Do men need makeup when appearing in front of the camera?

In short, yes. But not as much as you think.

A couple of Thursdays ago I was lucky enough to find myself watching the sun rise from the 35th floor of The Shard, inside the Shangri La Hotel (the view was incredible).

Myself and a fellow makeup artist, Laura Barrow, had been booked by a lovely client of mine (a firm) to provide grooming for eight members of its senior team (one female and seven men), all of whom were due to appear on a live webinar, to be broadcast from the hotel at 8:30am.

The men were from all over…the Netherlands, the States and Ireland to name but a few. Some had had makeup applied before. For others it was their first time. As Laura and I started to prep each gentleman individually for the cameras the usual banter began:

‘You’ll need to bring out the heavy stuff!’
‘What can you do with these eye bags?’
‘No blue eye shadow for me, thanks’ (there’s always one) 😉


Not too shabby
Not too shabby


Of course there’s a macho thing at play here, regardless of one’s sexuality.

Most men don’t wear makeup on a daily basis so having it applied (even moisturiser) can feel uncomfortable. If you think about it, not only does having your makeup done require you to allow a complete stranger to come into close proximity with your face, but it also requires you to experience having a number of different products applied to your skin, by someone else. Products you may not be used to. Combine that with a ‘makeup is for women and never for men’ attitude and you can see why some chaps find it difficult.


male-grooming-tv-webinar-executive makeup-3


Later that afternoon the gentlemen were booked in to have their makeup reapplied in preparation for another webinar which was due to start at 6pm. One of the chaps had decided he’d rather not have makeup applied again and this influenced some of the others (although in the end we did manage to convince them to having some subtle concealing and powder).

This one particular gentleman’s hesitation to have makeup, having already experienced it that morning, got me thinking:

Is it the act of having makeup applied that has changed his mind or is it simply he’s skeptical of its benefit?


Some of the grooming products I use on my male clients
Some of the grooming products I use on my male clients



Face and body foundation


What makeup can do

Strategically applied makeup (assuming the makeup artist is using the right products and an appropriate amount) will give a gentleman ten hours sleep when he’s barely had two.

Clever use of colour correcting concealers will gently soften dark circles (it’s important not to get rid of them completely) and a light application of a product such as MAC’s iconic Face and Body will turn the volume down on any redness whilst evening out the skin tone.

Before any makeup is applied, however, it is essential the skin is hydrated.  And that’s the key really to good male grooming: good skin (or the appearance of good skin). Any makeup applied thereafter  needn’t be heavy. In fact, when done well it should look invisible.

A good blot powder to finish will get rid of any shine and will set the makeup. This is particularly useful on gents whose hair line is receding or for those who tend to get very hot under bright lights.

What makeup can’t do

No amount of makeup will drastically reduce a person’s weight or shape, however, clever use of light contouring on a man will help to add definition to his face (this can quickly go wrong so it’s essential to have it done by someone who knows what they’re doing!!).

Whilst makeup can help imbue health and give a person the appearance of being well rested it can’t get rid of genetic factors including puffy eyes or under eye bags. There are a number of products on the market, some of them specifically for men, to help de-puff the under eye area (e.g. Clinique For Men Anti Fatigue Cooling Eye Gel £24), although it’s important to bear in mind this will be a subtle, quick fix as opposed to a longer term solution.

Back to whether or not the gentleman was skeptical of the makeup’s benefit on the day. As a makeup artist, of course I can immediately see the effect of strategically applied makeup on a man appearing in front of a camera and under professional lighting, but for the gentleman himself the benefits may not be as immediately visible. Perhaps what he needed to see on the day was a before and after :)What I do know is that the makeup products available today are so good a man can have them applied a) without him feeling he’s wearing anything and b) without his audience noticing.

With an increasing demand for better profile shots and the need for business men and women to appear on live webinars, never before has there been more of a need to look one’s best. And makeup is just a small but important tool that can help us achieve that.

Have you had a bad experience with makeup in preparation for an important work event or special occasion? What did you learn from it? Are you a gent who’s had makeup applied for a TV or other recording? How did it feel? Did you notice the difference? I’d love to know.

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