Coloring the lips has dominated the female realm for centuries, falling both into and out of style as the ages roll. While history is laden with photographs and stories of women staining their mouths, the true origin of lipstick is often forgotten.
Yes, lipstick for men is not a modern concept, but rather a reinvention. Not only did the purpose of lipstick take a turn throughout the years, but the range of people who donned colorful lips changed as well.
Today lipstick stands as a medium for self-expression and creativity for any person regardless of gender. And with so many colors, shades, and forms available – it is no wonder that more and more men are starting to explore adding a dash of color to their lips.
It is a trend that we wholeheartedly support – and that this intro to men wearing lipstick is meant to encourage!
A Brief History Of Lipstick For Men
In ancient times both men and women used makeup to signify their status and wealth. We see the first nods to lipstick in the Mesopotamian civilization where gemstones were crushed and worn on the eyes and mouth area of their people.
Later, colored lips were then to become a staple of the Egyptian culture where once again, it was ordinary for the women and men to paint their lips shades of black and red to visibly show others their social status and wealth.
There was no discrimination between a man wearing lip color and a woman wearing lip color at this time, it was simply customary for all with higher positions/privileges in life. However, Egyptian lip wear was created from crushed plant and fruit juices, insects, iodine, lead, and carmine, many of which were harmful ingredients that caused illness and death in the population.
Then, as time progressed the connotation of lipstick became increasingly feminine. Men still applied makeup throughout the years, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but their methods became more subtle. They used red pigment for cheeks, white powder for faces, and drawn-on beauty marks in order to maintain a made-up yet natural look.
Unfortunately, lipstick was left behind in this endeavor and left to the ladies of the time where the usage of lipstick changed from a symbolization of power to that of an expression of beauty. Until the 1960s rolled around. It was during this time that men wearing lipstick rose from the depths of history to make their appearance, however strictly for males in the acting field (and non-binary makeup was still a few decades away).
One of the most famous examples of gents lipstick from this era is actor Joel Grey’s character in the 1966 broadway musical, Cabaret. Grey played the emcee who sported a dramatic cupid’s bow lip shape only achievable through wearing lipstick. As years passed and the ’70s and 80’s made a statement on the timeline, so did various popular male music artists who wore lipstick to make a statement themselves.
Kiss wore their signature red and black lip to stand out from the crowd while others, like David Bowie and Boy George, used lipstick as a form of expressiveness. This lead to the expansion of celebrity men wearing lipstick from only actors and singers to runway models, designers, and social figures of the ’90s and early 2000s.
With the help of social media and influencers in our current time, lipstick for men is being normalized as various individuals and large companies alike are doing their part to practice inclusivity. As a result, lipstick is now one of the best mediums for self-expression for any person with all of the colors, shades, and forms available. This provides men with a plethora of options to choose from in the current industry for lipstick – and the options are growing daily.
A Crash Course In Lipstick For Men
Wearing lipstick is a great way to accentuate one’s features and natural lip color, express personality or mood and compliment a great outfit or aesthetic. Knowing how to choose a flattering lip color is one of the best ways to accomplish these goals.
One of the first things to consider is what color are your lips without lipstick. Determining skin tone can help to identify what color and shades will work best based on an individual’s undertones.
For example, cool-toned persons typically have a blue, red, or pink hue, bluish veins, and look best in silver jewelry. Warm-toned people generally have a yellow, olive, or golden hue, greenish veins, and look best in gold jewelry. Those who have a mixture of hues, and look best in both silver and gold jewelry, are considered as having neutral tones.
So cool-toned men may do best with lipstick colors containing blue or purple undertones, shades closer to a true red, or more light pinky hues. The warmer men out there might want to stick to warm shades, orange and yellow undertones, or copper hues. Those blessed with neutral tones may pick and choose however they please utilizing all ends of the color spectrum. Paint with the rainbow honey, and go big. As Trixie Mattel always says “paint for the check-cashing place down the street…”
Nevertheless, some of the most popular lip colors among men remain no matter the skin tone or other makeup guidelines. Pink, nude, and black, all of which have shades for any skin tone, will never go out of style.
Going for a black lip can make a statement since the color is so dark and bold as compared to average lipstick colors. Paired with dark makeup, or accompanying an all-black outfit, can evoke a sense of mystery as well as high fashion.
Intimidation may arise when considering a dark lip because finding a dark enough shade that doesn’t seem cakey can seem impossible, but the Nyx Suede Matte Lipstick, in shade Alien, is lightweight as well as super pigmented. This product is also vegan and compatible with the variety of lipliners offered by Nyx. Not to mention it is one of the best black lipstick for men ever!
A nude lip, on the other hand, can give the illusion of a flawless natural look. Using various shades of skin-toned lipsticks can subtly alter the color of the lips giving one the opportunity to change the appearance of lip color to best complement the color palette of an outfit. The only potential trouble with wearing a nude lip is that a shade too similar to the overall skin tone can cause lips to appear non-existent, making it important to find the right color.
Too Faced offers countless nude shades in their Melted Matte Liquid Lipstick, inclusive of all skin tones, and is similar to a lip stain making it long-lasting. However, the most versatile and common lipstick color available for men is pink, with numerous colors, shades, and hues ranging from light, bright, natural, dark, and everything in between.
This gives the user access to the full pink spectrum from simple baby pinks to over-the-top neons. The Vice Hydrating Lipstick from Urban Decay has a shade for everyone seeing as there are over thirty pink colors to choose from.
Men’s Lipstick Brands
Exploring different lipstick brands is another central aspect in discovering a product with the potential to be deemed a new favorite. MMUK MAN is one such contender and is a makeup brand specifically created for men.
They are relatively new on the scene after launching in 2019 and include their own lipstick collection. Currently, their site offers twelve shades ranging from pinks to nudes. Their brand describes their lip products as liquid velvet lipstick meaning that it does not appear shiny, but rather dries a matte finish for a natural look capable of withstanding all-day wear and tear.
Adeket Cosmetics is another brand that was established on the principle of makeup for all. The founder of the brand also spearheaded the “I Wore Lipstick” nonprofit which brings awareness and encourages inclusivity for all who want to wear lipstick. Lipsticks, liquid lipsticks, lip liners, and lip gloss can all be found on the Adveket site.
Larger makeup brands are becoming more diverse as the days pass as well, including iconic names like Tom Ford and MAC. In general Tom Ford has categories for both men and women but has now added a “boys and girls” label to their lip category.
The collection is comprised of a variety of shades of lipstick given either a male or female name. Both cream and matte finishes are available, so there is a little something for everyone. The rosy plum of the Tom Ford So Vain lipstick is our current favorite.
MAC is probably the largest and most well-known makeup brand for lipstick is also actively supporting men wearing lipstick use for men. In fact, MAC has celebrated makeup for all for many years now and they plan to continue their support in the future. Seeing as MAC is already an established brand for lipstick, it is a good option for exploring lipstick for guys and perhaps a first purchase as they have proven formulas and a shade for everyone. We have to say that the Mac Men Love Mystery is our personal favorite, but understand the warm-toned, dark lavender might not be for everyone.
Other popular men’s lipstick offerings currently are the Revolution x Friends Joey lipstick (a nourishing light blue lip balm that with 2-3 layers gives a look like Joey from Friends in his Japanese lipstick commercial), the iconic YSL The Slim 31, or the new-generation lacquer stick Dior Sauvage lipstick. However, these are only a few ideas – and the joys of exploring male lipstick options are that you can find one as utterly unique as you are.
Lipstick for men is definitely making a comeback that cannot – and should not – be ignored. Gradually more brands and formulas are producing lip products for the general public without favoring a certain group or gender. Just as it was in the ancient world.
With all of the progress happening now, and the continued advancement to look forward to, men are carving out their space in the makeup industry. While guys with black lipstick were the start of this trend, red and pink have since become popular, and finding any color these days is never very hard.
Men can now shop around and purchase the lip color, finish, or brand that makes them feel best and excited to get ready for the day. Use color guidelines to the best of your ability or take risks and break all of the rules because no matter the color, shade, or brand, lipstick is a phenomenal tool used for generations to express personality, beauty, and individuality.
Use it well.