November Edition, 2017 

Interview: 雷恩、黃柏熹

Author: 黃柏熹

Translated by Lai Hang Man

Upon our arrival at Ricky Kazaf’s makeup academy, the receptionist signalled to us to wait for a moment before starting the interview.

On the big day, I was matching my go-to outfit while freshening up. As the weather gets cooler, a denim jacket is the perfect choice for the autumn breeze. What should I wear inside my jacket? It would end up being a white Breton shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Besides keeping me warm in this chilly season, this outfit is also eternally trendy. For the rest of my outfit, I chose a bright top and matched it with a pair of black jeans. I put on my burgundy Dr. Martens ankle boots, combed my hair, and finally left home.

Sometimes, I happen to keep my friends waiting on a date. The forty-five-minute delay between “I am leaving home” and actually stepping out of my doorstep makes them complain after my late arrival. “Can’t you get changed and leave in a split second? Do you have to take so much time, just like a woman?” Well, no offense taken for the comment “like a woman.” This may in fact illustrate others’ impression of me, instead of being a derogatory phrase.

The academy is surrounded by mirrors. This reminds me of Narcissus in Greek mythologies, the metrosexual who was deeply in love with his own reflection.

Drifting Away From the “Schmuck” Hairstyle

Sunlight shone on Ricky’s face while I was interviewing him by the window. His hair was neatly combed back, naturally dyed after a few bleaches. Even the bright highlights were mostly covered by solid brown, and his eyes were gleaming while talking about his passion for makeup.

Ricky Kazaf is a male makeup artist in Hong Kong. He has established an academy to teach men about makeup and styling. On top of that, he has a whopping 130,000 subscribers on YouTube. His series of transforming males from “schmucks” to photogenic guys itches his subscribers to give it a try.

“I cared about my appearance a lot in high school, and I even had long hair. But my teacher would think that my hair covered my brows (which is typically frowned upon in Hong Kong schools).” Ricky recalled his memories as a student, to which many teenage boys may relate. “Teachers would never know how much I cared about my looks, and self awareness was  important for my teenage growth.”

Most high school students are bound by countless confining rules on their physical appearances. One example is that boys are not allowed to grow their hair below their brows. Once they are caught, disciplinary teachers transform into Sweeney Todd in “The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” After trimming your hair in a flash, an unbreakable connection builds between you, the victim, and the D-word[1]. Ricky commented, “We are all born unique, and everyone can style themselves as presentable youngsters. Why must we go to school in the way we look when we get up? Why can’t we look more confident simply by changing our hairstyles?”

“I believe smart kids like you and I won’t be threatened by some ridiculous school rules. To avoid the scissors, toilets are the best hide-out spaces. While fixing my hair with hair paste in front of the toilet mirror, I always think of Kimura Takuya’s “Can Give You Gatsby” (hair gel) advertisement. Even by mirroring Kimura’s gestures, I cannot escape making a d***head out of myself with only a slight error in applying hair gel. Ricky said, “I think most of us have tried to use hair gel in high school, because that was highly popular among classmates. Although it was important to master the art of applying hair gel, it was surprisingly difficult to style your hair with it. We ended up following others’ steps instead of learning advanced techniques.”

Pure mimicry of an action, without grasping the ideas behind, is to make an arse out of oneself. Regardless, the partly covered brows of rebellious teenagers indicate a strong intention to go against rules.

Makeup Maketh Man

Ricky embarked on his makeup journey eight years ago. His mother was very supportive of this decision, and even opted to let him style her hair. However, cold responses like “Why are you learning makeup as a man?” were expected from his relatives.

“Makeup is definitely not confined to girls. In fact, it serves as a hack to enhance your first impression by looking energetic and presentable. I have to clarify that makeup is not a girls-only activity.” Ricky added, “Everyone has his or her freedom to put on makeup. The only issue is whether you think you have the need to do so.”

Makeup enchants Ricky because it beautifies and polishes people’s appearances. By drawing an analogy between the change of words from ‘firemen’ to ‘firefighter,’ makeup does not entail any sex or gender. To put it in simple terms, women’s visuals are always judged in the limelight, but men are unlikely to be criticised simply because of how they look.

As ideas on gender and sex gradually evolve in society, it is perfectly normal for males to carefully style their outfits. This extends to enhancements on their appearances and impersonation of their favourite idols.

Besides sharing makeup techniques through YouTube or classes, Ricky holds talks at schools and various organisations for makeup newbies. “I start with teenagers… as a way to contribute to society. I hope to boost confidence among youths with makeup. Confining oneself to regulations is definitely not the key to surviving in society.”

A Touch Up of Confidence

Will disciplinary teachers be offended by anyone like Ricky? “Most teachers now tend to agree that makeup is necessary. As the saying goes, ‘all roads lead to Rome.’ If one does not perform well in academics, he can build up his confidence in other ways to gain opportunities.” Ricky also gave another example, “In an episode of my makeover series, the guest was a real estate agent who looked older than his actual age. Makeup boosted his self-esteem and his customers skyrocketed. Men can be more confident with makeup, and this is definitely life changing.”

Makeup is a long process of learning and trying for people of all genders. To style different outfits for different events requires substantive knowledge and experience. Ricky claims that men’s makeup styles are less complex than females’. Males do not put on a hot red lipstick, eye shadow, or blush to enhance their features. Instead, the focus is on skincare, fixing brows and drawing brown eyelines. To design a perfect look, it requires coordination between makeup, hairstyle, and outfit. So, men can style their hair differently, and put more effort in choosing their everyday clothes. “The art of makeup is a wide spectrum. Even if you can’t score a full mark, with only 70% of the work, transformation is already apparent.”

It is indeed not a requirement to wear makeup 24/7. Still, with a lip balm in hand, and by mixing and matching, small steps can lead to progressive changes. If you stop by a mirror, look closely at your reflection, you may discover something new about your body! If changing your appearance brings confidence, why not give makeup a try?

If your male friend tells you “I’m almost leaving home” one day, do confirm whether he will take forty-five seconds or forty-five minutes. He is most likely to be pondering his outfit of the day, drawing his eyelines, putting on hair gel or using setting spray. If makeup maketh a man, I aspire to be the man who is loved tenderly.

Ricky Kazaf’s Go-to Tips for Male College Students!

  • Four steps of skincare: cleansing → toning → moisturising → sun protection
  • Tips for makeup: base makeup → trim your brows → lip balm → setting spray
  • Perfect eyeliner colour: brown eyeliner pencil for the natural look
  • Hair-styling techniques: use base products such as salt water → wash and blow-dry accordingly → style according to your head size and shape

[1] The D-word, “柒頭 Jyutping: cat6tau4” is a Cantonese slang, literally meaning “dickhead.” The term, in this context, is used to describe someone as a stupid, ugly, awkward and lacking good taste (eg. the strange hairstyle).


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