Fast-Growing Brand Altr London Shows Men’s Makeup Is Gaining Ground

For many girls, the decision to use makeup is almost an unconscious one. They reach a certain age and generally start itching to slather on lip gloss and eyeshadow, usually because they’ve seen their mothers or celebrities they admire sporting them.

For Alex Doyle, the trajectory wasn’t as reflexive. Skin issues that hit when he was 21 years old were the catalyst. “I had been dealing with acne, which was taking a toll on my confidence,” he says. He hadn’t considered turning to makeup until a female friend recommended he experiment with concealer to camouflage his spots.

“The problem for me with trying to use cosmetics was not really knowing how to apply it,” says Doyle. “As guys, that’s not exactly something you’re taught.” He also found the products he tried were hard to blend in and, in some cases, were heavy and made him breakout even more. He sought a formula that was both lightweight and provided adequate coverage. Not finding such a formula, Doyle decided to make it himself.

Altr London
Altr London’s products include its flagship concealer Face Fix, BB cream Blemish Balm, and whiskey-infused Moisturizer and Face Wash. The brand is on pace to generate roughly $905,000 in sales for the calendar year.

Doyle established Altr London right out of university three years ago, but really began promoting the brand a year ago. It launched with a concealer called Face Fix and whiskey-infused Moisturizer, and since has expanded to the BB cream Blemish Balm and whiskey-infused Face Wash. A bronzing gel and zit stick are in the pipeline.

“I wanted to keep it a mix of soft cosmetics—the kind where you can just do a quick touchup without being masterfully blown—and skincare,” says Doyle. He expounds the vision behind the products is to combine skincare and cosmetics “to just make cosmetics a part of any guys regular morning routine.”

Part of regularizing makeup is ensuring it’s approachable for men and not this intimidating category that requires watching hours of YouTube tutorials to sort out. Altr London’s soft cosmetics products are purposefully straightforward, and come incased in a minimalistic tube and tin container. “Use your ring finger over the surface of the product (just like you would a lip balm),” the instructions online detail. “Dab and smooth onto the offending areas—no experience necessary!”

“There’s nothing really representing guys in the mainstream industry at the moment.”

The products are available on Altr London’s website and Amazon. Doyle plans on keeping the brand online for now. He figures the digital model allows him to have control over the brand and “ensure that the customers get the best experience possible.” Altr London can answer lingering questions men might have.

The core Altr London customer is 18- to 30-years-old, and the audience includes guys with confidence-busting skin concerns like Doyle had leading up to his beauty product induction. He’s discovered that millennials and members of gen z have been the most receptive to male makeup because they “aren’t worried about stigma and are challenging the stigmas that existed around cosmetics.”

Outside of grooming and cologne, men don’t get much attention in the beauty space. They’re mostly tapped as eye candy in marketing campaigns aimed at women. “There’s nothing really representing guys in the mainstream industry at the moment,” says Doyle. “Some brands are getting better about that now…I know recently there’s been a few brands who have had one male model out of like,100 for a campaign, but I don’t think any of these brands are helping guys particularly to get involved in cosmetics.”

Altr London founder Alex Doyle
Altr London founder Alex Doyle

Despite the lack of representation, men are increasingly intrigued by beauty products. With Asian men especially pushing the needle, male personal maintenance is being kicked up a notch. Men’s skincare sales are surging, and they are warming to makeup. According to a survey Doyle conducted with One Poll last summer, a fifth of men wear cosmetics and another fifth have thought about it. When you compare that to a tenth of them three or four years ago, the growth in interest is evident. Brands have sensed it. In addition to Altr London, Tom Ford, Formen and Menaji sell men’s cosmetics.

Altr London’s sales are further evidence of demand for men’s beauty. Doyle shares it’s expecting turnover of over 750,000 pounds or nearly $905,000 for this calendar year. Per Altr London’s website, it’s the fastest-growing male grooming brand on the market with 20,000-plus customers in the United Kingdom. Doyle says, “I feel like it’s our role to help push those numbers along as quickly as we can to make men feel more comfortable with the idea of makeup and cosmetics.”