Where have all the real men gone?
As Shane Warne undergoes a bizarre makeover, Anna Coogan discovers the world of male grooming, surgery and teeth whitening is booming
Shane Warne, the legendary cricketer and womaniser, who was once reported to have romped with two models and a blow-up doll, is barely recognisable since taking up with Liz Hurley.
The former Aussie star has been described as a “walking, talking Ken-like creature” now that his weathered skin has been sandblasted to peachy smoothness to rival the glowing complexion of his model/actress girlfriend Hurley.
He has lost two stone in four months, and now tweets about his favourite beauty products. And if you’ve seen photos of him on the red carpet with Liz, you’ll just know he has been dipping into his girlfriend’s concealer and anti-shine compact powder.
We’ve witnessed plenty of high-maintenance men over the years – what woman could forget the sight of Michael Flatley’s oiled-chest making its way down Dawson Street, and accompanied by a pair of tight leather trousers.
Then we have Hugh Laurie, best known for his role as the grumpy doctor in House, and whose roles over the years have been more character parts than handsome leading men, reflecting his attractive yet lived-in face.
We’d have been less shocked to hear he’d landed a role in a remake of Withnail and I than the recent news that he has become ‘beauty ambassador’ for L’Oreal male products.
Speaking about his role as beauty product promoter, Laurie has said: “At first I thought it was a mistake, but then I realised that L’Oreal wasn’t looking for models but for people with strong personalities who ‘are’ worth it, and who aren’t afraid to proclaim that using cosmetics can be a very masculine decision after all.”
RTE presenter Daithi O Se raised a laugh when he teased a Rose of Tralee contestant’s boyfriend for using moisturiser on his face. Yet considering the evidence, was Daithi right to be so surprised? We live in a world where men increasingly spend time and money on their appearance.
It’s a wonder women get to use the mirror at all.
TV presenter Brian Ormond was given a gentle slagging by his best man Mickey Joe Harte following his wedding to model Pippa O’Connor, when singer Mickey Joe joked that the media personality barely found time to fit the wedding into his schedule of “teeth whitening.”
Brian and Pippa were having their every move filmed by a crew for an RTE show, while a magazine photographer was taking snaps for a special supplement. So can we honestly blame Brian for wanting a dazzling Hollywood smile?
When it comes to men having cosmetic surgery, RTE presenter Baz Ashmawy has spoken openly about having corrective surgery for what he felt were sticky-out ears. He has revealed of the reaction to his surgery: “I was shocked at the amount of guys who came up to me afterwards and confided that they’d had some procedures done as well, but couldn’t openly talk to others about it.
“I suppose people don’t want to air their insecurities and weaknesses, but there were guys who had liposuction, nose jobs and ear jobs,” he said.
Yet there’s a big difference between wanting to look good on your wedding day – or your best in front of the camera as a TV presenter – and going around wearing lip gloss, as cricketer Shane Warne appears to be doing.
Or compared to X Factor judge Louis Walsh (59) who admitted having “work done” after pressure was put on him by the show’s boss Simon Cowell.
Meanwhile, we’ve recently seen the results of Manchester United star Wayne Rooney’s €30,000 hair transplant.
The footballer is only 25 years old, so there’s no guessing what he’ll do in the future to enhance his appearance.
A recent survey revealed that one in eight men is unable to travel abroad without a set of hair straighteners, while one in five admitted that they take a hairdryer on holiday with them.
Four times as many men as women admitted not to be able to go abroad without an iron. In fact, portable speakers for iPods came way below male grooming kits in the questionnaire about what men just can’t travel without.
So what’s the next step for men?
Dublin beauty therapist Anne McDevitt isn’t surprised by men’s interest in beauty products. She says: “We don’t bat an eyelid when men come in for treatments, we’re so used to it. It used to be mainly men with acne scarring or rosacea who had treatments.
“Now men want skin rejuvenation, something which will make them look less tired, and fresher looking,” she says.
“Men used to like plainly packaged products, but today they don’t mind if something comes in a box in a more feminine colour, for example.
“It’s because they are results driven, and are looking for what will give them a good cleanse, clarify their skin, and something to moisturise their skin as well,” Anne says.
Men of all ages now visit her Wicklow Street salon, yet if she had to pick one age group who are visiting more frequently these days, it would be men in their thirties.
Anne says: “We don’t get men looking for make-up per se, but we do sell products for men who have a high colour, and which reduces the redness in their skin.
“I’ve had to say ‘trust me’ to young men when showing them the benefits of mineral powder, for example, and how it camouflages skin redness. Once they see the difference they’re won over.”
Irish women now look like they were born in another country thanks to fake-tan and hair extensions, so it was only a matter of time before men had to up their game. Yet lip gloss on athletes might be pushing it too far, unless of course you’re Liz Hurley.