'AT AGE 50 every man has the face he deserves," George Orwell once observed. But even the author of "1984" didn't anticipate that by 1988 cosmetics manufacturers would be promising men youth in a bottle.
Even though the wave of so-called anti-aging treatments for women is still building, grooming companies have already begun to offer men gels and lotions to plump wrinkles as well as newfangled foams and liquids to cover gray hair.
Nance Mitchell, a Beverly Hills skin-care specialist whose clients include Tom Selleck, Joe Piscopo and Michael J. Pollard, says that about 70% of her customers are men. "It's not just the actors," Mitchell says. "Doctors, lawyers and corporation heads come in to ask how to keep their skin looking young." Mitchell also lectures on skin care in high schools. "Seventeen-year-old boys want to know how to prevent wrinkles," she says.
Cosmetics firms such as Lancome, Lauder for Men and Aramis, convinced that men will try to save their faces with the same gusto that they've exercised to maintain their bodies, have introduced a number of skin-smoothing products.
The products aren't identical to those offered to women, though they promise similar results. A man's skin is different from a woman's, explains Daniel Maes, director of biological research for Aramis: "A man's skin is thicker, usually oilier, has more collagen and elastin, and has bigger pore openings, which dirt and oil can clog." In addition, says Walter P. Smith, vice president of research and development for Estee Lauder Inc., by the time a man is in his 30s, "the ravages of shaving--not usually apparent in teen years or the 20s--take their toll."
Another aspect of the 30s is graying hair. Bill Susetka, group director of new products at Clairol Inc., says that 7% to 8% of American men color their hair, "and that represents a $50-million market." In the past, most of those men have used women's hair-color products or comb-in, lead acetate preparations such as Grecian Formula, which promises to gradually darken gray hair. But now the list of hair dyes specifically designed for men is expanding with products such as Just for Men from Combe Inc. and Option by Clairol.
Forty used to be middle-aged," Susetka says, "but not anymore. Today we are looking at 60-year-old men who look and feel young."
Photographed by Davis Factor III; grooming: Brad Bowman/Cloutier; stylist: Kelly Conway