I have been proudly wearing make-up since 2018, the year which Chanel introduced their men’s line, Boy de Chanel, to the world with three key products: a foundation, eyebrow pencil and lip balm.
I’ve always been curious about real make-up. The out-of-the-ordinary like eyeliner and nail polish, which I’ve always peeked at over the woman’s beauty counters, but I can’t say I’ve ever dabbled in them. For someone as liberal as myself, I’ve never been to a nail salon to even get a manicure.
The newly-expanded Boy de Chanel collection consists of a gel moisturiser, concealer, eyeliner and nail polishes. Starting with the gel moisturiser, and often the first step of any beauty regime, I always think about the texture of the product.
The Boy de Chanel fortifying gel moisturiser is like holding the world's lightest jelly in the palm of your hand. The most important ingredient in the water-based moisturiser is Arabic coffee seed oil which minimises fine lines and wrinkles, helps calm acne and rebuilds natural collagen and elastin.
“It feels really fresh on the skin and can be used on its own or as an aftershave balm if you have facial hair,” says Thom Walker, Chanel’s UK makeup artist who worked on the new line with the French brand. It’s a great formula to use if you have a beard because it doesn’t flake on facial hair and also helps with rough skin.
As a self-pronounced concealer aficionado - purely out of sheer laziness - it’s my one-step to getting ready for a Zoom. The job of a concealer is not to make you look overly 'done', but rather fix the edges. The Boy de Chanel concealer comes in eight shades in a non-oily stick. Application is quite simple: dot it around your blemishes and use your fingertips to blend in.
However, if you want the full works, start with the foundation. Walker’s top-tip is to “apply to the centre of the face and work outwards to the jawline. It’s best to start with a small amount and then build coverage if needed. For dark circles, go over the top of the foundation with the concealer.”
The Boy de Chanel collection resembles a fancy crayon set that could have been designed by Zaha Hadid, who was a massive eyeliner fan, partly for being from the Middle East. The black matte packaging is discreet and guy-friendly, and I've never had anybody question what I was carrying in my toiletry bag.
As for the eyeliner, Walker’s technique is to apply along the lash line straight from the pencil. If you’re going for subtlety, then stop before getting to the tear duct of your eye. Blending in with a Q-tip is another way to intensify the eyes for a Jared Leto or Adam Lambert result.
Male manicures are nothing new nor shocking. It’s not so dissimilar to painting a wall either, the more layers of paint you slather on the bolder it becomes. In the trial and error of applying nail polish, I have come to learn that if you have cracking, peeling or splitting nails and cuticles, then get some oil for them before going anywhere near a paintbrush (try Viridian Organic at Victoria Health £14.40).
The Boy de Chanel nail varnish comes in two colourways: natural and black. I have been wearing the former for weeks on end by adding it to my hand cream routine, while saving the black paint for weekends to lift the mood. I do confess that it took me a few weeks to get used to black nails.
Both nail varnishes have a lacquered-matte finish which looks more natural than going full matte. Apply cuticle oil or Vaseline around your fingers to avoid any excess paint on your skin.
Men wearing nail varnish is nothing new, we’ve seen it sported by musicians across all genres and generations, from Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Lou Reed to Harry Styles and ASAP Rocky. So why not learn another DIY skill in lockdown?
“A black nail is so rock and roll, why leave it to special occasions?” says Walker. “If you’re unsure about painting every nail, why not try every other nail, or just the thumbs.”