The landscape of gender norms is rapidly evolving, but most guys still can’t muster the idea of putting on a little foundation. This is perhaps surprising, given that the global market for male grooming products is set to achieve a market size of $115 billion by 2028, marking a noticeable rise from its 2022 valuation of $80 billion, according to the market insights company Statista. But even though many guys have warmly embraced laser-powered skin care devices and multi-product anti-aging routines, plenty of us still utter the word makeup with disdain.
Many, but not all.
More from Robb Report
“Men wearing makeup has seen a remarkable change in perception in recent years,” says Robin James, grooming expert and founder of the grooming website Man For Himself, who says when it comes to covering up our imperfections with concealer, most guys fall into three camps. “First, we have the Avoid group, with men who won’t touch or be associated with makeup. Next is the Enhance group, with men who use makeup to cover spots or enhance features. Lastly, the Create group, which is made up of men who are creative with a makeup palette and use makeup as self-expression. Most men are still in the ‘avoid’ camp, but there’s evidence of a shift toward the ‘enhance’ camp,” he adds.
In 2018, the male beauty landscape started to change significantly when Chanel launched its men’s cosmetic line Boy De Chanel. In short order, companies such as War Paint started to emerge with products designed to help guys test the waters. There were successes, but you can now argue that their overtly masculine approach has lost its relevance in 2024. “Practicality and inclusivity matter more than strictly adhering to traditional masculinity,” comments James. As such, you could argue that brands such as the newly launched Obayaty are the operations most likely going to change the perceptions of the Avoid group.
Founded in Stockholm in 2023—and launched in the States in January—Obayaty is a sleek, genderless beauty brand that has, thus far, only used male models to advertise its products. Its formulas are packaged in sleek metal tubes or glass jars, and the brand focuses on including heavy doses of active ingredients where possible. With a concise range that can help solve common issues such as dark circles, spots, acne scars, and blemishes, it can be easily called upon and applied to achieve a natural, fresh look—a finish that’s the sweet spot.
“I used to wear tiredness as a badge of pride,” says Lajjo Strand, one of Obayaty four co-founders and acting COO. “But then I started using our products, and suddenly, what people said changed. They were telling me: ‘Hey, you look so fresh’. And that feeling—that confidence—was incredible. It felt so much better than that ridiculous, masculine idea of boasting about looking exhausted. That’s when I knew how powerful it could be to give every man that feeling.”
But the company acts as much as a purveyor as it does as a guide. Each item features a QR code that leads to a fool-proof 15-second instructional video. Overall, the metal packaging (knurled and rilled with the kind of care that you might see used for a watch crown or an aluminum suitcase) wouldn’t look out of place on your nightstand or medicine cabinet.
One of the highlights in the collection is the $71 Illuminating Stick, whose blend of hyaluronic acid, porcelain flower, plus jojoba, argan, and sweet almond oils, makes it a highly effective tool for giving yourself a dewy look. “You want to match your skin tone as much as possible, but you can also try going one shade warmer which will add a glow to your skin. You should apply as you would with a normal moisturizer and work into the skin,” says Joe Mills, the celebrity groomer who recently was working with Jamie Dornan, Nicholas Hoult, and Josh O’Connor at Paris Fashion Week.
Elsewhere in the collection are lip balms enriched with CBD, nail polish, tinted eye creams laced with prickly pear extract, among other delicious ingredients, plus shea butter eye pens in a range of colors that can be layered together. And in a nod to growing concern about single-use packaging, most of the products are refillable.
With its sustainable ethos, inclusive nature, and discreet designs, Obayaty is primed to help a wide swath of guys discover new ways to enhance their looks. “We don’t want to be exclusive in the sense of unavailable,” says Lajjo. “Our product range has something for everyone, and things like refills make it possible for anyone to experience what Obayaty is. We’re here to teach and learn, to adapt and meet the needs of men. All men.”
Best of Robb Report