How four men are changing the face of the makeup industry
By Ashley Kowalewski-Pizzi
The expectations of various gender roles go as follows: young girls will grow up and play with makeup, eventually making it part of their daily routine (but, of course, never so much that it distracts or becomes too bold), while young boys follow more “masculine” pursuits. We all know how the story goes: if a boy were to become too interested in such things as makeup—you know, more than your average general curiosity of why his female counterparts powder their faces and apply black goop to their lashes each morning—he would be assumed gay and likely subsequently ridiculed.
Brands have a long history of ambassadors, or faces that represent the company and help to launch new products. And while fragrance and male-focused skin care have long since brought men into the equation, the same hasn’t been said for makeup companies—at least until now.
Men have always had a presence in the beauty industry. In fact, some of the best makeup and hair artists have been male, like the late and revolutionary Kevin Aucoin and Vidal Sassoon. But what has been less obvious is the guys wearing the makeup themselves. Earlier trailblazers like Patrick Starrr and Jeffree Star not only made makeup artistry cool by tapping into the beauty YouTuber craze, but they wear it even cooler. The irony, we all know, is that historically speaking, makeup was a universally worn accessory. From the ancient Egyptians to the French monarchy, makeup was never solely reserved for women. And yet, in more recent decades, you’d hardly ever see a man wearing makeup unless he was in drag. In addition to Patrick Starrr and Jeffree Star, two other men—Manny MUA and James Charles—have also become household names on the YouTuber circuit. They create show-stopping looks, from your everyday smoky eye and natural makeup to bold, colourful drag-worthy designs, while also informing men and women alike which beauty products are worth the splurge.
These four men now have more followers on Instagram and subscribers on YouTube than some up-and-coming influencers could dare to dream of having—and two of them even have ambassadorship deals and collaborations with big-time mass-makeup brands like Maybelline and CoverGirl, which seems like a big step in the right direction. As Patrick Starrr expresses in his Instagram bio, “makeup is one size fits all,” proving that inclusivity and diversity is stretching into every corner now—and that’s exactly what we want.
Jeffree Star (born Jeffrey Steininger) gained notoriety in the mid-aughts, but before he made his stamp on the beauty industry, he was known for a hit single that made it big on the now-extinct social media platform MySpace. Someone who has notably and openly spoken about wearing makeup early in his teens, it seemed inevitable he would eventually rise to fame on the beauty front, too. Now, with a huge following—4.4 million followers on Instagram and just over four million subscribers on his YouTube channel—he took the plunge into product development and launched his own beauty brand, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, in late 2014.
Patrick Starrr was next on our “who to notice” list, though he rose to fame in 2013. Born Patrick Simondac, the 27-year-old was working at MAC Cosmetics while going to nursing school when it became apparent that it was time for him to switch gears—in an interview with Nylon Magazine, he recalled that he had once been told to wipe his makeup off while he was working. We’ve come a long way when it comes to accepting people as they are, but it feels like there are still miles to go. Though when Patrick Starrr teamed up with Formula X for the brand’s #ColourCurators collection—a nail brand, no less—we were definitely listening. Now, with more than three million followers on Instagram and two million subscribers on YouTube, the world is definitely listening.
Manny Gutierrez, known to the world wide web as Manny MUA, is the third shining star to add to this quartet of talent. He has 3.4 million followers on Instagram and more than 2.6 million subscribers on YouTube, and says he owes a lot of his inspiration to both Jeffree and Patrick. The three of them are now friends and colleagues in a variety of ways (in that same Nylon interview, both Patrick and Manny referred to themselves as work wives), but it was the news that Manny and Jeffree would be collaborating together that really sent fans into a frenzy. Of course, while diehard beauty buffs have been waiting for the release of the Skin Frost high-shine highlighter and three new liquid lipsticks, it was the announcement that Manny MUA was mass-makeup giant Maybelline New York’s first-ever male brand ambassador that had our ears perked. Manny announced on Instagram that he and fellow beauty YouTuber Shayla (Makeup by Shayla) would be a part of the Big Shot Mascara campaign earlier this year, which came as a happy surprise after hearing about another first.
James Charles, who is not yet 18 years old, made headlines back in October when he was announced as the first-ever CoverBoy for the mass-makeup brand CoverGirl to help launch the brand’s So Lashy mascara. He was just the first in a long line of diverse faces that CoverGirl has added to its roster, including YouTuber Nura Afia, Queen Latifah, Ellen DeGeneres and Janelle Monae, to name just a few.
ASHLEY KOWALEWSKI-PIZZI is a Toronto-based writer and editor who has more pink lipsticks, neon Post-its and daily cups of coffee than the average human. When she’s not testing out beauty products, you can find her hanging around the city with her pup Odie.
Follow her on social at @ashkowapizzi.