Over Halloween plenty of couples stepped out in matching makeup, from skeleton twins and pop-art pairs to Donald and Melania Trump. But for some, coordinating cosmetics is no longer just for dressing up.
In September the Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams and her boyfriend Reuben Selby attended designer Thom Browne’s show in Paris wearing not only matching socks and coordinated check suiting but also identical pink eyeshadow.
It’s a look favoured by the K-pop couple HyunA and E’Dawn, who often match their eyeshadow. Arguably, Brooklyn Beckham and his then girlfriend Chloë Grace Moretz were ahead of the trend when both sported black eyeliner while celebrating her 21st in 2018, in what Vogue dubbed “the ultimate couples move”. And, after both dyeing their hair blond, Dua Lipa and Anwar Hadid opted to get matching manicures last month.
The trend for makeup twinning relies on both halves of a couple being makeup wearers – and so, for some same-sex pairs, this is nothing new. But as gender stereotypes fade, heterosexual couples are also getting involved.
Meanwhile, makeup brands are expanding their offerings: Mister from Givenchy “comprises unisex products for the eyes and complexion that bring instant and natural makeup results” while the Jecca Blac range is dedicated entirely to genderless products. Asos now lists its cosmetics under a gender-neutral Face + Body section.
“We have certainly seen a recent increase in couples shopping for cosmetics together. And, as a business, [we] take a gender-neutral approach when it comes to makeup,” says Gemma Mason, head of customer experience at Superdrug.
The men’s makeup industry has been growing for some time. As far back as 2013 big names such as Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs launched male cosmetics ranges. But the more recent shift, which has been coined the “beauty boy movement”, involves men and boys not only defining eyebrows and highlighting their cheeks but also becoming the faces of makeup brands and lines.
The YouTube star James Charles, who has more than 16 million subscribers, became the first ever CoverGirl coverboy in 2016. The beauty vlogger Lewys Ball became a face of Rimmel’s London campaign in 2017 and Jake Jamie, who hoped to catalyse the blurring with his #makeupisgenderless campaign, was signed to L’Oreal in the same year.
These shifts in expected gender roles have had a real-life effect – and Jessica Blackler, founder of Jecca Blac cosmetics, agrees that it is a rising trend. “When we exhibit and host events, I have noticed a lot of couples shopping together and making sure shade and colours suit them both before purchasing items,” she says. “The gender-neutral approach to beauty is definitely becoming more mainstream. [Couples] sharing and coordinating with each other is a way of enjoying it together.”
And it is not just for couples on the red carpet either. “Tom started wearing makeup about a year ago, but I have always loved transforming my face,” says Chelsei, a hair salon manager in Melbourne, Australia, who posts pictures of her and her boyfriend in matching makeup on Instagram (via @_zaftig__). “He decided he wanted some black eyeliner, then that turned into eyeshadow, which turned into us doing matching looks when we go out.”
She says the reaction from friends has been “super-encouraging” and that the pair now share makeup products; their favourite brands include Jeffree Star, Kat Von D and Morphe.
For Daniel Osei, a student in Virginia, in the US, wearing matching makeup is a more recent venture. “It was her idea,” he says of his girlfriend, JaLynn Evans, also a student. “She’d always told me that I would look good with makeup on.”
The pair wore a matching look created by Evans for recent photos, also posted on Instagram. “All of our friends online loved it because they support the art form of makeup and are very open to new ideas,” he says. “In real life, I got mixed responses initially but after a while people started to admit they really liked the shoot.”
The rise in couples coordinating their makeup is a win for “gender-expansive identities”, says Laura Kraber, chief executive and co-founder of the inclusive makeup brand Fluide. She says they are “inspiring all of us to be more connected to our loved ones and more playful in both our relationships and our style”.
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