gender bender

Young men are becoming increasingly “gender fluid” in many ways, including their acceptance of personal-care products that previously were the province of women, a new study by Frankel has found.

Boys as young as 16 are more open to items such as eye gels, self-tanners, tattoolike eye liners and body-hair removers, according to the Chicago agency’s research.

However, the lads may need a bit of a push toward the cosmetics counter. “It’s not that men are out there asking for products that are feminine-oriented,” said Steve Bullock, head of Frankel’s planning department. “They’re asking for permission.”

That OK can come from parents, girlfriends or, of course, marketers. In research terms, “What surprised us was how actionable it was,” Bullock said.

“The point is this,” the study states: “Young males are primping, plucking, finessing and enhancing their appearance in ways beyond being buff—ways once soley owned by women.”

Marketers’ job, the study concludes, is to “recognize this behavior, encourage and facili tate it.”