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War paint – Emerging men’s makeup brand

Published: July 30, 2020

War Paint makeup for men is a capsule collection of must-have makeup pieces created for the guys in our lives, and it launches today exclusively on the Brown Thomas and Arnotts websites.

Founder of the brand, Danny Gray, spoke to EVOKE yesterday from the UK ahead of the announcement about where the idea for the brand came from, who is buying the makeup, and why he turned down two offers on Dragon’s Den.

Despite being a relatively new brand, Danny’s War Paint makeup for men is in illustrious company in this new beauty category, with Chanel, Tom Ford, Clinique, and YSL for company. However, his journey to where he is today is what really marks this unique brand.

Peppered throughout my chat with Danny were mentions of self-esteem, self-confidence, and choice, all reasons for why he created War Paint makeup for men, a vegan, cruelty-free line.

Danny has body dysmorphia, something he is learning to cope with better today than where he was 20 years ago, bullied at school over his protruding ears, and trying to cope with teenage breakouts.

It wasn’t until his sister offered him a concealer to disguise one particular breakout that Danny had an ‘Aha’ moment, realising the immediate confidence-booster that this one piece of makeup could give. And for more than ten years he dreamed of creating a line that could offer other men this opportunity.

Fast forward two decades and Danny launched War Paint makeup for men in John Lewis in January of this year, the ‘first-ever men’s makeup counter in the world in the men’s section’ Danny says. The line includes concealer, foundation, anti-shine powder, primer, moisturiser, and bronzer.

The trial placement at the store far exceeded their expectation in sales and press coverage, War Paint is now a permanent fixture at the Oxford Street store.

War Paint has huge online sales and I asked Danny if he thought men were more inclined to buy makeup from behind a screen? He says no, they launched online but now men are happy to purchase in-store and adds, ‘I think it’s always been a bit underground, especially for your everyday guy who might nick something from their other half, but once you put in the faces of people they feel very confident about coming up and buying it.’

So, who is buying it, if you imagine it’s beefed-up gym bunnies with extra white teeth and suntans you’d be wrong, Danny says 32% of their sales are in the 60+ age bracket.

He adds, ‘Ten, fifteen years ago men were barely using deodorant, and today they moisturise, they look after their skin. They’re not doing that to live longer, they’re doing it to feel better about themselves and their skin.’

And from the War Paint range, Danny tells me that while a guy might start out buying their concealer or moisturiser which are selling hugely, their third purchase is usually the entire collection. For guidance on application and method, there is a Help and Tip section section on the War Paint website where men can find tutorials, reviews, and a forum.

War Paint makeup also has a collection of videos called The Series, which follows Danny through various aspects of the business and press, plus more intimate videos surrounding his anxiety and how he deals with it.

If you spend some time looking through these you will come to see what drives Danny, he is very open about the fact that he believes that men should be given a choice when it comes to makeup and the self-confidence it brings.

Let’s face it, as women we are very focused on the things we want to cover up or disguise at least for the day, dark circles, rosacea, uneven skin tone, and the like. Surely, it’s not hard to comprehend that men might feel the same way and would be happy with a range and options of their own?

Danny made an appearance on Dragon’s Den last year where two investors, Tej Lalvani and Peter Jones offered him £70,000 for a 12% stake in the brand. He declined, but at the time of the pitch, he told the Dragons he expected to sell around 10,000 products in his first year. He has sold five times as much.

Toward the end of our chat, he told me, ‘Women don’t wear makeup for other women, they wear it for themselves’ and he adds ‘All I want to do is to give a choice to men and let them decide if they want to wear it or not.’

Will Danny’s War Paint makeup for men do well in Ireland? He says he is ‘very excited about the launch, we already get a lot of customers in Ireland who buy through the UK site.’ Now they can shop at home though Brown Thomas and Arnotts websites with ease, we wish the brand well here in Ireland.

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