Photo Credit: Simeon Umez
How Beauty Boy, Enioluwa Adeoluwa, Is Shattering the Expectations of Masculinity In Nigeria
Affectionately known as Lipgloss Boy, Enioluwa has become one of the most popular influencers in Nigeria — and he's done so without conforming to the notions of masculinity or imposed limitations on what a man should be able to do.
In November 2020, Enioluwa Adeoluwa uploaded a video of himself talking direct-to-camera about indecisive admirers who kept wasting his time on pleasantries instead of properly shooting their shots. The twenty-five-second video featured Enioluwa, with a durag tied around his head, switching between English and Yoruba, dramatically punctuating his woes all while applying lip gloss.
The video instantly went viral.
When Enioluwa uploaded the video, he had no idea he was about to become an internet sensation. Enioluwa, a then 21-year old Marketing Masters student living in Lagos and working as a content creator for a fintech company, was surprised at how many people related to the video. Adeoluwa began posting short self-filmed videos of himself often while applying lip gloss. Sometimes reacting to someone else's video, other times giving hilariously lousy advice to his followers, or just poking fun at dating tropes and talking about life, relationships, and skincare. These videos quickly gained traction and were going viral almost daily. Enioluwa became an internet friend to many, offering advice and skincare tips with a big smile.
Today, Adeoluwa, who turned 22 this past July, has almost 300 thousand followers on Instagram, more than 320 thousand followers on TikTok, a late-night show, and has worked with multiple leading global beauty and lifestyle companies. Even with all this success, Enioluwa hasn't lost what made him unique: a relatable and casual air that is rare among influencers. Enioluwa still prefers to bring out his phone and lip gloss to make a quick video where he complains or rants about things or people. It is his commitment to remain funny, relatable, and even chaotic that endears him to his followers. To them, despite his success, Enioluwa has remained the crop top wearing boy-next-door who puts on lip gloss while reminding them they are the prize and they should cut off anyone who doesn't treat them as such.
Photo Credit: Simeon Umez
Enioluwa Adeoluwa, affectionately known as Lipgloss Boy, has become one of the most popular influencers in Nigeria — and he's done so without conforming to the notions of masculinity or imposed limitations on what a man should be able to do. Enioluwa's insistence on this despite being bullied has made him one of the biggest beauty influencers in Nigeria and one of the few popular male beauty influencers from Nigeria.
Today, with a global MAC Cosmetics campaign under his belt and a portfolio that includes companies like SAMSUNG, Bolt, ASUS, and so many more, this decision to go against the grain has led to the success of Enioluwa.
We caught up with Enioluwa to talk about his meteoric rise, how he became the Nigeria IT beauty boy and what the difference between Gen Z influencer culture and millennial influencer culture really is.
When did you first start building your online presence?
I think I started when I was working a 9 to 5 job at a fintech company called Bamboo. I used to make short videos., This was back in early 2020 and around then COVID-19 hit. Then in December 2020, I made my very first lip gloss video and it took off from there.
Why lip gloss though?
I don't think there was any special reason at the time, it was just available and then I used it in the video and then it went far and so it became my thing.
Why do you think people took to your content the way they did?
I feel people resonated with my content because they can relate to it, it is real-life things that I turn into short videos. Most of my videos are inspired by things that people said or did or something I've seen at that point. I think people relate to it because they feel seen and they watch it and it has either happened to them or they've felt that way at some point.
Photo Credit: Simeon Umez
You are one of the few male beauty influencers in Nigeria, what is that like?
You have people questioning your sexuality or making comments like 'why is a boy putting on makeup?' Sometimes, even things like asking why you are using lip gloss as though lip gloss is gendered. Questions like that. The country is very conservative, especially but also beyond sexuality, even to women, even to sex-positive people.
Speaking of the conservative nature of Nigeria, do you find that brands are willing or not to work with you as a male beauty influencer?
That was my fear when getting into this industry. I was really scared that brands wouldn't want to work with me and that was also the fear of a lot of people around me as well that brands in Nigeria won't want to work with me because I'm a man working in beauty in Nigeria. But now I think me going into as a male beauty influencer is one thing I kind of appreciate. I don't want to say I brought a new face to it but now, I've worked with pretty much all the brands. Today, it's actually more like what brands won't work with me instead of the other way. From MTN to SAMSUNG, to even banks that I assumed would be too conservative to want to work with a male beauty influencer but I've worked with several now. I find it interesting and I'm very grateful for that.
Do you have a personal favorite collaboration so far?
MAC. MAC was my biggest in terms of remuneration and all that. But it was such a big deal for me too personally because doing Mac Cosmetics in Nigeria was a big deal and to be a guy and to have Mac Cosmetics reach out was such a breathtaking moment for me.
Photo Credit: Simeon Umez
While on the topic, what is it like navigating the influencer industry in Nigeria?
This is the way I feel right now, you know-how in the diaspora you have especially African Americans sharing their experience where they were not paid their worth by companies for collaborations or were treated badly or owed, that's kind of the case in Nigeria too strangely enough. It's very common in the country for people to like to take your money and owe you or not pay you what you're worth. So as an influencer in Nigeria, you have to kind of be extra smart and demand your worth. However, I think beyond that and that context, navigating the industry isn't bad. I think people - other influencers - are very open to collaborating which is the best part of it. I also have learned that brands in Nigeria want to work with influencers in the country because that's the fastest way for them to connect with their audience.
Is there a difference between millennial and Gen Z influencer culture?
There's a big difference between Gen Z and millennial influencers in Nigeria. Funny thing, I don't think there are many Gen Z influencers in Nigeria and I think that's because their parents are forcing them to hyper-focus on school and education in Nigeria is both slow and consuming. I think there's a big space for Gen Z influencers because there aren't many and sometimes I'm thinking of who to collaborate with and all the names that come up with are millennials so I'll say it's undersaturated right now. I also think another difference is that they are less conservative when compared with their predecessors. I think my career is an example of that even. I'm wearing makeup on Instagram and still collaborating with major banks at the same time. That's one of the first times people are seeing that.
You recently got a master's degree, do you plan on making a full shift to content creation?
I actually haven't done my convocation yet but I am seeing how I'm done with everything else. At the moment, I think I am going to be 'influencing' full time because it pays the bills and it pays early. However, I do plan to own businesses so that I don't put all my eggs in one basket. I've done the 9 to 5 life and I don't think I enjoyed it as much. It isn't for me.