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Survey: MAC, Cover Girl and Milk Makeup Among the Best in Marketing Gender Fluidity

Perfect365 surveyed Millennials and Gen Z users to find out which brands get high marks for inclusive marketing. The results can help brands and retailers tap the growing men's market.

Gender fluidity in makeup is moving to the front burner. Men are joining women at the grooming counter and the cadre of male beauty YouTube stars such as Patrick Starrr, Bretman Rock, James Charles and Jeffree Star boast more than 6 million combined channel subscribers. In August, Chanel announced it was debuting its first line of men’s makeup.

With an eye on understanding the emergence of gender diverse makeup, Perfect365, the augmented reality beauty platform, surveyed 481 million Millennial and Gen Z app users. “We are seeing a lot of discussion around this topic, so we wanted to explore it further,” said Cara Harbor, director of marketing at Perfect365.

Among the key findings: 68 percent of respondents said they felt there is more overall acceptance toward men wearing makeup than in the past, almost 60 percent said they felt the growing trend of gender inclusivity for beauty products is more than just a passing fad and 54 percent said they personally know a man who wears cosmetics.

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But, despite those responses, the survey had a clarion call to the industry to up the marketing to all genders. “Only 53 percent indicated brands were doing enough to include all genders in advertisements. The exceptions were MAC, followed by Cover Girl and Milk Makeup. Others mentioned included Anastasia Beverly Hills, NYX Cosmetics, Make Up For Ever, Tarte, Enter Pronoun, Jecca and Fluide.

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“The top brands that were mentioned by respondents are brands that have collaborated with either a male makeup artist, or a male or transgender beauty influencer,” Harbor said. MAC, she added, has worked with male personalities dating back to RuPaul being hired when Viva Glam launched in 1994. Cover Girl hired Charles as its first Cover Boy. Milk Cosmetics features all genders in advertising for almost every product launched. “I think that Milk is one of the first brands to launch right off the line featuring males wearing their products. When I think of Milk Cosmetics, I think of all genders as well as ethnicities — they cover just about everyone which is admirable, especially to the Millennial and Gen Z demographic.”

Harbor said Perfect365 performs surveys to allow its users to communicate opinions about makeup brands. “Makeup brands also get firsthand insights to what their buyers think and want from them. It’s a win-win.”

The high percentage of women who know a male that wears makeup, 54 percent, stood out to her. “I definitely assumed this number would have been much lower, but was delighted to see this,” she said.

Takeaways from the survey, Harbor added, can be useful to both retailers and brand marketers. “Perhaps they’ll be inspired to build a product line geared toward the male crowd or collaborate with a male personality. We asked around, and it is not just gay males purchasing cosmetics — all men are buying skin care more than ever.” In particular, she said men want to improve their complexions, but rarely see men in ads for a beauty company. “Now that more brands are open to gender diversity, I am seeing more men perusing the aisles at department stores and asking questions about their skin.”