October 3, 2022

Men using makeup has become more common, especially once public figures like James Charles – the first Cover Boy for Covergirl – popped up. While self-expression should be celebrated, normalizing makeup for men is a slippery slope into pressuring them to uphold yet another beauty standard. It also contributes to the division between men’s and women’s products.

On Feb. 28, Stryx, a skincare company for men, posted a TikTok video that went viral. The video features Jon Shanahan, co-founder of Stryx, showcasing their concealer for men. He describes how the concealer was created for men, because it’s designed to suit their “thicker, oilier skin,” and has a matte black, pen-like packaging appearance. The top comment on Stryx’s video, pinned by the brand, reads, “the first step to destigmatizing is to get people on board! Great product to help normalize this kinda thing for men.”

A screenshot of the top comment by TikTok user @twentycentcoin on Stryx’s video, pinned by the brand. Screenshot taken by Merissa Busato.

Destigmatize, defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is to “remove associations of shame or disgrace from.”

Normalize, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is to “to make (something) conform to or reduce (something) to a norm or standard.”

Destigmatizing makeup for men should be what we aim for; men who decide to use it should not be seen as less than other men. But, we should not normalize it.

The standard for women to look presentable at all times already exists. An American study by J. Cosmet. Sci. found 44 per cent of women did not feel comfortable leaving the house without makeup, because they felt more anxious and less attractive.

Besides being emotionally and mentally exhausting, it’s physically and finacially tiring too. An American study by Groupon Merchant found the average woman will spend $225,360 USD in her lifetime on her appearance, versus $175,000 USD in a lifetime for men.

All the time and money spent purchasing, practising, and putting it on takes a toll. Instead of creating a world where men understand this struggle, we should work to eradicate these standards.

A screenshot of a comment on Stryx’s TikTok video by user @thespiffyjiffy that the brand liked. User @dockingbarrel responded. Screenshot by Merissa Busato.

Commentators in favour of Stryx’s concealer have noted that the “masculine” packaging might make men feel more comfortable using the concealer.

While this could be true, there are other concealers that have simplistic packaging – even in a pen-shaped, black tube.

At Stryx’s price point of about $25 CAD, arguments have been made that existing makeup companies have already created concealers that do the same job – or better – for much less.

A study by Statistica found in 2019 that the best-selling concealer in the USA was Maybelline’s Instant Rewind Concealer – a drugstore brand, available at Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart – for around $12 CAD.

Even if Stryx’s price point is something you can afford, you might not be able to find one that matches your complexion: Stryx’s concealer only carries three shades.

There is no excuse: higher-end brands like Fenty Beauty carry a concealer with 50 shades, and some drugstore brands like E.L.F. carry 35 shades.

Matteo Wright, a male University of Waterloo student who sometimes wears makeup and works at a Shoppers Drug Mart beauty counter, was confused by Stryx’s TikTok.

“Hearing the co-founder say that this concealer has been built ‘from the ground up’ for men, when they can’t even carry five shades, is honestly insulting towards other brands,” he said. “You can’t say something has been built from the ground up when other brands have made the blueprint and improved it.”

While men do have thicker skin, not every man has an oily skin type. And, once again – other concealers on today’s market have formulas for oily, dry, and combination skin.

There is enough division already between men and women’s products. Shampoo, conditioner, razors, and entire product lines labeled “for men” exist, often at a cheaper price point.

Being a woman, I do use products targeted towards men, despite how “manly” they make it look. For years, I used Old Spice deodorant. To dye my eyebrows, I use Just For Men beard dye. I even shave with a Gillette men’s razor.

While a little pink lid on a tube of concealer shouldn’t be what deters men from dipping their toes into the beauty world, maybe it’s for the best; going out into the world without the pressure to change your face must be nice. 

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