The Issue with Givenchy's New Unisex Makeup

Youtuber NikkieTutorials recently uploaded a video titled "I Tried UNISEX MAKEUP! WTF!" In less than 15 minutes, she reviews all four products in the Mister collection by the French luxury brand Givenchy. Their description of the collection boasts "easy to apply" formulas in "neutral, modern" packaging for "both men and women." However, Nikkie points out that makeup is already unisex. Yes, cosmetic brands have traditionally addressed women as their target audience, but these days many brands like Morphe, Colourpop and Jeffree Star Cosmetics are vocal supporters of men in the beauty industry. From social media influencers like James Charles and Bretman Rock to the drag queens of RuPaul's Drag Race, Men in Makeup are on the rise. 

When completing their looks, they use the same basic products as women. Men do not require special formulas or packaging. The makeup industry already has enough variety to offer products for different skin types and personal preferences. As NikkieTutorials said in her video, Givenchy is just using a marketing strategy to make money. Sure, a man who is looking to conceal his dark circles is more likely to pick up a tube with a black lid than a rhinestoned pink one, but anyone who has ever stepped foot in a cosmetics aisle knows that dozens of brands already have these options at a variety of price points. For Givenchy to claim that their "Mister Instant Corrective Pen"-- which retails for $38 and is only sold at Sephora and department stores btw-- is special because of its all black packaging and designer label is a bit ridiculous. 

This is just another iteration of brands repackaging products, usually with a slight price increase, to broaden their consumer audience. Our cultural norms surrounding gender are reinforced by these marketing campaigns, even though brands like Givenchy try to claim that they are reaching beyond gender-based stigma. South Korean skincare products, which are frequently referred to as "K-Beauty," offer a better model for marketing to both men and women. In the Korean culture, it is not taboo for men to use the same skincare and basic cosmetic products to enhance their appearances. Online retailers like Soko Glam have pages dedicated to product suggestions for men, but the products are the same that are found elsewhere on the site, without a "for men" specification in the product names. 

Scrolling through Sephora's "For Him" gift guide, the only reasonably priced products are the Clinique For Men skincare sets and a $20 face Pumpkin Sleeping Pack that is by a Korean brand. The other product suggestions are all designer colognes and candles. I am sure Sephora has a lot more to offer to men of any age, sexuality, or ethnicity in terms of both skincare and cosmetics. This problematic closed mindset is widespread in the American beauty industry. 

If brands are truly committed to diversity and inclusivity, they should include men in their campaign images on social media, and support male makeup artists equally to their female brand representatives and collaborators. Givenchy's attempt to simply give a collection the name "Mister" and use plain packaging is as corny as Kleenex's Man Size Tissues. Imagine how much more of an impact Givenchy could have made by simply creating videos that demonstrate how men can use their existing cosmetic products to achieve a natural result or slay with a full coverage glam look. 

As raising children without genderized toys and clothing becomes more popular, and the LGBTQ+ community and body positive movement supporters push for visibility and equal representation, brands are realizing that they should change their marketing approaches. Unfortunately, in our capitalist economy, consumers are likely to be taken advantage of. While some brands are champions of social enterprise, Givenchy's Mister Collection is just an example of money-hungry bandwagoning. Progressive thinking shouldn't have a premium price tag attached.