Time was, a man who spent too long in the bathroom was met with a level of scorn and suspicion usually reserved for politicians who try to embrace indie music.
Thankfully times have changed but even now it’s easy to feel bemused by the overwhelming amount of advice, opinion and small pots filled with expensive goop on the market.
The trick isn’t to spend a fortune on a thousand different products, or to lock yourself in the bathroom for hours at a time. Rather, you should develop a daily routine that is quick, simple and – above all else – about maintenance, ensuring you don’t let yourself (or your carefully assembled outfit) down with unsightly hair or unnecessarily puffy eyes.
Presenting: twelve easy grooming habits all men should get into.
1 | Become a regular at your barbers
Book your next appointment while you’re there for roughly 4 weeks time, and stick to it. Too many men wait for the ‘forlorn tugging of your locks’ stage before doing anything about it. Basically, if you’ve noticed your hair needs a cut, then other people have too. The trick is to be proactive, not reactive – and having a regular place you trust will cut down on the ‘oh my God what if he messes this up’ anxiety dramatically.
2 | Know which hair products work for you
Hair products for men have got a bit more confusing since the Brylcreem your Grandad swore by, so make sure you’re clued up on what each product is for. Thicker hair and messy styles can handle waxes and pomades, but if your hair’s thinner, then lighter products and sprays will give your barnet some staying power. Ask your barber if you’re a bit in the dark, but the right product can make all the difference.
3 | Find your signature scent
Aftershave isn’t supposed to be loud or obvious. You don’t want people to stop in their tracks and notice (if they do, you’ve worn too much). Rather, it should become a subtle part of your overall presence. Rather than owning 8-10 average quality bottles you pick from each morning at random, find one or two classic scents you really like and invest in them. Typically woody, spicy or herby scents suit the winter months, while lighter, citrusy scents work best in spring and summer. Read up on this seasons scents in our guide.
4 | “Do a Dylan” with your toothbrush
Two things every woman notices: your shoes, and your smile. When it comes to the latter, there is no longer any excuse for ignoring advances in technology. Electric toothbrushes are designed to do most the work for you, plus, they’re better for your health: according to a study by Sheffield University, rotating brushes reduce 11% more plaque than manual toothbrushes, and can also significantly reduce gum problems. To And while you’re at it, use a mouthwash after you brush first thing in the morning.
5 | Learn how to manscape properly
Trimming your pubic is not only perfectly acceptable in 2015, it’s polite. And no, we’re not talking about the porn star look either – just aim for what you’d appreciate in a partner, i.e. keep things neat and tidy. Top tip: keep whatever device you use for this sensitive task separate from what you shave your face with. There are plenty of electric razors on the market designed for the nether region’s unique challenges without having to fill your Mach 3 with short and curlies.
6 | Scrub your face
They sound decadent, they use pseudo-science (“microbeads” anyone?) but face scrubs are just textured face washes designed to get the dead skin off your face (particularly the nose, the most exposed part of your face). Use one on a Monday morning to scrub the weekend off your face, and every other day of the week go for a plain face wash that’s less abrasive. You’ll be looking better than you feel in no time.
7 | Manage your facial fuzz
Unless you’re planning to move out into the wilderness to find yourself, facial hair of any length needs to be tamed and maintained if you want to be taken seriously. You don’t have to spend much on a beard trimmer, so pick one up and get into a weekly habit of tidying up. Don’t, however, go too far. More David Gandy, less Bebe from Eastenders.
8 | …Or learn how to shave like an expert
You might not have time in the morning for an extensive wet-shaving routine, but learning the basics of a good shave is important. Preparing your skin beforehand with a shave oil will help the razor glide over your hairs, while soaking the blades in warm water will help your pores expand, allowing the hair to come off your face with less redness and irritation. If it still feels like a chore, leave your precious face in the hands of the experts and get a professional shave once a week.
9 | Put your best feet forward
They might not be on show much at this time of year, but a good footcare routine is still important. Take care of them after a bath or shower (when the skin is softest) using a pummice stone on any dead skin, before lathering a generous amount of moisturiser on. Then when summer rolls back around, you can wear your flip flops and cause an absolute minimal of disgust in others.
10 | Tackle dark circles
Look, we all made our peace with moisturisering years ago. But the stuff you use on your face is still too much for those patches under your eyes, where dark circles and puffiness reveal your heavy weekend and make you look under-slept and older than you are. Incorporate an eye roll-on into your morning routine to help counter the problem.
11 | Sort out stray hairs
Big eyebrows aren’t a problem – see Clooney, Farrell et al – but if they’re meeting in the middle, you’ve got a problem on your hands (and face). Pay attention to the spot in the middle, and any errant hairs above and below your brows are also worth staying on top of. Plucking is time-consuming, though, so if needs be ask your barber to tidy your brows up when you’re next in. Believe us, he’s heard it before.
12 | Nail your hand-care routine
Cutting your nails once a week – preferably after a bath or shower, to soften them and make them easier to trim – is basic. But that rough, flaky skin around the nail bed that somehow irritates you more than it looks like it should? Treat with a tiny bit of moisturiser every couple of days to smooth things over.
By Chris Mandle, esquire.co.uk