A soft touch is key to youth

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 October, 2010, 12:00am

When you're a make-up artist to the stars, it is essential to look enviably well-groomed at any given moment, a task daunting enough for any woman armed with a cosmetic arsenal. For a man, however, the challenge increases tenfold.

Looking good with what nature gave you isn't easy, but Gary Chung does it with nothing more than a bar of soap, a handful of products and a smile.

The first thing that came to my mind upon meeting the famous make-up artist was that his skin was better than mine.

'It's all because of my grandmother!' Chung says. 'When I was young, she taught me the secret to long-lasting youth and to this day I still don't have a line on my face.'

The incredible secret? Be delicate.

'Always pat your face dry after you wash your face. Never rub your face with a towel. Don't even rub your eyes. Treat your skin delicately and it will reward you with youth,' the impossibly young-looking 38-year-old says.

As grooming faux pas go, Chung says towel-scrubbing your face is one of the worst, but apparently there are several other no-nos that even the metro-savvy young men in Hong Kong aren't aware of.

'Hong Kong men nowadays know they need to incorporate skin care products into their daily routine, but more often than not they simply reach for their girlfriend's or wife's products, or they just buy whatever they've seen on TV commercials,' Chung says.

This can be counterproductive, according to Chung. Using products not suited to your skin type can have a negative impact on already aggravated skin, or cause problems that weren't there in the first place.

'Most men know whether they have oily, dry or combination skin,' he says. 'It's worth it to take the extra step to purchase products suited to you, and end up with great skin based on just a daily skin care routine.'

Chung also recommends investing in a summer and winter set.

'The temperature and humidity in Hong Kong change with the seasons, and your skin reacts accordingly,' he says. 'It is crucial to alter your products so that your skin is protected.'

To battle mid-year humidity, summer products should be fresh, alcohol-free to prevent drying and oil-free to avoid clogging pores.

Chung's summer set consists of the Clinique Skin Supplies for Men three-step system, which involves a toner, moisturiser and his trusty bar of soap.

'I love this soap. It doubles as a body soap as well as face wash,' he says. 'One thing to remember is not to use scrubs on your skin's problem areas.

'Always use a natural sea sponge with facial soap to unclog pores and clean skin. The sponge exfoliates without being too harsh on sensitive skin.'

Chung follows a similar three-step routine (cleanse, tone and moisturise) during the winter, but opts for Sanctum, an Australian organic brand, which he says is more suited to his skin in the winter because organic products are milder, chemical-free and good for sensitivity.

The make-up artist also goes green when it comes to hygiene and is a fan of Dermalogica Environmental Control Deodorant.

'I can't live without this deodorant,' he says. 'It is fresh and long-lasting, and most important, it is free of colouring, artificial fragrances and aluminium chlorohydrate, the latter of which is bad for the skin and can cause cancer.'

A three-step system and hygiene products are essentially all any man needs for a daily routine, but Chung says that there is always room for extras such as fragrance (his favourite is the rather pricey Frederic Malle's Dominique Ropion Vetiver Extraordinaire) and even a light dusting of powder.

'A lot of men are immediately dubious when I tell them about this, but it does not show at all,' he says, opening the lid of Jurlique's Citrus Silk Finishing Powder. 'I just use it on the inside of my elbows for freshness, as well as on my neck to avoid yellow collars that result from sweat and oil. All the powder does is absorb excess oil. It won't make you whiter or look like you have make-up on.' Chung, who styles Quintessentially's high-end clients and has worked with names such as Miriam Yeung, Cathy Tsui and lately Chanel spokesperson Anna Mouglais, says that practices such as grooming eyebrows or using concealers are quite popular among men in Japan.

'Hong Kong is not quite ready yet'. 'However, men here are generally very open to using skin care, although there are always a few outliers,' he says. 'There are so many products nowadays made especially for men that are affordable, easy to use and effective. There is nothing for them to worry about except the attention they'll get when they look better.'