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Let's hear it for the boys

Once upon a time, a well-groomed Irishman might have been someone who got his hair cut once a year - I used to work with a man who was shorn annually coming into the summer months - or understood the importance of effective deodorant.

However, the rise of celebrities such as George Clooney, who seems never to have a hair out of place, and Daniel Craig as a Bond who looked like he knew his manicures from his martinis upped the ante considerably where male grooming was concerned.

Did men moan about the increase in time and effort that meeting these newly elevated standards would entail? Did they heck: even if they wouldn't actually go out and buy their own dedicated products, when their significant others weren't looking the lads were surreptitiously trying out their creams, lotions and potions for themselves.

Bet your fella's newly soft hands and the shocking rate at which you managed to get through that last pot of Very Feckin' Expensive Moisturiser are making a bit more sense now, eh?

Lads, seriously -- just get your own stuff. We know you're a bit vain. We're okay with that. Actually, we quite like it when you look after yourselves.

And frankly we'd rather you had your own products than dipping into ours.

Take a look at the Clarins Men range -- they've recently added a rake of body products, including an intriguing-sounding Ab Firmer, €32.50, to the line.

>A Close Shave The daily shave is hard enough on skin without you using a second-rate shaving unction to make things worse. Molton Brown Calming Citron Ultrashave, €27, has a mouthful of a name but it's been tested and given the thumbs up by a discerning gentleman with sensitive skin who now won't use anything else. Its waxy formulation works by trapping warmth next to the skin, softening hairs and reducing friction to give a really comfortable close shave, and it also deep cleanses to help improve skin condition.

>Spanx ... For Men You know those Bridget Jones-style enormous flesh-coloured knickers, the ones that we women pour ourselves into before we get dressed for a special occasion? Commonly referred to as magic knickers, sucky-in knickers, or Spanx, regardless of the actual brand involved, there are now industrial-strength undergarments available for men too.

I kid you not.

Shapewear specifically designed to sculpt the male torso has just hit Brown Thomas. The Equmen range, from €35, comprises compression underwear and undershirts that promise to provide core stability and support while improving posture and circulation, reducing back pain, and streamlining the silhouette.

>Man Make-Up Again, I haven't just dreamed this up. There is now a plethora of man-specific make-up on the market; 'guyliner' and 'manscara' (eyeliner and mascara for blokes, d'you see) were just the start of it. So if you've always felt that your eyelashes were a bit on the short or sparse side, well fret not: Eyelure have you covered with their Natural Lashes for Men (€6.13, including delivery, from feelunique.com).

> Scrub's Up Regular use of an exfoliator such as Origins Modern Friction, €43.50, (below) will help tackle in-grown hairs. It's also tough enough to take on even the most congested man pores, blitzing blackheads like nobody's business and diminishing fine lines while it's at it. Modern Friction is good for skin that regularly gets raked over with a razor, since it contains soothing aloe to prevent irritation.

Use it once or twice a week, in or after the shower, for best results.

>Manscaping It's sad but true: as men age and lose the hair on their head, it starts to sprout in other, incongruous places. Your nose, ears and back become your best hope for luscious locks -- Himself's dad sports a pelt of back hair that any self-respecting silver-backed gorilla would be envious of.

If your furry back is getting you down, though, there are a host of places around town and beyond that will be happy to whip it right off for you. On Waxperts' extensive manscaping menu, back waxes start from €30, and while you're at it you could also have your nasal and ear hair taken care of for €15 a pop (my eyes are watering just at the thought of it.)

Waxperts is at 78a George's Street Lower, Dun Laoghaire (01-2140757; www.waxperts.ie).

If you don't fancy having your nostrils and ears waxed, invest in an electric round-tipped clippers -- and start using it. The ability to cultivate hair in these orifices does not make you super manly or attractive, so just sort it out already. Looking into a large mirror, use a hand-held mirror to check out the ear hair situation and to see what you're doing when you're wielding your new clippers.

And for God's sake don't go at either your nose or ear hair with a scissors. That's a trip to the A&E waiting to happen if ever I heard one.

>Man spas Always secretly wanted to try a manicure or pedicure? Ever wondered if there was a pro out there who could sort out your unibrow without making it obvious you'd had your eyebrows tended to? You're not alone: dedicated and discreet male-grooming rooms have been popping up to look after the needs of men who want to take an interest in their appearance but would rather be caught dead than be seen going somewhere girly to get their facial fix.

Two to try: The Grooming Rooms, 16 South William Street, Dublin 2, 01-6790777, www.thegrooming rooms.com; G Male, 73 Ranelagh Village, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, 01 496 9954, www.gmale.ie


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