We caught up with beauty expert and stylist Paul Cucinello to talk make-up tips for men.
Is it becoming more socially acceptable for men to wear public in day-to-day life?
The mainstreaming of retouching apps like Facetune, and photo filters on Instagram, are challenging men to see what they could look like in real life by allowing them to alter their appearance in the photos they post online. With a few minor tweaks and swipes, men are seeing a version of themselves that they’ve never seen before. Guys are using retouching apps to smooth out their skin and hide imperfections. Lashes and brows are being darkened or made thicker, and those telltale signs of ageing or lack of sleep — dark under-eye circles and crows-feet — magically disappear with retouching.
Once their ‘online persona’ has been established with enough photos that are always retouched, and features that have been enhanced on social media sites, many men have become increasingly curious about how to match the look they are creating for themselves online to how they look in real life. Slowly but surely, men are discovering what women have known and used to their advantage for hundreds of years — make-up can be used to drastically improve your appearance, even without looking too obviously ‘made up.’
If we’re just talking about an everyday context, going to work, maybe out for a few drinks, what sort of make-up options could I consider to help me present my best self to the world?
Start with the easiest — a nice, even complexion. I’m not even suggesting you start wearing concealer or foundation, unless you want to. If you just want to look like the best version of yourself without looking or feeling like you have any make-up on, most of this can be achieved by upgrading your skincare regimen.
If you aren’t already exfoliating, start by using an exfoliating scrub that contains glycolic acid - it will give your skin a natural glow by sloughing off dulling, dead skin cells. Then, add a lightweight moisturiser with Hyaluronic Acid and SPF in it.
Keep your eyes looking bright and minimise fine lines with an eye cream - look for one with Hyaluronic Acid as an active ingredient, which will boost moisture without any stinging.
After that, you can just use something simple, like a primer on your t-zone — the centre of your forehead and your nose — to keep your skin matte without adding any pigment or looking obvious in daylight.
Is it only effeminate guys who can get away with wearing make-up?
Guys who wear make-up don’t give a fuck what other people think, and that translates to the sexiest quality of all — confidence.
Does the word make-up contain negative connotations?
Men have so many options now — the word make-up might imply that you’re hiding something. It can be used to create complete transformations — as you see in drag — or it can be used to emphasise positive aspects of your aesthetic or to de-emphasise flaws. I’m not sure that there’s really anything negative about that.
The thing that I find sad is that many guys still care about the stigmas associated with the terms ‘make-up’ or ‘cosmetics’ so now we have to call it ‘Men’s Grooming.’ The best products are made for women because they have to last all day, and they get put through some very rigorous testing in order to make it in the cosmetic industry.
Is it easier to experiment and build confidence in using make-up if you’re a young guy?
Anything and everything gets better with time and practice, so sure, it might be easier if you start to work with make-up when you’re younger, but that shouldn’t stop silver foxes from getting in on the action. The golden rule when it comes to make-up is that there are no rules. Do what you feel comfortable with, and work your way up to the level of intensity you can handle. Most gay men have already learned this lesson in the bedroom, so let’s apply the same dedication when it comes to self-care and aesthetics.
If I’m an older guy, what are some grooming products that I might want to consider trying?
As we get older, hair grows in places we don’t want, and it tends to fall out in place we wish it would stay put. Older guys should make sure they have a great trimmer with multiple uses and attachments — nose hair and ear hair are pretty universally unappealing. Hair elsewhere is subjective, but keeping your body hair a little bit tamed so it looks 1970s retro is generally a good strategy. I think SPF is a must. Moisturiser, eye cream, and a little smudged black eyeliner can’t hurt either.
What’s your favourite make-up product?
All men should own eyeliner. It does’t need to be applied super heavy-handed, but a tiny bit swiped on the edge of an angle-tipped brush can really bring your eyes back to life. If you don’t want to use black, choose a shade closer to your hair colour and keep it on hand to fill in sparse spots on your beard or hairline. It can work wonders and go virtually undetectable once you get the hang of it.
What the most important piece of grooming advice that you would give to gay men?
Don’t be afraid to find your look and go with it. Wear what feels right and makes you feel sexy. Push it to the max when you’re home alone and take a few photos to see how it really looks, then adjust accordingly.
Make sure you also have a great make-up remover — they sell all kinds from general cleansing cloths to the kind that will remove drag.
Also, don’t get yourself wrapped up in creating a look that can easily be destroyed by simply living life and getting caught in the rain or spontaneously jumping in a pool.