Male grooming: If the stars get it wrong, what hope have we got?
Joe O'Shea discovers how men can avoid a fake-tan blunder like Bradley Cooper's
As a Hollywood hunk on the rise, you might think Bradley Cooper would at least get his fake tan right for a major red-carpet appearance.
The star of The Hangover and the upcoming A-Team movie, making his first public appearance with new girlfriend Renee Zellweger at a big premiere in Los Angeles, must have known he would be the focus of attention.
Which makes his decision to go with a glaringly half-baked tan, giving him a bizarre two-tone face, all the more inexplicable.
The 35-year-old actor was photographed looking bronzed and healthy from the chin up and pale and pasty from the bottom lip down.
It was as if Cooper was in a hurry to put on the fake tan and forgot to apply some under his chin stubble, thinking no one would notice.
But in LA, where tanning has been raised to an art-form bordering on the religious, he was committing the most heinous fashion crime of all: failing to look utterly fabulous in a built- up area.
We love to see celebs caught out looking less than perfect on camera. Heat magazine has turned the spotting of muffin-tops, cellulite and bad boob jobs into a glossy-mag staple.
But if a Hollywood star like Bradley Cooper can't get it right, what hope is there for mere mortal men who have to work without an army of stylists, make-up people and personal trainers?
For us Irish males, who only began to get to grips with gyms, moisturiser and personal grooming around 1997, Bradley's tanning malfunction is a stark reminder of just how hard it is to look good.
It's not easy but you are worth it. And if you are looking to get started on that body beautiful, the best advice is...
Work The Body
It all begins with getting the basics right and everybody, no matter how out of shape they are, can get lean and toned with a bit of hard work.
Diets can be problematic but here's a simple way to drop a stone in three weeks -- cut out the "bad" carbs.
Stop eating bread, white rice, potatoes, pasta and any other carb-laden staples (such as processed foods and pints of beer).
Go for high-protein, low-fat meats and plenty of fruit and fresh veg. Start building up to regular exercise; gym work and swimming is good; running is the best for getting lean without getting muscle bound.
Personal trainer Paul "The Body" Byrne, who has worked with the likes of Glenda Gilson, Keith Duffy and singer Brian Kennedy, says it is a basic matter of "input versus output".
"It takes 10 minutes to burn 100 calories on the treadmill, and you will find 100 calories in a slice of white toast and 330 calories in a packet of crisps".
"There are plenty of alternatives that taste just as good: instead of potatoes, have sweet potatoes; brown rice instead of white; watch what you eat and get regular exercise and you will start seeing results."
Paul also recommends a simple bowl of porridge in the morning as a great source of slow-release carbs. Blueberries are also great for a healthy energy boost.
Obviously, you should talk to your doctor before going on any drastic change of diet, and exercise and vitamins and mineral supplements are important (not least for healthy skin, hair and nails).
Talk to an expert. If you are in a good gym, they should be able to draw up a nutrition and exercise plan for you.
Don't be put off by the cost or the Hollywood associations. Ten sessions with a good personal trainer will only set you back the cost of around five nights in the pub and they should have sound advice on diet too.
One increasingly popular option for guys who like a bit of action with their exercise is for personal sessions with a champion boxer like Dublin-based Oisin Fagan.
Oisin, who worked on last summer's RTE TV series Charity Lords of the Ring and fights for an Irish title in the National Stadium on Saturday night, is available for one-on-one training that teaches the fitness and self-defence techniques of professional boxing without the black eyes.
For more information, check out www.oisinfagan.com. Irish Olympic boxer Cathal O'Grady also runs white-collar boxing programmes, for fitness and actual competition, with more information at www.whitecollarboxing.ie.
Hairy backs, mono-brows, pale-skin and the genetic legacy of 300 years on the all-potato diet. God has not made it easy for us Irish males.
Cian McDonald owns The Grooming Rooms, a purpose- built male grooming emporium on Dublin's South William Street and says we should at least get the basics right.
"A lot of Irish guys will have problems with a mono-brow or hairy backs and that's very easy to remedy with waxing," says Cian.
"Pedicures and manicures will also make a big difference to how you look; we get a lot of doctors and surgeons coming in for manicures purely because people tend to focus on their hands.
"I think for our customers, it's not about vanity, it's about feeling good in yourself, projecting the right image, in your business life, when you are out socialising."
Cian also recommends facials and hot-towel shaves for guys who want an instant boost, and says at the very least, Irish men should be using a top quality moisturiser.
After a decade of looking like we have covered ourselves in glue and run through the Overpriced & Flashy Brands section of our department stores -- it's now all about the classic, tailored look as favoured by fashion icons such as actors Colin Firth and Jon Hamm of US TV drama Mad Men.
Get the GQ look by investing in a few top quality, well-tailored suits and shirts in light fabrics that drape well about the body.
"Irish guys are definitely coming around to that classic look for week-day and weekend, with well-tailored clothes in good fabrics," says Valerie O'Neill, head of menswear with Arnotts.
"It's also very important to accessorise well with stylish cuff-links, belts, and shoes.
"But you have to make sure your clothes are fitted well; don't just get in and get out as quickly as possible with what you guess is the right size.
"Your body changes and what fitted you five years ago might not fit you today."
Valerie says guys have to ask for advice and proper fitting from shop assistants and she says the brands to look out for over the coming year include Luke 1977 (especially the Polo shirts), Barbour, Paul Costelloe for men and the well-tailored suits, shirts and jackets from Reiss.
If All Else Fails
Make it your mantra and try to always ask yourself: WWJHD? Or, What Would Jon Hamm Do? The star of the US drama Mad Men is the acknowledged Sexiest Man Alive and should be an inspiration to us all. Classic, well-tailored suits, immaculate grooming and a lean, toned body.
Hamm is obviously working with some primo raw material. But if we could all be just a little more like Jon, life would be a whole lot better.
And for pity's sake, stay away from the fake tan.