To be fair….the title of this post should really be, “10 simple grooming tips for looking AS HANDSOME AS YOU CAN.” Truth is, if you’ve got a mug like Steve Buschemi, ain’t nothing you can put on that’s gonna make you look like Ryan Gosling. BUT….you might just look like a better version of Steve.
These aren’t really “hacks” or revolutionary ideas – they’re just good hygiene. Call them “best practices” if you like. The point is….as a full grown adult male, the notion that intentional grooming is something largely for women is something that you should already have graduated up from. Grooming is not about vanity, it’s about good maintenance. Like taking care of a car, expensive sporting equipment or a nice musical instrument, caring for oneself is one of the most fundamental disciplines that a modern man should observe.
Below are 9 simple things you can (and should) add to your personal grooming routine. In most of these cases, you will not see a major difference upon completing a single instance of these tips. However, these disciplines collectively have a cumulative effect – the more you do them, the more impact you will see as a result.
Preface: There are 4 essential things that will have a direct and noticeable impact on the way you look day to day. These 4 things should be a given for all people, but for the sake of comprehensiveness, I’ll include them here because ignoring them will render the rest of this list moot.
- Get good sleep – Maybe when you’re young you can pull off all-nighters and feel like you still look pretty good. But you don’t. People can tell. And the older you get, the more this becomes true. Also, you may feel you’re most creative when you’re working on the adrenaline of staying up all hours of the night, but in truth, those idea probably aren’t your best; they’re just all you’ve got because you’re not getting the rest your mind needs to fire on all cylinders and you’re too tired to recognize that an idea sucks.
- Stay well hydrated – Bottom line, your body runs on water. You can survive for over a month without food. Without water….3 days. If you don’t take in enough water, your body simply won’t work as it’s supposed to, so why would you knowingly make yourself weaker and less optimal?
- Eat clean – Even though you CAN survive without food, it’s not recommended. And the old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” is true. What you eat is the fuel that can either make you strong or tear up your insides. And when I say, “garbage out”….your skin is one of the main off ramps your body has for the toxic crap you feed yourself.
- Use Sunblock – There’s plenty of dance that can be done around the topic of sunblock and skin-cancer and their relationship. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, caring for your skin now is what keeps it from looking like saddle leather when you get old. There are some great natural options for when extended sun exposure is expected. Most of the skincare products I recommend below have SPF included, but I encourage you to educate yourself on this one and make the best choice for you.
- Shave on a schedule – Whatever degree of follicular growth you’re blessed with, keeping a consistent schedule with your shaving practice is key. In part, this has to do with maintaining a signature look (read about that here), but it also has to do with the way your skin responds to the abrasive action of shaving. Do you need to shave every day for work? Do you like to maintain a 3-day scruff? Do you have a full beard that you trim? Establishing a routine and regular schedule not only keeps you look clean and consistent, it allows your skin to develop a natural cycle that’s healthy.
- Clip your nails religiously – I can’t stress this enough. If you’ve got enough nail to get dirt under, it’s probably time for a trim. Same goes for toenails.
- Use a nail file – not doing this is the automotive equivalent of driving through a carwash and not wiping your car down afterward. It may look clean from a distance, but up close there’s all kinds of mess left over. Taking an emery board and filing the rough edges down is a finishing touch that makes all the difference in having a nice polished look. And women DO notice.
- Wash your face daily – In many ways, this should be in the prerequisite category; except that I know it’s something that a lot of guys still resist. Do you feel like washing your face daily makes it feel more raw and unhealthy? That’s probably because you’re not doing #5 and #6 as well. I like to wash my face in the shower when my pores are open. It cleans off all the dirt, grime and residue that builds up each day but you don’t really notice until it’s accumulated into a nasty complexion. My two favorite cleansers to use are Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser and Harry’s Daily Face Wash. Both are lightweight, have mild smells and leave my face feeling clean and smooth.
- Exfoliate regularly – There are a couple ways to approach this, so let’s address the first half of this topic first: Exfoliate. You know how a snake sheds its skin each season? Yea…your face is doing that right now. Fortunately for us, we don’t have a SYFY channel-worthy process for getting the job done, but just like a snake, it takes a little effort. Every day, your face produces new skin cells to replace the ones that die due to exposure to the elements. Exfoliating is simply helping that process along by sluffing off the accumulated dead crap on the regular. There are a couple schools of thought on frequency. Think of exfoliants like liquid sandpaper; you need to use the right grit for the job. Most people suggest exfoliating once a week with a coarse grit. For this approach, I’m a big fan of Jack Black’s Face Buff. It’s sufficiently coarse, so you’ve got to go easy on the rubbing, but it gets the job done efficiently and you really feel the difference when you’re done. The alternative is using a daily cleanser (as mentioned in tip #4) which also has a mild exfoliant in it. Harry’s Daily Face Wash is one of the best examples of this approach I’ve ever tried. It’s clean, smells great and has just enough grit to daily sluff off the gunk without ever irritating my skin. In fact, it’s so nice that my wife has started using it almost exclusively for her face as well. Which reminds me…I need to order more.
- Moisturize twice daily – If you get nothing else from this post, hear this: A good moisturizer, applied daily, is an absolute must. I like to apply mine after a shower when my face just starts to feel a bit tight and dry, but well before it has had to produce its own natural oils because I stripped it raw and left it to fend for itself. My go-to brand for this is also Jack Black. Their Double Duty Face Moisturizer is the one item I won’t be caught dead without. Another great alternative, recently released, is Harry’s Daily Face Lotion. It’s clean and substantial – it rubs in quickly and doesn’t leave you feeling greasy at all. Also, it’s got peppermint oil in it so it has a nice cooling feeling as you put it on, which is great during the Summer especially.
- Use a tinted moisturizer – This may be where I lose some of you, but hear me out. This may not be as much of an issue for my darker skinned brothers out there, but when you’ve got Irish and Cherokee blood running through your veins like me, uneven skin tone is a reality. Tinted moisturizer, for all intents and purposes, is makeup. Some guys may avoid saying this in an effort to finesse you into being ok with it, but I’m just calling it like I see it here. Tinted moisturizer is just what it sounds like; moisturizer that has some pigment in it. It’s a lightweight liquid that you rub over your face after applying your regular facial moisturizer. It’s not a bronzer, it’s not fake tan. It’s ultra-subtle; you might even think that it just rubbed right off and didn’t change anything, but shoot an A/B photo and you can’t miss the difference. I use a tiny droplet each day to spread across my upper cheeks, nose, and under my eyes. It smooths out any blotchy redness, minimizes pores, and lightens the dark circles under my eyes. I usually add a tiny bit on my forehead as well, because suddenly it’s obvious to me that my face looks fabulous and my forehead looks like I’ve been wearing a hat that’s too tight. Lab Series makes an option which consistently comes up in virtually every article on the topic; I’ve never used it but it seems legit. I picked up This Option from Mineral Fusions at Whole Foods (yes…in the makeup section). It’s up to you to decide if you want to try this or not – for my part, I probably won’t ever omit this from my routine again – it makes that much of a difference.
- Consider using an eye cream – File this one under pre-emptive care; good sleep, hydration…these are choices that pay their dividends in how the sensitive skin under your eyes looks. And no amount of tinted moisturizer can cover up saggy eye skin. BUT….there are a number of remedies out there designed specifically to tighten up and refresh this super sensitive area. I’m currently trying out Jack Black’s Eye Rescue, mostly because I love brand consistency….but so far so good.
- Find a signature scent, and eliminate other smells – There’s plenty of info to be found on finding a signature scent, how to apply it, how to not fog out your office compatriots, etc. The point I make here is simply this – once you’ve found that scent, don’t muck things up by wearing lots of other scented items. Avoid scented lotions, soaps and the like. Wash your clothing with unscented detergent. And for the love of all that is holy, if you have a beard, don’t use strong smelling oils! In the words of John Cusack in High Fidelity, “Get your patchouli STINK out of my store!” Understand, I’m not against beard products, but for some reason, people always want to make them smell “manly” which doesn’t actually smell “manly”…it just smells. Find a signature scent, stick with it, and leave the rest of the strong smells on the shelf at the store.
Bonus Tip: Be honest with yourself about how you look – I don’t mean this pejoratively. I calling for the practice of radical honesty with yourself. Look at yourself, be objective, and think about how you appear to others. Make your decisions based on what will make you look the best, not based on unrealistic attempts to emulate someone who you won’t look like anyway. Be ruthless – make the changes you need to and commit to caring for yourself in a way that helps you age like Cary Grant, not Walter Matthau. You may not think it makes a difference, but 10, 15, 20 years from now….you’ll be glad you became a believer.