War Paint Makeup For Men Latest in Violent Branding Targeting Male Insecurity

A new makeup brand is targeting men with skulls, tattoos, muscles and the violence inherent in its name: War Paint.

War Paint, which describes itself as "makeup design by men, for men," is far from the first product to target a non-traditional audience, but the overt focus on violence as a staple of masculinity is a more notable innovation, particularly in otherwise discordant categories like makeup. The video introducing War Paint's line of makeup products even ends on a skull ring, slipped on to a middle finger.

But War Paint is downright subtle compared to another product entering the marketplace: a brand of canned water called "Liquid Death." Meant to target punks and metalheads who identify as "straight edge"—a lifestyle that abstains from drugs and alcohol, and sometimes enfolds traditionalist precepts like monogamy—Liquid Death trafficks in violent imagery and Satanic cosplay, including an option to "sell your soul" to join the Liquid Death branding mailing list. The Liquid Death launch commercial, directed by Mr. Pickles creator Will Carsola in the same anarchic and violence-soaked animation style as his Adult Swim series, reveals the double-edged intent: violence, but with a sense of play and irony.

Whereas violence in Adult Swim programming falls neatly under the auspices of artistic playfulness, its emergence in otherwise non-violent product fields like makeup and water could represent the opening of a new consumer category, marketing to the male rage and power fantasies specific to societies scarred by masculine grievance politics (as applicable in War Paint's U.K. as in the United States). The flavor text on each can of Liquid Death captures perfectly the interplay between joke-y caricatures of violence and rage simmering just under the surface of many modern men.

"Our proprietary Thirst Murdering process begins with Liquid Death forming a rope of veins that will wrap around your Thirst's head and strangle it. Once Liquid Death reaches your Thirst's brain, all of your Thirst's memories will be replaced with repeating loops of its own head imploding. Which is exactly what happens next by it causing your Thirst's head to implode and its brain to squirt out of its ears."

It's not water, it's LIQUID DEATH
It's not makeup, it's WAR PAINT
It's not an earplug, it's a SKULL SCREW
It's not a donut, it's a BRONUT

but it's definitely fragile masculinity https://t.co/MQfw2cSEOi

— andi zeisler (@andizeisler) May 9, 2019

Unlike the maximalist branding of Liquid Death, War Paint has opted for a gentler approach, outside of its name, employing the slogan "Keep Calm and War Paint"—a tribute to the stoic resolve embodied in a 1939 British government poster aimed at a population anticipating the mass air attacks that would come to be known as The Blitz—as it urges makeup as part of a comprehensive approach to mental health and low self-esteem.

Where everyone already understands how to drink a can of water, War Paint has focused on makeup explainers for men unfamiliar with how to use foundation, concealer and other makeup basics, with product pages that include basic information on the product and how to apply it. The company even claims a motivation for its gendered targeting beyond marketing, citing men's thicker, more oily skin, larger pores and "shedload of testosterone" in designing its chemical formulation.

I agree, if you look at our reviews you will see men from 16 to 75 using our products and loving them. If females can have products just for women, why can’t men? Our aim is to allow makeup to be gender neutral and to do that we must have male specific brands also

— War Paint (@warpaintmufm) May 8, 2019

War Paint has also emphasized its vegan and cruelty free manufacturing, a focus shared by Liquid Death, which emphasizes its recycled materials. Which may be the strangest two-step accompanying hyper-masculine, violent branding: a call to battle paired with moral purity. Your rage is just; your anger is pure—finally, a product for men.

War Paint declined Newsweek's request for comment.