There's Nothing Wrong with a Man Wearing a Little (Or a Lot) of Makeup

I did my best guy friend's makeup because he has as much of a right as you or I to swipe on some concealer if it'll heighten his confidence.

My best friend's name is Cannada, like the country, except with two N's, like Kennedy, 'cause I'm pretty convinced he secretly is one. He'll tell you that he's cold and shrewd, but he's really the truest Mississippian southern gentlemen with the biggest heart ever. From the first day of acting class in our freshman year of college when we rolled on the ground making guttural sounds like hippopotami (it was theatre school, OK?), I knew we would end up best buddies.

Cannada has watched me grow from makeup admirer to makeup addict to full-blown makeup artist. As a side effect of my awesome existence — just kidding, sort of — he's learned a thing or two about products. Every time we meet to see a movie, he'll compliment my lip color. He'll acknowledge the bartender's awesome eyeshadow when we go to get drinks, or even preach about the perfectly matched foundation on the stranger sitting across from us on the steamy New York City subway.

Whether he likes it or not, Cannada has grown to not only notice but appreciate makeup.

When Cannada told me he was going to move to Los Angeles (where he just convinced me to move back from about eight months ago), my first reaction was: "Rude." My second reaction was: "Let me put makeup on your face before you go."

I've always been intrigued by the relationship between gender and makeup in modern society. When and how did everyday makeup become unacceptable for men to wear? In ancient times in Egypt, China, Greece, and a smattering of European countries, makeup was not only just prevalent among men, but a signifier of status as well. A powdered face or a painted eye could set one apart as royal and manly. When did this change? How has the relationship so drastically morphed to a point where men wearing makeup are often belittled or seen as less-than?

When men don makeup, it's a point of difference — an act of rebellion. Many male beauty gurus, like Patrick Starr and MannyMua, take this rebellious act to its full potential. They create looks that are soft and beautiful; their lips are full and their eyes are sultry and well-blended. They're celebrated for it, as they should be. Their talents are immense. Women look up to them for inspiration and often exclaim “They're even more beautiful than me!” (And why are they surprised?)

In modern male beauty, it's all or nothing. Full-face glam or naked skin. But what if a man just wants to cover a pimple? What if his dark circles make him extremely self-conscious? What if his goal is not to be more beautiful, but just to feel more comfortable? He has as much of a right as you or I to swipe on some concealer if it'll heighten his confidence.

So Cannada and I decided to perform a social experiment: to do his face up and see how many people commented — or if they would even notice.

I began by prepping Cannada's skin. Cannada has his own personal skincare regimen, in which he makes his own rich and hydrating eye cream and moisturizer that he uses once a week (he's much more dedicated than I am you guys), and then uses Kiehl's the rest of the time. For the purpose of this experiment, I cleansed his skin with Perricone MD Blue Plasma Cleansing Treatment (which is my favorite for when I'm doing makeup on the fly), and followed up with the Benefit It's Potent! Eye Cream and Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream to prepare the skin, lock in hydration, and create a smooth surface for the products we were about to add.

Because I wanted to leave his skin looking natural yet perfected, we started with priming and color correcting. I used Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield to create a smooth, soft-focus surface for the makeup to glide across. I also utilized my favorite Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Neutralizer in Green for redness and Bisque for blue tones. I used the brush-tip applicator to apply the product and my fluffy #57 Sephora Brush to softly blend out the edges.

After color correcting, I used my damp (please, always use it damp) beautyblender to press and roll on Smashbox Camera Ready CC Cream in Light/Neutral. I opted for this combo because I wanted the skin to look as much like natural un-made-up skin as possible. In the areas that didn't need much coverage, I blended out the product with my fingers for a softer look.

I used my Sephora + Pantone Universe Correct + Conceal Palette in Light/Medium and a mix of fingers/the #57 brush to add additional coverage to any blemishes or spots that still popped through. I used a shade lighter than his skin tone to conceal and pop the under-eye forward a bit more as Cannada's naturally recedes.

Because these concealers are thick, body heat is very important. Even when I was applying with the #57 brush, I warmed the product on the back of my wrist first.

At this point, Cannada was looking a little too perfect. The cocktail of all-over coverage and dewy texture were causing him to resemble a shiny plastic Ken doll. To bring the natural finish back to his face, I used my Sephora Collection MicroSmooth Baked Foundation Face Powder in Nude to eliminate any unrealistic dewiness and give the skin a soft-focus finish.

To bring back dimension, I applied my matte Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer with the Real Techniques Blush Brush (which is fantastic for a super-soft and subtle effect) in a big “3 & E” motion around the perimeter of the face (forehead, cheekbone, and chin). I also used the same brush to slightly wash Cannada's cheeks with Surrat Artistique Blush in La Vie En Rose, starting from the apple of the cheek and sweeping upward. With the remaining product on the brush, I lightly brushed over the center of his forehead, nose, and chin.

As a finishing touch, I used my fingers to apply the balm from the Pat McGrath Skin Fetish in Nude to his cheek bones, eyelids, and lips to accentuate. To add definition to the eyes, I combed through his lashes with the Benefit They're Real Tinted Lash Primer and his brows with the Gimme Brow in 3.

I was floored by how much product it took to make the skin look softly made-up under the lens of the camera. In real life, the makeup was visible (because it's clearly there), but still natural. We even took pictures in different types of lighting for comparison.

After Cannada had his makeup done by yours truly, he met up with some close friends for dinner and a swim. His makeup lasted throughout his subway ride, though he told me he felt like it was melting off the whole time. No strangers came up to him or even stared a little too long. His own friends only noticed he was wearing makeup because of his brows, which they said looked a little too perfect. Brows on fleek: always a giveaway.

My main takeaway from this experiment: Cannada looked cool with makeup and looks cool without it. Just like women, men should be allowed to choose whether or not to indulge in cosmetics. If makeup is a form of expressing oneself, then concealer, blush, and bronzer can be freedom of speech.

  • Would your best guy friend let you put makeup on his face?
  • What's your opinion on men and makeup?
  • Go wish @rdcannada bon voyage!