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Photo courtesy of Damilola Adjeonwo

Interview: Damilola Adejonwo Wants Black Men to Discover the Genderless Power of Makeup

The Nigerian YouTuber shares makeup essentials for men, talks navigating the beauty industry as a Black gay man, and discusses his dream of starting his own cosmetic line.

Damilola Adejonwo didn't expect that his TikTok makeup video would go viral on Twitter back in June. Full glam look with extra lashes, the video's outsize exposure feeds into the digital catalysis peculiar with this coronavirus times. And although the makeup artist and YouTuber was pulled into the supportive and approving pockets of makeup communities and queer subcultures online, there were still dissenting opinions asking why a man would choose to wear makeup.

Interestingly, this is Adejonwo's beauty manifesto: to be visible enough wearing makeup so that men can see that its completely genderless and, indeed, something they can wear too. Especially for Black men, whose masculinity is under constant patriarchal surveillance. Born in the UK, the 26-year-old makeup artist moved to the U.S. at the age of 10, then came back to the UK at 18 to study. Visiting Nigeria just twice, Adejonwo never wore makeup while growing up, but was fascinated by how his mother would wear it flawlessly. It was in college he decided to give it a shot, watching YouTube tutorials and then working a retail job at MAC Cosmetics UK between 2014 and 2018.

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