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Men in makeup: A shifting demographic

Many industries are seeing a major shift in their gender demographics.

Most people will likely think of women going into typically male-dominated fields, such as STEM and CEO positions.

But at least one female-dominated field is also seeing a rise in male employees – the hair and makeup industry. 

According careers site, there has been a 25 per cent increase in male hair and makeup artists between 2010 and 2019, with 20 per cent of all makeup artists now being men.

Makeup stars such as James Charles, Jeffree Star and Bretman Rock have become popular faces in the industry via Youtube, Instagram and TikTok.

Melbourne-based freelance makeup artist Saber Tang – on TikTok as @memoryfoam69 – is one of these stereotype-breaking men. 

Though he’s new to the industry, he’s well aware of the challenges faced by men, and people of colour, in a field that still heavily pushes feminine and Western beauty standards. 

“It does sometimes get hard, most of the beauty industry is intended to enhance femininity,” he says.

While the majority of beauty products are advertised for female audiences, there are quite a number of male and gender-neutral beauty products now on the market. 

Men in makeup: A shifting demographic

Saber Tang. Picture by Jasmine Ruger-Anderson

“Many clients will often book the female artists because they think men aren’t as good at makeup,” he says.

According to one British study, 65 per cent of men say they would be happy to wear makeup if they wouldn’t be judged for doing so. Another, by YouGov, showed 1 in 20 men did or had worn makeup.

“I think the main challenge for me is the homophobia,” he says. “But I don’t think my gender is that big of an issue in my job, at least not in Melbourne.”

Though there are significantly fewer men than women in the makeup industry, the pay gap still works in favour of men. Industry statistics show that women earn 92c for every $1 a male makeup artist earns. 

Men in makeup: A shifting demographic

Saber Tang’s makeup table. Picture by Jasmine Ruger-Anderson

“Often the desire for makeup is to look like someone else,” he says. “Being both a male and Asian, it can sometimes be difficult not working with people who look like me,” he says. “It is sometimes discouraging.” 

Though males are the minority in the industry and face challenges such as homophobia and underrepresentation, Tang doesn’t find it difficult to stay positive.

“If there are challenges, and I am able to push past them, I know it’s because of my skills and not because I look a certain way,” he says. 

“I hope that I am able to be the representation for others that I didn’t have growing up.”


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