Male Cosmetics Has Been Rising In Popularity, But It’s Really Nothing New 

Male cosmetics were previously thought to be exclusively for rock stars and punk individuals looking to rebel against their parents. As we’ve grown into the 21st century more and more, however, the beauty space has grown immensely, and the lines between gender and who can acceptably wear make up began to dissipate. 

Men in makeup is also nothing new, according to Dr Alun Withey, who claims that men initially began wearing makeup products back in the 1750s!

“The 18th century is actually the beginning of the market for men’s cosmetics that we see today. Back then there was a new focus on refining the body, so personal grooming became extremely important for everyone.”

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Back in the 18th century, however, men and women alike didn’t have access to the information and ingredients that modern cosmetic products contain. In fact, Withey claims that musca fly, hog’s gall, and donkey genitals all were key ingredients in 18th century cosmetic treatments. For men, these ingredients were used as a means of soothing redness after shaving, or to thicken their hair. 

Within the last six months of 2020, a major cosmetic retailer claimed that they saw a 300% growth in men’s skincare when compared to the stats in 2019. Euromonitor projected that the male makeup industry alone could be a $49 billion industry based on how large the makeup and cosmetics sectors of our economy is currently. 

Today, it’s completely normal for men to be the faces of major makeup brands and movements. However, back in the 1700’s male makeup was less about artistry and more about economics, according to Withey.

“There wasn’t a ‘movement’ as such, so no celebrity advocated. It was more that men, and I think we’re talking about the middle class and elite men, had greater choice and opportunity to buy these things.”

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Withey continued to explain that “before this period, men’s use of cosmetics was frowned upon because of its associative use with women. Satires depicted ‘macaronis’ or ‘fops’ who were sometimes described as using perfume, and the practice carried suspicions of effeminacy.”

In fact, Withey claims that the introduction of shaving is what really brought male cosmetics to the mainstream back in the 18th century. “Shaving was an inherently masculine act, so shaving products were perhaps an acceptable outlet for men to use ‘product.’ It was after 1750 that men began to shave themselves instead of visiting a barber. For men, shaving became very important in meeting new ideals of the ‘polite’ male body.”

The ingredients from the 18th century cosmetics world, however, was anything but glamorous.  “Donkey genitals were burnt to a powder, mixed with other ingredients and applied to the [shaving] rash. Odd as that might seem to modern eyes, the use of animal products in remedies was completely normal at the time,” says Withey.

Historians and scientists are currently both looking into if there’s any actual scientific evidence that these old-school treatments actually worked for what they were intended for. Regardless, Whitley believes that with the introduction of these products brought on an era of men wanting to present themselves as clean, which indirectly led to what we see now in terms of male cosmetics.

Womens Accessories

Brands That Are Putting Inclusivity At The Forefront Of Their Skin-Tone Products 

In the beauty industry, the term “nude” often only refers to a minimal range of light skin tones that would only actually be “nude” for individuals with white skin. Some brands around the world are attempting to combat this inclusivity issue by creating lines of “nude” products that actually range in shades to be accessible for anyone. 

Shades Of Shades is a new sunglasses brand that specializes in making luxury nude eye-wear for all skin tones. They have a wide variety of standard eyeglasses and sunglasses as well. Marsha Douglas-Sydnor is the founder of the brand who also helped create the online shade finder tool on their website that can help people from home match which eye-wear products will match their specific skin tone the best. 

Rebecca Allen founded her own shoe brand, named after herself, after growing frustrated with the “variety” of nude heels that women of color are forced to choose from for their business attire. Her website has a standard 5 nude shades that range in lightness and darkness to be more inclusive. Allen sells heels, flats and sandals. 

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Salone Monet is another new nude shoe brand that runs their business on the motto “nude is not a color.” The brand has a total of six shades that fit a large range of skin tones. The shoes themselves are made in Italy and have grown to be very popular online within the past few months. 

Kahumune also sells nude shoes but is mainly known for their “Find Your Nude” shade matching guide which is said to be extremely accurate. The brand has a total of ten different shades of shoe, and with every purchase the website provides you with a list of different makeup foundation shades from popular brands like Fenty Beauty and Bobbi Brown that match the nude you chose. 

Nubian Skin is one of the most well-known brands on this list, as it’s one of the first women’s undergarment brands to specifically cater to darker skinned consumers. The company was founded on the principle of providing nude lingerie and beyond for women of color who were tired of exclusively buying light nude undergarments. The brand now offers intimates for men as well. 

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Nude Barre is another undergarment company advertised for women of color. The brand was founded 11 years ago and at the time was one of the most inclusive lingerie brands for women of color on the market. Erin Carpenter founded the company back in 2009. Carpenter is a professional dancer so wearing tights and nude undergarments was always a necessity depending on the costume she had to wear. After years of struggling to find a solid brand for her skin tone, she took matters into her own hand and just created one herself. 

Fenty Beauty is one of the biggest beauty brands on the market today and with good reason. Rihanna broke barriers when she launched the brand in 2017 with a foundation line that included 50 different shades to help consumers really find their perfect skin match. The basis of all of Rihanna’s brands has always been inclusivity. As a woman of color herself, Rihanna has discussed multiple times how frustrating it was to always have to have make up on, but never the right shades that actually matched her. 

Now, Fenty Beauty has created a new standard for beauty brands everywhere, especially make up brands. Companies that continue to release “nude” lines with little to no dark tones are receiving major backlash and losing tons of revenue due to the existence of brands like Fenty or Nubian Skin, while brands that have embraced inclusivity as the basis of their products are rising in popularity. 

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On phone

New App, “Inspo Network,” Aims to be the Netflix of Lifestyle Brands

So much of how we see our lives these days is through the lens of our smartphones and the Internet. Social media has revolutionized how we conduct our relationships, and entertainment is forever changed by the advent of streaming media platforms like Youtube and Netflix. And when it comes to shopping, you can find nearly anything on Amazon, and as its supply and delivery network expands, the platform will continue to replace major retail locations as primary shopping destinations. Certainly, the tech industry provides ample opportunities for start-ups who are looking to introduce convenience and efficiency into the way we live our lives. Inspo Network, a Seattle start-up, intends to do just that.

The Inspo Network App, which gets its name from the slang term for an inspirational piece of clothing or other object, is an app available for iOS that partners with brands and content creators to sell clothing, beauty products, fitness products, and more. As the company’s primary revenue stream is in sales, the app essentially functions as a platform for advertising merchandise and streamlining the consumer purchasing experience. The app also allows users to save content for later, and even offers personalized recommendations based on the user’s browsing experience. Currently, the app has an average rating of 4.9/5 stars on the App Store, and user reviews applaud the app for being easy to use and visually appealing.

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The design of the app draws heavily from competing platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and presents users with a row of tabs at the bottom of the screen, offering features like viewing favorited images and discovering new channels. The app groups content into particular subcategories like clean beauty, makeup, and skincare, and is advertised as offering an alternative to “social media clutter” for browsing lifestyle-oriented products. As these products are often associated with celebrities or popular figures on social media, the shopping experience on Inspo Network is tightly integrated with these individuals, who can make money from the app by selling items featured in their content. Because the app functions as a platform for creators to showcase a premium line of products, the quality of the content posted via the app is fairly high across the board, differentiating the app from platforms where just anyone can share pictures and videos.

Though the app is relatively new, it faces fierce competition in the form of Instagram, which has recently rolled out a feature allowing high-profile members to sell products in a similar way. Amazon, too, has competed in this space with the Instagram-like Spark, which presented users with a feed populated with so-called “shoppable images.” What Inspo Network has going for it, then, is its focus on the shopping experience and the elimination of distractions normally associated with social media use, coupled with many of the same popular influencers who can be found on a multitude of platforms. Recently, Inspo Network has raised $3 million from venture capital firm Graycroft, which is on top of the $5.5 million the company raised from PSL ventures when it was founded.