Not Just a TikTok Fad: Men Have Been Wearing Makeup Since the Dawn of Civilization

David Yi, the founder of Very Good Light, needs you to know that males have been beautifying since 50,000 BCE. In 2010, archaeologists found a bunch of shiny, floor up minerals in a Spanish Neanderthal encampment—the earliest identified cosmetics. Cavemen have been utilizing basis, blush, and glitter at the daybreak of the species. Cosmetics, he argues, are half of what makes us human, and males have used it for many of human historical past.Many of us, nonetheless, have misplaced sight of the historic relationship between males and wonder. To resurface that historical past, Yi wrote a e-book, Pretty Boys: Legendary Icons Who Redefined Beauty (and How to Glow Up, Too), about cultures by means of the ages that celebrated magnificence as a type of self-care. “I’ve all the time needed to discover this concept that males and masc-identifying people have all the time tried to amplify their energy by means of cosmetics and skincare and wonder,” he instructed GQ. “Beauty is transformative, fairly is fairly highly effective, and I needed to put in writing a historical past e-book that proved that notion.”Yi explains that earlier than the 18th century, there weren’t such clear trend distinctions between women and men. Then got here one thing historians name the Great Male Renunciation. Emerging from an Enlightenment obsession with learning and taxonomizing, scientists and philosophers confirmed a new obsession with variations between women and men. This was ultimately mirrored in coverage and public debate. In the US, William Henry Harrison unseated President Martin Van Buren, presenting himself as a manly various to the New Yorker governor who saved make-up in the Oval Office. In England, males could possibly be sentenced to exhausting labor and imprisonment for sporting powder or attire. These inflexible gender binaries have been exported round the world because of Victorian colonialism and two world wars. “[The Great Male Renunciation] was a time when males deserted their declare to be thought of stunning and henceforth aimed to solely be helpful,” Yi explains. “Women have been being marginalized and males who refused to evolve to Enlightenment pondering have been being silenced.”Today, we nonetheless stay in a world that’s nonetheless massively formed by the slim, Enlightenment definition of gender. “In the West we’ve gotten so used to taking a look at masculinity by means of a claustrophobic lens,” says Li. “But I do assume issues are altering, as a result of Gen Z and the TikTook era and celebrities have a extra expansive sense of masculinity. We’re speaking about Harry Styles, who wears a gown on the cowl of Vogue, we’re speaking about Bad Bunny, who loves acrylic nails, we’re speaking Frank Ocean, who talks to GQ about retinol, and we’re speaking about BTS, who wears make-up and coloration their hair.”GQ talked to Yi about some highlights from Pretty Boys. 18th century influencers, Viking with customized grooming kits, attractive sixth century Korean assassins—it seems historical past is full of stunning males. The Egyptians Exfoliated In many cultures round the world, magnificence (and beautifying by means of make-up) was a signal of godliness. This was very true in historic Egypt, the place pharaohs have been regarded as human manifestations of gods. Many pharaohs used extraordinarily luxe eyeliner, a charcoal blended with gold, emerald, and rubies.“Pharaoh Ramses had these wonderful facials combined between honey and milk,” says Yi. “Milk has lactic acid, it’s a nice strategy to exfoliate, and honey is a pure antiseptic and nice pure strategy to have supple pores and skin.” Ramses additionally had a devoted skincare routine with Sephora-worth’s set of lotions and potions. Historians discovered a recipe for an anti-aging cream made of honey and lotus flowers that was mainly one of the earliest identified SPF moisturizers.There Were Killer Looks in Sixth Century KoreaThe Hwarang have been army assassins chosen by the King of the Silla dynasty for his or her magnificence. “It’s like a Okay-Pop competitors in the 600s the place this king believed that the spirit of Maitreya, a Buddhist god who was stated to be a fairly boy, was in the soil of Korea and delightful males and boys had Maitreya’s spirit in them,” says Yi. “So he went round the Korean Kingdom Silla, selected the most stunning males, plucked them into his military, and stated, ‘You are half of the Hwarang, a particular army power, as a result of you’ve that godly energy.’ These males beautified as a non secular apply. Chinese envoys from the Tong Dynasty have been like, ‘These Hwarang are the most good-looking creatures that I’ve ever seen!’”The Vikings Were Squeaky Clean The widespread, History-channel model of Vikings suggests a tradition of brutal, unkempt warriors. The Vikings have been completely large and difficult, however they have been truly some of the cleanest males in Europe at the time. Laugardagr was a weekly bathing day in Norse tradition for Vikings to hit the spa. “They would go to pure scorching springs and bathe their total physique, which was thought of sacrilegious at the time,” says Yi. “Anglo-Saxons by no means bathed as a result of they thought it was sinful to get bare.”

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