Eye makeup never looked so good on a man. In the latest installment of "Pirates of the Caribbean," Johnny Depp trowels on more black eyeliner than a Kabuki dancer. Yet, even with his heavily shadowed eyes and industrial-strength mascara, Depp manages to exude masculine sex-appeal as he swaggers woozily across the big screen as the campy, over-the-top, drunken pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow.
"We put eyeliner on Johnny, and he said, `That looks great. Let's put more on,'" recalled Ve Neill, the lead makeup artist on the film. Neill piled on the grease-based liner, applying more and more, until Depp blinked out from deeply ringed black eyes. Between film takes, the makeup crew reapplied Depp's eyeliner every two to three hours. "It became a joke. We'd say, `More black! More black!'"
Depp looks surprisingly seductive in eye makeup, and he is not the only man calling for more kohl. Lately, eyeliner -- that little slick of dark paste -- has acquired a new, more-masculine and more-marketable name: "Guyliner."
Tobey Maguire wears it in "Spider-Man 3." Fall Out Boy bassist and Chicago rocker Pete Wentz gave a step-by-step demonstration on People magazine's Web site recently, showing the uninitiated how to affix it.
"First step, take your sharpened pencil and apply it around your eye," Wentz said, holding up a black eye pencil and staring defiantly into the camera like some strange, gender-bending Avon lady. "The second step to putting on guyliner is to smear it, because if you're a guy you don't really want your makeup to look perfect."
Some scoff at the guyliner trend, but the black stuff seems to be working for Wentz. Within the space of two months, he was spotted canoodling with Ashlee Simpson and landed on People magazine's list of the 50 Most Beautiful People -- an accomplishment he attributed to his smoky shadow and dark-rimmed eyes. "It's all about the eyeliner," he said with the confidence that comes only after a good makeover.
Not since Alice Cooper got creative with kohl and David Bowie had fun with eye shadow during the colorful days of glam rock, have so many rock stars and leading men become enamored with the wonders of the cosmetics aisle.
Bands such as My Chemical Romance, Panic! At the Disco and The Killers all darken their eyes. Even Paris Hilton weighed in on the trend this fall, when she told MTV News: "I like when guys wear a little eyeliner. Sometimes it's cute."
The motto "Real men wear eyeliner" is now available printed on T-shirts, mugs and hats, thanks to a merchandising line from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. And though the stuntmen on the films complained about the eyeliner (they said it was difficult to remove), Keith Richards -- who plays Sparrow's father in the latest release -- went home from filming with six extra sticks because he liked the look so much.
All of which goes to show that men's makeup has come a long way since the days when a bit of shadow would have dumped a dude forever in sissyland. Last year, $4.8 million was spent on male grooming products in the United States, a 7 percent increase from the year before and a 42 percent increase since 2001, according to Euromonitor, a London-based marketing and research firm.
At least four companies -- Male Species, KenMen, 4VOO, and Jean Paul Gaultier -- are selling makeup to men, including mascara and guyliner. Big brands such as Clinique and Clarins haven't stepped in with "guyshadow" yet, but they do offer wrinkle control lotions, clay masks and -- from Lab Series -- "Ab rescue body sculpting gel," with a label that promises to "tighten and tone the appearance of the mid-section."
"There's a major shift occurring, especially among younger men," said Roman Shuster, 26, a research analyst with Euromonitor.
"It's becoming more acceptable for a guy to care about his appearance," Shuster said.
But as that shift occurs, some guys have begun reaching for the soap.
Alex Yue, 26, a computer programmer, started wearing guyliner a few years ago, catching the trend when it was still cutting-edge. The liner brought out his eyes, and he thought it made him look rebellious. But lately, things have changed.
"When I go to concerts, almost every little kid has eyeliner on," he complained. Now, Yue says guyliner "has become more of the norm. More people are doing it. It is more socially acceptable."
And so Yue has ditched his guyliner and gone back to the natural look.