When I founded Altr, I began with the vision that somewhere in the near future, ‘soft’ cosmetics such as concealer and bb cream, would become every day, every guy, types of products.
2 years ago, we commissioned a survey with One Poll about men wearing cosmetics in the UK. The survey confirmed that 20% of men across the country have tried cosmetics. Since that survey a number of indicators suggest that figure is now more than 30% of men, and I recently spoke in The Times about my belief that over the next couple of years that figure will become one in two men. It seems only a matter of time before men wearing makeup becomes mainstream.
Traditional gender boundaries across the beauty industry and society as a whole however are shifting, and this is a key change that we will see over the coming years as traditional stigmas continue to decline. The notion of male cosmetics is a bit of a quirk in terms of its progressive-ness. On the one hand you're talking about breaking down traditional gender boundaries, which is obviously progressive, on the other hand, by labelling it as 'for-men', we're maintaining the binary gender status-quo.
When I started Altr, the key driver for me was focussing on empowering people who had never tried cosmetics before due to society’s stigmas around men and makeup. I wanted Altr to help overcome those barriers, and to normalise make up for men. At the beginning of Altr’s journey, we had an in-store presence in mind, where everything tends to be very binary, i.e. for men or for women. Our packaging therefore catered to that. The science behind our range was also based on the fact that male skin is on average oilier and thicker than female skin.
While there are those subtle differences between the average male and female skin type, however, they’re exactly that, an average skin type. And even regardless of skin type, anyone can enjoy our products and achieve a clean, natural, lightweight finish. Over time, we have focussed on Altr’s online presence as the main way to build our client base, which allows us to maintain an excellent consumer experience.
While it remains crucial for us to continue to champion makeup that is designed for men, who remain underrepresented by the big brands, the products themselves didn’t have to be labelled as exclusively for men. In 2019 we underwent a rebrand, consequently we changed our name from Altr for Men, to Altr London, and our packaging has followed suit.
I believe that over the next few years we will surpass the tipping point of men wearing makeup, and it will become normalised, but it will be the brands that espouse diversity and continue to challenge stereotypes and norms that reap the rewards.
Alex Doyle, CEO