Chinese Singer Z.Tao Talks About the Power of Makeup in YSL Beauty Ad – Allure Magazine
Allure editors aren’t the only ones who swear by the brightening powers of YSL Beauté ‘s Touche Éclat. Chinese singer Z.Tao does, too. Earlier this month, he was named YSL Beauty’s newest ambassador, and he’s not just going to be shown spritzing on Black Opium or smoothing on moisturizer like most men do in beauty ads. Z.Tao has already been featured in a video campaign lining his lids, concealing dark circles, and swiping on some lip gloss.
The 24-year-old, who used to be a member of popular K-pop group EXO, appears in the first episode of season two of Before the Light, YSL Beauty’s web series, which features performance artists applying makeup and explaining how makeup factors into their stage look. Last season, starred three women: Zoë Kravitz, K-pop star Ga In, and Lilly Wood and The Prick’s Nilli Hadida. Men also made an appearance in two out of three videos, but they were more like attractive extras than anything else. The women were the only ones with Touche Éclat in their hands, talking about what makeup means to them.
Season two disregards gender and spotlights how powerful makeup can be for everyone, including a C-pop star. In the mostly black-and-white video, Z.Tao says, “For me, makeup is like a weapon. It’s also like a form of creation. A totally free version of myself. Makeup helps me to become the person I really dream to be.” All the while, he’s shown singing, dancing, and, as mentioned, putting on YSL Beauty’s Couture Kajal and Top Secrets Lip Perfector.
Z.Tao’s thoughts on makeup are what we’re used to hearing from women in commercials or even among girlfriends. When we do see men talking about makeup in beauty ads, it’s from those who are beauty vloggers or makeup artists like James Charles or MannyMUA. And underlying theme of femininity is usually present, too. That’s not the case with Z.Tao’s YSL Beauty campaign, though. Even though Z.Tao is seen taking part in the stereotypically feminine act of putting on makeup, nothing about the video makes you think, “Oh, he wants to look like a woman.” He just wants to look his best, and we should see more of that from male celebrities.
Of course, you could make the argument that the beauty market for men in countries, like China and Korea, has been growing exponentially over the past couple years in a way that the U.S. is just now tapping into. Some makeup, like BB creams, is even marketed directly to men overseas. Plus, male K-pop idols wear full faces of make on the regular. Many are signed to K-beauty brands, not just to endorse skin care, but also makeup products. Back in 2013, G-Dragon modeled red lipstick in an ad for the Saem. There’s also the countless beauty tutorials on YouTube for how to recreate the makeup looks for members of EXO and BTS. (Shout out to Edward Avila for his.)
But let’s be real, YSL Beauty isn’t a K-beauty brand, and Z.Tao’s campaign isn’t relegated to the cosmetic company’s Asian market. Clips from his video are on YSL Beauty’s U.S. Instagram and YouTube accounts for everyone in America to see and enjoy.
My fingers are crossed that more beauty brands will move in this direction, too, and continue to challenge gender norms. Imagine Z.Tao’s praise for makeup coming from an American singer like Justin Bieber or even a former member of One Direction like Harry Styles. He does wear nail polish from time-to-time. Ciate, Essie, OPI, China Glaze, if you’re reading this, give that man an endorsement deal. I’d be the first to add a Harry Styles shade to my cart.
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Now, see Zoë Kravitz transform into Twiggy: