South Korean men use makeup for workplace success

Oct 1, 2012 | News

by Jeanette Liu

Though South Korea only has 19 million men, they have the largest market for man makeup in the world.  COURTESY CATHERINE FLICKA, WIKICOMMONS

Women aren’t the only ones lining up to purchase makeup behind the cosmetic checkout line anymore.

According to a recent Euromonitor International report, men from South Korea have taken on the practice of meticulously contouring their cheekbones and dusting their noses to flawless perfection, too.

“Image is something all employers look for, and in South Korea it has taken certain manifestations,”    Andre Schmid, University of Toronto’s North and South Korea history associate professor, told Humber News.“To look the part has always been a pretty standard practice there.”

South Korea’s men spent almost $500 million on beauty products last year, making the country the largest market for man-makeup in the world, according to the Euromonitor marketing research report.

This year, the Asian nation’s men are expected to spend $885 million, said Korea’s largest cosmetic company, Amorepacific in a press release.

The change from “masculine” to made up can be partly explained by Korea’s increasingly competitive job market.

It is so competitive that some candidates go beyond painting their faces to secure a job, said Schmid.  “People were even having surgery to help in the interview process.”

Humber’s Career Centre said looks play a very important part in the job process.

“I’m not sure men wearing makeup is something that will catch on quickly here,” Karen Fast, manager of the Career Centre, told Humber News. “But, being well groomed and having a professional image are musts.”

Despite U.S. cosmetic companies reporting a growth in man-makeup sales, North American men are still a little wary.

“I’ve never put on makeup before,” Humber second year Film and Television Media student, Alex MacDonald told Humber News. “But, I might consider it if I was really backed up against a wall and had to throw some on for my dream job.”