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Altr London: mainstreaming men’s make-up

Altr London

Altr is a stylish men’s make-up brand that was founded by the incredible Alex Doyle in September 2017. Three and a half years later, the brand is thriving beyond expectations.

Doyle started his men’s make-up brand because he suffered from skincare problems, ranging from acne to eczema. He tried numerous pharmaceutical and medical solutions, but none of them worked.

A female friend recommended a concealer and non-irritable moisturiser. These products helped him overcome his confidence issues, but they were not quite right for his skin type. Moreover, they did not speak to him as a guy in his mid-20s.

Altr’s mission is to provide “a quick and easy solution to daily skin problems, to help you look and feel better in your day-to-day life.”

Indeed, all of their products are “designed with simplicity in mind, from purchase to application.”

Altr promises that you will get a natural, undetectable finish in minutes.

Altr’s products are designed to help your skin on the long-term. They use active ingredients that help remove excess oil, dirt, and grime from your skin, which are all primary causes of breakouts.

Even better, their skincare products are anti-pollutant, so they protect against environmental damage from living in the city. As Mancunians, we can all relate!

Now I know our readership, and we are not just bothered about our own health but about our environmental impact, too. You’ll therefore be glad to know that all of Altr’s products are environmentally friendly. All of their packaging is ethically sourced and recyclable after use, which helps keep their environmental footprint to a minimum.

Further, all of Altr’s products are UK-made and cruelty free, so there is absolutely no animal testing.

Men’s Make-up

The people behind Altr make it quite clear that they are committed to an inclusive, revolutionary attitude to cosmetics.

Of course, there is a debate about “men’s make-up”. Whilst it is admirable that it is helping normalise the radical notion that men can wear make-up (just like men have done for thousands of years), one could make the point that gendering (and indeed, masculinising) make-up gives credence to the gender binary.

But this is a complicated, nuanced issue that requires an article of its own!

I will say, though, that Doyle is a businessman, and he recognises that most men will not feel comfortable buying make-up products that are marketed towards women.

So, by marketing his products towards men, he is arguably beating fragile masculinity at its own game – and he is indisputably helping men feel more comfortable wearing make-up.

In fact, he is helping them with their confidence, period – make-up really is an armour! Why do you think they call it “war paint”?!

What I appreciate about Altr is that they are not trying too hard to be uber masculine.

Lots of men’s beauty brands tend only to use masculine men in their marketing, because it shows that even men who one would not expect to wear make-up can and do wear it.

I get this, I do, but one wonders if this is attempting to appeal to men’s (fragile) egos.

Altr, on the other hand, uses a wide array of different men in their marketing. There’s even a guy with bright blue hair!

I should also mention that Altr took part in London Queer Fashion Show. We all know how fragile and toxic some straight men can be, but Altr wants to be a brand for everybody.

So, their commitment to “an inclusive, revolutionary attitude to cosmetics” is not just talk. They really have followed through with it.

Review

Now, this is all sounds awesome, but what are Altr’s products like?

Altr were kind enough to send me a few products to try out. This set consists of a Face Fix, a Half & Half Face Fix, a Blemish Balm, a Beard & Brow Tame, and a blender.

This set is basically their “Blemish Combo”, with the addition of the Half & Half Face Fix.

Altr knows that a lot of men won’t know what a balm and a tame are, so the balm’s packaging tells you what the product does and the tame’s packaging tells you how to use it. For guys, like me, who do not wear make-up, this is very helpful!

There are further instructions for products online.

When the set arrived, I was excited. That was until I opened it, and I thought, “sh*t, I don’t even know how to apply make-up – what am I doing?!”

Thankfully, the products are super easy to use. You just apply it to the blender and then dab it on your face… and blend it…

Writing this, it sounds so obvious. Why was I so nervous?!

I think it is because complicated “female” make-up techniques leave men thinking that make-up is something really complex. Like, what on earth is a T-zone?!

But, as aforementioned, Altr is all about simplicity.

Another thing I was worried about was my skin. I have very sensitive skin and am prone to rashes and eczema, so lots of beauty products irritate it.

With Altr, though, my skin feels fine. The brand’s founder, himself, suffers from skin problems, so he unsurprisingly wanted to create a brand that will not irritate most people’s skin.

Like most guys, I want to go for the “no make-up” make-up look. I don’t want people to be able to tell that I’m wearing make-up. Altr’s products are not heavy; you can’t even tell that you’re wearing make-up – it neither looks nor feels like it.

At most, it looks like you’ve moisturised, but in my opinion, you should always look like you’ve moisturised, because you always should be moisturising!

I prefer the Face Fix to the Blemish Balm. It’s just a personal preference.

The Beard & Brow Tame is wonderful if, like me, you have a course and patchy beard.

The blender is fantastic – it’s even better than my mum’s blender! It is super soft and squishy – you could use it as a stress toy, though you probably shouldn’t – and it does a wonderful job of, well, blending!

My skin has not been so great lately, so it’s been brilliant to have some make-up to cover it up (and as I just said, it did not irritate it, so it was not a case of applying make-up to cover up bad skin but then make-up making my skin worse)!.

I recently took part in some filming for a run through for a new game show, so I made sure that I applied some Altr so that I would look good on camera!

I have also used it the last few times that I have interviewed people for my A Tough Act to Follow article series. I am very self-conscious about how I look on webcams, so it’s great to be able to make myself look a little better on them.

But let me tell you, in real life, these products are making me look fineee.

You can follow Altr on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter @altrlondon.

To browse their products, head to altrlondon.com.

Tags: beauty, fragile masculinity, make-up, makeup, male beauty, masculinity, toxic masculinity

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. To write for theatre, DM me or email [email protected]
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