Makeup For Guys: More Men Are Giving Cosmetics A Try Makeup was once thought to be the exclusive realm of women, but more and more men are experimenting with cosmetics — and the industry is taking notice. A reporter gives it a try.
NPR logo

My Journey Into The World Of Men's Beauty

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
My Journey Into The World Of Men's Beauty

My Journey Into The World Of Men's Beauty

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Wasn't too long ago that cosmetics were seen as the exclusive realm of women, but the idea of who gets to wear makeup is shifting. NPR's Darius Rafieyan reports from his recent makeover.

DAVID RAZZANO: I'm a big fan of a hot pink eye shadow - always have been, always will be.

DARIUS RAFIEYAN, BYLINE: David Razzano is beauty director at cosmetics retailer Sephora and a veteran makeup artist, and he has agreed to help me put together a fierce makeup look.

RAZZANO: We're going to have some fun. We're going to do a colorful smoky eye on you.

RAFIEYAN: Amazing. Give me something that'll cause a stir at the NPR New York office.

RAZZANO: Oh, we're going to cause a stir.


RAFIEYAN: For me and for many American men, makeup is kind of uncharted territory. But that may be changing. A survey conducted by market research firm Euromonitor International found that more than half of U.S. men now say they've tried some kind of facial cosmetic, whether that's foundation, concealer, BB cream. And Razzano says he's seeing more and more men come in interested in makeup, from Wall Street traders looking to cover a blemish before a big meeting to the more adventurous types searching for that perfect pink eye shadow.

RAZZANO: There were these rules that are all being broken in the most brilliant and beautiful way because whatever - it's makeup.

RAFIEYAN: And cosmetics companies are moving to capitalize on that growing market for men's beauty. Covergirl recently made headlines when it announced its first-ever cover boy, Internet makeup guru James Charles. Around the same time, Maybelline hired its first male spokesperson and underwent a rebranding, ditching its iconic slogan.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Maybe she's born with it.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character, singing) Maybe it's Maybelline.

RAFIEYAN: From maybe she's born with it to the more inclusive make it happen.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: Maybelline New York - make it happen.

RAFIEYAN: Meanwhile, Chanel launched its first line of makeup for men called a Boy De Chanel. Rihanna's Fenty Beauty now offers a gentlemen's Fenty Face five-piece box set. And just this past summer, nail polish giant OPI launched the #ManiUp campaign encouraging men to get their first manicures. It's all part of a larger attempt to appeal to a new generation of consumers who tend to have a much more fluid relationship to gender.


GABRIEL ZAMORA: Hi, everyone. I'm Gabriel Zamora. Thank you so much for watching. So for today's video, we are doing this colorful makeup look.

RAFIEYAN: Gabriel Zamora is part of a growing community of professional beauty influencers. His YouTube channel, where he does makeup tutorials, has more than 800,000 subscribers. And he's collaborated with brands like Mac Cosmetics on gender-neutral makeup lines. He thinks social media has opened up the conversation about beauty by giving a platform to people who might otherwise not be seen.

ZAMORA: A lot of what we thought was supposed to be the norm was kind of fed to us by, like, the fashion industry, by the beauty industry. And I think people were like, we don't look like that.

RAFIEYAN: Zamora, who struggled as an openly gay teenager growing up in Houston experimenting with makeup, says he's encouraged to see these rigid ideas about gender and sexuality breaking down.

ZAMORA: Then I'm, like, so excited to see the progress that our culture is having in having these, like, middle school boys wearing makeup to school when, for me, that wasn't even, like, a thought.

RAFIEYAN: Back in the makeup chair at Sephora, I waited with anticipation as David Razzano put the finishing touches on my smoky eye.

RAZZANO: Ooh, I'm literally entranced by these colors on you.

RAFIEYAN: After a little bit of concealer for the dark circles, mascara to accentuate what I'm told are my naturally long lashes and a bright pink eye shadow to bring out the brown in my eyes, I have to admit I was kind of feeling myself.

RAZZANO: How do you like it?

RAFIEYAN: I love it.

RAZZANO: It's good, right?

RAFIEYAN: Yes. Oh, my God.

RAZZANO: It's fun.

RAFIEYAN: I feel so pretty.


RAFIEYAN: Darius Rafieyan, NPR News, New York.


Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.