Makeup doesn’t have a gender.
There are no rules regulating who can and can’t wear makeup. You don’t need to show your ID to buy eyeliner. Anyone can wear makeup, and any implication that men should feel ashamed or embarrassed about their desire to cover an angry pimple or show up to class in a full beat is a reflection of outdated masculinity standards. Makeup is transformative and empowering—not to mention fun. There’s no reason why men shouldn’t be allowed to express themselves and experiment with makeup if they want to.
The greatest hurdle for men who decide they want to wear makeup, aside from rejecting cultural masculinity norms, is knowledge. What products are best for covering under-eye bags? What type of brow product is most natural? If you’re new to makeup, the endless drugstore and department store aisles can seem daunting.
Fear not, because we’ve rounded up the best men’s beauty products of 2020 below to help you discover the best makeup products that are beginner-friendly and won’t make you look like you ransacked your mom’s makeup bag. Think of this guide as a makeup for men starter kit.
Below, our top picks for the best men’s beauty products 2020. Happy shopping, and remember to post your makeup selfies and tag #yourVGL to be featured on our Instagram!
BB creams and skin tints
If you use 2-in-1 products in your shower, first of all, don’t. Second, I’m happy to welcome you into the world of BB creams, which are a combination of makeup and skincare. It’s like those 2-in-1 hair and body products, but better. BB creams are very sheer and lightweight, which makes it easy to spread with your fingertips, no brush required.
K-beauty brands do BB creams better than anyone: our favorites include Erborian BB Cream ($39) and Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream ($22). Skin tints have a similar lightweight feeling and texture while providing buildable, natural-looking coverage. We recommend Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint ($42) or Glossier Skin Tint ($26).
Concealers can cover anything from pimples to under-eye bags to redness from ingrown hairs. The trick is not to go too thick if you want to avoid looking cakey and the concealer settling into fine lines, which in turn would accentuate anything you’re trying to hide. Avoid anything in a pot or jar, or anything advertised as full coverage.
Look for something in a tube – the formula should be liquidy yet pigmented. L’Oreal Infallible Pro Glow Concealer ($10) is a great drugstore option, or First Aid Beauty Bendy Avocado Concealer ($22) is another lightweight, buildable option. The color should match your natural skin tone. If you go too light, you risk highlighting your pimple or under eye bags instead of blending them in with your natural skin.
Well-groomed brows are key to rocking a natural masculine look. The market is completely saturated with brow products, but all you really need is a good pencil and brow gel. A brow pencil helps fill in any sparse areas, and a brow gel sets your hairs in place. NYX Micro Brow Pencil ($10) is a dupe for a higher-end brow pencil and comes in a variety of shades. Try to match your natural brow color, or one shade darker for a more defined look.
If your brows are already supermodel-level thick, you can honestly just get by using a brow gel. Glossier Boy Brow ($16) fluffs and shapes brows to perfection without making them flaky or crunchy.
Bronzer is great for adding definition to your cheekbones and jawline and getting that snatched look, a la Bella Hadid. Look for a matte powder that’s not too orange or gray and doesn’t contain any shimmer. It should look like a natural shadow on your face, not like you got a bad fake tan.
Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer ($16) is the best option at the drugstore. Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer ($30) comes in a ton of shades that are super flattering for all skin tones. Apply it with a large, fluffy brush in a three shape along the sides of your face, starting at your temples, then along your cheekbones, and finally along your jawline for a natural, sunkissed look.
If bronzer adds definition, highlighter adds the glow back to your skin. For a natural, dewy look, you want something more balmy and glossy, versus something sparkly or glittery. We recommend a stick over something like a powder or liquid for the most natural finish. Glossier’s Haloscope ($22) looks like your skin but better, or NudeStix Nudies All Over Face Color Bronze + Glow ($32) is similarly dewy. Flesh Beauty Touch Flesh Highlighting Balm ($18) is your best drugstore option.
For that straight-off-the-runway look, apply the stick to your fingertips and then pat it onto your cheekbones. Use it on your eyes and lips for an all-over glossy appearance.
Lip products are the best and easiest way to experiment with color and texture if you’re just getting into makeup. If you want a tinted lip balm, you can’t go wrong with Fresh Sugar Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 15 ($24). For glossy, juicy lips, we recommend Huda Beauty’s Silk Balm ($21) (read our full review here!) or Tower 28 Beauty ShineOn Jelly Lip Gloss ($14). For color without shine, look for a lip stain like Revlon Kiss Cushion Lip Tint ($10) or a matte crayon like Nudestix Magnetic Matte Lip Color ($26). Experiment with different types of lip colors and finishes to find your favorite formulas every mood and occasion.
Remember that there are no rules in makeup. You can wear concealer without foundation, bronzer without highlighter, or any combination of the above. Do whatever makes you look and feel your best. Have fun, play around, and make it your own!