Here are some of the colourful creatives using social media to showcase their skills
Welcome to Behind The Masc: Rethinking Masculinity, a campaign dedicated to exploring what ‘masculinity’ means in 2019. With photo stories shot in Tokyo, India, New York, and London and in-depth features exploring mental health, older bodybuilders, and myths around masculinity – we present all the ways people around the world are redefining traditional tropes.
From the ancient Egyptians covering their eyes in kohl to 18th-century French and English courtiers giving themselves lead poisoning with their ghostly white complexions and brilliantly rouged cheeks, men have been wearing make-up for just as long as women. Yet, in recent decades men who have worn make-up in western countries have faced stigma as a result.
However, things are starting to change, thanks to mainstream shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and Queer Eye, and celebrities such as Cody Fern and Ezra Miller – who owned the red carpet during his Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald promotional tour with a face beat for the gods.
But it’s the colourful creatives over on Instagram that are using their platforms to showcase their mad make-up skills who are really leading the way. Here are some of our favourites.
Michael Brooks is a 27-year-old Canadian make-up artist working in London. On Instagram, Michael’s feed is packed with multicolour ombre eyes, perfect brows and bright lips framed by his neat moustache and septum piercing. Other highlights include an extreme winged sci-fi-eye with kaleidoscopic colour; a detailed homage to artist Keith Haring; an extreme ‘smokey eye’ (with fire and smoke billowing out of his eyes), which went viral; and the “ALWAYS PROUD” text look he posted at the end of Pride month. “Wearing makeup, being gay and masculinity are separate things that are all a part of me,” he captioned the post, adding: “I am always proud of... who I am, but I am not limited to celebrate those parts of myself 1 out of 12 months a year.”
LA-based make-up artist Noel Garcia is the artist behind Instagram alter ego Alastor Wrath. Alastor shapeshifts between whimsical characters, from an ethereal blue-skinned wood nymph, to a delicately-winged fairy trapped inside the platform of a stripper heel; a sooty take on pyromaniac beauty (with lit matchstick hair); and a set of twin clowns, with one holding a muted pose and the other looking crazed with eyes bulging, fanged teeth and a lizard-like tongue snaking out. “I told Alastor to take a serious pic with me and this happens! He never listens,” Garcia jokes in the caption.
Androgynous beauty Danil is a 17-year-old Instagrammer from Russia. Using the unique landscapes of Perm, an inland city close to the Ural Mountains with the Kama River running through it, Danil captures his fresh-faced, pale-and-interesting features amid snow-laden pines, and huge blocks of river ice. Danil’s make-up repertoire ranges from subtle natural looks with glowing pearlescent skin (and oregano sprigs – okay, not so subtle!), to a smokey cat-eye on flawless skin, a burnished gold flower child, and more exuberant looks including a tropical, painterly parrot design; a romantic blush inspired by (and including) an Alstroemeria flower; and a rainbow cloudscape, to celebrate Pride.
Niall White is a vegan and cruelty-free make-up lover from London. He specialises in graphic, symmetrical face designs, paired with an extensive jewellery collection of chokers and chains that he hand makes and sells on his Depop. Niall’s inventive beauty looks include a black ink pattern like a Rorschach test; green-glowing symbols like nuclear waste warning signs; a red and black butterfly design; and a nature-worshipping sacred tree mask, run through by blue rivers. Recently, Niall has branched out – literally and metaphorically – with an asymmetric, full-face of leafy twigs, and a bright camo pattern.
Bushwick-based Laurel Charleston is a drag and performance artist, model and composer. Alongside high-femme drag looks, Laurel (who is nonbinary – but we couldn’t leave off the list) initially designed precise geometric shapes for their face – captioning an irridence ombre version with “Shapes, Bitch!” – before launching a series of looks inspired by fine art. Van Gogh’s The Starry Night swirls in blues and yellows around their features; playful yellow with black polka dots pays homage to Dots Obsession by Yayoi Kusama; and – “Oh RothNO she betta don't!” as Laurel says – a series of impressive takes on Mark Rothko’s Colour Field paintings.
Indiana make-up artist King Kiahh is “living (his) life like it’s golden”, with a crown of bleach blond corkscrew curls, the sharpest eyebrows we’ve seen all week and a very neat set of facial hair. On this beautiful canvas, he paints ombre eyes, poreless-skin and glossy lips. “Serving you Purple Fanta realness,” King Kiahh captions a sultry purple-to-pink eye look that’s reflected in highlights on his cheekbones. Elsewhere, colours clash, with fuschia and forest green lines; there’s a high-shine trompe l'oeil orange look; a high-glam monochrome cat eye; and a stunning matte rainbow eye with matching lips, in celebration of Pride.
One half of Harajuku power couple (with wife Peco), Ryuchel is a Japanese model, TV personality and self-defined Instagram “Candy Boy”. Ryuchel uses a kawaii pallete of baby pinks and blues on his androgynous features, pairing his beauty looks with outfit posts. At Tokyo Rainbow Pride, Ryuchel matched his pink eyelids with pink hair braids and a pink string vest. “Always love yourself at any time. Because you are a very wonderful person,” he told followers in a recent post, a freckle-faced look with blue lipstick, topped off with a cute 90s-style tartan hat and delicate pink charm choker.
Read more from Behind The Masc: Rethinking Masculinity here.