POLL: South Korean Men Wear Makeup, Would You?

By: Daniel Villarreal
9.23.2012

Fact: the 19 million men living in South Korea spent $495.5 million on skincare products last year--almost 21 percent of such sales worldwide.

This year, South Korean men are expected to purchase more than $885 million in male cosmetics alone, with one AP reporter describing "women applying lipstick to men, security guards behind layers of makeup and male flight attendants attending makeup class."

The same reporter describes Korea as a "socially conservative, male-dominated country, with a mandatory two-year military conscription for men." So how did it end up becoming "male makeup capital of the world"?

There's several possibilities. south Koreans say, "appearance is power," so it's possible that a youthful, vivacious face makes a good commodity in a competitive job and dating market.

There's also Ahn Jung-hwan, a nationally renowned soccer player in the country's World Cup team. Off the field, he became known as a "flower man"--"a group of exceptionally good-looking, smooth-skinned, fashionable sports stars and celebrities who found great success selling male cosmetics."

Kinda like a metrosexual, except sporty. Soon after Jung-hwan began peddling cosmetics, many other men wanted to start looking like him.

But the United States, with its entrenched history of homophobia and gender stereotypes, seems less open to the idea of makeup for men. Yes, men use facial products and makeup in TV, stage and film, but makeup companies don't market to men nor is "guyliner" flying off the shelfs at Sephora.

But if an American company started marketing makeup to men in a fun and attractive way, would you buy in, or would you stay away? Let us know your thoughts in our poll and comments section.

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