Men are increasingly coming around to the idea of skincare.
Boyfriend trousers, men's shirts, biker boots and messenger bags are all standard fashion examples of borrowing from the boys, but when it comes to beauty it's the male of the species hanging off female coat-tails.
It starts with teenagers and flatmates on the filch from female relatives and housemates. Then it progresses to guys who are serious about grooming seeking advice from their women friends and increasingly booking in for professional consultations. Now skin and haircare companies are busily promoting beyond-the-basics products specifically to the male consumer - mostly in a manly way of course, fronted by sports stars and actors with rugged good looks - backed up with science-speak.
This is a sure sign that now men have got the hang of keeping up appearances they are seen as a fast-growing market for a welter of extras. Open your bathroom cupboards, if you dare, to serums, eye gels, concealer and more.
So what's the pitch?
Anti-ageing: Hold back the clock, there's no need to look like your granddad
Your best anti-aging tool, aside from a healthy lifestyle and good genes, is to be serious about sun protection and skincare. Keep skin well-cleansed and exfoliated to deter pore blockages and use a moisturiser with an SPF15 minimum during the day, plus a stronger sunscreen for prolonged exposure.
Beyond those basics, serums are the latest supplement to skincare. Moisturisers offer soothing surface relief while serums are more concentrated treatments worn at night or under moisturiser during the day. Anti-ageing moisturisers, like serums, do have added anti-oxidant-rich ingredients, but their heavier, creamier and sometimes firming formulas are generally best on drier, mature skin.
Gel or lotion formulas generally work best on thicker, younger male skin, which is usually oilier than women's.
Product picks: Lab Series Max LS Overnight Renewal Serum $98; Kiehl's Facial Fuel Anti-Wrinkle Cream $45.53; Neutrogena Blackhead Eliminating Daily Scrub $14.99.
Salon savvy: Sort your skin and your stress levels with some informed TLC
Women have used beauty clinics or niche service salons for years, and spas are enjoyed as a treat by couples of all persuasions. The best of these destinations combine indulgent time out and efficient treatment administered by well-trained therapists.
For a male-friendly environment try hotel spas and bigger professional salons. For beginners, try a relaxing facial or a massage, but if you're a goal-oriented guy consider treatments that deliver visible results: anything from getting brows tamed, nails tidied, skin tanned and body hair removed, to your facial surface refined with microdermabrasion or even laser treatments targeting patches of hyper pigmentation or broken capillaries. For the latter services, head to clinics with a good track record or see a dermatologist, as you should if you have adult acne or other serious skin problems.
For a walk-up skin assessment, Dermalogica's skin bar at Albany Westfield is a good starting point that can be followed by micro-zone treatments which take just 20 minutes.
Product picks: Dermalogica Daily Clean Scrub $56; Clarins Men Line Control Cream $62. Murad Razor Burn Rescue $80
Natural: Clean, green it's got to be good for you - and the planet
The natural skincare sector is growing fast, with New Zealand home to some globally recognised brands such as Trilogy and Living Nature, both of whom do men's ranges. There is also a host of good niche names out there with unisex application. You can even buy naturally-based products at the supermarket, although across the sector look out for "greenwashing" as not all products are created equal. Claims of organic ingredients can add up to nothing but a drop in the bucket, unless accompanied by a seal of approval from a recognised certification organisation, so you'll have to become an avid label reader to crack the code.
Some people opt for naturals because the generally simpler formulas and recognisable ingredients appeal. Others have strong views, sometimes emotionally rather than empirically based, against the use of various chemical additives. Fewer ingredients do mean fewer potential irritants so those with sensitive skin are often drawn to naturals, but for more than a superficial effect look for "active" naturals with researched results. If you are seeking true naturals, then look for products free of sulphates, paraben preservatives, petrochemical derivatives and synthetic fragrances and colourings.
Product picks: Living Nature Men's travel kit $69, Primal Earth Face Scrub $9.99.
Eyes right: Specific solutions for specific areas
The best way to ward off premature wrinkling is to avoid excessive squinting by wearing sunglasses regularly. Using eye products can disguise dark circles and may smooth lines. Gel textures are non-gunky and the new roll-on devices are easy to apply, but primarily provide a cooling de-puffing effect, which is handy if you look a little worse for wear.
Women often disguise under their eyes with concealer, and there's no reason men shouldn't try this trick too, but do get a colour-matched product and some tips on application. Yves Saint Laurent's renowned Radiant Touch brush-pen is perfectly portable, and it comes in a version just for men, allowing you to easily apply light-reflecting concealer for a fresher look.
Product picks: Lancome Men Anti-Age Eye Perfecting Gel $66; L'Oreal Paris Men Expert Hydra Energetic Ice Cool Eye Roll-On, $16.99.
Stockists: Brand counters or men's sections in selected department stores and pharmacies or as stated below. Clarins selected salons. L'Oreal from supermarkets also. Kiehl's exclusive to Smith & Caughey's Queen St. Dermalogica. Murad from Caci clinics. Living Nature at Hardy's, Health 2000, Life Pharmacy. Primal Earth from selected supermarkets.