Men wear makeup, too: Desire to make a good impression boosts men’s cosmetics

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A male customer tries on makeup at a men’s cosmetics area that sells nail polish and other products at Takashimaya’s Osaka department store. More men are taking up makeup to improve their appearance and boost their confidence.

Men’s grooming is undergoing major change, triggered by the novel coronavirus pandemic. An increasing number of men middle-aged and older have started wearing makeup as they have become more conscious of how they look, especially due to online meetings for work, and many of them are looking to “give an impression of health.”

To meet the new demand, department stores have even set up special areas for men’s cosmetics, products that go a step beyond the usual men’s skin care.

To be confident, fired up

In September, Takashimaya’s department store in Osaka’s Chuo Ward set up a men’s cosmetics area in the men’s section on the second floor.

The area sells about 50 kinds of cosmetics, including eyebrow pencils, concealers to mask blemishes and dark areas under the eyes, and BB cream, which is a kind of foundation. Prices are mostly in the ¥1,000 to ¥2,000 range.

“I get more confident when I apply makeup as part of my routine. It feels easier to get fired up in different situations,” said Hirofumi Hayashi, 36, a nurse from Izumiotsu, Osaka Prefecture, while browsing products to buy.

“About 30% of our customers are in their 40s or older. Some are in their 70s,” said Masafumi En, 33, the manager in charge of the area. “Many people say they want to hide the dark areas under their eyes, or they are concerned about their body odor. The age bracket of people interested in makeup is expanding.”

At the Kobe Hankyu department store in Kobe, you can even find a private room to try on cosmetics where you don’t have to worry about being judged by those around you.

Nail polish, lipstick

The trend toward men wearing makeup is said to have taken off as more women entered the workforce, making more men conscious of their grooming and appearance at work.

According to a survey by Mandom Corp., more than 20% of men in their 40s said that they had become concerned about how their face looked in online meetings, and nearly half of them said they were interested in makeup.

“I’m not happy about how greasy my face is, which is probably caused by wearing a face mask, so I started using a facial care device,” said a 51-year-old company employee in Kobe. “Next, I want to try wearing concealer and nail polish as a way to boost my mood.”

In response to this trend, Mandom launched a new brand in October last year that includes nail polish and lipstick, in addition to skin lotion and cream.

“Men have shown less hesitation to wear makeup recently,” said a company representative. “We want to help them express themselves in diverse ways.”

Naris Cosmetics Co. in Osaka has turned a brand for women gender neutral. Noticing an increase in male users, the company changed its container color from pink to white and used a male model, which resulted in a nearly threefold increase in sales.

According to the Tokyo-based research firm Intage Inc., the domestic market for men’s cosmetics is growing, hitting ¥40.6 billion yen last year, up 8% from the previous year.

“There are more stores that men, even older men, feel comfortable entering,” said Aya Maeda, an analyst at the company. “And even if they feel embarrassed about purchasing cosmetics, they can easily buy them online. I think more men will wear makeup as product options increase.”