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The MAC Cosmetics “Beauty Boy” Disrupting Nigeria’s Perception of Men in Beauty

Published January 14, 2024
Published January 14, 2024
Enioluwa Adeoluwa

As one of the fastest risers and forerunners of male beauty influencers in Nigeria, Enioluwa Adeoluwa is no stranger to the bias that comes with men paddling the waters of unconventional and nontraditional roles. For men, especially Black men, freedom of expression could be imagined as a foreign concept. It is even harder for those in Nigeria, where the climate is extremely conservative. Being a part of something outside of the traditional, therefore, became more complicated, and the narrative of men having no interest in beauty, wellness, grooming, or  looking good, became normalized. Societal expectations have, in fact, often associated such practices with femininity, limiting men’s exploration of self-care and personal expressions.

However, men want to look good too. A survey carried out by ScienceDirect, on more than 12,000 people, has shown that one in four men do not like how they look. Men also want to explore all orbits of themselves and find spaces that work for them. It is on this hill that Nigeria’s "beauty boy," otherwise known as "lipgloss boy," Enioluwa Adeoluwa, is premised. His entrant, and the other handful of men who are interested in beauty, are signifying a departure from rigid beauty standards, encouraging more men to engage in beauty elements as a form of self-expression. This transformation not only impacts the beauty industry but also contributes to a broader societal reevaluation of the relationship between men and personal aesthetics.

Adeoluwa’s education proved fertile ground upon which his influencer career could grow: he graduated with a first-class in theatre and media arts from the Ekiti State University and bagged a master's degree in marketing communication from Pan-Atlantic University, School of Media and Communication. He is looking to start his PhD soon, but his interest in beauty began long before his studies. When it comes to beauty, Adeoluwa remembers that he loved the attention his mom paid to how she looked. “Watching my mom being very particular about skincare influenced me. She used to try so many natural products,” he says “and that touched me. I think for me, that’s where it majorly started.”

In 2020, while the world was still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, Adeoluwa was taking the time to build his brand. He sat in front of the camera to make videos for his Instagram followers in which he made short, funny comments in both English and the local Yoruba language, about social, cultural, political, and pop-cultural issues relatable to Nigeria’s Gen Z and millennials, as he applied lip gloss to his lips—hence, earning him the name, "lipgloss boy." “I would describe ‘lipgloss boy’ as confident, powerful, disruptive, and intrusive. I would describe him as someone who knows they can take up space and be independent,” Adeoluwa says. “That’s how I would describe ‘beauty boy.’”

In less than three years, Adeoluwa has grown a cult following of over three million followers across his social media accounts and has gained lucrative ambassadorial deals and influencing packages with high-profile beauty brands like MAC Cosmetics, Fenty Beauty, and popular Nigerian celebrity, Toke Makinwa’s TM Beauty. During his earlier career days, there was doubt from both him and his friends who thought about the limitations of being a man in beauty, but persistence and understanding of when to switch content genres has been one of his strongest suits. Among many other high-flying achievements, he’s a current and first Nigerian Ambassador for Crocs. “I understand that beauty content doesn’t sell as much, and it’s kind of hard to sell it as a guy,” he explains, “so I do mainstream content as well. I also think that authenticity matters a lot, especially because society reacts in a certain way to people who are true to themselves.” Recognizing the market dynamics,  Adeoluwa has diversified his content to include mainstream topics such as toxic masculinity, further emphasizing the importance of authenticity in resonating with his audience.

“I would describe ‘lipgloss boy’ as confident, powerful, disruptive, and intrusive. I would describe him as someone who knows they can take up space and be independent.”
By Enioluwa Adeoluwa

However, one would think that for a man subverting a space as gendered as beauty, the chance to get ambassadorial deals would only be limited to those working in such a space. But for Eni, (as he is also known), there hasn't been a limit to his success story with brands both in and outside of the beauty industry. He’s had the chance to work across sectors like banking and finance, tech, IT, food and supply, and so on. The European Union, Google, Spotify, and KFC are a few companies currently in his repertoire. “When I started, I had a friend who asked if I wanted to continue doing makeup. They thought people would be tired of me, and I told them, ‘You’ll see, I’ll show you,’" he says. “And now I know for sure this is something I want to do long term.”

This leap into the beauty space has opened conversations that touch on issues including favors based on social stratification and class, especially in a conservative country like Nigeria. Under the reign of classism, people react differently to the elites and lower classes, even though there could be some levels of similarity in the actions between them. Those in the lower classes bear the brunt of ill actions, while the elites are lauded due to their social capital. While this group of financially and socially advantaged men have been known to wear makeup and have escaped the angst from conservative Nigerians, this doesn’t run true for those from less and lower backgrounds. This is one of Adeoluwa’s biggest goals: to see younger men become more expressive of themselves and stick to the key qualities of authenticity without fear or judgment. That for him is a true accomplishment. Even better if it is men who have no solid social status and are from lower to middle classes, becase this is, in fact, what true influence means to him. “Beyond the confidence that comes with monetary gains, I feel very proud and confident seeing other young men do it because I do it,” he says. “That’s real influence.” 

Adeoluwa’s plans for the future are simple, yet steep: to take it one step at a time. As an open-minded and multifaceted creative, he is continuing to expand his projects while consistently maintaining his growth on social media. Right now, Adeoluwa is working on and producing a series with his friend group called “The Geng.” Ultimately, he wants to explore his multiple skills and use what he’s garnered to continually influence the space in which he finds himself—much like others who have and still influence him such as Beyoncé, Dimma Umeh, Dodos ‘Iamdodos’ Uvieghara, Denrele Edun, Denola Grey, Black YouTuber Jacquelyn Lonje Olayiwola Oyeshola Bolayemi Aina (better known as Jackie Aina), Bretman Rock, and so on.

As Adeoluwa continues to take deliberate steps in his entrepreneurial journey, his openness to experiences and dedication to authenticity position him as a beacon of inspiration for those aspiring to carve their path in unconventional spaces. In the ever-evolving landscape of personal branding, Adeoluwa stands as a testament to the transformative power of staying true to oneself. Inspired by industry trailblazers, he not only contributes to shaping the narrative of beauty and men, but also adds to the broader conversation about redefining success and masculinity in this contemporary society.


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