Why shouldn't Warney use moisturiser?
Elizabeth Hurley stands charged with 'changing' Aussie sporting legend Shane Warne. And, no, I'm not speaking metaphorically. Since the two have hooked up, Warney (FYI, all sporting legends must have a nickname ending in 'y') has been photographed smoother of face, thinner of eyebrow and waistline and, well, generally less dishevelled.
Gone, too, is the blond-streaked Eighties mullet, replaced by an altogether classier tonsorial look. Such is the transformation, there's even speculation that he's had laser treatment for thread veins. While denying that he has had a facelift or Botox, Warney does admit to visiting the cosmetic cabinet. "New Estee Lauder moisturisers for my skin have made a big difference," he says, adding: "Yes, I'm still a man."
Mind you, there are also suggestions he likes a slick of Estee Lauder Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara and a dab of clear lip gloss. It's a far cry from the he-man legend - hence his shrill protestation of still being all-male.
But why blame Elizabeth? Shane has form in this area what with those highlights and hair transplants. If anything, his new look owes less to Hurley (though a new laydee often leads to a bucking up of ideas) and serves more as the latest example of the neuroses and contradictions of being a "modern man". He's in good company, joining the likes of Simon Cowell, David Beckham, and Gordon Ramsay in taking such matters seriously Back in the day, most men would have thought that Estee Lauder was the new signing by Bolton Wanderers. Men were men and that was that. It was a world where anything other than Old Spice, Brut and Hai Karate was a wee bit 'girly' and more than a little suspect. Mascara was for Glam Rockers and, later, New Romantics.
Forced to step up to the mark by advertising and, yes, the advance of women, there's no such thing as "the man who doesn't have to try too hard". Or if there is you'll find that their dates usually involve webcams. Increasingly, blokes are realising that a cuddly tum, a face full of "character" and a wardrobe of checked shirts and cords isn't going to cut the mustard in today's sexual marketplace.
The weird thing is that in their heart of hearts, many men are thrilled, albeit a little guilty, at being liberated from the boredom of old-fashioned masculinity. As we girls know, petty vanity can be a lot of fun.
Look at the choice on offer for him now: moisturisers, scrubs, serums, fatigue fighters... And to eradicate lingering feelings of unease, all traditional male unguents have been cleverly updated. Shaving foam now comes in exciting gels with various herbs, razor blades are doused in aloe vera. Soothing balms help him get over the trauma ... as well as tighten that sagging skin.
No, this is not a reluctant market being driven against the wishes of most males. Most men of a certain age secretly enjoy their skincare regimes. This isn't vanity they tell themselves, this is 'upkeep' - hence male products come in sombre greys or metallic blues. Pampering is for women; this is science, this is medicine. And yet there's an occasional glance back over the shoulder, a worry about what their forefathers would make of it, as if they are stalked by invisible generations of Brylcreamed tut-tutting dads and grandads, muttering about 'jessies' into the ether?
Still, so what if Warney and other men are conflicted and prone to self-doubt. Women have lived with these pressures for years. Elizabeth Hurley survives on watercress soup when dieting for a bikini photoshoot; her face is scrutinised with each birthday. Madonna is subject to the type of newspaper graphics usually reserved for war zones with arrows pointing to every expertly analysed area, outraged that she's holding back the years.
Besides, whatever about the new style guru in Warne's life, the guy has nothing to prove about his masculinity. In cricket, where macho values reign supreme and he was subject to constant chants from the Barmy Army regarding his sexual preferences, Warney made his name by humiliating the burliest batsmen in the game - most still trying to work out, all these years later, just how he managed to make them look like, er, big girls' blouses. When guys like Warney take to the concealer, it's a whole new ball game for the industry. The fight for the bathroom is about to get a lot dirtier ladies.