When actor Ansel Engort arrived on this year's Golden Globes red carpet looking splendid in a velvet tuxedo paired with glittering blue eye shadow he was in keeping with a rather fine tradition.
From the ancient Egyptians' fondness for a kohl-rimmed smokey eye to the dedication of gentlemen in Elizabethan England and pre-Revolutionary France to a powdered alabaster face, men's makeup isn't a new concept.
And yet in recent decades, amid rigid ideals of masculinity, makeup for men has – with notable exceptions such as David Bowie and Brian Eno and the entire punk rock scene – been something of a niche category.
Carving new ground
Whether we need to thank Engort, Timothee Chamalet's incredible style, Harry Styles' single pearl earring, the warm-hearted popularity of the re-booted Queer Eye or the plethora of Youtube beauty influencers such as Jeffree Starr, this is now changing.
Brands are cottoning onto the idea that men are no longer interested in merely pilfering a partner's good cleanser, that they want to experiment and definitely, definitely want to look and feel better.
While men's skin is typically about 20 per cent thicker than women's with a different texture (and can, you know, sprout a beard) the jury is still out on whether men need entirely different products to women.
In any case, luxury brands such as Chanel are all in. Chanel launched its Boy de Chanel makeup range in 2018, which includes an eyebrow pencil and foundation and is named for Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's lover Captain Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel.
Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs also have makeup lines for men (though Jean Paul Gaultier was even earlier, launching a short-lived Tout Beau Tout Propre cosmetics range in 2003).
Australian brand Tony & Munro, a "fusion" line of cosmetics and skincare launched in 2019 with a BB cream (a sheer foundation with a moisturiser and SPF), eye gel and corrective concealer as its initial core products.
Ewan Munro Belsey and Tony Tsianakas started the brand because they believed there was a gap in the market for men looking for products that would make them "look good and feel confident," says Tsianakas.
He believes the evolution of men's grooming, from the mainstreaming of hair product and skincare means makeup for men will eventually becoming more commonplace too.
"The initial feedback [on the brand] has been overwhelmingly positive," he says.
A shift in awareness
Alphie Sadsad, national artistry lead at Sephora Australia and New Zealand says he noticed a real shift in the way men approached beauty and grooming in 2019, i.e. caring quite deeply about it and willing to try new products and styles. It's something he expects to expand in 2020.
"In previous years we have seen men make the Thursday or Friday night journey to the barber for a short back & sides and only really invest time and money in a classic fragrance and standard shave. Skincare was also something of an afterthought, with men often purchasing their skincare at supermarkets or their skincare routine involved the dreaded all-in-one face and body wash," he says
He says he's noticed men dabbling in using a concealer or BB cream to even out complexions and also experiment with layering fragrances.
"I think it is great, men should not be pigeonholed by what people deem as masculine or feminine and taking care of your skin and expressing yourself should be for everyone. Although I am a strong believer that all products are unisex, if it helps men take the leap into self-care and not be embarrassed or uncomfortable then it can be nothing but good," he says.
Products for thought
As for products he'd recommend for those wanting to dabble in makeup, Sadsad is all about NUDESTIX Tinter Cover Foundation, which is a sheer formulation and will even out skin and It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Concealer to hide undereye circles.
A recent study from Ipsos, What the Future: Beauty, predicts sustainable beauty will continue to become more important, customers will be more brand loyal and customers responding to more diverse and relatable beauty marketing suggests the new decade sure is going to one interesting place to put your best face forward.
Just don't be afraid to ask a friend for help how to "blend".