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Illustrator Wen Neale on How Makeup Is Redefining Modern Masculinity

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Makeup and masculinity aren’t mutually exclusive — a fact that is finally on full display, colorfully and unapologetically. No matter how you identify, you deserve to play with beauty, free of shame and secrecy. Makeup is for everyone, and through Mascara & Masculinity, we’re celebrating just that. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we asked men and masculine-identifying people to share their stories of falling in love with makeup, plus the products that shaped their relationships with beauty — and with themselves.

“I’m not a makeup guru…I love doing creative makeup because I can just do whatever I want with it,” explains 21-year-old Wen Neale at the start of his YouTube makeup tutorial called “Falling Stars Makeup Look”. “I’m a really strong supporter of doing whatever the heck I want. I’m just slappin’ things on. I’m just gonna wing it.” If I were to film a YouTube makeup tutorial, my video would 100 percent begin with the same wording.

Another thing we see eye to eye on the fact that masculinity isn’t stagnant. Its interpreation has ability to evolve — if we allow it to. “I personally believe that makeup is redefining what it means to be masculine,” Neale tells me. “Especially as we’re experiencing an ever-growing increase of men being more comfortable using makeup, even if it’s something as small as applying a little concealer over a blemish.” WEN NEALE/INSTAGRAM AND GETTY IMAGES

Neale uses his YouTube channel, wenwen, as a platform to not only share his fun, relatable makeup tutorials but also skin-care product reviews and insight on his transition. Outside of making videos, Neale also is a freelance illustrator, clothing designer, and devoted cat dad. (You can get a peek at all these endeavors on his Instagram @sippystraw.) Neale took a break from his busy schedule to reflect on the products that helped strengthen his relationship with makeup and how he’s redefined the way he uses it.

The wenwen Starter Pack:

COURTESY OF BRAND AND GETTY IMAGES

Pony Effect’s CoverStay Foundation; Glossier’s Generation G in Crush; Lioele’s Auto Eyebrow

My Experience Then

Neale began wearing makeup when he was 12 years old, but his interest in it truly began to flourish in high school around the age of 17. “What sparked me into gaining more interest during that time was the current rise of beauty influencers and seeing the infinite possibilities of what you can do with just a palette of eye shadow,” he explains. “It helped — and still continues to [help] — give me a lot of inspiration in my current works.”

The first foundation he came across that left an impression on him was Pony Effect’s CoverStay Foundation. “Unfortunately, it comes with limited shades, but was great in combating my oily-combo skin,” he says. For his brows, he first tried the Auto Eyebrow from Korean beauty brand Lioele, and now he calls it a staple in his everyday routine. You can check out how he does his go-to look in the video below.

Neale’s aesthetic is constantly evolving and he never sticks to one style or category; he’s always adding new products to his makeup stash. For example, he got into swiping on lip tints almost two years ago, with Glossier’s Generation G formula in Crush being the first shade he ever tried. “I will always love it,” he says. He also recently started experimenting with eye shadow. His interest in it piqued when he saw the now-famous Pat McGrath Labs Mothership Palettes.

To create what he considered to be a natural look, Neale reached for these specific products. “I’d always been a huge fan of subtlety when it came to my everyday looks,” he explains. “A majority of the products I used did just that.”

  ADVERTISEMENT     WEN NEALE/INSTAGRAM AND GETTY IMAGES

My Relationship Now

Although the Pony foundation was his first love, he often replaces his foundation pick with the Best of Beauty Award-winning Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation in 160. “I love the coverage,” he explains. “My friends can’t even tell if I’m wearing foundation when I wear it.”

The purpose makeup has in his life has also shifted. “At first, wearing makeup almost felt like a necessity in my life, as if I couldn’t step outside without having at least a layer of foundation on,” he reveals. “After a long and strenuous journey with learning to love myself and my features, I’m happy to say I was able to convert something that went from a necessity to a choice of expression regarding my creativity.”

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