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UK consumers still not ready for male make-up

04 December 2014

Despite a growing acceptance of metrosexuality, nearly 93% of male and female consumers think that men should not wear make-up. When men do use make-up, they seek discreet options that provide them with functional benefits, such as masking skin impurities, and are not overly concerned about beauty.

According to a Canadean survey, only 7% of British men and 5% of women think that men should use decorative make-up such as mascara or blusher. However, there is a greater tolerance for men using make-up for other purposes, such as covering acne traces or age spots, with 12% of men and 14% of women accepting this trend. Overall, 7% of men admit they have used make-up before.

According to Veronika Zhupanova, analyst at Canadean, “Despite increasing media focus on metrosexuality, male make-up still remains niche and is frowned upon not only by men, but also by women.” This is supported by data from the survey which finds that 49% of men do not like men wearing any decorative cosmetics, with 44% of women thinking the same.

Men look for functional as opposed to purely image-enhancing make-up 

Due to the stigma attached to male decorative cosmetics, discreetness is vital when men use make-up.  According to Zhupanova: “This means men will look for products that provide natural-looking results that can be applied in the morning before going to work and last all day without smudging, so they don’t risk being exposed.” With the market overwhelmed by products for women, masculine packaging in bigger size and dark or pale colours will make the product more appealing to men, with the market inundated by products targeted at women.

Nearly a quarter of British men's consumption of make-up by volume (24%) is motivated by the desire to hide impurities associated with age, such as smoothing out wrinkles to maintain a youthful appearance at work, as they associate youth with confidence, energy and drive. To make men feel less embarrassed about using make-up, manufacturers should launch products with functional benefits inspired by skincare, such as facial tint that masks acne. However, manufacturers have to remember that the majority of UK consumers will remain conservative in their attitudes towards male grooming, and will limit their acceptance to shaving.

Men Makeup

Men seek discreet options that provide them with functional benefits of make-up, such as masking skin impurities, and are not overly concerned about beauty.



This information is based on a new Canadean consumer survey of 2,000 UK adults.

Please get in contact if you have any questions to this or other Canadean data. Analysts are available to comment. Contact the Canadean press office on +44 (0) 207 936 6713 or email

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