Skin Deep Blog

You’re so vain

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Hair transplants, facelifts, Botox, moob ops – men are embracing their inner narcissist, and they are even beginning to talk about it! Men – they just have no shame any more. Though male vanity is nothing new, these days it’s being taken to a whole new level. Just look at the difference it made to Hugh Laurie’s career.

He left Blighty as Joe Average and then, with a grooming gear shift, managed to reinvent himself in America as something of a sex symbol, even, reportedly, landing himself a L’Oréal contract recently, though the details are yet to be confirmed.

Still, vanity isn’t exactly news to the fashion world – the men working in it have long been obsessed with their mirror image, and we’re not only talking good grooming. One fashion director of a monthly glossy magazine is known to make his assistants book his regular filler-jab appointments, and if he doesn’t have that cheek-enhancing, forehead-smoothing procedure, there will be trouble. Afterwards, he holds a competition about who looks younger — him or the assistants? Of course, he always wins, since the youngsters, who have been up since 5am trying to get a Balenciaga garment out of customs, have collected dark circles along the way, not to mention stress furrows.

The difference now is that men are beginning to talk about their treatments — some of them openly. It wasn’t so long ago that admitting to having work done was like confessing that you tuned into Elaine Paige on Radio 2. Yet look at football’s very own Shrek, Wayne Rooney — perhaps not the likeliest vanity candidate, yet he has told his army of Twitter fans: “I have had a hair transplant. I was going bald at 25 why not.” Why not, indeed. Not only that, he tweeted a picture of his new follicles. And where Rooney goes, legions of 25-year-old men will surely follow. According to reports, even Ryan Giggs has spent £30,000 on trying to keep his barnet, which has, apparently, suffered due to the stress of his extramarital “sexcapades”. Gayle Tait, the general manager in Britain for L’Oréal Paris, says: “For men, hair loss is a really painful, sensitive thing; most find it an incredibly embarrassing topic.”

According to the male-grooming expert and psychotherapist Lucy Beresford, however, Rooney’s openness “will bring a new generation of men to these sorts of procedures without fear of ridicule”. Because, whatever men like to say, hair makes a difference. The proof is in the pictures — look at Prince William at the races (bottom left): be honest now, the top hat takes 10 years off him. He looks quite dishy with his thinning thatch covered up.

One man who is happy to talk about such matters is the interior designer Nicky Haslam: “Daaarling, I just wanted to get a little bit of the old me back. I did it, I had a facelift, and I feel terrific as a result. It’s more common than you might think — thousands of men are having work done, they’re just not admitting it. I could name three public figures now who have and insist they haven’t.”

There can be telltale signs of work, though. “You can see from the jaw line,” says the cosmetic surgeon Michael Prager. “Look at George Clooney, he has got lines but no jowl, plus he’s got a really chiselled jaw line and that’s incredibly masculine. You can do it with Botox and fillers — Botox to relax the muscles that pull the face down and make it saggy, and fillers to replace the cheek volume and, around the chin, to lift and firm the jaw line.”

More and more chaps are certainly indulging. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, men accounted for 10% of all cosmetic procedures in 2010. Gynaecomastia (moob ops) rose 28% from 2009’s figures, male brow lifts rose by 13%, while neck lifts and facelifts were up 11.4%. Dr Frances Prenna Jones, a leading specialist in cosmetic medicine, says: “I think men are seeing what their wives and girlfriends are having done and want to try it out for themselves. For them it’s not about looking younger, but they do want to look well. Men are 50% of my patients.”

On the skincare front, too, men are following women’s lead: Sisley has recently introduced the first luxury anti-ageing face cream for men, costing £150, and Imedeen now sells male-targeted skincare tablets. Christine D’Ornano, Sisley’s international vice-president, thinks it’s all down to increasing pressure: “Post the recession, men are in an increasingly competitive work environment and under enormous strain to look good. I also believe women now think, if you want me to look good, I expect you to look good, too.”

And it’s good to talk about it. As Tait says: “Up until now, guys didn’t have that permission to chat about it. Now we are finding that if you sit down with a group of men and say let’s talk about it, they want to. You can’t shut them up.”

Source: The Sunday Times


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