I’m a pretty average guy across the board. I like sports, smells and noises come from my body that shouldn’t sometimes, and I laugh when people fall down. Physically, I don’t think I’m ugly, but I’m not the best looking guy either. Right down the middle average, I think.
I’ve been reading both GQ and Esquire every single month for the last three years, and men’s magazine’s such as those have a way of establishing new cultural and societal norms. At the risk of sounding cliché, men’s fashion magazines are seeking to “build a better man.” There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in your appearance and always trying to look your best. In fact, some very simple changes to habits and routines you already do can make a big difference.
Fairly recently, I began paying more attention to my own grooming habits. After being exposed to advice from magazines, as well as conducting research of my own, I’ve come up with a few suggestions on how to maximize the effect of your grooming habits.
Thing you are probably doing wrong: Not paying attention to your skin
Human skin is the largest organ on the body. Skin protects against pathogens, insulates the body for temperature regulation, and provides us with all the wonderful sensations we feel. Our skin is what sends to message to our brain that petting a puppy feels nice. Skin on your arms, legs, back, abdomen, and feet typically has the luxury of being protected from the elements by clothing. Even in the winter time your can wear gloves to protect your hands. The facial skin, however, is always left exposed to the wrath of mother nature’s fury. For a man, this sensitively of the face is compounded by factors such as shaving, which strips layers of skin away (more on this later) and lack of attention being paid. The face’s two biggest enemies, naturally, are UV rays from the sun and extreme cold. For some reason, there’s a stigma attached to men using lotion. Frankly I don’t get it. My advice is to put on some lightweight, non-comedogenic facial moisturizer with SPF-15 before you go outside, no matter what time of year. Lightweight means it won’t make your skin oily, non-comedogenic mean’s its won’t clog pores, and SPF protects against harmful UV rays. Moisturizing can help prevent signs of early aging, skin cancer, and dry skin. If you are like me, and struggled with acne as a teenager, the thought of putting lotion on your face might turn you off because of the threat of breakouts. However, dry skin is the real enemy in this case, as dead skin particles will clog pores, causing breakouts.
Another thing you are probably messing up: Shaving
Shaving is probably the least favorite part of anyone’s grooming routine. It’s tedious, time consuming, and the very real threat of serious harm exists every time. Gillette recently put out a razor that has a rotating head, which combined with their already ludicrous 5-bladed razors, means anyone using Gillette may soon need a three day waiting period to buy replacements. If you go to your local super market right now, the shaving section is littered with options. There are three, four, and five bladed razors, razors that vibrate, razors that spin, razors that talk, razors that can tell bedtime stories, and disposable razors. Gillette Fusion, in my estimation the most popular razor on the market, sells packs of replacement blades for anywhere from $18-24. That is absurd. But people are buying them, judging by the popularity of the product. The Fusion razor has five blades, which Gillette boasts will give you the smoothest shave imaginable. And this is true, mainly because a five-bladed razor will take off part of your face. That previous sentence isn’t hyperbole by the way. That many blades, no matter how great the “razor glide” is, will strip your skin of natural oils, leading to excessively dry skin. And if your shaving creme has soap in it, that is not a good scenario for any face. My advice is to shave the same way your grand-pappy did; with a single blade. Now, I’m not suggesting using disposables, as I would rather stick my face into a used toilet full of MRSA than near a disposable. Single bladed safety razors like this
are more beneficial to your skin. It won’t strip your skin of those essential oils. These razors are also easier to clean, as five-blades stuck super close to each other tend to accumulate a lot of excess hair, meaning blades need replaced more often. A razor such as the one above from Mekur will run you about $50, plus cost of blades. The cost of this razor and blades is infinitely cheaper in the long run compared to owning a Fusion razor and paying for those blades.
What else could you possibly mess up? Your hair
Men have been playing Russian Roulette with their hair since the beginning of time. We know a time is coming when we’ll be without it, but we prefer not to think about that. However, while we still have our hair, we will do our very best to keep it looking as best as possible. We will wash our hair every single day, blow dry it to make sure it’s styled correctly, and use products we got on sale at Wal-Mart. Wait, we won’t do any of those things? But why not? For one, using stuff you bought at Wal-Mart isn’t doing you any favors, provided you didn’t read the label (which I’m willing to bet you didn’t). There’s nothing wrong with buying your grooming gear at the grocery store, but learning to buy the right products is key. Instead of grabbing a bottle of the new Axe shampoo and calling it a day, dig around a bit and try to find a product with minimal additives. Yes, shampoo, conditioner, and styling products are like buying fruit: the most beneficial to your health is going organic. Try to find shampoo with no added chemicals, which will damage hair. Here are ingredients from Axe Shampoo: Water (Aqua), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Dimethiconol, Sodium Chloride, Fragrance (Parfum), Carbomer, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Tea-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, PPG-9, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Mico (Ci 77019), Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Iron Oxides (Ci 77491), Yellow 10 (Ci 47005), Orange 4 (Ci 15510). None of that sounds good, as these ingredients can damage hair and dry out the scalp. Try American Crew Classic Moisturizing shampoo. It’s got natural ingredients, few chemicals, and a fresh, peppermint smell. An easy tip is if shampoo is $5 a bottle, it’s not good to put in your hair. Okay, so now you have a brand new bottle of fancy shampoo that’s got minimal chemicals, so it’s now safe to wash your hair every day, right? I suggest against that. Washing hair every day, much like using a poor quality shampoo will do more harm than good to hair. Excessive washing, even with a good shampoo, can strip hair of nutrients and dry the scalp. Instead, shampoo every other day, and use a conditioner daily to keep hair looking shiny and healthy. Always towel dry hair, never blow dry. And please, for the love of god, never, ever use a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner.
If nothing else, I hope I’ve managed to at least provide some reasonably sound advice to consider when conducting your daily grooming routine. These three tips are small, but the payoff can be significant. All men are not created equal, and the average guy obviously is not as good-looking as Ryan Gosling. But the average dude can sure feel better about himself by taking pride in his grooming habits.