The second time I ever met my Playboy editor over lunch he kept telling me how young I looked. It was deeply creepy—creepier even than his suggestion that I write a long article in which I get trained to perform a bris, or, as he pitched the story in a follow-up e-mail, “Joel adrift in a sea of tiny penises.”
Then I remembered: I was wearing makeup. I had come from an appearance on CNN and they’d run out of wipes, so I went straight to our lunch with powder caked on my face. Maybe concealer too; I don’t know all the terms. But apparently the stuff worked, even off-camera. My skin was even, smooth and blemish-free. I looked good to a man who looked at airbrushed models all day.
Which is why, in the not too distant future, men will start to wear makeup all the time. I figured this out when a dermatologist told me the most important thing I could do is put moisturizer with sunscreen in it on my face every morning. When he recommended a specific brand, he warned me it had “a little tint in it.” What he meant was it had “a bunch of makeup in it.”
And now that some dudes are using a little tint, the rest of us have to too, whether we want to or not. Look, I don’t want to put on makeup any more than you do, but we men are highly susceptible to peer pressure. I didn’t want to play fantasy sports. I didn’t want to lift weights. I don’t want to wear those ball-strangling skinny jeans either. I sure as hell don’t want to wear a tie. But this shift is inevitable unless we band together to fight metrosexuality. Though honestly, the only thing that seems to work against metrosexuality is sharia law, and I’d rather dip my head in a bucket of Lady Gaga’s mascara than masturbate to nothing but a woman’s eyes.
It’s already happening. Sephora has eight items on its site under “male makeup.” Tom Ford put out a men’s line last year. Mënaji—which names its man makeup manly things such as CAMO Concealer, packages it in manly ChapStick-like containers and mails it in manly cigar boxes—has been worn by regular dudes including Tom Hanks, Tim McGraw and Neil Young. In South Korea “flower men” such as soccer star Ahn Jung-hwan use and endorse makeup for guys. If we’re willing to take that “Gangnam Style” song from Korea, we’re definitely taking their grooming trends. A men’s manicure and pedicure shop in L.A. called Hammer & Nails is decorated with a punching bag, a rusted car grille, flatscreens showing ESPN and, I’m guessing, the pumped-in smell of farts.
Sure, putting on makeup sounds crazy, but if I told you in 1995 that you would one day be trimming your pubes, you would have thought I was a gay-porn producer in hiring mode. If you told your great-great-grandfather you wore deodorant, he would have mocked you for being a perfume-wearing pretty boy. If you got in a time machine and told your ancestors from 3,000 years ago that you shaved your face, they would have beaten you with a club and enslaved you. Or you would have disrupted the space-time continuum and your image would have disappeared from photographs. I have no idea how time travel works.
We put so many different kinds of gunk in our hair that it’s weird we don’t fix our faces. All those powdered-wig guys wore rouge a few centuries ago, and our looks are way more important now. Even if a guy doesn’t post selfies—and he shouldn’t—more images are taken of him in a month than were taken of Henry VIII in his entire lifetime. Your Tinder photos compete with filters and Photoshop, so it’s crazy you don’t start by covering your zits. People look so much better with makeup that Us Weekly magazine devotes several pages to female celebrities who’ve been caught without it. “Stars Without Makeup” is what men look like all the time. Our skin is exactly the same as women’s. We’re operating at 10 percent of our potential. If someone figured out that putting makeup on our dicks made them look an inch bigger, we’d all have urinary tract infections.
I’m not talking about putting on eyeliner like Adam Lambert or Russell Brand, or turning yourself into a bronze statue like John Boehner. I’m also not talking about giving yourself red lips and cheeks, which are designed to make women look like they’re orgasming and make men look like women who are orgasming. I simply mean putting a little bit of stuff on your face to get rid of zits, wrinkles, redness and shine. Anchorman makeup. This isn’t the stuff of vanity that makes people notice you; it’s the opposite, a way of blending in, like an ironed shirt or a properly fitted suit.
So you can either wait to be the last puffy, wrinkly, spotted dude in America, or take advantage of this transitional moment, put on some moisturizer with tint and out-handsome the competition. I know what chicks would do.