My spring man-over

Photographs by Ben Welland

Tony Martins, shown in his “before” pic above, discovered real men do indeed get makeovers. His tresses were turned over to Pedro Isztin at Scissors with help from colourist Madison Andre.

An urban male whose self-styled faux-hawk needed some work and whose wardrobe had gone a bit droopy, mans up for a makeover.

Do real men get makeovers? The question poked at my masculine pride as I assembled a fierce team of Ottawa stylists to sharpen and modernize my look for spring. While it’s increasingly OK for today’s urban male to fuss with his appearance, I’m just a tad old-school when it comes to self-beautification. Would I be comfortable having my hair coloured? Could I pose for photos while sporting a “murse” (man purse)? Am I man enough to face the world while wearing cosmetics?

These concerns eased, however, because my makeover rationale was legit. I urgently needed to update the sloppy faux-hawk I’d been fashioning in my bathroom mirror with a crude clippers-and-scissors method. I’d thought about finding a product that I might use on special occasions to even out a complexion made blotchy (particularly in the summer) through loss of skin pigment. And because clothes do make the man, a new spring outfit would restore some swagger to a wardrobe gone a bit droopy.

In short, I was more than ready for a new me — even if it meant stepping slightly beyond my comfort zone. So after a bit of work to arrange schedules, it all went down one morning in early February.

For hair, I entrusted an old friend — Pedro Isztin at Scissors on Murray Street in the ByWard Market. Isztin took to the task with thoughtful zeal and proposed a multi-staged approach that involved a pre-makeover cut (to let the hair grow in appropriately), the application of “low-lights” to slightly darken my salt-and-pepper mop, and what Isztin called “a precision hair cut with texturing and rearranging of thickness on focused areas.”

Very diplomatically put, Mr. Isztin. The key “focused area,” of course being the top, where my hair is, ahem, thinning. But I digress.

Performed by Scissors colourist Madison Andre, the lowlights application took a quick 30 minutes, after which I assumed my place in Isztin’s chair, where he clipped as we critiqued, among other things, Madonna’s disastrous half-time performance at the Super Bowl.

After his low-lights, shown in the mirror photo above, Martins had his makeup — yes makeup — done by MAC cosmetician Kathleen Ursual.

Isztin is a smooth pro who’s particularly good at “chair talk” and at creating looks that combine impact with low-maintenance care — something important for a busy dude like me.

He used semi-permanent colour that gradually fades over time, he explained, “making it the most natural and non-committal way of colouring hair.”

For a sharp look that lasts, Isztin feels that many men would benefit from spending a little extra on a good cut that grows in well.

“The investment is worth it, especially regarding low-maintenance care,” the stylist said.

After a few quick photos of Isztin’s artistry, the lovely Kathleen Ursual from MAC cosmetics in the Rideau Centre popped over to Scissors for the makeup stage of my makeover.

As she got to work on my complexion, Ursual explained that MAC is a brand often chosen by men who, like me, seek products for skin: concealer, powder, bronzer, etc.

After about 30 minutes of deft handiwork — during which I squirmed only once or twice — Ursual declared that my uneven skin tone “was not difficult to conceal, but there were a few steps to reach the final result.”

His makeup, yes makeup, now complete, Martins headed to Schad Blü where Tyo Worku outfitted him.

She began with Complete Comfort Creme moisturizer, then lightly applied Matchmaster SPF 15 Foundation. Next she added Pro Longwear Concealer to the areas that needed a bit of extra coverage, dusted me with Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Powder, and completed the look with a bit of Matte Bronze bronzing powder.

The final result definitely concealed the skin issue and also made me look a bit like a TV personality. Ursual said she could teach me how to easily recreate the look myself: “Once you get a feel for the products and how they perform for you, you will be able to do it relatively quickly,” she said.

I flaunted my hair and skin in some “after” shots with photographer Ben Welland, then we hoofed it over to Schad Blü on Sussex Drive to complete the makeover with my favourite part: a fresh outfit for spring.

Schad stylist and store manager Tyo Worku helped me create a casual-yet-professional look in which I would “feel like yourself, but improved,” she said.

“When you’re comfortable in your clothes, you feel and look confident,” Worku added.

Together, we packaged a blazer ($450), shirt ($198), and bag ($350), all by John Varvatos, with denim by 7 For All Mankind ($255) and shoes by Cydwoq ($325). For a cool $1,578, I was ready to rock in virtually any workplace or social setting.

Worku was including me when pointing out how “most men only need a few key pieces to update their wardrobe. I would suggest adding the latest colour and a lighter denim going into spring. Also a great blazer that you can dress up and down would be a perfect addition.”

With makeover mission accomplished, I relaxed in the knowledge that a little more attention to follicles and face are indeed within my comfort zone. The hair colouring looks fully natural, the Schad Blü outfit gave me some swagger, and after I’d manned up to makeup, it was hardly noticeable in the complete makeover shots.

Sure, there was risk, but if you go only halfway, are you really getting a manly makeover?

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