“ Brand: Taxi London / Type: Mascara „
You've seen the scandalous headlines and critical comments in the press. You've probably heard the sniggers at the bus stop. But have you actually heard of a man who wears make-up, without a full twin set and pearls?
The concept of men wearing make-up has been rather exclusively associated with cross-dressing up until now. If my father were to imagine men using cosmetics, he'd almost certainly conjure up an image of something not unlike a cross between a pantomime dame and Danny La Rue and would never be able to conceive the fact that men might actually wear a normal business suit, a nice shirt and tie and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of make-up to get them through the day.
Taxi London, an independent make-up brand set up in 2004, have grabbed most of those aforementioned headlines with their new range of cosmetics for men. As the nation's men-folk spend more and more time (and money) looking after their appearance, it was almost inevitable that a dedicated cosmetics line would follow and you can now buy a concealer (Disguys), an eyeliner (Guyliner), and a mascara (Manscara) targeted solely at men. I've been using the Manscara for a couple of weeks now, so here's the low down on what happens when you mix men and make-up.
Whilst the big fashion houses go for exotic looks and dramatic names, Taxi keeps things simple. The innocuous little cylinder couldn't really be mistaken for anything other than mascara, but it is pocket-sized (or indeed, "manbag-sized" for those on the move.) It should be noted that this is a clear mascara, so it's not intended to do the same thing as coloured mascara. Clear mascara is designed to separate and define your eye lashes, but doesn't set out to boost volume or lengthen them. Realistically, this is an entirely appropriate thing. Joking aside, if men are going to wear make-up, it needs to be subtle and only gently accentuate their natural features; the much more glamorous approach to cosmetics adopted by women would simply make men look like freaks.
Having removed the brush from the cylinder, the first thing you'll notice is that this stuff actually smells. It's rather like a fresh cucumber dip mixed up with something rather more synthetic. It'd quite odd, though it is worth pointing out that the smell doesn't loiter around your face. The wand (that's the thing you use to apply it to your eyelashes for other uninitiated fellas) is relatively short and I found this slightly cumbersome to use as I have very long fingers. The bristles on the end of the wand are relatively short too and as such, you can't apply the stuff easily in one seamless stroke. The temptation for make-up ignoramuses is to start dabbing the stuff on in little bits and it took me a little while to get into the idea of applying the liquid in an effective manner. My eyelashes are medium-length and naturally quite curly, so I found it easier to sweep upwards in two motions followed by a sort of flick across, left to right, that seemed to help separate the lashes further. Initially, I found it quite difficult to get the right amount on the brush, particularly as it's colourless and, as such, you can't easily tell how much you've got. The bristles seem to "grab" the eyelashes without too much effort, and unless you get the right amount to apply you end up with too much on the ends of your lashes. You do, however, get used to what works and what doesn't and now, without much thought, I can apply the stuff reasonably quickly.
So what's the effect? Well, it's hardly very noticeable, really. I have used black mascara in the past, and I quite liked the striking look that this gave but this was strictly for clubbing or the evening when getting quite dressed up was more acceptable. For general use (including at work) the clear mascara is good for a bit of subtle definition and has just enough effect to highlight your eyes. I find that it makes me look a bit fresher; a little more alert and (bizarrely) a little more intent on maintaining eye contact with people. Only one of my friends noticed (and she doesn't miss a trick) and she said that it definitely made me look more alert. You hardly notice that the stuff is on, although to start with, I did find that it made my eyes a little bit itchy and if I forgot to remove it before I went to bed, I would wake up with terrible eye-bogies. Manscara also claims to condition your lashes, but this isn't something I could bear witness to. They look and feel the same as ever, to me.
Manscara is also intended to help tame unruly eyebrows. This strikes me as a little odd really, as particularly wild eyebrows would be better off clipped or plucked, I would have thought. My eyebrows are naturally very neat and I couldn't really see any benefit from using Manscara here. It's also a slightly unpleasant feeling; as though somebody has just sucked a boiled sweet and then licked your face and I only normally use the stuff on my lashes.
This isn't an expensive product. At around £6.50, you can buy it online or in larger branches of Superdrug. The only real question for me is what this brand offers over other brands of mascara that aren't marketed at men. I've tried a similar No 7 variety and it seemed exactly the same to me, except it was £3 cheaper. The distinction between ladies' mascara man's mascara seems only to be the fact that men want something that is sold purposely for men, which seems a lot to pay a few more quid for, to me. The good news is that Taxi doesn't use products that are tested on animals. The company website states that they only use ingredients that "have been proven not to have been tested on animals since 31st December 2004." I'm not entirely sure this gives me the guarantee that I would want but it seems a good start.
The reality is that Manscara is all a lot of fuss over nothing really. Anyone expecting men to start turning up for work made up like a supermodel is really quite out of touch, and the reality is that this stuff has little noticeable effect and is extremely unlikely to take off. It is, however, still extremely difficult not to laugh at yourself when you're stood in front of the mirror, shaving one minute and applying mascara to your eyelashes the next.