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Everything you need to know about Grooming

Written by Mr. WellCultured, Friday, June 19th, 2009 in Fashion, The Style Guide

6a00d8341bf67c53ef010536f98fec970b-800wiGrooming is something of a funny topic for most heterosexual guys. On one hand, society frowns upon unwashed men who refuse to keep themselves clean and neat- and, at some sort of arbitrary line, critiques men who overdo it. This strange binary of normalcy-versus-“metrosexuality” is often a point of stress for most men trying to look better- and, as a result, I get a lot of e-mails on the topic. So, to allay fears and answer a whole lot of questions in one fell swoop, here you have it- a definitive guide on grooming.

Part 1: General Grooming

Body Cleaning

Obviously, the number one thing you need to do to keep your skin and body in general clean and healthy is to take good, cleansing showers. Unlike what most will indicate to you, the average man has very little use for expensive bath soaps or extensive scrubs- many of the things you find at a grocery store will be just as good, cheaper, and generally easier to use. If you can, begin your shower by shampooing your hair, then work your way down with a body scrub- this way, gravity pulls the dirt down, and thus you don’t end up messing up anything you cleaned before. Additionally, if you can stand it, start with warm water and end with cold water- the former opens up pores and brings blood to your skin, the latter closes your pores and forces the blood back to your organs, theoretically improving circulation.

A warning- yes, you can overdo showers. As a general rule, unless in a special situation, no more than two a day- and even then, consider forgoing extensive shampooing, unless you must. Excessive showering can dry your skin out and leave your hair lifeless- it takes away the natural oils you need.

Shaving

Shaving is best done immediately after a shower, or at least soon after, when your facial hair is still relatively soft and moisturized by the shower itself.

Begin by rubbing warm water on your face where you plan to shave. Grab your shaving lotion and apply- don’t do too much, especially with gel-style shaving cream, which often is best applied rather lightly. As best you can, take a clean razor and follow the “grain” (direction) of your facial hair, which will not only help prevent cutting yourself, but also provide a much more satisfying, closer shave. Afterwords, rinse your face and the razor, dry the razor (pending it’s a disposable- this helps them last longer- avoid tapping them on the side of the sink, it can screw up the blades), and then dry your face off with a clean towel.

There are many different things you can use during or after a shave that supposedly helps- balms, aftershave, electric razors, you name it- so feel free to give them a shot. Many people have different types of facial hair (many men have incredibly coarse hair, some have very fine hair), so a lot of finding your “ideal shave” will be trial and error and personal preference.

Body Hair

This is a rather hot-debated topic.

Here’s the gist: do not, under any circumstances, shave your entire body bald. For some reason, there is a ridiculous presumption towards this trend that spawns (in my opinion) largely from a desire for women to do the very same thing- but avoid the temptation. Most women I have talked to on the subject generally agree that some body hair is attractive and normal- it’s body hair in excess that is really bothersome.

If you do decide to manage body hair, get yourself an electric razor with a guard or otherwise trim the hair in a way that maintains the hair, but keeps it light. As many will tell you regarding pubic hair, “trim, not shave”- a particular rule I feel applies to almost anywhere on the body. It is entirely appropriate to, within reason, lightly trim down scraggly leg hairs or body hairs, and obviously the pubic region should be trimmed both for sanitation and aesthetics.

The only exception to the above rules is when you have a “rug” of back or chest hair. If you somehow manage to look like Tom Selleck in Magnum, PI, you have a problem. Wax it or shave it.

Fingernails and Toenails

Most men forget about these. Do not do so.

Within reason, one should have as manicured fingernails and toenails as possible. Dirty fingernails make you look unkempt and dirty, and generally signal overall nastiness. At least every week, clip your fingernails and toenails, and keep them short and rounded- do NOT, under any circumstances, square them off or otherwise “decorate” them. Push back the cuticles, but avoid cutting them unless you know how- you can easily develop an infection.

Manicures are acceptable only if polish is not used. Get one if you must before an excessively formal function or something. Or, even better, learn how to just keep your fingernails nice and tidy at home and avoid the charge altogether. The best way to achieve this is soaking your fingers in hot water, clipping them, applying some sort of cuticle lotion (or, more reasonably, olive oil), pushing back your cuticles gently, and cleaning them off and removing any dead skin. You can, of course, do the same for your toes, pending you want to put forward the effort.

Hair Product

I hate to admit this, but the new Axe commercials are accurate: Women do not like men with “crunchy” or over processed hair.

If you have short hair, and choose to use product, prefer waxes (or perhaps pomades) over gels. Gel, which had something of popularity back in the early ’00s and late ’90s, has a bad habit of making hair “clumpy” and hard- something entirely unattractive in an increasingly natural hair world. Whatever you use, use it lightly, applying through your hair (back-to-front) to allow for an even look. If you’re confused or otherwise need help, ask your hairdresser- often, they will be able to tell you what works for your hair best.

If you have long hair,the key is to keep it clean- which may require conditioner or other products. If you have to use them, use them– messy long hair is absolutely horrible.

Part 2: The Extras

Cologne

We’ve covered this, so I won’t go into excessive detail, but just keep the main idea in mind: do not go overboard. Cologne should be a nice little secret that women smell when very close to you in a very brief whiff, not an oppressive cloud that dominates the olifactory system of everyone who gets within twenty feet of you. Also remember to pair your cologne with whatever deodorant you are wearing (or ideally, wear a scentless deodorant)- don’t conflict people with smells.

Facial Scrubs

Yes, you can use these and maintain your masculinity. Hell, PDiddy made money off of hawking Proactive and talking about his acne, you really can’t be faulted for maintaining your own. Facial scrubs keep acne and various oils at bay, make your skin look healthier, and are ridiculously easy to use- there’s no reason to pass them up.

Facial scrubs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and prices, but don’t obsess over them- just find something cheap and efficient and use it. Most facial scrubs are rather harsh, so do not use them more than once every two days, lest you dry out your skin and tear it up excessively.

Lip Balm

Use it as much as you please. Just don’t use lip gloss or anything silly like that.

Teeth Whitening Products

These are incredibly expensive, but invaluable for those who drink copious amounts of tea, soda, or coffee. Crest Whitestrips seem to be the common tool for such ends, but many other options work well. In addition, many teeth whitening toothpastes exist that will help you keep your teeth relatively white and clean- feel free to check them out. If teeth whitening is really an issue, consider going to a dentist and having an actual whitening procedure done.

Tanning Products

DO NOT USE. Do not become an orange Oompa-loompa. They do not work. Get a real tan.

Hair Straighteners

DO NOT USE unless absolutely necessary.

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4 Responses to Everything you need to know about Grooming

  1. Salem5 says:

    I’t would be great if you could cover facialskin-types and how to shave these one day. But of course, this would quite need some research.

  2. Paragon says:

    So, the cuticle is the callous/tough bit of skin surrounding the nail? I tend to clip that off when it gets to be too much. Bad idea?

  3. Irena says:

    As a woman who has been in a length relationship with a man, I have a bit of my own advice to offer.

    Products: Do -not- go the cheapest route when it comes to hair products. They can dry out your scalp, or flake off in an incredibly accurate imitation of dandruff.(I’m not saying you need to spend $20 a bottle on your shampoo, but, I do NOT recommend Suave to anyone, it’s cheap, dries out your scalp, and they test on animals which usually isn’t a plus for women, if they know.)Also, for heaven’s sake do NOT forget to use conditioner! Especially for men with thick, curly, or wavy hair. If it is not properly moisturized, it can poof out as well as become unmanageable. As for body washes, the same goes. You get what you pay for; it’s your skin, and many women (I know I do) like soft skin on their men.

    Shaving: Shaving with the grain is a good way to start off, especially if you have coarse facial hair. But going against the grain (Very gently and carefully) after you’ve shaved once with the grain actually gets you a closer shave. With pubic hair, you might just ask your girl what she prefers. (Personally, I prefer none at all) If you ask her, maybe she’ll do the same for you. 😉 And, if you can get a mirror in there, why not shave IN the shower? =]

    Scrubs: Don’t be afraid to use them on more than just your face. One of the most unattractive things in a male are over calloused and dry elbows, feet, ect. It’s not emasculating yourself to have soft, well kept skin all over your body as well as your face.

    Hair Straighteners: I have to disagree with Kirk on this. If you have wildly curly or thick hair, sometimes straightened hair can be a fun, nice, sleek change. Just don’t overdo it– really it’s all about personal preference.

    Lastly– if you’re confused or unsure about what to do, you can always ask your girlfriend (or maybe even a female friend) for help. Chances are she knows what she’s talking about, and it might just bring about a bonding experience for the two of you.

    Take care and good luck! =]

  4. LubbockGayMale says:

    As for heels/feet, I use a battery powered buffer on my cracked or calloused areas, then massage in a high quality foot cream before pulling on the socks. But be careful using cream and going barefoot… slipping on linoleum/tile/marble is very likely, and not a fun trip!

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