Guys have it easy when it comes to looking presentable. Societal expectations of a man’s appearance are pretty low compared to our female counterparts, though there are certainly grooming sins for which we are sometimes judged. The fact is, there is less pressure on men to fit a certain body type or prototypical mould. That’s an inherent advantage, whether or not it’s fair. However, many men take this as a license to not care about maintaining their appearance. After all, do gorillas wax their eyebrows? Does a bear put essential oils in its fur? Does a tiger brush its teeth?
A few simple grooming changes can elevate your appearance and give you a fresh outlook for most guys. Bathing, keeping up with your skin and hair and taking just a few extra minutes in the morning to maintain yourself go a long way in a very short amount of time.
In this men’s grooming guide, we’ll discuss some common grooming mistakes men make and how to avoid them in the future with our simple tips and product lists.
Beard Grooming Mistakes
Growing and maintaining a beard seems like a pretty easy concept. Don’t cut the hair on your face until it grows to the desired length, then trim it to style, right? But if it were that simple, there wouldn’t be so many wiry, unkempt, ugly beards walking around. I’m sure their intentions are good–they’ve made the wise decision to grow a beard after all. However, just like the hair on our heads, beards require a bit more careful maintenance to look their best.
The easiest thing you can do to elevate your beard to a GQ level is to apply a beard balm. We’ve previously highlighted some of the best beard balms available, and their benefits are immediately apparent once you rub them in. Not only do these products leave your beard smelling like an enchanted forest, but they moisturize and nourish the follicles on your facial skin, promoting clean, healthy growth. Without a beard balm or similar product, many beards become itchy and flaky.
Another issue that bearded men endure is a grizzly beard that refuses to be tamed. Combs and oils only serve to stoke its anger, especially if it’s a stubborn old boy of considerable length. Refer to our picks for best beard straighteners for those situations to find the right tool for the task. Wizards and bikers alike can benefit from the gentle but sturdy hardware of a well-designed beard straightener.
Moustache Grooming Mistakes
For some, the moustache is simply a part of the beard; for others (like myself), it’s the cherished centrepiece. Moustaches lend themselves to eccentricity and beardly expression, from the stiffly waxed antennae of Salvador Dali to the beloved caterpillar dad-stache sported by Tom Selleck and Nick Offerman. While moustaches allow for the bold stylistic display, they also open you up to derision if you can’t maintain them properly. If you insist on hanging onto a poorly groomed moustache, people may start to sheepishly ask if you intend to keep it.
The thing to remember about moustache care is that if you take the time to trim carefully and train your stache with products and combing, the results are superior. If you let it grow without a care, it’ll start to droop over your mouth, and you’ll look like Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters (he can pull it off, you probably can’t.) Ensure to trim diagonally to maintain an aesthetic angle to the moustache, rather than a stark straight line. Moustaches under about an inch in length won’t get much benefit from waxes or beard balms, but beard moisturizer is great for preventing irritation and blotchiness even from the stubble phase.
Not Using Moisturizer
Almost every man I’ve met is guilty of not using moisturizer or lotion of any kind on their skin. Especially if they engage in manual labour or leave their house, this often results in cracked and dried-out skin. Moisturizing your skin is considered by some to be a feminine ritual, but at one time, so was bathing. Applying moisturizer is one of the top grooming tips for men because it’s so simple to do, and the results are worth it.
Your skin is the largest sensory organ on your body, and it deserves to be maintained and pampered to a degree. Men’s moisturizing products also address excessively oily skin, which can develop into blemishes and acne. Take a look at our list of the best moisturizers for your face and body to find a solution perfect for your skin type.
Not Trimming Back/Body Hair
To joke about a man having too much back or body hair would be going for low-hanging fruit, much like an ape or a monkey. Indeed, while we’re referred to as “the naked ape” by the scientific community, some of us are blessed with a closer resemblance to our wild dwelling ancestors than others. Scientists still aren’t sure why, but it seems that many women don’t fall for hairy men. As time has gone on, preferences toward less hairy dudes have become more prevalent.
If you’re frowning at a reflection of sasquatch in the mirror right now, there are many solutions to your hairy woes. Shaving is a commitment, but over time it can easily become part of your manscaping routine. Various hair removal creams and waxes are available, though leaving some hair is desirable to maintain a masculine look.
Removing TOO MUCH Body Hair
While trimming your body and facial hair is considered basic grooming, some can take it too far. Unless you’re competing as an Olympic swimmer, totally removing all the hair from your body isn’t the best look. It’s also tough to keep up with the constant hair removal required to maintain your frog-like smoothness. Just trimming and removing enough hair to project a well-groomed and tidy appearance is more than most men endeavour.
Using Too Much Hair Product
Always apply the recommended amount prescribed on the packaging, and don’t combine too many different products. 4 to 5 styling products at a time are the maximum recommended amount. Any more tends to weigh down the hair and build up to cause irritation and eventually hair loss.
Too much hair product tends to make hair look brittle and stiff. Most men’s grooming guides recommend thoroughly washing products out of your hair at the end of the day and sticking to a few complimentary products that allow for a natural look that isn’t plasticky.
Unkempt Ear and Nose Hair
One of nature’s cruellest and most annoying little pranks allows hair to grow out of our nostrils and ears. While I concede that a small amount of nose hair could aid in trapping foreign particulates, long wiry nose hairs that protrude and tickle serve no purpose. They’re distracting and unattractive. If you have them hanging out long enough, people notice, and it reads as ignoring your appearance.
Before you say “all right then, I’ll pluck it out” and reach up there with your fingers, stop for a moment. I may have just saved your life. Plucking nose hairs with your nasty unwashed fingers is dangerous and can cause an infection that goes straight to your brain.
Instead, take a more evolved approach and employ an easy-to-use nose and ear hair trimmer from our curated list. Trimmers are infinitely safer and more hygienic so that you can maintain a fresh appearance without injury.
Eyebrows are the most expressive hairy part of your face, and the eye is naturally drawn to them in conversation. Full strong eyebrows can be a very attractive feature, but if yours tend to develop wiry flyaways or a general bushy appearance, it may be time to look at some grooming options. Even if your eyebrows have merged into a dreaded unibrow, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Hair on any part of the human body has the potential to grow wild and needs to be trimmed and groomed.
Careful trimming with scissors or an electric trimmer will achieve the desired shape and length as long as you keep a steady hand. There’s no shame in asking for assistance from a stylist or a friend. You can also wax, thread, or pluck stray hairs; just be careful not to get lost in the process and overdo it. Yes, men, sometimes beauty is pain.
Uncut or Poorly Kept Nails
No one cares that you’re learning to play Spanish guitar. You look like Nosferatu with your overgrown talons, and it turns people off. Not only are long nails an unsightly indication of neglect, but they’re also a refuge for dirt and bacteria. Poorly kept nails are better if only for the attempt, but a ragged, uneven edge can snag on things or become infected if it’s too short. Don’t be afraid to use the full array of grooming tools that come in a typical kit, including nail clippers, emery board, and nail file.
It’s best to cut nails right out of the shower when they’re softer. Use the clippers to take care of any hangnails, rather than pulling them and causing damage or irritation. Applying the nail file to the edge makes for a smooth nail that won’t grow into a weird shape or break easily.
Once young men hit puberty, the struggle against body odour and pit stains begins. The regular use of deodorants and antiperspirants is recommended early by parents and gym teachers (who have to deal with the smell). But a quick swipe of the old pit stick isn’t enough to mask body odour as we grow older and smellier.
The best way to smell good isn’t really to cover it up with scents. It’s to start with a clean foundation. A good men’s soap will remove the oily dead skin cells and bacteria contributing to body odour. We went through the work of locating the best soaps for men for you, with properties that nourish and hydrate skin in addition to helping eliminate odour.
Too Much Cologne/Body Spray
If people can tell you’ve entered a room just by the smell of your body spray, you may need to put it down. Applying too much of a scent is a frequent and innocent mistake. It seems pretty self-explanatory, and so many don’t bother to read the instructions for recommended usage. Generally, you’ll hold the can about 6 inches away and spray the upper body (armpits, chest, and back), not spraying in any one spot for more than 2-3 seconds. Scented sprays are concentrated and strong-smelling, so once per day should be enough.
If you accidentally use too much, applying some unscented lotion or wiping the affected area with baby wipes can mitigate the smell.
Rough Feet or Hands
Rough or dry extremities aren’t just a problem for construction workers and lumberjacks; nurses, retail workers, food service workers, and anyone who frequently wash their hands are susceptible. Repeated washing and dry weatherstrip the skin of its oils and moisture, leaving it cracked and rough in texture. If left alone, these cracks can worsen and bleed.
Daily moisturizing with vitamin-enriched lotion helps skin regain some of what it has lost, returning it to a well-hydrated and elastic state. If it has been a while, or such a regimen isn’t feasible, it may be necessary to apply hydrocortisone cream to soothe irritation and begin to reverse the damage.
Poorly Groomed Stubble
While stubble is a great way to avoid having a baby-smooth face without committing to a full beard, it can make you look like a hobo clown if it isn’t properly maintained. Taking no other measures other than not shaving for a few days can lead to an irritated, scratchy, messy situation.
Stubble allows for a roguish and rugged look without obscuring your features, and healthy stubble starts with exfoliating and washing your face. A beard moisturizer will keep your bristly cheeks and chin from drying out. From there, it’s a matter of trimming stray hairs and maintaining a clean neckline. An electric shaver with an adjustable guard is perfect for this task.
Showers too Hot and Drying Out Skin
If you suffer from dried-out skin that’s sometimes red and blotchy, it very well could be from taking hot showers. I’ve been told my habit of taking scalding showers is practice for when I’m in hell. Many of us love the hot water, and while a steamy shower may feel therapeutic, frequent hot showers do dry out your skin and worsen conditions like eczema. Even a few cooler showers per week can return moisture to your skin and reverse some of these effects.
Cold showers not only shock you awake, but they’re also the best way to bathe in terms of your skin and hair’s appearance. Showers using colder water tighten up the pores on your skin and scalp and help your skin stay hydrated.
Poor Hair Loss Strategies
The appearance of a thinning hairline is a normal part of ageing for a slight majority of men, but whether you choose to embrace it or treat the underlying causes, there’s a wrong way to do it. If you decide to let genetics take its course, do so with grace (everyone can tell it’s a combover.) Buzzing your remaining hair short is a good way to minimize the appearance of impending baldness.
If you choose to treat your hair loss, start the process early—the less hair loss needing to be reversed, the better. Start immediately by cutting bad habits like shampooing your hair too much (a few times a week is enough) and eating a poor diet. A food intake rich in oils, proteins, and nutrients will keep your scalp healthy and nourished. Cut out smoking and alcohol, too, as they also contribute to hair loss by narrowing blood vessels. As with most aspects of keeping up with your appearance, staying hydrated and eating well go a long way.
Shaving Against the Grain
We’ve all watched that scene in movies of a cowboy out in the desert waking up in the early morning, taking a straight razor to his foamy neck and drawing it upward against the grain with a satisfying scrape. While shaving this way gets as close to the skin as possible, it comes with an unnecessarily high risk of razor burn and skin irritation. When going against the grain, the blade tugs on the hairs before cutting them, irritating the skin and follicles. This can cause painful ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
Shaving with the grain still results in a close shave but without irritation. You can feel your facial hair growth direction by noting whether it feels rough, coarse, or smooth. If it’s coarse, you’re moving against the grain. If it’s smooth, that’s the direction the hair is growing. A quality single-blade razor is best for shaving with the grain, especially if the hair is washed with warm water just before shaving.
Not Dealing With Dandruff
Looking like you just broke out of a snowglobe every time you wear a dark-coloured shirt isn’t fun. Dandruff is difficult to ignore, especially when others can see the unsightly shedding of your dead skin. Most people afflicted with dandruff are very clean, well-kept people, but factors that lead to excess buildup of skin cells on the scalp and dry skin can persist despite their best efforts. Sensitivities to certain chemicals and shampoos can worsen the issue, causing it to develop into more serious skin conditions if the cause isn’t identified.
Using a specially formulated dandruff shampoo, exfoliating your scalp, and avoiding scratching are all steps that can be taken. The cold, drier months exacerbate skin issues like eczema and dandruff, so look forward to warmer humid times of the year when your scalp will have an easier time.