In conversation with Saad MUA on men in the beauty industry
The make-up industry across the globe has been booming, owing, especially, to the rise in beauty bloggers and influencers on social media. One massive change we've seen internationally is more and more men stepping into the make-up industry, ranging from drag to everyday looks. Although a rarity in our country, one such male make-up artist/beauty influencer has been making his mark in the Bangladeshi beauty industry.
SaadMUA (he/him), is a 21 year old beauty blogger who has been working towards normalizing men in make-up. With a ton of creativity and a bold approach to life, Saad sat down with us to share his journey.
When and how did you start doing make-up? Was it something you always had an interest in?
I think, on some level, I was always interested in make-up. I used to secretly put on lipstick or kajal from my mother's make-up kits when I was a kid, without her finding out about it. I always like to look good and presentable; maybe that's what made me interested in doing make-up. And I was a special kid to my parents. So my mom used to do my brows or help me put on some make-up when I was a kid. After I grew up, I started doing make-up on myself with a few of my friends from the gender diverse community, whom I met online. But I only started doing make-up publicly after coming out to my parents, back when I was 18 years old. My parents and, especially, my dadi played a huge role in this; they gave me unconditional support and accepted me the way I am. A huge shout out to my dadi, who stood by me; without her, I could’ve never reached where I am now.
What made you enter social media as a make-up artist? Were you scared/unsure before you began this journey?
After coming out, I found some international male make-up artists/beauty influencers like Jeffree Star, Patrick Starrr, and James Charles online. They gave me the courage to start doing make-up publicly, and to make videos too. That's how I thought about turning my passion into a profession -- and I'm very glad that I'm the first male beauty influencer who came out in a conservative society like ours. I was scared of not getting support, or being bullied or humiliated. I was also unsure about this profession, because I had no idea about how it worked, and had no mentor to guide me. I had to struggle a lot, and learn along the way to reach where I am right now.
What kinds of difficulties did you face as a male make-up artist? Was your work received well from the beginning?
My main struggles involved not getting appreciation for my work, and not getting the chance to collaborate with brands who usually work with only female bloggers. Very few people/brands from Bangladesh appreciated my work from the beginning. But ever since I started reaching out to some international bloggers/brands, I received a ton of support with everything. They've worked with me several times from the beginning, even when no Bangladeshi brand had reached out to me yet. Now, a lot of brands want to work with me. But I had to work hard to reach this stage. Other than that, I didn’t really face any hardships for being a male make-up artist, except for online bullies.
You've done a lot of experimental and SFX looks. Who served as your inspiration? Where did you learn these techniques, and how long did it take you to master them?
The experimental and SFX looks that I create are inspired by some international make-up artists. I've learnt a lot from them. I used to watch the tutorials online, and tried to recreate them on my face. It took me a long time to master them, and I'm still learning different techniques from different artists.
What's your go-to make-up look on a regular day? Which of your own looks has been your favourite so far?
Nowadays I'm really into Korean make-up. So I keep my daily make-up very natural, yet very beautiful. Maybe a little bit of concealer to hide my dark circle or spots, a lip tint, a small amount of blush, and, of course the eyebrows. My eyebrows are very thin, so I can never leave them be. But I like to keep the look natural as well.
Does make-up serve as an escape for you? Do you feel artistically fulfilled through this medium? If so, how?
Well yes, make-up does serve as an escape for me. Since I'm kind of an introvert, make-up is the only key to my happiness. Whenever I feel bored or alone, I sit down to do make-up. I love doing it, so it serves as an incredible creative outlet for me.
There is lots of negativity on social media with anything that isn't considered "conventional" or "normal". How do you deal with the hate? Does it at all affect your work?
I do face a lot of negativity. There was a time when I thought about quitting social media. But since this is the only thing that I truly cherish, I kept quiet and ignored all the negative comments. With time, these comments started acting as a kind of inspiration for me, and gave me the courage to keep going. Dealing with negativity has become a habit now. And the way I deal with them is by ignoring them. Haters will hate, no matter what you do or what your profession is. So I really don't care about them anymore. And these things really don't affect my work. Rather than that, it helped to grow my audience. If a hater shares my work, there will be one person who will appreciate my work -- I truly believe that.
The idea of men wearing make-up is still an alien concept for the people of this subcontinent. How do you think we can change that?
Everything will be an alien concept when it is new to someone. Though men wearing make-up is such a big deal in this society that's heavily influenced by fragile masculinity and stereotypes. But I need to keep doing it, and want to inspire every male who likes doing make-up. I want them to come to this field and make it even more normal. When people become accustomed to it, it will no longer be so unacceptable.
What tips would you have for men who are willing to wear basic make-up on a daily basis? What products would you recommend?
To those men who are willing to wear basic make-up on a daily basis, I'd recommend keeping it natural (unless they want to be bold). Make-up has no limits. Do it however you want, but I'd like to suggest taking care of your skin first. Then when it comes to make-up, grab a concealer, hide your dark circle or dark spots, as you please. If you've embraced them and want them on display, then leave them be. Beauty is within you. Use a pressed powder to keep your face matte and clean. Use lipstick if you want. Blush adds a little bit of cuteness to the face, so use a blush of your favouritecolour. You can also use a highlighter to look glowy and shiny. If you want, you can also apply eyeshadow. Just go with whatever feels good to you, and don't think about what others say.
What's your vision for men in make-up in Bangladesh? Do you think people will slowly accept the changes in the norms?
Men wearing make-up is like a taboo in Bangladesh, but still I've been successful in changing a lot of people’s views, which I'm proud of. It might take some time for people to accept that, but they definitely will. This fragile masculinity should be stopped. It's not only affecting them, but also affecting us, and women. Every little step will help us to get rid of this norm.
Finally, do you have a message for our readers?
I'd like to thank everyone for reading all of these. I hope you’ll help us to change society into a more accepting, inclusive one. Just a little bit of support can be a huge thing for someone. There are a lot of Saads out there who don't have the courage. Help them, stand by them, support them, and respect them. Your respect will never hurt someone. Accept the people however they are. And also be yourself. Your choices matter, your decisions matter, your rights matter, your life matters. Love yourself the way you are. Everything starts with you.
Find Saad's work at: https://www.facebook.com/saadmua/