This story first appeared in the Feb. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
So much has been made of ladies' pre-Oscar beauty rituals that teenage girls in Peoria could practically recite the regimens. But if you think Hollywood men -- not just actors, but producers and agents -- aren't indulging in major grooming, you don't know anything about the pressures of male vanity around awards time. With such peacocks as Bradley Cooper and George Clooney strolling this year's red carpets, the Pitt/Depp unwashed look is yesterday's alpha-manly news. But as male grooming experts can attest, it takes a lot of work to nail a look that's manicured yet still masculine-looking.
Hairstylist Jason Schneidman of Chris McMillan Salon (8944 Burton Way) in Beverly Hills, whose clients include Hugh Jackman, recommends that guys get clipped as close as they can to an event. "Men's neck hair grows out fast," he says. Stylistically, he's seeing a lot of what he calls "the barbershop look, that 1930s tight-parted Cary Grant cut with the sides buzzed. It's conservative but with a bit of volume."
For hair products, Torsten Witte, who has been grooming Matt Damon for his Promised Land promotions, likes ones that are "more matte and less gelled. I often use a Clairol mousse with leave-in conditioner that keeps hair in place without making it slick. The shiny look is outdated."
When it comes to clean-shaven versus scruffy, Schneidman notes that the latter is "really big right now." He's a fan of Wahl's Senior beard clipper. "You adjust the guards for different lengths -- a 1, 2 or 3. Memorize the best one and keep it there." Also, advises Witte, "Don't go fully clean under the chin. Keep it short and sharp all over."
Brow guru Anastasia Soare has a male clientele that includes David Beckham and, yes, many male execs. "Their wives drag them in to get their eyebrows waxed," she says. "But when they realize that with more space on the upper lid they'll look so much younger, they come back on their own. Men should never have thin or arched brows -- just groomed. After 40, brows grow wild. I wish George Clooney would let me clean up his brows."
Skincare similarly should not go overboard. The days of men donning pancake and powder are long gone -- HDTV picks up everything. "Men need to naturally hydrate with water," says Witte, "because when a flash hits you, you can see every little pore. I like to use Jack Black lip balm -- it's matte with vitamin E -- and get them on a skin routine. Origins has one line for men by Dr. Andrew Weil that includes a Mega-Mushroom serum to take out inflammation. If you cancel out the red, you don't need cover-up." Adds Witte: "If guys have bags, they can use a bit of concealer like the Armani orange concealer. But if the rest of them is groomed, a little dark eye intensity is sexy. Men do need to preserve some character."
Those who prefer less character always can resort to Botox or Dysport. Dr. Gabriel Chiu of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery (9454 Wilshire Blvd.) suggests Dysport because the wrinkle fighter works in one to three days. Many of his clients come in multiple times to inject smaller amounts, making the outcome less dramatic. "There's more pressure for men to look natural after these enhancements than women," he says.
To nourish the skin, Beverly Hills facialist Ronit Falevitch (414 N. Camden Drive) recommends a men's facial ($225) that includes microdermabrasion, exfoliation, extractions and oxygen therapy. "But men will only tolerate 45 minutes instead of the normal hour-and-a-half," she says.
And while tanning beds reek of yesterday, a product like St. Tropez Self Tan Gel can give any pale face a more natural-looking glow. VIPs can check out the Four Seasons' (300 S. Doheny Drive) St. Tropez skin-finishing spa leading up to Oscar week, which is open to nominees and presenters. It's also a really good place to meet chicks -- between treatments, of course.