“First impressions are important. Within the first two to three seconds of meeting you, people have already formed almost 80 percent of their judgment about you. You only have that short window of time to form a good impression. Appearances are important, as clinical psychologists say guys who are well-groomed do better at work.”

Medical-turned-cosmetic doctor Z Teo makes a convincing case for going the extra mile in grooming. In his practice at Z Aesthetics in Singapore and his administrative role at his wife Aivee Teo’s cosmetic dermatology center The Aivee Clinic, he has seen more and more men of all ages prove this. “We’re past the era when only women take care of themselves and men let themselves go, get bald and fat, as long as they have money. Given the technology and availability of services, it’s good to take pride in how one presents himself. Look at the top politicians and successful businessmen: they groom themselves, they are always well put-together.”

IN YOUR 20S
Acne can still happen to men past their puberty stage, and getting rid of acne as soon as possible means you’ll have less scars to treat. Despite all the new pigment-lightening ingredients coming out in the market, Teo, who’s in his 40s, swears by good old retinol in serum or cream form as it encourages the skin to generate more collagen. When skin has a lot of collagen, it’s smooth, clear, and healthy, thus retinol also doubles as an anti-aging product. Available at The Aivee Clinic is Acnerase R3 serum, which has it as an active ingredient. It’s so potent that Teo only uses it at night once every two days.

Don’t slack off on the sunscreen, either. Daily use of it prevents a number of problems ranging from short-term (dark spots) to long-term (skin cancer). For those who are still stubborn about not applying sunscreen religiously, Teo recommends sunscreen tablets by Heliocare. They harness the power of ferns to enhance the body’s natural immune system against harmful UV rays. For regular sun exposure, he recommends “popping one or two in the morning.” For heavy sun exposure, ingest the tablets as an adjunct preventive measure to sunblock.

IN YOUR 30S
Teo observes that despite the modern man’s receptiveness to getting more treatments, two-hour facials are still too frivolous for most and the downtime from peels still discouraging. “But what these do is hit the ‘restart’ button on the skin,” he explains.
For the time-strapped, he recommends the rejuvenating laser Picoglow. “It’s no frills and fast. All it takes is 10 to 15 minutes, because it emits lasers by the picosecond—that’s 100 percent faster than nanoseconds so you don’t [need] downtime anymore. No peeling, redness, or bleeding; it gives you nice collagen remodeling. You can get it once a month for smoother skin.” But then again, having lines isn’t so bad either. “They add wisdom and distinction.”

It’s sagging that should be prevented. Tightening procedures like collagen-building Thermage and fat-melting Ulthera and Exilis all give a lift in areas that are beginning and likeliest to sag: the face, the neck, even the belly, as by the age of 30, testosterone levels decrease by one percent a year, slowing down metabolism.

Hair concerns
“At any age, a good crop of hair shows strength and vitality,” Teo says. “If you’re already experiencing hair fall and your dad has receding and thinning hair, you should see a dermatologist or hair surgeon as there’s a huge genetic component to it. As soon as you start to see your scalp, don’t wait. The misconception is that you can only do something about hair loss once you’ve gone bald. If you arrest the problem earlier, you can prevent it from happening.”

While Teo has already brought in Artas, an automated hair transplant system, to Manila, he would rather that men use it as the last resort. Changes in diet or taking in food supplements can keep the roots strong (see pages 106 to 107 for our nutritious suggestions). Switch to shampoos with exfoliants and hair growth-enhancing minoxidil and ditch those with scalp-drying detergent sodium laureth sulfate. For dandruff, treat it with a medicated shampoo with zinc. “If the scalp is clogged, especially with flakes, sebum, and hair product residue, it would not be as fertile for the hair to grow.”

Facial restructuring
A sign of manliness, a square-ish jawline has in recent months taken the place of a high-bridged nose as the most desired attribute among men. Teo believes in using the least invasive method of creating the look of a stronger jawline: injecting fillers to the mandibles. The chin can also be augmented with fillers. “It doesn’t work on everyone, though,” he cautions. “Your chin has to be able to take it.” Balance and symmetry must also be kept in check to make the new jawline look natural and flattering. But before anything is done, it’s necessary to check if the procedure is even needed. “My field of work involves a lot of guiding patients, and most of the time, I’m telling people that something will not look good on them,” he admits.

Beard transplants are popular in the Middle East, where the mentality is “the bigger the beard, the greater the vitality.” The clinic’s Artas treatment can take hair from the back of your neck and then plant them on your beard. But unlike in the Middle East, Southeast Asian men grow beards not because they like the look but to cover their double chins or to make fat cheeks appear smaller. For these, Teo recommends one-session treatments like Ulthera, which has a configuration that continually melts the fat off of the chin and cheeks over a period of two weeks, and Z Lift, a minimally invasive procedure that uses soluble threads to pull up the chin instantly from the inside.

Photographer Mau Agusin.