John Lewis has opened its first cosmetics counter for men, so: Could you fancy your husband if he wore ‘manscara’?
By Jenni Murray
My old man isn’t likely to be among the first in line at the new John Lewis make-up counter for men, but would I find him less attractive if he were? Certainly not.
Why shouldn’t he pop a smidgen of Touche Eclat over his darkened eye bags after a late night, or a brush of blush on his cheeks to brighten his pasty face during these dull winter months?
It’s perfectly acceptable for a woman to hide the faults of her ‘morning face’ in an attempt to appear fresher, younger and more alluring. I can’t see why any effort for improvement should be considered unacceptable in a man.
Mine is as attractive to me as he was on the day I first met him. He’s fit and strong and I’ve always found the balding that began in his 30s surprisingly sexy.
What’s wrong with a little artifice to add to his continuing appeal?
Often I have wondered why men don’t routinely take better care of their skin.
‘Why don’t you buy some moisturiser or borrow mine?’ has been a frequent suggestion of mine in the 40 years we’ve spent together.
He never did, and I’m afraid, as we’ve got older, it rather shows. I’ve put a huge amount of effort into cleansing and moisturising on a daily basis and, no insult to him intended, he really should have taken my advice and followed a similar plan.
He’s four years younger than me, but there’s no doubt that his ‘I wash with soap, no fuss and that’s that’ philosophy has had a profound effect on which of us has fewer creases and wrinkles. That would be me.
I suspect it’s rather late for him to change his habits in his mid-60s, but I can see no reason to be embarrassed or upset if he did.A Johnny Depp air would be no bad thing
Maybe he could go for a dark kohl eyeliner, like the one I wear every day, and a little mascara to lengthen his lashes. It might give him an air of Johnny Depp which would, frankly, be no bad thing.
Why should wearing make-up be seen as an exclusively female preserve? After all, men have learned to accept that we wear trousers and flat shoes. Stereotypical masculinity and femininity is surely passe in the 21st century.
I might display an element of alarm if he opted for lippy, however. I hate it for myself. I’ve never chosen to wear it, having always loathed the mark of red lips my mother would plant on my cheeks as a child.
If he were to go that way, it might make a lovely kiss a little less inviting — and lipstick on my collar would not be a good look!
By Helena Frith-Powell+2
Helena Frith-Powell (pictured) says she likes her husband au naturel
When I first read about the War Paint pop-up counter at John Lewis on Oxford Street, I did wonder for a moment if it would be fun for my husband to try some of it.
Rupert has lovely brown eyes; would they be even lovelier framed with a bit of mascara and eyeliner?
Two things put me off: first, the fuss that would ensue when he had to remove it and, second, I don’t think I’d fancy him with a full face on.
My husband is one of the least effeminate men I know; make-up on him would look fake, strange and actually quite ridiculous, like he was dressing up. I also can’t begin to imagine what the children would think if their father suddenly showed up at dinner wearing lip-gloss.
He did once, reluctantly, have his eyebrows threaded and they looked all wrong. I thought they would look better if they were more defined. They didn’t. They looked overly manicured, and it made me realise I like my husband au naturel.
When I was 17, I had a boyfriend who wore more make-up than I did. His face was literally painted on. He’d start with panstick, followed by long eyebrows that arched over his heavily made-up eyes making him look, in retrospect, a bit like an ant. He wore thick, purple blusher to create high, chiselled cheekbones and red lipstick with purple liner. His hair was a pile of Boy George-style dreadlocks. I first met him when he was working in a punk shop on the King’s Road.
I was immediately captivated. He was the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen: tall, dark and, well, there’s no other word for it, pretty. I was also curious as to what he might look like underneath all that make-up. Maybe he was even better looking?I’d look like a peahen with her more elegant mate
He was late for our first date. We met at Sloane Square Tube station and were going to some club. As we walked hand-in-hand down the King’s Road, I began to understand what a peahen must feel like next to her more glamorous mate.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t short on ridiculous hair, wild make-up or wacky clothes; it was the Eighties. But Bean, as he was known, got all the attention.
My fascination with him, however, was short-lived. The first night we spent together I watched as that beautiful face was removed on to cotton pads and thrown into my bin. In front of me was a rather plain-looking boy, with small, pig-like eyes and no eyebrows. Unlike most young lovers, I longed for the morning when he would regain his glamour.
So I won’t be encouraging my husband to take advantage of the new make-up counter. To be fair, I would have to drag him there kicking and screaming anyway. This is a man who has only just conceded that washing his face with a proper cleanser might be beneficial.
And, truth be told, I like him that way. Who needs another peacock getting all the attention?
Helena Frith Powell’s Love in a Warm Climate (Gibson Square) is out now.
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi-based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor-in-chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group.
Helena contributes regularly to UK-based newspapers and magazines and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She is working on a thriller set in Sweden as well as a novel about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield called Sense of an Echo.
In 2022 her short story The Japanese Gardener came second in the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize. One of her stories was also shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize. When she’s not writing, she works as a headhunter for the media and entertainment industry for the Sucherman Group.
Helena, who was educated at Durham University, lives in the Languedoc region of France with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles (paperback); Gibson Square spring 2018
The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019