Yesterday (October 11), a 17-year-old makeup artist named James Charles joined the ranks of models and spokespeople including Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Drew Barrymore to represent CoverGirl cosmetics.
Charles is distinct from his predecessors in many ways: He is a teenager. His fame was born of the internet. He is a makeup artist. And, of course, he is a he.
CoverGirl is by no means the first cosmetics company to put men in its campaigns. MAC, which regularly staffs its counters with men in dramatic makeup, shot a campaign with ice skater Johnny Weir, and last year created a collection in collaboration with the brothers Peter and Harry Brant. But while MAC’s brand is built on edgy, editorial looks, CoverGirl’s has been about more mainstream beauty, represented by the familiar faces of celebrities such as Ellen Degeneres, Queen Latifah, and Sofia Vergara. The inclusion of Charles in that mix acknowledges the widening definition of beauty—and its icons—in the US.
And why should the company limit its market potential to just one gender? According to research firm NPD, men’s grooming products are expected to bring in $21 billion in 2016. If the Asian market is any indication, those products will increasingly include pricey skin creams and blemish-blurring makeup.
Among male product enthusiasts, Charles represents a young, digitally-native breed that some call ”beauty boys.” His tutorials on YouTube (where the cosmetics company has an aggressive digital search strategy, according to WWD) have hundreds of thousands of views. On Instagram, where Charles first announced his Coverboy status, he has more than 500,000 followers.
“I truly hope that this shows that anyone and everyone can wear makeup and can do anything if you work hard,” wrote Charles in his caption.
And so does CoverGirl.