December 17, 2016 08:15
The Internet has given rise to yet another unlikely kind of star -- men who promote cosmetics on YouTube. Most men were drawn to makeup after searching for products to cover up their acne.
Men's interest in cosmetics products is not exactly new, but that they openly demonstrate their use and review them on social media is a relatively recent phenomenon in Korea.
Viewer responses are deeply polarized, ranging from fanatical support to bitter criticism. Among those who tune into their blogs are many women, who feel that men offer an interesting new angle.
The trend has also spilled over into cable TV. The OnStyle channel started airing a show earlier this month called "Lipstick Prince," where eight male celebrities learn how to put on makeup. The program claims that the age of "sexy men wearing makeup has arrived."
According to market researcher Euromonitor International, the Korean market for men's cosmetics was scaled at W1.24 trillion in 2015 and that will grow to an estimated W1.5 trillion this year (US$1=W1,187).
Young Korean men are interested in cosmetics to improve their looks while middle-aged men want to beat the aging process.
At online marketplace Auction, sales of moisturizers for men have surged 339 percent on-year among 20-somethings and 184 percent among those in their 50s. Popular products are getting more diverse as well, ranging from premium essence and blemish balm creams to facial mask packs and sonic cleansers.
Job portal Incruit recently surveyed 720 men and found that each used 4.5 cosmetics products on average. Online shopping site 11st saw sales of moisturizers for men surge 135 percent, facial mask packs 105 percent and blemish balm creams 85 percent.
Nature Republic last month rolled out a portable kit for men with blemish balm, eye-lash pencil, lip balm and eye-brow razors.
Another interesting trend is advertisers use plain-looking men as models rather than chiseled models. The message is simple: makeup is not only for handsome men. A key case is a makeup ad featuring the rough-cut actor Ma Dong-seok.
According to Incruit, more than 70 percent of men said makeup is essential for job interviews, and 22 percent of men said they use makeup for important meetings and 17 percent to go on dates.
The situation is the same overseas. American cosmetics brand CoverGirl drew a lot of focus recently by featuring its first male model ever, 17-year-old makeup artist James Charles wearing eye makeup and lipstick.
"Makeup is an art form for me and another form of creative expression," it quoted him as saying.
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