Brotox, Man Makeup and Spray-on Hair: How Guys Get Ready for the Oscars

Male Grooming Illo - P 2015
Illustration by: Jason Ford

Male Grooming Illo - P 2015

Why should only ladies benefit from Hollywood glam squads? Turns out, barring Spanx, men employ all the same expertise — from plastic surgery to makeup — to look ravishing on the red carpet.

Sure, the ladies are bouncing around town the weekend before the Oscars,getting plucked, massaged and scrubbed in between hair and makeup tests, fittings and manicures, but are the gents sitting around watching games and chugging beers? No, sir. The male of the Oscar species — be he a nominee, presenter, husband or walker — has secret vanity rituals of his own. These days, it’s masculine to be vain.


Beverly Hills dermatologist Peter Kopelson has seen a rise in the past few years of guys asking for minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, though “actors and models start receiving these treatments long before their regular male counterparts,” he says. “Now 40-year-olds want to play 30 and 30-year-olds want to look 20. But to take away all wrinkles might result in a feminized, fake appearance. I concentrate on furrowed vertical lines between the brows, horizontal forehead lines, crow’s feet and a sagging neck, if present.”

Santa Monica-based plastic surgeon Chia Chi Kao sees “wives dragging in husbands for Botox, corporate climbers who want a competitive edge and celebrities who just want to maintain. But you can’t move too fast on them or the tabloids start comparing photos.” Brotox works best on men when it’s subtle (note to — sorry — Burt Reynolds).

PHOTOS New York Fashion Week's Front Row


They’ve been wearing it onscreen forever, but after the Golden Globes, Benedict Cumberbatch candidly revealed that he had worn concealer and a little foundation for the event. His groomer, Cathy Highland, says she had shown The Imitation Game star red-carpet photos of Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise with a little makeup and without: “He totally got it after that,” she laughs. “Men need to look polished.” To neutralize redness, Highland uses Kerstin Florian men’s moisturizer, a bit of Chanel makeup and Bobbi Brown concealer. Then she blends and blots “with transparent powder.” Celebrity groomer Sydney Zibrak (Eddie Redmayne is a client) applied Laura Mercier primer and Jouer Perfector Foundation to Joshua Jackson for the Globes. “It’s a common practice for men,” she tells THR. “They need to look awake and refreshed, but you shouldn’t be able to tell they have anything on.” Zibrak starts with moisturizer, then uses Dior concealer under the eyes and on the chin (“this gets rid of redness”). Jouer foundation covers blemishes on the face and neck. “The biggest concern for men is to stay as matte as possible,” says Zibrak, who uses Peter Thomas Roth anti-shine gel underneath and powder to finish. Pretty much any man on a red carpet who looks polished, you can assume, has done the same or similar.


Ilaria Urbinati, who dresses many male A-listers, from Bradley Cooper to Chris Evans and Ryan Reynolds, claims that while male Spanx certainly exist, the men she styles for the red carpet don’t wear them. She has her clients don their regular briefs under their tuxes: “Funny enough, a whole bunch of our guys wear the Ellen boxers she gives out on the show. They’re really comfortable!” ($20 on Urbinati does sometimes employ one trick: “We have buttons sewn on the front of the bottom of the shirt, which buttons inside the pants to keep the shirt down. But mostly, they don’t want to bother that much.”

Stylist David Thomas (who has dressed Sting, Jack Nicholson and members of Oasis) seconds the brief notion: “Boxer briefs work best under a suit. Boxers themselves have a lot of fabric that can bunch up a dress pant. And while Europeans are more comfortable than Americans when it comes to wearing briefs, they can create VPLs [visible panty lines].” Thomas’ tip: “Wear boxer briefs in solid black, no branding on the waistline and fitted on the leg. And the best thing is, if you tuck your shirttails into them, the shirt won’t move all night.”

READ This Is the Mini Facial Eddie Redmayne Got Pre-SAG Awards


Spray-on hair for men has always been used to spruce up thinning spots for movie posters and magazine portraits, but on the red carpet? Jon Cryer admitted using it to Conan O’Brien, and John Travolta, Clive Davis and Gordon Ramsay have been busted using it in paparazzi photos. Sean James, Santa Monica hairdresser to male stars, tells THR: “It’s definitely obvious to us professionals when spray-on fibers are used. Kevin Costner was pretty obvious at the SAG Awards; I felt sorry for him. There are amazing Hollywood doctors doing hair restoration, or just buzz it short like Jason Statham and go for the tough, virile look.” Nonetheless, James feels confident about two fiber brands, Toppik ($25, and Nanothik ($20, “But for red-carpet wear, only have a groomer apply it, and make sure it’s very subtle. Those burning lights tend to show everything.”

This story first appeared in the Feb. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.