Make-up has a vast history amongst men and women, with it ultimately ending up as a ‘female product’. Men have launched their own make-up brands to stop the stigma of men buying make-up for themselves, which has thrown up a whole load of conversations on masculinity.

MAC recently announced that they have teamed up with Central Saint Martins graduate, Harris Reed, to release a gender-fluid make-up line in mid-February. Obviously, MAC should be praised for their openness to diversity – anyone should be able to wear make-up – but what does one need to create a gender fluid make-up collection?

Terry Barber, MAC director of make-up artistry, said: “Harris has curated a range of products based on their updated vision of glamrock and dandyish dressing. [The colours are] elegantly fluid, with influences ranging from Renaissance painting to the iconic imagery of David Bowie and a young Mick Jagger.”

Lipstick can be applied by the finger

The colours themselves are greens, golds, oranges and pinks. It’s easy to see where the influences come from, and no doubt you’ll want to end up looking like you’ve just stepped out of a Renaissance painting. Most of all, the collection was put together to help people raise their self confidence.

“Every single name in the collection is based on daily affirmations I tell myself,” Reed, who identifies as gender-fluid, said to Allure. “Whether it’s ’embrace your duality’ or ‘spark conversation,’ I want men, women, non-binary people, and you to be able to pull it out and to put on the best version of themselves. They’re putting on an affirmation; they’re putting on something that it’s really helping them enhance and showcase who they are.” 

A lot of media outlets have stated this as MAC’s first ever gender-fluid line, but that is not the case. Back in 2016 the brand collaborated with the Brant brothers, and then NICOPANDA in 2018. Both collections were targeted as being used by anyone irrespective of gender.

Whereas the the Brant brothers based their collection on nude tones and ‘universal’ colours, NICOPANDA had a queer undertone with bright colours and a drag queen aesthetic. Oh, and with pandas! Reed’s, however, has a classic and retro inspiration, using colours that are timeless yet fun.

Even though brands should be given kudos for opening up to the diverse world that we live in, does make-up need to have gender-fluid collections? The beauty industry has a long way to go in targeting a more unisex audience, making it accessible for all genders to buy and wear it – to normalise it in society. Though, many major brands have begun featuring both men and non-binary people in their marketing campaigns, which is a fantastic step in the right direction – you can’t help but feel the tokenism at times.

It’s obvious, make-up should be for anyone, no matter their gender. Realistically, these collections do give a voice to those who may feel like make-up isn’t for them due to how it is targeted over social media and in stores. But, maybe one day we’ll get to a place where make-up is completely genderless without having to market products saying so.


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