Make-up is weird. For most women, it’s a essential part of our daily lives; we wake up and put a face on without giving it a second’s thought. But when it comes to boys, make-up is little more than the mysterious substances girls use to magic away their spots and blemishes. In recent years, the use of male beauty products like guyliner and even concealer aimed at men has seen a dramatic increase, yet a full face of slap is still seen as something far too feminine for most members of the opposite sex. When you think of a made-up man, it’s RuPaul who comes to mind, rather than say, Sam Smith, despite the fact that most male stars wear just as much make-up as their female counterparts. In a city like Manchester, where almost anything goes style-wise, we wanted to test the theory that even here, make-up on a man would be met with shock and confusion. After much negotiating and a tiny bit of bullying, we convinced our male lab rat to take to the streets of Fallowfield, foundation and all. His price? A post-night-out Chicken King, on us.
The immaculate conception:
Our first task was to prep our blank canvas. Boys are notorious for giving their skin short shrift, so we ensured our subject was smothered in Nivea Creme before we got started. Base covered, it was time for him to lay the foundations, literally. Sensitive to his personal space, we let him take the lead with the application process. After even coverage was established, and beard successfully avoided, it was time to give this skinny little Welsh boy a healthy glow. He was surprisingly taken with his new bronzed appearance: “It looks like I’ve been on holiday! This is the closest to a St. Tropez tan I’ll ever get.” But as it was Fallowfield, not the French Riviera, a bit of blusher was required to achieve that rosy-cheeked, in-from-the-cold look.
Brows on fleek:
On to eyebrows. We made the startling discovery that left to grow untamed, male eyebrows lack shape, discipline and know no bounds. So, after some skilful shaping and combing we cultivated our subject a killer set of brows. Every self-respecting make-up maven knows the importance of good smoky eye game, so we prepped his lids with a dash of primer and set about shading. Our subject’s complexion required a mix of warm tones. After dabbing on a matte mahogany shade, we highlighted the shimmering bronze pigment. Contouring completed, our subject attempted the obligatory cat-eye flick and finished off with a wave of his mascara wand.
After a few well-placed words of instruction we were extremely impressed with our subject’s flawless lipstick application. As the boldest shade in the make-up bag, red was the obvious choice. “Is it OK to lick my lips?” he asked, worriedly. While adjusting to the strange new sensations, he couldn’t stop gazing at his perfect pout in his compact mirror.
It was soon time for our subject to show the world his new self. Destination: Shell garage. On the walk over, he was filled with nervous excitement and despite putting up the hood of his parka, we caught him stealing glances at passers-by to check for their reactions. But before they could pause to take a second look, he scuttled across the garage forecourt and into the shop. Once inside he amused himself with a copy of Women’s Fitness and perused the canned goods aisle. The tempting 2-for-1 offer on mushy peas made him temporarily forget his new look. He finally plucked up the courage to make a purchase, and after his ordeal, only a nice glass (or 5) of Pinot Grigio would do. Shuffling past several confused-looking shoppers, our subject came face to face with an astonished-looking cashier. After spluttering, “got any ID?” it took him an awkward 30 seconds to remember the price of the wine. The make-up couldn’t hide the blood rushing to our subject’s already rouged cheeks.
Operation complete, it was time for our tired subject to return home for a good cleanse, tone and moisturise. Despite his initial protests a niggling part of him can’t help but be intrigued by the perfecting potential of make-up. Maybe he doesn’t want to look just like every other boy after all…
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