Male Beauty Icons: Notes From Jagger, Bowie & Bolan

What can I say? I like pretty men.
Publish date:
August 5, 2014
men, nars, Urban Decay, David Bowie, Davines, male beauty icons, Marc Bolan, mick jagger, musicians

You know when you see a person who is just so cool that you can't decide whether you want to be them or make out with them? That's how I feel about a lot of my beauty icons--most of whom are dudes.

I mean, men have just as much of a right to wear makeup, have lustrous hair, and smell good as anyone else. And no matter your gender, if you're born with good bone structure you might as well play it up. Or, in the words of RuPaul, "You better work!"

My number one male beauty icon is Mick Jagger, a man who is notoriously cocky, full of swagger, and yes, pretty. His hair has been various lengths of perfectly shaggy; he has rimmed his sleepy eyes with kohl; and his full lips and sculpted cheekbones are straight-up dreamy. I work to recreate his look (especially his hair, circa the 1970 film Performance) every day.

But Mick isn't my only male beauty icon! Herewith, three of the guys (starting with Mick) who inspire me and the products I use to carry their looks off.


For Mick's cheekbones, I attempt to recreate some semblance of structure with NARS Contour Blush in Olympia, the lightest color combination. The palette offers two matte powder shades, a pale ivory for highlighting the high points of the face and a rosy light beige for adding definition to the hollows of the cheekbones. Blending and buffing the color is key here, unless you want dirty streaks all over your face.

To give myself one-eighth of the mouth Mick has, I try to define my wonky lip line with Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in Naked2, a medium beige-nude. I sketch lightly along the edges of my lips and then fill them in completely.

Next, I plump things up with Soap & Glory Super-Colour Sexy Mother Pucker Lip Plumping Gloss in Baby Doll, a sheer pink. It has a natural plant oil infusion that increases blood flow in your lips, making them all tingly and pouty. It's not uncomfortable, though, and I dig the results, so I'm down. I leave the gloss on for a bit and let it do its magic, then I dab down some of the shine with a tissue because I don't like a majorly glossy look.

Finally, to get smudgy, sooty, sleepy rockstar eyes, I line the outer two-thirds of my upper and lower lash lines with Essence Gel Eye Pencil Waterproof in Cocoa Bean, a matte deep brown, and then use the brand's Stay No Matter What Eye Pencil & Shadow in Chocolate Brownie, a light, shimmery brown, all over my upper lid, smudging up and out along the crease with my finger before the color sets.

To get Mick's bed-head and coax my natural waves into staying put, I like to use a salt spray. My current favorite is Davines This Is A Sea Salt Spray. It gives hair the most wonderful texture--a bit of grip, but not sticky or greasy--and it smells like warm, sweet summery perfection.


Another one of my male beauty icons is David Bowie, a man who has never shied away from blurring the gender lines.

One of my favorite Bowie beauty moments is his "Boys Keep Swinging" video, in which he channels his lanky, red-haired alter ego--with Jerry Hall waves, thick lashes, and out of control blush. The look would be perfectly at home on the head of a model in a Guy Bourdin-shot campaign.

And I love just how meticulous Bowie was and is about his look. When I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario's presentation of the "David Bowie Is" exhibit, I got to see one of his hand-drawn makeup charts from a 1970s tour. The man knew specifically where he wanted his blushes, shadows and shimmery creams applied each night. That attention to detail is something I try to infuse into my own out-there looks.


Finally, my favorite male beauty icon is Marc Bolan. (I've waxed poetic about the curly-haired, sooty-eyed Libra I happily share a birthday with before.) Many times I've wrapped my hair in fine little perm-style hot rollers in an attempt to recreate his corkscrew curls, but when all is said and done I feel a bit like a frightened dog. Oh, Marc, please let your ghost haunt my body and give me the groovy courage to poodle it up.

In the meantime, I can scrunch in mousse and tap in volumizing powder for a smidgen of the oomph the man had. And a smoky eye combined with my weirdsville thrifted gold jacket feels like something Marc would give his blessing to.

Who are your male beauty icons? Does their style inform your daily hair and makeup look?