Why men are wearing make-up to get ahead at work

The men in your office might have compacts in their man bags.

As might be expected, Asia – and China in particular, are now fundamental to the growth of the beauty and personal care multinationals such as L’Oreal and Estee Lauder. There is much discussion around the beauty rituals of South Korean women and the use of whitening creams by women in India and China. Beauty trends that originated in Asia, such as Beauty Balm or “BB” creams, are now the latest in skincare in the UK.

However, less is known about a major beauty trend in Asia that is now taking off in Europe and the US – the use of make-up by men. The aim appears to be, to quote an online male make-up retailer: “… to appear fresh, perfect and simply outstanding whilst maintaining a facial finish which doesn't jeopardise your alpha male status.”

The use of make-up by males in Asia is relatively high, driven by cultural and religious phenomena. In India, for instance, kohl is a common eye make-up applied by men on special occasions. But across grooming products not so commonly associated with men, skincare and make-up, men’s share is much higher than you’d think. Across these two sectors, men account for 51 per cent of the country’s personal grooming market in India; in China it’s 41 per cent.

Men in the UK and the US still have some way to go, although the fact that men use 22 per cent of make-up and skincare combined in Britain and 23 per cent of these products in America means consumption might still be above expectations.

So what’s driving this? It’s not just about trying to be more attractive, although that will certainly drive part of this. Men are increasingly concerned about how their looks can affect their career prospects. In South Korea for example, the use of make-up by men is seen as a way to improve looks and enhance your career, with companies like Korean Air even holding cosmetics training sessions for male employees ).

Up to now, the British and American male grooming markets have been largely fixed on hand creams and the odd facial cream; few British or American men currently take inspiration from Johnny Depp’s kohl-rimmed eyes in Pirates of the Caribbean. Yet the level of sophistication of male make-up products could be improved on from the current offerings of acne concealers and stage make-up a la Tony Blair, and the launch of nail polishes for men such as Alphanail shows that this is starting to change. The offerings for men from leading beauty companies such as Clarins and L’Oreal already extend to moisturisers, scrubs and the odd flash bronzer, so watch this space: the men in your office might soon have a compact in their man bag.

Emily Neill is the CEO of Canadean – (consumer market research experts)

Trying to make CEO. Photograph: Getty Images

Emily Neil is the CEO of Canadean

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There's nothing Luddite about banning zero-hours contracts

The TUC general secretary responds to the Taylor Review. 

Unions have been criticised over the past week for our lukewarm response to the Taylor Review. According to the report’s author we were wrong to expect “quick fixes”, when “gradual change” is the order of the day. “Why aren’t you celebrating the new ‘flexibility’ the gig economy has unleashed?” others have complained.

Our response to these arguments is clear. Unions are not Luddites, and we recognise that the world of work is changing. But to understand these changes, we need to recognise that we’ve seen shifts in the balance of power in the workplace that go well beyond the replacement of a paper schedule with an app.

Years of attacks on trade unions have reduced workers’ bargaining power. This is key to understanding today’s world of work. Economic theory says that the near full employment rates should enable workers to ask for higher pay – but we’re still in the middle of the longest pay squeeze for 150 years.

And while fears of mass unemployment didn’t materialise after the economic crisis, we saw working people increasingly forced to accept jobs with less security, be it zero-hours contracts, agency work, or low-paid self-employment.

The key test for us is not whether new laws respond to new technology. It’s whether they harness it to make the world of work better, and give working people the confidence they need to negotiate better rights.

Don’t get me wrong. Matthew Taylor’s review is not without merit. We support his call for the abolishment of the Swedish Derogation – a loophole that has allowed employers to get away with paying agency workers less, even when they are doing the same job as their permanent colleagues.

Guaranteeing all workers the right to sick pay would make a real difference, as would asking employers to pay a higher rate for non-contracted hours. Payment for when shifts are cancelled at the last minute, as is now increasingly the case in the United States, was a key ask in our submission to the review.

But where the report falls short is not taking power seriously. 

The proposed new "dependent contractor status" carries real risks of downgrading people’s ability to receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Here new technology isn’t creating new risks – it’s exacerbating old ones that we have fought to eradicate.

It’s no surprise that we are nervous about the return of "piece rates" or payment for tasks completed, rather than hours worked. Our experience of these has been in sectors like contract cleaning and hotels, where they’re used to set unreasonable targets, and drive down pay. Forgive us for being sceptical about Uber’s record of following the letter of the law.

Taylor’s proposals on zero-hours contracts also miss the point. Those on zero hours contracts – working in low paid sectors like hospitality, caring, and retail - are dependent on their boss for the hours they need to pay their bills. A "right to request" guaranteed hours from an exploitative boss is no right at all for many workers. Those in insecure jobs are in constant fear of having their hours cut if they speak up at work. Will the "right to request" really change this?

Tilting the balance of power back towards workers is what the trade union movement exists for. But it’s also vital to delivering the better productivity and growth Britain so sorely needs.

There is plenty of evidence from across the UK and the wider world that workplaces with good terms and conditions, pay and worker voice are more productive. That’s why the OECD (hardly a left-wing mouth piece) has called for a new debate about how collective bargaining can deliver more equality, more inclusion and better jobs all round.

We know as a union movement that we have to up our game. And part of that thinking must include how trade unions can take advantage of new technologies to organise workers.

We are ready for this challenge. Our role isn’t to stop changes in technology. It’s to make sure technology is used to make working people’s lives better, and to make sure any gains are fairly shared.

Frances O'Grady is the General Secretary of the TUC.