Who has it tougher when it comes to keeping up appearances — women or men? Until you read this article, you may have thought it was women. But, in one country of the world, men are diving into the beauty industry face first to get ahead in life.
The socially conservative, male dominated country of South Korea has become the male makeup capital of the world. Even though there are only 19 million men in South Korea, 21 percent of global skin care sales come from male cosmetics there. South Korea’s biggest cosmetics company, Amorepacific, predicted more than $885 million spent on men’s cosmetics in 2012.
To outsiders, this may seem a little silly. After all, South Korea exudes macho male power. Men from this country are required by law to complete a two-year military conscription. They’re rough and tough and not to be messed with. Or, at least that was the way of life until the late 1990s.
A ban on cultural goods was relaxed, and soon men got caught up on what they had been missing out on.
Now, appearance here matters, especially over the last decade as competition for jobs, romance, and advancement became the new way of living. Anything you can do to get a leg up will help you in your personal life and well as business.
Says 24-year-old college student Cho Won-hyuk, “Having a clean, neat face makes you look sophisticated and creates an image that you can handle yourself well. When I wear makeup on special occasions, it makes me more confident.” It’s a marker of social success. A bare face shows you are without social status, or worse, lazy.
“In this society, people’s first impressions are very important. A man’s skin is a big part of that impression, so I take care of my skin,” said Kim Deuk-ryong, a 20-year-old student.
A real shift took effect in 2002, as a member of the South Korea World Cup soccer team became an instant sensation. Ahn Jung-hwan was incredibly good looking with flawless skin. Women wanted to be with him and men wanted to be him. What did it take to look like Jung-hwan? Male cosmetics of course.
As for females, you would think they’d be weirded out by it, but strangely, it creates a bond.
35-year-old female Kim Ae-kyung says, “I feel like I have more to talk about with guys who use makeup — we have more in common.”
Time will tell if male cosmetics catch on in other countries, but for now, the trend is alive and commonplace in South Korea.
Photos: dailycaller.com and inquisitr.com