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Last week, War Paint for Men opened a bricks-and-mortar store on 29 Carnaby Street in London. It claims to be the world's first make-up store for men, and carries the brand's full range of products, from foundation and bronzer to beard and brow fillers.
Founder Danny Gray launched War Paint for Men in response to his own experiences: "As a young kid I was bullied because of my appearance, which really affected me. I started obsessing about the way I looked, so much so, that I now have a form of body dysmorphia. When I was 15 years old and I started getting spots as most people do, so I went to my sister and used her concealer, and it changed my life forever."
No surprise that Gray sees a connection between make-up and mental health, and is partnering with The Lions Barber Collective, a group of not-for-profit barbers trained in mental health support to help prevent male suicide. They'll be offering 'haircuts and headspace' from their new home in War Paint's store, with barbershop profits funding the collective's work elsewhere.
As old-fashioned, patriarchal notions of manliness are eroding, it's clear that we need a more complex and inclusive definition of ‘masculinity.’ One that helps break down gender barriers and allows every individual to express themselves in a way that's true to their essential self, and unburdened by traditional or societal constraints.
Whether people prefer to go bare-faced, or enjoy using products to help them feel and look their best, everyone should be able to make that choice for themselves, regardless of gender. And consumers are increasingly looking to brands like War Paint for Men to guide them as they explore new terrains of identity and self-expression.