indicate their status in society. In 1500BC rice powder was used to whiten faces in China and Japan.

In 2017 we have men who wear makeup, men who sell makeup, men who write about makeup in blogs and magazines.

"I take care of my skin by hydrating with a moisturiser and applying sunscreen. It makes it easier for me to put on makeup every day," says fashion stylist Kennedy Thabiso Molekwa.

Molekwa first bought cosmetic products when he started working in retail nine years ago.

"I use a highlighter to hide the bags under my eyes and erase the dark circles. I also use a compact bronzing powder."

Makeup artist Vuyo Varoy agrees that there is a growing trend among South African men to wear makeup.

"People are becoming more confident in their skin, but also breaking gender boundaries.

"Makeup packaging has made this easier for men. For instance, MAC has always designed its packaging as nonsexist ... which makes it more acceptable to men."

Used to getting celebrities ready for the camera, Varoy says when he applies makeup on men he uses powder, a corrector foundation around the eyes and a lip conditioner.

He has added touches to President Jacob Zuma's face before a TV appearance.

Radio presenter Troy Molaiwa will not appear in public without makeup on.

Jaden Smith. Picture: Instagram
Jaden Smith. Picture: Instagram

"I think makeup is a resort for men who can't afford plastic surgery, " says Molaiwa.

Raine Tauber of Estée Lauder says that in the past few years the makeup brand has seen more men coming into stores to buy foundation.

"I don't think it is confined to a particular type of man, rather to the wider acceptance of male grooming and makeup in society and particularly in South Africa."

The rules have changed

"Gender matters less than it used to," global trend analyst Lucie Greene told the LA Times last year. She highlighted Jaden Smith's love of nail polish and skirts as an example.

"Gen Z is interested in doing things any way they can. These are not the drag queens of old."

Hair and there

David Bowie's famed androgyny can be traced to his teens. 

In 1964 Bowie, then 17, spoke to the BBC on behalf of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men.

"We've had comments like 'darling' and 'Can I carry your handbag?' I think we all like long hair and we don't see why other people should persecute us because of this.'