By Robert Cribb
Something has changed.
As a group, modern men have evolved into fitter, healthier eschewers of gluttony, abstainers of cigarettes-induced self-destruction and, now, embracers of anti-aging procedures, treatments and services that promise real-life facial Photoshopping.
Our contemporary man-boy state of mind has recalculated expectations: 40 = (the new) 30.
Male skincare products have emerged as an industry growth leader, with an estimated $217 million in U.S. sales in 2009, up from $41 million in 1997.
“Being 51 isn’t that old any more,” says Stephen Lukawski, the age-defying CEO of Market-Wise Nutrition, which develops botanical ingredients and formulations for foods and supplements. “People are living longer. It’s a competitive marketplace out there. There are a lot of reasons men are doing more to take care of themselves.”
But the big motivation for the male beauty boom, say experts, is contained in the moniker “B and B”— boardroom and bedroom.
“Men are being subject, as women have been for so long, to ageism,” says Dr. Stephen Mulholland, a Toronto plastic surgeon. “A lot of men I see are in upper management, senior positions, and they’re seeing signs of aging that make them look tired, which projects lack of confidence or lack of ability to negotiate the boardroom, and they have these young guys nipping at their heels.
“The older CEO is no longer the model.”
Skyrocketing divorce rates have also fuelled the pursuit of youth, he says.
“Baby-boomers in their 60s who find themselves divorced don’t tend to want to date 60-year-old women. They’re looking to date women in their 30s. A big motivation, post-divorce, is to look more youthful to the opposite sex.”
Here’s how modern men are tracing Ponce de Leon’s footsteps to the Fountain of Youth:
Liquid Youth: Cosmetic procedures for men has increased nearly 90 per cent since 1997, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Anecdotal reports from Canadian dermatologists and skin-care professionals suggest it’s happening here too.
Botox tops the list…
“In the last two years, we’ve seen a huge change in men’s comfort zones in coming in to have services done,” says Shawn Solomon, owner of Thornhill Skin Clinic, which deploys a Mobile Skin Treatment Unit throughout the GTA injecting Botox and fillers at a cost of $400 to $2,000.
“I’m always Botoxed,” says Dr. Daniel Schachter, a Toronto cosmetic dermatologist who appears far younger than his 60 years. “I’ve had fillers and photo-rejuvenation (intense-pulse-light skin therapy) and I use anti-aging creams.
The Benjamin Button effect: Many men aren’t prepared for invasive surgery or injections. Enter alternative anti-aging non-invasive technologies Case in point: Thermage, a procedure that involves moving a vibrating device containing radio-frequency energy across male mugs to stimulate collagen and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, “skin laxity” and scars.
“The most common thing we hear after (after Thermage) is that people notice they look rested, but don’t notice exactly what they’ve had done,” says dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett, whose male clientele at DLK on Avenue has increased 10 per cent over five years.
The Benjamin-Button reference is apt. The gradual effects unfold over six months and last up to two years.
“It’s clearly not a procedure that has a traffic-stopping effect,” says Howard Lende, a 48-year-old Toronto real estate agent who had the $2,500 procedure in January. “It’s more of an incantation that summons the gods of pulchritude to gather together and align in your favour. Slowly, slowly, slowly it moves forward.”
At-home, anti-aging treatments: For those who prefer DIY, an obliging industry has developed handheld devices emitting LED light or radio-frequency technology promising spa-like effects.
NuSkin Enterprises, a Utah-based youth restoration company, uses “ageLOC technology” in a line of skin-care products and a handheld device that, used twice a week, promises to even out the wrinkles (The Galvanic Spa System II; US$325 plus accompanying facial gels; $43 for four treatments).
“We discovered several genes that have the ability to regulate the aging process,” says Dr. Joe Chang, NuSkin’s chief scientific officer and executive vice president “If you can influence them, apply certain ingredients to these genes in the skin cells, these genes will start acting in a way that they did when you were younger.”
Tyler Viaene, 40, a Toronto businessman, says he was skeptical. “But after a treatment there were visible results immediately. I think it does make a difference.”
Masks and moisturizers: Dozens of skin-care lines are targeting men, including traditionally female-focused brands such as Dove, Dermalogica and L’Oreal.
Mark Hayman, 41, a Toronto father of 2-year-old twins, dishes out big for creams and cleansers from Clinique’s men’s line.
“I never thought I’d be putting on face cream but, to tell you the truth, it just feels better. After being a corporate lawyer for 15 years in hermetically sealed buildings, the feeling of having a product on your face that can relieve the dryness and some stress, it helps.”
Peels and abrasions Increasingly, chaps are joining the ladies at the salon for facial treatments.
Michael, a 43-year-old Toronto divorced father of two, spends about $1,200 a year on facials and skincare products.
“It started with laser-hair removal and went from there,” says the construction professional, who asked that his last name not be published
Mother-earthy skin-care treatments don’t produce the same instant gratification as Botox, but there are advantages, says Seta Kerim, a Toronto esthetician who runs her own Rosedale clinic (setawellnessandskinclinic.ca). “I poo poo Botox. It’s a toxin. I can understand its use for medical purposes, but for wrinkles I just don’t get it. The things that give quick results don’t necessarily improve the look or texture of the skin.”
Products, procedures and techniques won’t assure graceful aging on their own, says Market-Wise Nutrition’s Lukawski.
“As the body slows down and the metabolism slows down, you have to maintain a positive outlook in life: Body, soul and mind. That means a good diet, antioxidants, meditation. If you have garbage inside, you’ll have it on the outside, no matter what you put on your face.”