According to an AP report from South Korea that I can only describe through my biased Western lens as “completely bonkers,” successful men are spending millions on skin care, slathering on foundation, and penciling in their eyebrows before heading into the office. In “the male makeup capital of the world,” it’s cool for men to labor over achieving perfect skin with various creams and potions, and perfectly normal for them to appear in public wearing powder and lipstick. What a world!
The reasons for the trend seem complicated, but a major inspiration seems to be former South Korean soccer star Ahn Jung-hwan, the leader of the “flower men,” whom the AP describes as “a group of exceptionally good-looking, smooth-skinned, fashionable sports stars and celebrities who found great success selling male cosmetics.” Apparently South Korean men are now constantly barraged with advertising and other media messages “suggesting that flawless skin is a crucial part of any plan to get ahead at work and romance.” (Poor guys, I can’t even imagine what that’s like.)
The story includes an interview with a “tall, stocky 27-year-old insurance fraud investigator in Seoul who starts important days by dabbing on makeup after finishing his multistep morning cleansing and moisturizing routine.” Cho Gil-nam explains, “I can understand why girls don’t like to go outside without makeup — it makes a big difference.”
Where to begin? Makeup can be fun but is also a gigantic drain on your finances, your time, and your self-esteem. The average woman will spend $13,000 on makeup over the course of her lifetime, according to one recent study. A quarter of those women said people close to them would be shocked at how “ugly” they are without beauty products. Another survey of British women found they spend 43 weeks applying makeup over the course of their lives. Many women are so dependent on their “faces” that they say going to work without makeup would be more frightening than a job interview.