When Josh Lomon brought his fashion A-game to the Kelly Clarkson concert at DAR Constitution Hall this fall, he wore skinny jeans and a dramatic necktie and topped off the ensemble with a black fedora. But his friend Mary Betancourt was taken with the thick, black rings of eyeliner around his eyes, smudged just so.
"You look so . . . affected," she said.
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Guyliner. The new catchphrase for boys behaving girly, joining last year's manbags (handbags), mandals (sandals), mannies (nannies) and himbos (bimbos). It's the lexical equivalent of making pink hammers for women.
Of course, the fellas have been dipping into our makeup bags for years. (Yes, we noticed, and we have one tip: It's called blending.) But eyeliner? That can take years to master, even with coaching from teen magazines and a few shots of Jaeger.
Plus: Why? You can deal with a man who gets a manicure. You can deal with a man who handicaps "Project Runway." But eyeliner? Let's explore.
The guru of guyliner is Mr. Ashlee Simpson, a.k.a. Pete Wentz, the bassist for Fall Out Boy, who created a video for People.com on how to apply the stuff properly.
"Smear it because when you're a guy, you don't really want your makeup to look perfect," he says. "Which usually isn't a problem."
Another tip: Sleep on it. "Day-old makeup is way better."
Of course, Wentz is not the first or only guyliner aficionado. David Bowie and Alice Cooper were your frontiersmen of the '70s, and then Robert Smith, of the Cure, and Prince, rocked it in the '80s. Johnny Depp's kohl-lined eyes helped make Jack Sparrow the swishy swashbuckler we love. Pop-punk bands My Chemical Romance, Panic! at the Disco and the Killers wear guyliner to emphasize their angst. Their darkness. You don't know my pain.
Dustin Schaad, a 22-year-old assistant buyer for a men's clothing store, doesn't leave his Silver Spring home without applying guyliner. He started wearing makeup in high school because "a little concealer goes a long way when you hit puberty," he says.
It almost always starts with the concealer. The skin-colored glop is the gateway drug of men's cosmetics. But don't call it makeup.
"You mean our enhancing and correcting line?" interrupts
Marek Hewryk when asked about his men's makeup line,
4VOO (pronounced "for-vou")
4VOO sells "enhancing eyeliner" in black and brown. The Canadian company even offers application instructions on its Web site, with a warning: "Apply only a fine line. Too much 4VOO enhancing eyeliner will make your eyes look hard, [whereas] a light line will define your eyes and enhance the color."
At Bluemercury, an upscale beauty store in Dupont Circle, 25-year-old makeup artist Renee Smith says she sells eyeliner to men. And "it's not just punk rockers and gay guys."
When straight men shop for eyeliner, they tend to choose a subtle brown instead of black, then grab for the nearest cotton ball.
They'll buy it, but they'll always take it off before they leave," says Smith, "then try it at home." Smith has been in the makeup business for three years and, while she's seen a steady increase in guyliner sales, she estimates she sells only one pencil to a man per week. (Liquid eyeliner -- not for the novice.) Clearly, some people are not hip to the trend. Sample response from a preppy-looking young man in a coffee shop, when asked if he wears eyeliner: Laughter and then, "Wait, is that a serious question?"
Ah, but might he dabble in shine-reduction powder? This is one of 4VOO's top sellers, which Hewryk promises will not alter skin color or give a matte effect like women get with their makeup. Of course, there's a word for that, too: "mancake," as in pancake foundation. To use it in a sentence: "Zac Efron, the 'High School Musical' heartthrob, is often accused of wearing mancake."
Actors have worn makeup on and off the set for decades, but Hewryk has a surprising explanation for why it's getting so much attention now: HDTV.
"There's a heavier tan and more powder. If you have high-definition TV? Wow. There's no mercy," he says. "You can see everything . . . every wrinkle."