I caught up with beauty expert and stylist Paul Cucinello to talk make-up tips.

In recent history, we’ve tended to think of make-up as something that women wear, but not men. That seems to be changing?

The mainstreaming of retouching apps like Facetune, and photo filters on Instagram, are challenging men to see what they could look like in real life by allowing them to alter their appearance in the photos they post online. With a few minor tweaks and swipes, men are seeing a version of themselves that they’ve never seen before. Guys are using retouching apps to smooth out their skin and hide imperfections. Lashes and brows are being darkened or made thicker, and those telltale signs of ageing or lack of sleep — dark under-eye circles and crows-feet — magically disappear with retouching.

Once their ‘online persona’ has been established with enough photos that are always retouched, and features that have been enhanced on social media sites, many men have become increasingly curious about how to match the look they are creating for themselves online to how they look in real life. Slowly but surely, men are discovering what women have known and used to their advantage for hundreds of years — make-up can be used to drastically improve your appearance, even without looking too obviously ‘made up.’

If we’re just talking about an everyday context, going to work, maybe out for a few drinks, what sort of make-up options could I consider to help me present my best self to the world?

Start with the easiest — a nice, even complexion. I’m not even suggesting you start wearing concealer or foundation, unless you want to. If you just want to look like the best version of yourself without looking or feeling like you have any make-up on, most of this can be achieved by upgrading your skincare regimen.

If you aren’t already exfoliating, start by using an exfoliating scrub that contains glycolic acid. I love L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal — it will give your skin a natural glow by sloughing off dulling, dead skin cells. Then, add a lightweight moisturiser with Hyaluronic Acid and SPF in it. CeraVe makes a great, fragrance free daily moisturiser with SPF 25 — CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion.

Keep your eyes looking bright and minimise fine lines with an eye cream. CeraVe also makes a killer eye cream — CeraVe Eye Repair Cream — with the same Hyaluronic Acid as an active ingredient, which will boost moisture without any stinging.

After that, you can just use something simple, like a primer on your t-zone — the centre of your forehead and your nose — to keep your skin matte without adding any pigment or looking obvious in daylight. Try Rihanna’s cosmetic line — Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer.

Is it only effeminate guys who can get away with wearing make-up?

Johnny Depp, Jared Leto, Dave Navarro, Marilyn Manson — not necessarily ‘effeminate’ guys, but all guys that men find really fucking hot. Why? Guys who wear make-up don’t give a fuck what other people think, and that translates to the sexiest quality of all — confidence.

Does the word make-up contain negative connotations?

Men have so many options now — the word make-up might imply that you’re hiding something. It can be used to create complete transformations — as you see in drag — or it can be used to emphasise positive aspects of your aesthetic or to de-emphasise flaws. I’m not sure that there’s really anything negative about that.

The thing that I find sad is that in 2018, gay guys still care about the stigmas associated with the terms ‘make-up’ or ‘cosmetics’ so now we have to call it ‘Men’s Grooming.’ The best products are made for women because they have to last all day, and they get put through some very rigorous testing in order to make it in the cosmetic industry. So if we’re going to play along with societal norms and keep shaming ourselves for wanting to look good — and possibly helping ourselves get laid — fine. Buy Tom Ford’s Men’s Grooming products. They look butch enough, and they cost as much if not more than the make-up you can find for women. If you don’t care, and you’re ready to try something new, walk into Sephora and ask for a very subtle makeover — I dare you!

Is it easier to experiment and build confidence in using make-up if you’re a young guy?

Anything and everything gets better with time and practice, so sure, it might be easier if you start to work with make-up when you’re younger, but that shouldn’t stop silver foxes from getting in on the action. The golden rule when it comes to make-up is that there are no rules. Do what you feel comfortable with, and work your way up to the level of intensity you can handle. Most gay men have already learned this lesson in the bedroom, so let’s apply the same dedication when it comes to self-care and aesthetics.

If I’m an older guy, what are some grooming products that I might want to consider trying?

As we get older, hair grows in places we don’t want, and it tends to fall out in place we wish it would stay put. Older guys should make sure they have a great trimmer with multiple uses and attachments — nose hair and ear hair are pretty universally unappealing. Hair elsewhere is subjective, but there’s a difference between keeping your body hair a little bit tamed so it looks 1970s retro and not 1870s super-retro. I think SPF is a must. Moisturiser, eye cream, and a little smudged black eyeliner can’t hurt either.

What’s your favourite make-up product?

All men should own eyeliner. It does’t need to be applied super heavy-handed, but a tiny bit swiped on the edge of an angle-tipped brush can really bring your eyes back to life. If you don’t want to use black, choose a shade closer to your hair colour and keep it on hand to fill in sparse spots on your beard or hairline. It can work wonders and go virtually undetectable once you get the hang of it. Try Anastasia Dip Brow Pomade — a tiny amount spread sheer on the inside of the cap using a larger brush can be the closest thing to retouching you can get, and it’s waterproof.

What the most important piece of grooming advice that you would give to gay men?

Don’t be afraid to find your look and go with it. Wear what feels right and makes you feel sexy. Push it to the max when you’re home alone and take a few photos to see how it really looks, then adjust accordingly.

Make sure you also have a great make-up remover — they sell all kinds from general cleansing cloths to the kind that will remove drag. The Bianca Remover by Magic Pads contain coconut oil and will literally take off any and all makeup before you wash your face.

Also, don’t get yourself wrapped up in creating a look that can easily be destroyed by simply living life and getting caught in the rain or spontaneously jumping in a pool. Trust me, I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

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Paul Cucinello (image supplied)
Paul Cucinello. Photo: Michael Young (image supplied)