So, where had the 62-year-old Cowell gone wrong? It was a fate I was keen to avoid, though I was keener still to rid myself of my lockdown frown. Jeremy Langmead, author of Vain Glorious: A Shameless Guide for Men Who Want to Look Their Best, has sage advice. “Face or body,” he says flatly. “Remember when Nigel Lawson lost all that weight? He suddenly looked 20 years older.
“At a certain age, a man has to choose between one or the other. Simon Cowell made the mistake of thinking that he could lose a load of body weight [he is reported to have shed 60lb] and also rescue his face. You simply can’t do both.”
As a vain, middle-aged man with a droopy mouth and deepening eye wrinkles, whose shocking BMI reading recently categorised him as officially “overweight”, but who still aspires to Brad Pitt levels of henchness, this is very bad news indeed.
“Afraid so,” says Langmead, a regular “Brotoxer” himself. “And unless you happen to have a lucrative online business with OnlyFans, the choice should always, always be face.”
To avoid what the gay community likes to term the “Man-da Holden” look of Pixar eyes and featureless skin tones that seem to have been selected from Farrow & Ball’s “dead flat” paint chart, Langmead suggests a simple instruction to your Botox practitioner: to make you look “rested”.
“Lifting weights makes a middle-aged man pull all sorts of unnatural and ugly faces. This can cause permanent damage and make a man look tired, stressed and fatigued. Do Botox little and often, so that no one ever notices any drastic change, but might occasionally comment that you look well, or as though you have had a good night’s sleep.”
But injecting fillers can help by creating volume, counters Dr Prager. “If you are actively burning fat all over your body, the face also loses fat, especially in the cheek area, making the face look gaunt and tired. Look at footballers and professional cyclists – often they age much faster than normal, especially after they have retired.
“It sounds like a cliché, but probably the best you can hope for is to look good for your age. It’s no longer cool to try and knock 10 or 20 years off. And it never works, anyway. I mean, who wants to look like Cliff Richard?”
Botox is, by the way, a bit 10 years ago. The go-to treatment for men in 2022 is Profhilo, an evolutionary “beneath the skin” moisturising treatment, which is delivered via injection as a hyaluronic acid injectable gel, remodelling tissue and increasing skin laxity. Ideal for a chap’s droopy jawline and jowly mouth, it costs about £720 for two treatments, one month apart. Pocket money for Simon Cowell, of course.
The price tag hasn’t frightened men off, though, because despite inflation, war and rocketing domestic bills, business in Profhilo, Botox and fillers is booming – with lockdown proving to be a particular boost for the male treatments industry.
Personally, I also think that there’s a whiff of Marvel comic superhero, Bond baddie stuff at play here. As any overgrown schoolboy knows, the amount of stuff that gets injected into the foreheads of television presenters, influencers and movie stars is actually minuscule. It has to be, because it is one of the most lethally toxic substances known to man, more deadly than arsenic and polonium. Botulinum toxins block nerve functions and can cause respiratory and muscular paralysis resulting in death. It might sound like a substance invented by Ian Fleming for one of his more far-fetched characters to dabble with while on his mission for global domination, but the shocking truth is that just a gram of botulinum toxin would be enough to kill millions of people.
And yes, I was thinking about this as Dr Prager jabbed his slender needle into my neck. “We will be much better off accentuating your masculinity. Which means improving the jawline with a few jabs of lower-face, masseter muscle-targeting Belotero Botox.”
In lay terms, we have decided against Simon Cowell, perma-surprised, sad doggy eyes and opted instead for “Clooney jaw”.