Men in the Beauty Industry

Thanks to the work of social media influencers and the popularity of streaming shows such as Queer Eye, it’s no longer uncommon to see men making waves in the beauty industry. Despite prevailing stereotypes, some of the world’s most renowned beauty products and practices were introduced by men long before makeup use was commonplace. While social media and television help normalize the role of male cosmetologists and estheticians, the outlook for employees of the beauty industry is strong. Men are increasingly likely to be a growing community within the field of beauty and esthetics.

Male Trailblazers in the Beauty Industry

Although the true contributions men have made to the beauty industry are impossible to calculate, several men throughout history were pivotal in breaking down barriers and bringing new perspectives and innovations to salons across the world.

Eugene RimmelFrance-born Eugène Rimmel was introduced to the world of beauty salons in the early 1800s when his family owned a London-based perfumery. He is credited with contributing to the beauty and healthcare industries by way of his scented body products and mouth washes, and he invented the world’s first non-toxic mascara. To this day, "rimmel" is the word used for "mascara" in many languages.

Polish makeup artist Maksymilian Faktorowicz, also known as Max Factor Sr., is renowned for being one of the first men in cosmetology. He is credited with creating modern-day makeup and supplying made-to-order wigs to movie and television stars at the turn of the 20th century. He developed the first tube-contained makeup, an upgrade of both convenience and hygiene from the previous stick-based makeup used in stage productions and went on to create the first waterproof makeup. His Max Factor line of cosmetics is still available to this day.

Max factor ad

Horst M. Rechelbacher, born in Austria and immersed in the salon industry since age 14, founded the Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients franchises after becoming sick from the products he was using on clients’ hair. Heavily influenced by environmental degradation and chemical spills in the 1970s and 80s, Rechelbacher pioneered a movement toward using natural ingredients in hair and body products.

Ted Gibson, the child of military parents, grew up in cities around the world. His aesthetic eye for beauty of all different types influenced his groundbreaking hairstyle business, frequented by some of the top celebrities in New York City. Together he and his husband, Jason Backe, one of the most sought hair colorists in the city, currently own and operate a world-renowned salon and line of products.

Tom Bachik is a former graphic artist and skateboarder-turned-dad of three, and today is a famed "man" -icurist. With his background in art, he creates incredible works of art. He has provided manicures and nail art to celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, and many more.

Advantages Men Have in the Beauty Industry

What the trailblazers listed have in common is the ability to pursue their passions even when there were few or no people to look to for guidance. As more men shirk gender norms and pursue careers as estheticians, hairstylists, nail technicians, and cosmetologists, they are paving a path for later generations of men to follow. Furthermore, as those trailblazers proved to the world, with new perspectives come insight, ingenuity, and profitability.

The growing acceptance of diverse methods of gender expression are giving rise to what some have termed the "Queer Eye Effect"—the demystifying and de-stigmatizing of men’s beauty product use and regimens.

With this de-stigmatization, salons will be looking for fresh ideas and new perspectives among their beauty professionals. What’s more, young men will be looking to those first trailblazers for guidance and mentorship as they pursue their passions. As gender norms in the beauty industry break down, we may see more men behind the chair at salons across the country in coming years.

Career Outlook and Growth Trends

As of 2018, around 10% of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists were male, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That number has stayed steady for the last several years, indicating there is room for men to enter the profession. Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that jobs for barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists will grow 8% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than average for other occupations. This is due not only to a generally increasing population, but also to the increasing popularity of hair treatments and cosmetology services.

Furthermore, men’s beauty is a growing industry. Forbes reports that in 2017 the sale of men’s skincare products jumped 11%, and sales of men’s grooming products totaled $6.9 billion in the U.S. alone. The stigma of men’s cosmetic use is decreasing due to the prevalence of marketed beauty products, deconstruction of gender norms, and online influencers such as vlogger and brand representative Manny Gutierrez and others.


All images via Wikimedia Commons and Rimmel image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Max Factor advertisement is public domain.