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London - Ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege today to unveil a breakthrough in the world of male grooming. Be amazed as I give you… The Shaneover!
In just 24 hours, with no need for surgery, this revolutionary makeover can transform the most insipid, slack-jawed, mousy-haired man into a gleaming, chisel-cheeked wonder, who will have glossy-haired former actresses throwing themselves at his feet. And all for the bargain price of £1,092 (about R15 000).
The man we have to thank for this is, of course, the one and only Shane Warne. The 43-year-old Australian previously known for playing cricket, eating pies and downing lager, has been transformed from a chubby, stubbled boozer into a smooth-skinned metrosexual charmer.
Shane’s new look has coincided with him hooking up with the lovely Liz Hurley, to whom he is now engaged. And while some have suggested that he has had a little help from the surgeon’s knife, Liz has been quick to insist that her man’s look is “au naturel”.
Feeling inspired, I set myself the challenge of replicating Warne’s new look without recourse to cosmetic surgery. In other words, I will submit myself to The Shaneover.
I should, for the record, make it clear this is not the first time I have attempted a tribute to a sporting hero. As a teenager I spent several years with a shoulder-length mullet, a living homage to Ian Botham, who I idolised while growing up in cricket-loving Somerset.
But even then there was an acceptance that the look had nothing to do with anything as namby-pamby as vanity. The opposite. ‘”irl hair” in Yeovil in the late Eighties was the ultimate statement of masculinity.
Warne, however, is different. For starters, as an Australian he must appreciate better than most that his new look is not what is expected of him and his compatriots. Quite simply, 40-something Australian men are meant to be far too manly to have a “look”.
Unsurprisingly, his transformation has not gone down at all well Down Under, where he is routinely dismissed as “Sheila Warne” or “Mrs Hurley”. But come on, this is the 21st century - men shouldn’t be ashamed about taking a little pride in their appearance.
The big question, though, is how much help has Shane had? We know that he’s had treatment to thicken his rapidly thinning hair. But the highlights? And that tan? And those eyebrows and teeth?
With trepidation I enter the world of The Shaneover - a world from which I fear there may be no return…
When undertaking male grooming, discretion is paramount. Well, that’s what I thought. Because you don’t want anyone to know that you’ve had it done. But my assumption that all male beauty treatments are carried out in back-street parlours, behind unmarked doors opened only to a special rat-tat-tat, is shattered when I’m handed the details of my eyebrow-shaping session: lunchtime at House of Fraser in Oxford Street. Er, hello! That’s only Britain’s busiest shopping place!
The concession where I’m to be groomed is called Shavata and occupies a spot on the teeming ground floor… by a window!
I sit in the chair, clutching a picture of Shane to my chest, concerned that everyone is looking at me. Fortunately no one seems to bat an eyelid. Or an eyebrow. Especially not Seemi, my technician. Originally from Pakistan, it turns out she is a cricket fan and familiar with Warne’s facial hair.
“He has got much bigger growth than you,” she announces, explaining that in the world of male eyebrows, thick and straight is the gold standard. “I will slightly remove your arch to give you a more manly look. They look automatically thicker when the stray hairs are removed.”
She warns me it may hurt a bit then sets about me with a length of white cotton, lassoing individual hairs and pinging them out. It is a technique known as “threading” and it is, so I am told, more precise and hygienic than other methods.
The pain is moderate, the treatment mercifully brief - just ten minutes - and the cost £17. To keep the shape, it needs to be repeated every four or five weeks.
Finished, Seemi hands me a mirror. “Look at your eyes,” she says. “It makes you look far more awake.”
True. I look at my photo of Shane and he looks very awake. Actually he looks almost demonically awake. Maybe he’s not just had his eyebrows plucked but his entire body.
But I’m not even going to go there. Especially not in Oxford Street.
There can surely be no dispute that Warne’s gnashers have had the brightness turned up to ten. On second thoughts, make that 11. So off I dutifully trot to the good teeth-whiteners of the London Smiling clinic. As someone who doesn’t like pain or dentists, I am somewhat apprehensive. And I am not reassured when I carry out some research on the internet, that purveyor of worst-case scenarios.
First up on Google is a woman who says that ever since she had her teeth whitened, eight months ago, she has been in unbearable pain. Great. I knock back a couple of ibuprofen and ring the buzzer.
Once inside, my teeth are examined by orthodontist Leone Giacosa. As I’m a non-smoker who doesn’t have sensitive teeth or gums, I’m deemed suitable for laser-whitening.
The procedure involves coating my teeth with a hydrogen peroxide solution then zapping them with an intense blue light to accelerate the action of the bleach. This procedure is repeated three times in a row, each session lasting 15 minutes. The treatment takes 1½ hours and costs £835. For the duration, I am reclined on a chair, my mouth forced open wide and gums packed with cotton wool to prevent the bleach spilling on them. It is mildly uncomfortable but nothing more.
I feel no pain but am warned I could experience what are known as “zingers” later in the day. These feel like a tooth is receiving a brief but intense electric shock - and they do happen to me three or four times after I leave. I take more painkillers before I go to bed and by the next day everything has calmed down.
The teeth themselves look great - noticeably whiter but not ridiculously so. And I can maintain the look using a home treatment kit. It includes gum shields the clinic makes to fit over my teeth, which are to be worn at night with a few drops of the bleaching solution.
My female friends are deeply jealous about my date at celebrity hairdresser Jo Hansford’s new salon in Mayfair. I’m less excited - probably because I know I’m about to become the only 40-something male this side of Russia to willingly have highlights put in his hair.
When I show the photo of Warnie’s barnet to the lovely Zenda, a senior colourist at the salon, all I can do is apologise. She no doubt spends her days adorning the tresses of heiresses with subtle shades and tones, and am I asking her to commit GBH - a Grievously Bad Hairstyle.
But gamely, she agrees to do her best. First, she tints my entire barnet slightly lighter so I don’t look like a badger when the highlights are added. Then, using her fingertips, she coats tufts with the bleach and leaves it to do its work beneath a giant heater contraption. The developing streaks are checked, and more bleach applied a couple of times until a “creamy” highlight is achieved. When I look in the mirror I am slightly concerned. This is the one treatment that nothing, other than a hat, can conceal. I’m meant to be going out to dinner with friends tonight, so I ask Zenda if I might be able to temporarily disguise the tufts with a brown felt-tip pen. She thinks it probably isn’t a good idea and tells me not to worry, it’ll grow out in time for Christmas.
Cripes - if the wife doesn’t like the look I may well be divorced by then! In all the session lasts three hours and costs £200.
The final appointment of the day: to replicate Warne’s skin-to-teeth contrast there’s got to be a touch of fake tan. And who better to apply it than James Harknett, tanner to the stars? He’s a busy man but manages to squeeze me in ahead of a session with Denise Van Outen for her weekly appearance on Strictly Come Dancing.
James, who runs the tanning service at Central London’s W Hotel, offers a menu of colours starting from The London (lightly sun-kissed) to The Santa Fe (a hazelnut, chocolatey colour). I plump for a cross between The London and the slightly darker Barcelona, and strip off.
The solution is blown on to my skin, mist-like, using what looks like a vacuum cleaner. It takes just minutes to do my face, chest and back, then James dries me down with a few blasts of warm air.
He warns that some of the product might come off on my clothes on the way home, and suggests I should avoid any activities that make me sweat profusely. Given that I now look like the lead singer of a boy band, that could be problem if I have to run away from any teenage autograph hunters.
If I moisturise well, he says, the colour will last a week. At £40 a pop it’s reasonable - but once you start how do you ever stop?
THE FINISHED LOOK
The Shane-over is pretty impressive - that is, if you want to look like that 24/7. Will I persevere with the look? Even if I wanted to, I don’t think my wife Charlotte would allow it. Upon seeing the results, she simply raised an eyebrow and said: “You look ridiculous.”
So, the tan will be allowed to fade and the hair will definitely go. But the shiny, white teeth I can live with, and I’ll also continue to follow Warnie’s moisturising regime.
Shortly after my makeover I have to go to work, and I send Charlotte the following text: “Don’t forget to walk the dog.”
Her reply? “Don’t forget you look like Julian Clary.” - Daily Mail