Grow your own way
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You'd have to be a fashion recluse to be unaware of the hair-icane that has taken men's grooming by storm. Pick up any recent men's magazine and you will find superheroes Andrew 'Spider-man' Garfield, Christian 'Batman' Bale or Michael 'Prometheus' Fassbender gracing the covers with a bit of scruff and fuzz.
Whether it's a perfectly sculpted 'stache, well-groomed stubble, or a classic full-grown beard, the hirsute face seems to have taken over most of Hollywood's style mavens.
Hong Kong's gents also seem to be experimenting with their whiskers. 'Young gentlemen in Hong Kong will never be last when it comes to creating their own sense of style,' says Day Lagasca, manager of the Mandarin Barber at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Salon owner Philip George believes that, before joining the beard bandwagon, finding the right look is essential. 'The first step in growing facial hair is to identify the type that works best for your facial features. For a round face, keep the sideburns tighter and go longer at the chin to add length. For a long face, do the exact opposite. Proportions are also key: those with large faces should wear fuller beards, while guys with small faces should keep things trimmed tightly.'
'Your scruff should work with your total look - your hair and image', advises Peter Ho, creative men's stylist at The Strand in Central, which has an entire floor dedicated to male grooming. 'Don't think about just your beard; keep the whole picture in mind.' Here are some guidelines:
Goatee and moustache
This style suits those with a full or round face. Kem Mehmet, head barber at Gentlemen's Tonic at the Landmark, says it is popular among men with less facial hair, as the growth on these areas is often denser.
'Grow your beard for about a week. Shave the cheeks and the throat area,' says Day Lagasca. 'Next, take off the chin whiskers, leaving a small area of hair only on the region below the lower lip, called a 'soul patch'. You can shave below the lower lip and shape your goatee as you like. Shave the area directly below the corners of the mouth and above the chin, forming a sharp boundary where the chin whiskers begin. Trim the moustache to the desired style and length.'
Keeping it neat and tidy is a must, says Mehmet, as the slightest changes can lead to a different look.
The chin strap
A five- to seven-day growth, this works well on oval faces that need angling. It features a separate moustache, and thin chin beard following the jawline.
Philip George recommends growing a one-week natural beard, and then using a razor shave off all excess hair inside of the natural sideburn width and down to just above jawline. Repeat this from underneath, again, to just under the jaw. 'Keep length around chin and moustache slightly longer,' he says. 'Shave up from the throat to keep a straight line level with the chin to the jaw. Then create a small space where the moustache and beard join.'
This look needs regular shaping and it is important to keep all edges clean and tidy. 'It's better to have a thicker line first; you can correct it later,' says Kumar from the Mandarin Barber. 'After applying shaving cream, run your fingertip along the jawline, removing the cream. Shave the areas of your face covered with shaving cream, leaving the jawline untouched.'
The hip hop beard
It consists of a full beard that's been sharply lined up from all outer angles, and suits every face shape. If the face is rounder, this particular style can give the appearance of a more apparent jawline and higher cheekbones.
'You can usually achieve this look by simply growing out your beard and using the edge of your razor to follow your natural beard line,' says Mehmet.
This will give the effect of a hard outline, making thinner beards appear thick and full.
'You can easily maintain this look by using the same method and following previous lining,' Mehmet adds.
Length is a personal choice as long as it's framed with hard lines. Make sure the beard isn't too short; otherwise, that dense, full effect will not be possible.
This suits oval face shapes and is a great way to slim the lower half of your face and to highlight your cheekbones. Sport a two- to five-day growth, then keep the shape strong by removing excess hair.
'Trim or shave the throat area, as the natural curvature of that area makes the hair there appear denser than the rest of the beard,' suggests Mehmet. 'Give it a cleaner finish by softly lining up the top of the beard, following the natural shape of the beard, and by trimming any lose hairs.'
A low-maintenance variant is the 'manicured scruff' - halfway between a five o'clock shadow and a full-fledged beard. 'Mature or balding gentlemen with a more angular contoured face will look great with this look,' says Lagasca. Simply use electric clippers to trim stubble to your desired length, and shave the neck area to accentuate the jaw line.
The Mo beard
It's a moustache and short natural beard disconnected from each other, and suits long or sharp faces that need widening.
'Grow a full, shaggy, natural beard. Using an electric clipper, trim off excess length while maintaining a slightly longer chin length than that around the cheeks,' says George. 'Shave up from the throat to tidy up the excess hair. Then create a small space from where the moustache and beard can join.'
While this look can be worn either short or long, it is important to keep all edges natural and unstructured. 'Shave off scraggy growth above and below the line of the beard regularly,' George says. 'Avoid creating an unkempt look or a tightly manicured style. Invest in an electric clipper that has various attachable guards in different lengths.'
Gentlemen's Tonic offers a range of packages including Beard Design (from HK$350), a one-on-one consultation to tailor your beard; Wet Shave (HK$375), using a traditional cutthroat razor; and more indulgent ones such as Wet Shave & Prep facial (HK$550). You can even book in for a personal shaving class.
Gentlemen's Tonic, Hong Kong, The Landmark, B47-B48, Central, tel: 2525 2455, www.gentlemenstonic.com
Mandarin Barber's grooming packages combine a traditional shave with other services, such as the Executive Escape (HK$1,300 for two hours), featuring haircut, Mandarin shave and manicure and pedicure; or Gentlemen's Grooming (HK$1,300 for two hours) including haircut, shampoo and blow dry, Mandarin shave and a 45-minute body massage. The He's a Fan package (HK$1,300 for two hours, 15 minutes) offers Shanghainese pedicure with reflexology and Mandarin shave.
The Mandarin Barber, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central, tel: 2825 4088, www.mandarinoriental.com
The Strand offers a Beard Trim service (HK$350) and a VIP loyalty pass, which includes a selection of skincare and grooming treatments with a full consultation on beard and moustache design.
The Strand, 18 Cochrane Street, Central, tel: 2850 7686, www.thestrandhk.com
Body hair removal is now viewed as part of a man's health regime. It no longer raises eyebrows to get your brows shaped or torso waxed. The growing popularity of male bikini-waxing shows the evolution of male grooming.
Janet Lim of Strip Ministry of Waxing in Central says her male customers want to have smooth and blemish-free skin all over, including below the waist. The centre's most popular wax treatments include Boyzilian (the male Brazilian), full back and shoulder. For a more permanent solution, their IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments last for two or more years. Strip, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2845 0822, www.strip.com.hk
Sheryl Wan, of Bliss spa at the W hotel in Hong Kong says: 'Our Ultimate He-Wax - male bikini-waxing - is the latest trend in body hair removal services. It's not just a need, but also a development in male grooming.'
Bliss Spa, W Hotel, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon Station, Kowloon, tel: 3717 2797, www.w-hongkong.com
For taming those unruly brows, a visit to Browhaus, a brow salon in Central, is recommended. Browhaus, 17 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2845 0886, www.browhaus.com.hk