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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Makeover for men

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Clean-Shaven: This is how David Votano arrived for the session. Errol Flynn: Mustache has an air of the debonair. Classic: The classic mustache adds mystery – and quite a few years.
Wyatt Earp: Elongates the face and works for a weak or recessed jaw line. Fu Manchu with beard: The Dr. Freud look aids a receding chin. Upturned handlebar: Good for older men when their faces turn downward.

Tips on growing a beard

If you plan to try a beard, makeup artist Greg Howell suggests:

• Allow about two to three weeks for growing it out.

• Make sure your hair grows in evenly, not patchy.

• Get a stylist to shape it according to your jaw line and face shape.

• Use a guard on your clippers to help you even out the length.

• Check the texture. Some beards have the same tensile strength as a copper wire of the same diameter, so it may be scratchy and tough. If so, use a hot oil treatment or conditioner (the same one you would use on your hair) to soften it.

Shaving alternatives

• For men who find shaving a chore, Howell said there aren't many good alternatives. "Waxing is great for eyebrows because it takes the hair out at the root. But if you try to wax a beard to remove the hair, it may bleed, tear hairs out and block pores," he said.

• Tweezing is not ideal because it breaks the hair off.

• Electrolysis is painful and requires multiple treatments. Ditto lasers, "which are also extremely expensive at this point in time, and may cause loss of pigmentation," Howell said.

Poor men. When it comes to changing their appearances, facially speaking, they don't have nearly as many options as women.

Oh, sure, cosmetics companies continue to try to woo them with special lines, packaged in masculine monochromatic tones of gray and black.

But do they buy? Seldom. It has yet to become cool for a man to be seen in foundation, mascara or even bronzer, though bronzer is creeping into popularity, thanks to Hollywood.

What to do? Enter facial hair. From brows to upper lip to cheeks to chin, men have the option of growing facial hair. And with it can come a radical change in appearance.

Island Style called on makeup artist Greg Howell of the Paul Brown Salon & Day Spa in Ward Centre to transform a young man, 20-year-old David Votano of Wai'alae-Kahala, with prosthetic mustaches and beards.

Howell is an expert at the art of disguise. He has created makeup for the casts of Manoa Valley Theatre productions and, as an actor, he has transformed himself so completely, with padding and prosthetics for hair, face and body, that he has rendered himself unrecognizable to audiences.

Howell himself had a full, black beard for eight years. He didn't get rid of it intentionally. A sculptor friend wanted to use him as a model, involving putting a 1-inch layer of wax all over his face and throat. "When they yanked it off, off came parts of my beard, mustache and hair. That was that. I had to shave it off." And he never grew it back.

As Howell began to transform Votano's look, he talked about what facial hair can (and can't) do for a man.

"A mustache can hide a too-small upper lip and give the illusion of a fuller lip," he said. It can also disguise a deformation on the lip, such as a scar or harelip. And it can balance the shape of the face if, for example, the man has a big nose.

He cautioned that it's best to trim a mustache right at the upper lip line rather than letting it grow over the lip. "And don't be licking your mustache or touching it with your tongue – ever!"

Facial hair can camouflage acne scars. It can add mystique and sophistication by hiding part of the face.

Carefully crafted sideburns can create the look of a more sculpted cheekbone if they are angled, growing forward, pointing at the cheekbone.

Howell's opinion on soul patches, those tiny dots of hair in the middle of the chin, is not a good one. "To me, it's a waste of time. It takes so much time to keep it up, and it doesn't flatter anyone."

As a general rule, your hair should match your beard.

"Only let your beard go gray if it's a good gray," Howell said. Gray hair can be coarse and an inconsistent texture, in which case it can make you look older, he cautioned.

There are dyes that are easy to use and work in five to 15 minutes. They're called "Just for Men" and they work well on mustaches and beards, Howell said.

"A lot of people hide behind them (beards) way past when it's attractive, and it looks grizzled. Some men hate shaving and they're lazy, so they just grow a beard" without thinking or grooming. Not a good thing.

Often young men who don't have enough hair try to grow a beard or mustache. Don't, Howell said. "Keep shaving, and it will probably grow in thicker."

Sometimes men with large noses and a weak or recessed jaw grow a mustache in an attempt to draw attention away from the perceived flaws. "This only draws attention to the lack of balance in his face. He should grow a beard with no mustache," Howell advised.

"The worst is a thin trail of facial hair around the chin. They think it's giving them a stronger jaw line, but instead it draws attention to a weak jaw. If you're going to do that, have a professional shape it at first. It's impossible to trim it just looking head-on in the mirror. You have to see it from the sides."