Mascara for men is now on the high street. H&M stock its own £3.99 brand. In the men’s section. For men. Not hidden in a corner, but next to the V-necked jumpers and polo shirts.
Seeing it last week, my reaction was like vertigo. I knew I shouldn’t go nearer, but felt somehow compelled. My wife said, "You’ve worn makeup before. Don’t you remember that wedding last summer? You moaned about looking pasty so I put bronzer on you."
The male cosmetics market in the UK is driven by men wanting to look younger and smell nicer, according to research company Mintel. Mascara’s recent rise, though, comes from the punk/goth revival, agree trends expert Martin Raymond at The Future Laboratory and Aly Hazlewood, Russell Brand’s makeup artist.
I bought some. One. A packet. A bottle. I don’t know what you call it. It’s tough putting on mascara. It doesn’t come with instructions. But if women can put it on in front of a carriage full of people on the move, surely I could manage it standing still at home, alone? I soon resembled Rambo in war-paint. You have to use both hands, hold steady and brush up. You can’t do it with your mouth shut. It’s like applying glue to your eyes. That’s why women flutter their eyelids. If they don’t, their eyes will get stuck shut.
After half an hour and using most of a toilet roll to clear my face of unwanted black stuff, I went to work. And no one noticed the difference. It was like carrying around a dirty secret. I whispered it to a colleague. "If," said Piers loudly, "I’d even noticed that you looked different – which I didn’t – mascara is the last thing that would enter my head."
A crowd gathered to see the office car crash. Did anyone else want to try it? A colleague called Steve piped up: "There’s no way you’re putting that on me."
So what made H&M sell mascara? The company’s Jenni Tapper-Hoel told me: "Customers were asking for it in stores." Which customers, I asked. She couldn’t say. Steve wears something from H&M most days of the week. I wonder if he mentioned it at the till.
Via Guardian Unlimited