Andrew Grella used to think that makeup was only for women, until he woke up with a nasty breakout. On prom day.
He searched through his local drugstore for a concealer made for men, but he didn’t feel comfortable buying women’s makeup and there was no alternative for men. With time running out, the then 17-year-old turned to his mother, and her arsenal of products, to get him #promready.
Grella, now 25, remembers that “it was a weird experience” to have makeup on for the first time, but after one look in mirror, he was sold.
“It made me feel more confident, especially because it hid these acne blemishes that I was self-conscious about,” he says. The experience of wearing makeup, and of being frustrated with the lack of options marketed to men, inspired Grella to create the House of Formen, which claims to be the world’s first professional male cosmetic house.
Formen launched it’s line of four men’s makeup products in 2013, but recently saw a serious surge in sales.
“It’s been like a hockey stick curve,” says Grella, and he credits it largely to the big name brands that recently began including men in their campaigns.
CoverGirl kicked things off last October announcing their first-ever Coverboy, YouTube makeup artist James Charles. Maybelline quickly followed suit, hiring YouTube star Manny Gutierrez for their mascara ads, but it was L’Oreal True Match that really went all out with a campaign that celebrated “diversity and universality” featuring individuals of all races, genders and ages.
While men wearing makeup is in no way new (re: Egyptian Pharaohs rocked eyeliner long before Jared Leto), the recent campaigns seem to recognize that you don’t need to be female appreciate a great concealer.
“I feel like the implications of makeup for men and women are the same in the sense that it allows you to fix problems or concerns on your face and let you go about doing whatever it is you want to do,” says Grella.
However, the Toronto entrepreneur says the stigma associated with men wearing makeup is still present, and that’s why he chose to target his products specifically to men looking for subtle coverage.
“It’s not like we’re going to make your eyes pop or your lips look fuller, we’re going to make you look how you want to look in the most discreet way possible,” he says. Other brands, such as Clinique and Tom Ford, have done the same, with select cosmetics specifically marketed to men.
As a result, while some of Foremen’s clients—who range from teens to seniors—proudly post on Insta detailing their beauty regimen, others specifically appreciate for the brand’s discreet packaging.
Grella says, like any makeup product, Formen’s line could be used by women as well, but marketing it to men can make certain male customers more comfortable with the idea of wearing makeup—a concept he thinks is here to stay.
“I don’t want to call it a trend, I think it’s something that’s always been here and it’s going to stay here.”
Editor Test Drive: Best Winter Drugstore Beauty Buys
The Best Tips From the Internet’s Most Popular Acne Makeup Tutorials
The Androgynous Beauty Mood of the Moment
Transgender Model Andreja Pejic on Making History with Makeup