It will no doubt come as a shock for some people to learn that a lot of men wear make-up.

And we’re not just talking about queer guys here, but straight ones too.

The men’s cosmetics industry is today worth an estimated $3 billion internationally and is expected to grow much larger in the next couple of years.

Men who wear make-up tend to keep it subtle so you probably won’t even notice they’re using it.

Not too many are getting around with dewy red lips and dark smoky eyes.

But they might wear concealer under their eyes to hide a big night out, or some mascara or eyeliner to accentuate their lashes.

Until recently guys had to buy women’s cosmetics.

That was until Jean Paul Gaultier launched the world’s first men’s cosmetics range, Le Male Beau Tout Propre, last year.

The collection includes bronzing powder (pictured), $65, two-in-one eyeliner and concealer, $38, and lip balm available in three different shades, $27 each (all available from Myer and David Jones).

According to Danny Ventura, Gaultier’s international grooming expert, the range was originally aimed at the gay market. So they were surprised when straight men showed more interest.

Many gay men have an aversion to make-up because they don’t want to be pushed into a category. It was the straight man who was much more keen on it, Ventura said.

It’s nice to know the straight man is finally assuming the right to look good, as gay men have for so long.

In the 70s a man buying a moisturiser was a big thing. We’ve evolved. Now we’re sitting here talking about eyeliner for straight men. It’s becoming mainstream.

Men started using cosmetics in force around 1998, he says, and today -“ thanks largely to the rise of the metrosexual -“ it’s all about male vanity.

One reason is that men are single longer and trying to look better.

The biggest buyers of the Gaultier range are aged 35-45, and bronzer is the number one selling item, followed by the concealer/eyeliner.

The collection has proven so popular they’re adding a new range of products that will be available from May.

The collection is being marketed differently to women’s make-up.

The packaging is more masculine and in some cases the product is disguised.

For instance the two-in-one eyeliner and concealer stick is designed to look like a pen, while the nail nourisher ($27) could easily be mistaken for a highlighter.

The lingo is different too.

Instead of talking about T-zones, Gaultier reps say target zones and action zones.

And they don’t blend, they smear. The focus is on subtly accentuating your features like the eyes and lips.

As for the future of men’s make-up Ventura predicts things will get a lot more daring, with bright lipsticks and nail colours almost definitely on the cards.

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