Sculpted brows, manicured hands, fluttery eyelashes under cotton-candy eyelids… That is certainly expected for a beauty blog rising star, a digital celebrity who can count on upto 1.5 million Instagram followers. However, what comes as a surprise is that this burgeoning influencer is a boy, named James Charles. A flamboyant oddity? Not the least! Just enter beauty boy(s) on Instagram and watch over 30,000 suggestions pop up. Everyday, these young androgynous guys from Brazil, Asia or the US share skills, pictures and tips on the latest trends. Are they the future of beauty gurus? FAB fills you in on this new sensation.
The Next Generation Of Beauty Blogs?
Recently, there was Jaden Smith donning a skirt in Louis Vuitton’s women’s wear campaign or Gucci combining menswear and womenswear in one single show, but the truth is, the phenomenon is nothing new. Ever since YSL’s iconic Le Smoking tuxedo in 1966, gender lines have been blurring in fashion. Today, the media and particularly social platforms are just following in the industry’s footsteps, as Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn and transgender actress Laverne Cox appears on the cover of “Time” magazine.
As beauty – and by that, we mean everything from make-up to skin care to nail art to hair color, you name it – was deemed the last feminine stronghold, this perception of a female-centric world seems to belong to the past now. For example, transgender model Lea T has been tapped as the face of hair-care brand Redken. De facto, androgynous young men are questioning gender boundaries on the planet of established beauty blogs.
Have you heard of Manny Gutierrez, Patrick Starr Simondac, Thomas Halbert, Angel Merino or Alannized? If not, this should be fixed in no time because these guys are arguably among the most prominent men in the movement. Their common passion? They feel tremendous when expressing their feminine side through tubes of red lipstick, mascara and bronzer.
Most of their audience remains women who covet their know-how. American beauty boy Wesley Benjamin Carter simply defines himself as a “make-up guru”, demonstrating that these trendsetters have no reason to be jealous of their female counterparts such as Jaclyn Hill, Carli Bybel, Michelle Phan, Asahi Sasaki or Zoella. They are even being courted by big make-up brands for partnerships. Has the men versus women issue become obsolete?
A Distinctive Type Of Sophisticated Beauty
Who said a light stubble didn’t match khol-rimmed doe eyes and femme fatale red lips? Certainly not Maiderson Chrischon, a Brazilian 28-year-old make-up artist based in Porto Alegre, who also loves to play with hair color, morphing from simple light brown hair to turquoise, pink or a deeper dark brown. When he pleases, James Charles wears two pink braided buns. Another American beauty boy, 16-year-old Adam J Lovill, likes to recall that “in ancient history, it was actually expected of men with power to wear make-up and heels”. And so, to him pairing his eyeliner color with a bright-yellow flower crown is a form of statement. “Beauty for men used to mean sports, muscles and a visually impressive body. Things have seriously changed,”, says Stéphane Dauphin, who operates the blog “maquillage-pour-homme”.
Photo credits: @maidersonchrischon1This community truly owns an art form. They often showcase ultra graphic haircuts: a half-shaved head with a side swept bang for James Charles, both shaved sides and a platinum white short mohawk for Wesley Benjamin Carter, and a gel-styled subtle messy look for Thomas Halbert. And nothing seems too extravagant to Patrick Starr, who happily switches between his Marilyn wig, his XL turban and his sleek and layered blue and gray locks.
Photo credits: @KazueeeeThere’s something enchanting, playful and even childlike in the way they see beauty. Their first undeniable field of expertise is mastering the art of contouring. Highlighting their cheekbones comes next, just as refining and lengthening their face. Then the fun comes in, with glitter and glow and wigs and false lashes. Whether on hair or eyelids, colors are definitely on the bold side. With a soft spot for flashy colors, metal and pastel shades, they evoke the symbols adopted by the LGBT community, such as the rainbow flag or the unicorn. In Japan, this new trend has gone hotter than ever with singer Toman Sasaki and TV personality Genking, and is now dubbed Genderless Kei (“kei” meaning style). Part of this movement, Oliver Calder, a 19-year-old from the UK, is an avid fan of Japanese fashion and experiments all of its trends.
A Generation Thing Or Lasting Trend?
Belonging in the Millenials or Generation Z, these beauty boys are “comfortable and safe ‘coming out’ as something other than a straight person”, says Oliver Calder. They unpack prejudices, refuse to comply with roles imposed by society, and aspire to explore and express, through beauty, the many facets of their personality. “I do think gender rules needs to be deconstructed. Generation Z is tired of being told what to do, what to wear and what to like. People don’t want to hear make-up is just for women, they want to have the freedom to wear what they like,” asserts Maiderson Chrischon.
Are these male experts riding the crest of an ever-growing online influence, an indication of what might come in tomorrow’s beauty world? Although this is a scene prone to more and more open-mindedness, this type of beauty remains far from mainstream. “It is a current trend, but it’s still a taboo,” observes Maiderson, stressing the fact that most of them still endure online harassment.
But yes, the beauty boys are breaking the boundaries. “Men want to be confident and feel attractive as much as women, they were just afraid to admit it. I think that’s the main thing that’s changing, they’re not as afraid or shy anymore,” says Maiderson. “But beauty boys are not really addressing men’s everyday needs,” argues Stéphane Dauphin. For those who just want to look their best, learn on how to get rid of blemishes and dark circles under their eyes, Stéphane Dauphin or Jake Jamie’s blogs might just do the trick of a manly touch-up in the privacy of their bathroom.