Real estate agent Manoj Choksi has the habit of asking his clients to guess his age. He gets a kick out of having them say, “35?” and then, with a pause, replying, “No, 57.”
Choksi (not his real name), manages to create this illusion thanks to his visits twice a year to skin clinics to undergo special procedures that melt the decades away.
“Image matters in this job,” Choksi said. “Botox has subtracted 10 to 15 years from my appearance and I’m very satisfied.”
Spurred by the cosmetic industry’s hard sell, more and more men are busy grooming themselves. The concept has accelerated in the past year, say cosmetic surgeons and skin clinics.
Men between 20 and 50 now constitute one-third of the high-end Kaya Skin Clinic’s clientele, said Snehal Sriram, head of its medical services.
From manicures, pedicures and hair removal, men have moved on to botox treatments, filler and laser-resurfacing surgeries (see box).
These procedures attempt to rectify what those in the business call “negative facial expressions”, such as frown lines and wrinkles on the forehead as well as fill out sunken cheeks and thin lips.
“Nowadays, the men are well-informed about the treatment they seek and come with very specific concerns,” said Satish Bhatia, director at Dermatics, at the Lady Ratan Tata Research Centre.
“For instance, those who want to enter the entertainment industry opt for a botox that lends them a frozen look, while for the every day man we administer botox that helps retain his natural expressions.”
Men from professions such as banking, marketing and real estate broking are opting for treatments.
“An investment banker in his 40s was leaving for a stint in London and came to us to have a more youthful look,” said Kaya’s Sriram. “That’s because in London they were expecting a young, dynamic person for the job.”
It’s as much to do with the professional life as the personal. More than 90 per cent of women in a recent marketing survey conducted for a cosmetic brand said they wanted their men to undergo skin care services.
“If you aren’t well turned out people squirm,” said Arjun Khanna, a menswear bespoke fashion designer. “Besides internal motivation, it’s women who are inspiring this consciousness.”
Dinesh Mahajan (name changed), a 56-year-old businessman from Charni Road, owes his new skin care regime to his wife and daughter.
“They were both consulting a reputable dermatologist who worked wonders for their complexion, which is why I signed up for a quarterly chemical peel and skin pigmentation correction procedure,” he said.
But doctors also point out that things can go awry. “If you are injecting botox to remove forehead lines and it is not done properly, it can make the eyebrows and eyelids droop,” said Dr Meenakshi Agarwal, a cosmetic surgeon.
If the patient does not take the prescribed precautions, the procedures can actually have opposite effect.
People who have undergone laser-resurfacing treatment to improve their skin quality must avoid direct exposure to sunlight for between three and six months; otherwise they can actually end up with uneven pigmentation.
Such grooming does not come cheap. One botox procedure costs a minimum of Rs 25,000, while filling will set you back by between Rs 12,000 and Rs 20,000, depending on how long you want the effect to last.
The economic slowdown has done little to dampen its lure.
“As jobs have become scarce, more men are coming in for cosmetic enhancements to compete for the few odd vacancies,” said Jamuna Pai, a cosmetic surgeon.
Real estate broker Choksi certainly has no plans to stop treatment: his next botox session is in November.
(With inputs from Neha Bhayana)