Of all the questions I get from readers, the most common are typically related to grooming. “What kind of hair product do you use,” “How do you grow a beard,” and “What kind of soap should I be using,” are all pretty good examples of common questions.
A lot of grooming is as dependent on the individual as style is. There are factors like hair and skin types that make a big difference in what products work for what men. That being said, a basic grooming routine can be applied with a variety of products and benefit most men.
So here’s what I do. I’m not saying this is the only way to do things or even the best, but it’s what I’ve found works for me.
First off, I shower every day. The rare occasion in which I skip a shower leaves me feeling sticky and dirty. It throws off my game and I hate it, so I shower every morning after getting home from the gym.
I also use soap every day. For years I’ve been using this all-purpose soap from Dr. Bronner’s. I first read about it in GQ a few years back and thought I’d give it a try. I’ve been through most of the different scents and enjoy them all, but the peppermint and eucalyptus are my favorite.
That massive brush is a relatively new addition to my routine. I’ve never been one to exfoliate. It seemed superfluous to me, but my wife bought me a brush like this about six months ago and I figured I’d try it out. If a man has never exfoliated before, it’s not pleasant at first. I hated it. But after a week I really started to enjoy it. It scrubs out dead skin and oil to really get my skin clean. I use it every other day because doing so too often will make my body go into overdrive on oil production – which leads to break outs. I’ll just pour the soap on, scrub the crap out of my whole body, and rinse off.
The Barbasol and Gillette razor are for my back and shoulders. While I’m a big advocate of letting most body hair grow, I hate seeing it on my neck, shoulders, and back. It doesn’t come in very thick and ends up looking more sloppy than rugged. Once every other week or so I’ll have the wife clean me up back there. Because I don’t have to shave all that often, It’s not a big deal for me to use one of the more expensive razors. I go through a couple of blade cartridges a year and it’s much easier for my wife to use those than my safety razor.
As for deodorant, I’m happy with the basic Brut deodorant found at most grocery stores. It’s cheap and effective, and I have yet to be convinced of the value of a more expensive brand. Some men may need and antiperspirant or a clear gel, but the old-school works just fine for me. My wife loves the smell too.
My hair routine is fairly simple as well. Unlike with my body, I only shampoo and condition my hair every other day. This allows for the natural oils in my hair to do their job.
A while back Mr. Pompadour reached out to me and offered to send me a few of their products to try out. The pomades they sent left my hair too crunch and didn’t hold as well as I’d like (more on that in a minute), but they won me over with their shampoo and conditioner. Both do their jobs well, smell great, and leave my hair feeling clean and healthy, instead of just stripped down. I’d been using American Crewe before, but am now in Mr. Pompadour camp.
The pomade I’m currently (and will probably forever be) using is called Royal Palms. The guy who runs the company is a barber based out of Salt Lake City. The barber shop I used to frequent had me try it out one day and I was hooked. The thing about my hair is that it’s extremely thick, course, and straight. It’s very obedient once I get it trained, but getting it to do what I want initially is a serious pain. I’m going through this again as I’m growing it out and have to teach it to lay down in certain places.
In order for me to have any success with my hair in the past, I’ve had to use products more on the extreme side. Things with high hold and beeswax, or even products like Murphy’s that are targeted towards a different demographic with hair even more difficult than mine. The problem with these products is that they either leave my hair extremely crunchy or greasy to the point of embarrassment. However, this Royal Palms stuff holds it like I want, and actually keeps my hair soft and pliable. I can run my hands through my hair all day without them getting trapped and without it ruining the way my hair looks. Win win.
A simple comb does the job for me. A lot of men will blow dry, brush, or use other tools, but all I need is a little plastic comb. I have one in my briefcase and another in my car just in case.
Because I have a beard, I only shave once a week. And yes, a man should still shave when he has a beard. I clean up my neck and cheeks each Sunday morning. Because it’s not a daily chore, I take the time to do it a bit more traditionally, with shave cream, a badger brush, and a safety razor. Both the brush and the razor were gifts given to my by family and both do their jobs excellently. I recommend going with a badger-hair brush over boar hair. It costs a bit more, but it’s not an item that needs frequent replacement.
In the past I’ve used different shave soaps but am currently liking a cream offered by Lucky Tiger. It’s a bit “thirstier” than other creams I’ve used – meaning it requires more water to build the ideal lather – but does a great job of creating a smooth shave. Depending on what mood I’m in, I alternate between hot and cold shaves. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Once I’m done, I rinse off and throw on a bit of Lucky Tiger’s after shave (along with some lotion).
Beard care is a bit of a new realm for me. While I’ve sported facial hair since 2007, it was always short enough that it just required trimming. However, I’ve started to enjoy wearing it a bit longer, and this requires some oil to keep my face from itching.
As for trimming, I use this little Conair piece. I’m 90% sure my mom grabbed this for me for $15 on a TJ Maxx run about 10 years ago. It’s got attachments for nose hair and mustache trimming, along with all of the necessary pieces for trimming my beard to different lengths and cleaning the machinery. I’m sure there are much better (and more expensive) offerings available, but this has served me well for a long time.
As for beard oil, I just got a shipment of stuff from a friend who runs a company called Can You Handlebar. I’ve been alternating between a few different scents, and they’re all fantastic. The oil keeps the hair smooth and malleable, gives it a bit of sheen, and prevents my face from getting itchy. An oil is a must for a man who’s just starting to grow his beard out and hates the itch.
When my beard is short, I just use the same Lucky Tiger face wash. When it’s longer, I’ll shampoo and condition it with the Mr. Pompadour stuff I use in my hair. Again, I’m sure there are better ways to go and beard-specific products would have their advantage, but this has been good enough for me for the last year.
Lastly, a longer beard needs to be combed just like hair. In the past, I’ve used the comb attachment that’s included in my shaving kit. However, I just bought this little beard comb as part of an order from Frank & Oak, and I love the thing. It’s bigger than what I was using, meaning it feels more substantial in my hand, but the teeth are still fine enough and short enough to work well on a beard.
So there it is. As I said before, I shower every day. On the days I shampoo and condition my hair, I rinse off with water that’s as cold as I can stand and don’t use the bath brush. On the other days, I do use the bath brush and rinse off cool. Face wash and beard oil are used every day, and I trim my beard and shave once a week.
Oh, and I brush my teeth twice a day. Can’t forget that all-important detail.