It was at Smith & Caughey's in Newmarket that I encountered my first fully made-up man. Fittingly, he was working in the cosmetics section. At first I was a little distracted by his blue eye-shadow and pink lipstick (which nonetheless suited his fair complexion) but he quickly became my go-to guy when I needed makeup or wrinkle potions.
Then just the other day in the same department store I was served by a second man with rather dramatic eye makeup on. I told him I needed eyeliner. "Liquid eyeliner? That's what I've got on," he said, indicating the heavy black swirls above his eyes. I received helpful and friendly service from both these men who clearly had an enthusiasm for their particular line of work. The second one even managed to sell me some Dior skincare which I'd never tried before.
After that initial moment of awkwardness, I no longer batted an eyelid at these young men who just happened to be wearing more makeup than me. And, anyway, I figured that if someone is going to sell cosmetics then it makes sense that they use the products, so in a way it could be perceived as even stranger if they were bare-faced.
Yet even in the age of the "metrosexual" (defined by Dictionary.com as "a heterosexual, usually urban male who pays much attention to his personal appearance and cultivates an upscale lifestyle") and "manscaping" (defined by Urban Dictionary as "to groom a man. Shaving, waxing, cleaning up the superfluous fur) it seems that some of us are still raising an eyebrow at the prospect of men wearing makeup.
The people at Speight's beer certainly question the practice: "With a proliferation of questionable products aimed at men, including manscara, guyliner and strange waxing procedures, one could be forgiven for assuming that Kiwi men have lost sight of what really matters to them."
But in American Idol: Adam Lambert speaks out for men with makeup he responded to an eww-men-aren't-supposed-to-wear-makeup comment by opining that there are, in fact, no rules specifying who may and who may not wear makeup - and that, in his view, everyone should be free to express themselves as they choose.
Indeed, there's a strong tradition of men in the entertainment industry embracing this freedom. Russell Brand's kohl, Boy George's "colourful paintwork", Elvis Presley's concealer and foundation, and Robbie Williams' eyeliner can be seen at Made-up men.
However we have a couple of home-grown examples of makeup-wearing men who hail from other professions - namely politics and sport. Michael Laws' fondness for eyeliner was well known and, evidently, "[f]or a short while, Ma'a Nonu of the All Blacks rugby team wore mascara".
In Introducing Guy-liner and Manscara - the new metrosexual makeup just for men, a spokesman from the company selling cosmetics for blokes "insisted that its cosmetics -branded Taxi Man - are not just for transvestites. He said: 'These days you can be macho and wear makeup. If you look at people like Russell Brand and Robbie Williams, they both wear makeup and they are both very red-blooded men.'"
Yet for every enthusiast such as Cameron I-like-men-with-make-up Diaz there's a doubter such as the beauty blogger at Guyliner: what's the go? who wrote: "as more and more men step out sporting foundation, a slick of lippy or a dab of blush, I can't help but wonder - how far will it go?"
In essence, it's really about equal rights. Who, these days, can consider makeup to be acceptable for women but simultaneously deny men the freedom to choose to wear it? The issue, people, is makeup equality. Are you for or against it?
What's your view on makeup for men? Is okay or outrageous? When is it acceptable and when is it a step too far?