I did not think it was important to explain makeup to men, but here we both are, you having clicked on this story looking for hot starter tips, me dispensing them to you one by one, like little neon gumballs down a tiny spiral slide, holding your gaze hostage all the way to the bottom.
There are thousands, perhaps millions, of expressive ways to use makeup, but I am willing to bet you are here to harness its most basic and practically useful power: To look perfect all of the time. It is of course fine to not look perfect all of the time, but occasionally there come situations in which it is preferable to appear your hottest self, like your wedding, or your enemy’s funeral.
This year, the mighty iron doors of GQ’s Grooming Awards swung open to admit makeup for the very first time in its history, and in strode three products, which comprise something of a foundation (makeup joke!! That’s a makeup product) for your continuing vanity education.
For perfect skin: Kosas Tinted Face Oil
Just before the turn of the 21st century, a makeup artist named Laura Mercier launched a breakthrough “Moisturizing Foundation” formula (later refined into Tinted Moisturizer) that defined a new category of skin coverage products: Ones that covered skin without hardening over your face into a dessicated clay mask of sorts. You may think this is boring, but Laura Mercier walked so that Instagram skin could run—that kind of dewy, golden-hour look that afflicts our nation’s influencer population.
Laura Mercier still sells her tinted moisturizer, and it’s still wildly popular, and for the past few decades nobody has held a candle to it, until now, with Kosas’ Tinted Face Oil. Oils are wetter than creams, but skin is supposed to look kind of shiny, so the effect is a kind of wash of health and youth that simply makes you look better. It’s sheer enough to let freckles through but cancels out redness and that kind of thing. You love it!
For perfect-er skin: Dr. Perricone No Bronzer Bronzer
You will notice, applying makeup for the first time, that while you look better, your skin is now one-color, which does not do much for the illusion that you aren’t wearing makeup in the first place. This is why additional makeup products, such as blush and bronzer, exist—to restore the skin’s detail that foundation tends to erase. A couple drops of this junk, applied to the cheeks and forehead and nose bridge, deposits a little tan, and causes your cheekbones to leap forward off of your face, like you are some kind of prince.
For perfect brows: Milk Kush Eyebrow Gel
I understand there is some kind of nebulous marketing surrounding CBD as a moisturizing additive, and I do not believe any of it. Luckily, Milk Makeup’s Kush Eyebrow Gel is a great product despite this. Because full and bushy brows are still the male ideal, this goop makes your eyebrow hairs stand on end, untangling each while combing them upward. It even comes in a tinted formula that surrounds each hair in a tiny pigment coat, giving the appearance of fuller brows. The good news is that, if you are an adult, you can buy whichever formula you want to. If you are a child, I am sorry if this makes you anxious about the world ahead and its expectations. You have a lot to look forward to!
Photograph by Tyrell Hampton
Still-life photographs by Matteo Mobilio
Styled by Miles Pope and Taryn Bensky
Hair by Natalie Jones
Makeup by Azra Red for Honey Artists
Prop stylist: Stephanie L. Yeh for Bernstein & Andriulli