Hey, Mr Beautiful: Indian men negotiate the tricky terrain of make-up

Sep 10, 2017, 13:03 IST | Anju Maskeri

French president Emmanuel Macron is not alone. Indian men are negotiating the tricky terrain of make-up, and they have no interest in Bollywood

Emmanuel Macron found himself in a controversy over reportedly spending €26,000 (over R2 lakh) on make-up in less than 100 days. While his public office makes that fact worthy of a headline, regular Joes are just as generous with its use, driven by the desire to look perfect on social media profiles. Meet five men who don't care if you give them the stink eye as they buy that fancy mascara.

'Make-up is empowering'
Akash Choudhary, 24, owner of a marketing firm

Akash Choudhary
Akash Choudhary

For Andheri resident Akash Choudhary, who owns a marketing firm, wearing make-up is more functional than decorative. "My job involves meeting a lot of people, so I have to be the best version of myself," he says. His monthly bill of R4K includes money spent on foundation, loose transclucent powder and primer from Bobby Brown and Chanel. "It's an instant confidence booster," says Choudhary, who got his girlfriend to teach him application tricks since he was battling a bout of acne back in his college days. His fresh-faced appearance has inspired friends to give make-up a shot. "It's no longer 'girly'. If anything, it's empowering," he says.

'My ex-girlfriend and I used the same products'
Amit Arora, 29, specialist at an MNC

Amit Arora
Amit Arora

Last year, while on a date, Amit Arora was embarrassed to learn that the girl and he used the same cosmetics. "Her bag was open, when I got a peek into her vanity kit. It had the same mascara, mousse and foundation," laughs Arora, who ensured it remained a secret until the relationship carried on. While she may have been ignorant of his vanity, his colleagues aren't. It's common knowledge at his Noida office that Arora is the go-to person when female colleagues run out of foundation. "My male colleagues say, 'Real men don't wear make-up', but I've learnt to ignore them," he says. The vanity kit stays out of the prying eyes of his parents. "They don't understand where I come from."

'My girlfriend takes my word on it'
Kunal Chaugule, 27, cabin crew with airline

Kunal Chaugule at his Kalachowki home. Pic/Atul KambleKunal Chaugule at his Kalachowki home. Pic/Atul Kamble

Whether he is walking across an airport or strolling in a mall, Kunal Chaugule often has people come over and ask about his flawless skin. "I have good skin, not flawless. But that's what make-up can do for you," he says. It's been seven years since Chaugule started wearing products. "I used to be the only guy at the make-up counter; not anymore," he says. Years of use has made him enough of an expert for his girlfriend to check with him what she should use.

'It's nobody's business what I wear'
Pratinav Pratap Singh, 24, brand consultant

Pratinav Pratap Singh. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Pratinav Pratap Singh. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Each time Pratinav Pratap Singh uploads a selfie on Instagram, he's met with comments. While some heckle, others are encouraging of his decision to wear make-up. "In fact, eight of 10 direct messages are from boys inquiring about brand details," he says. The nasty remarks only egg him to work harder at proving that it's all right for men to wear make-up, their sexual preference notwithstanding. "Nobody looks flawless. All movie stars are pancaked when they step out. It's about time we accepted that make-up is gender-free," he says. Singh's relationship with cosmetics began when he was 19. Then a student at the University of Manchester, Singh had returned to his Lucknow home for a summer break. "I was telling my mother about the buzzing social life, when she suggested that I use make-up when I go out for parties," he says. A couple of tutorials later, he was equipped to shop for himself. "I can happily make my way in a crowd of women at a make-up store. It's nobody's business what I wear."

'Mumbai is more accepting'
Sarthak Saheb Singh, 29, graphic designer

Sarthak Saheb Singh Pic/Sameer Markande
Sarthak Saheb Singh Pic/Sameer Markande

It's been over three months since Sarthak Singh moved to Mumbai from Indore to work as graphic designer, and he is relieved that no one has commented on his penchant for make-up. Every morning, he sets aside 10 minutes to dab primer, foundation and powder. "I apply it seamlessly. No one realises I am wearing make-up. It appears like a glow," he says. Singh's tryst with make-up began when he dabbled in theatre in Indore. "It hid my black spots, and left me more confident on stage. I thought why not use the armour in real life, too?" he says.

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