Beauty Benders is the new name in non-conformist beauty that’s currently on everybody’s lips. We did some digging for all the deets on who’s behind it and what it’s all about.
TEXT: JOSIE STEENHART
Who are you and what is Beauty Benders?
James: Beauty Benders is me, James Dobson of fashion label Jimmy D, and Andre Sv of mature male modelling fame.
Other than obviously being a play on a Beauty Blender, bender is also British slang for gays, as well as the idea of going on a bender… but a beauty bender. It’s multi-layered and deep, much like ourselves.
Beauty Benders is currently an Instagram with a soon-to-come YouTube channel that focuses on male, male identifying, genderless, non-binary beauty from the perspective of two beauty newbies learning with our viewers, as we go along. Our Insta, at this point, is more inspiring beauty looks punctuated occasionally with our own looks.
What inspired/prompted you to set it up?
Andre: Once I discovered a love of makeup, I found that most of the beauty content out there seemed very homogenised (according to my Insta explore page anyway). We hope Beauty Benders dilutes this a little and adds a new perspective for other people like us.
Although there has definitely been some progress in the skincare world, it still feels that make-up exists in a very gendered context. I would love to see this change and hope Beauty Benders contributes to this shift — when people can honour their desire to smear a little rouge-coloured mineral oil on their lips without fear, the world will be a better place.
James: We discovered beauty and make-up around the same time, but also navigating this world, we found there wasn’t a lot of content online, or even in stores, that we felt applied to us or even inspired us. And the beauty influencers that we knew of all seemed to perpetuate a very singular look. We just wanted to share and create content that we would like to see out there for people like us.
Who is inspiring you/creating some of the looks you’re into?
Andre: I love a good runway moment — the work of icons like Pat McGrath, Inge Grognard, Val Garland and Thomas de Kluyver are truly incredible. I also love subversive Instagram accounts like @makeupbrutalism. Hey, even Marc Jacobs himself has been very inspiring lately.
And we have a tonne of extraordinary professional artists in New Zealand as well, Kiekie Stanners and Shane Cyrus, just to name a couple, and I absolutely love the work of our friend August Ward.
James: I’m so blown away with what Lochie Stonehouse is doing and so proud that he’s a New Zealand make-up artist. In putting together our Insta, I’ve also discovered some incredible makeup artists that I wasn’t aware of before. People like New York-based artist Marcelo Gutierrez (responsible for Troye Sivan’s latest imagery) and Sydney-based artist Jesse Wakenshaw are really challenging male beauty conventions and pushing the conversation forward.
What are some of your favourite products, and for what?
Andre: I am definitely a lipstick dabbler, this is my favourite makeup product. I love my YSL Tatouage Couture matte lip stains, they’re so light and longwear and, when I’m feeling extra glam, I top this off with a Pat McGrath OpuLUST lip gloss — they are phenomenal. The Tom Ford ‘Richard’ lipstick is my daily go-to — such an effortless colour and finish.
James: At the moment, I’m loving Kosas’ tinted face oil because it’s so light and really evens out my skin and, for someone who’s still not really used to foundations or even BB creams, it feels like skincare and you don’t even know you’re wearing it. My Ciaté Dewy Stix in Glow, which is just a great highlighting balm that just makes you look kind of sweat, but sexy sweaty, and isn’t at all glittery. And Mecca Cosmetica’s Wet Look All Over gloss — I love a greasy, glossy eye so this is a product I’ve used a lot.
We’re hoping you’ll be regular contributors to Index, what can we expect?
James: Lots! We’re not coming into this conversation fully formed, so we hope there will be boys (or whoever) that will be learning alongside us. We’ll be talking about our journey discovering makeup, the mistakes we’ve made along the way, as well as some interviews with local and international makeup artists that, though focused on male beauty, will be relevant to anyone that wants to express themselves through make-up.
James: Stay tuned for our YouTube channel starting in the next few weeks. It’s a very lighthearted, shambolic, anti make-up influencer take on makeup.