To look your best, you don't need $3000 suits, seven-step, Patrick Bateman-esque face cream routines, or eating obscure Eastern Mediterranean melon extract. It's about a routine of basic hygiene habits, a little creativity and DIY ingenuity, and some plain old common sense.
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1. You can make your haircut last two weeks longer - Visiting the barber every three weeks is fine if you want to spend the time and money, but there are some standard tips - using only a pair of scissors and your bathroom mirror - that will help you eliminate the shagginess.
First, comb your sideburns forward (towards your nose), and trim any excess right along the natural line. Then, comb them back, towards your ear, and trim. Follow along the natural curve of your ear to snip away any fuzziness, making small vertical cuts, rather than big, chunky horizontal ones. You could repeat this every four or five days to keep things clean and crisp.
Then, if you'd like, comb or style your hair as usual, and begin to trim the back. You can use a secondary handheld mirror if you have one, but some small, short clips where the bottom of your scalp meets the thinner, curly neck hair will make a big difference.
Lastly, check your cowlick, part, and other transition areas, and make very small snips to naturally fade things back together. It's amazing what removing 1/8-1/4" of hair can do.
2. Tame it with lip balm - When you're out for the day, and your hair or beard starts acting up with crazy licks and wily moustache hairs, calm it down with something you already have in your pocket - lip balm. It's made of the same stuff as styling products - wax and essential oils - so it's safe to apply on your face. Just dab a little on your fingers, and rub it around to warm it up. Apply to the problem area, then use a clean finger or comb to smooth things out.
Oh, you don't carry lip balm? Then get on it, sir. Dry lips are foolish and painful, not manly.
3. Stop wearing white tube socks - Unless you're at the gym or playing a sport - and maybe not even then - I can't think of a single time an adult man needs to wear white cotton crew-length tube socks. The stark contrast between your shoes and your pants and the (dirty) white of sweat socks works on exactly no one.
If you want the comfort of thick cotton, go for a medium or dark gray, and keep 'em short. Generally, you want to stick to dark grey, blue, or brown, even with sneakers and jeans. Black only works with black pants and black shoes. Don't go out and trash every pair you have, but when it comes time to replace, go for a dark grey as your standard. And never underestimate the power of wool socks. Your feet will thank you.
4. Use a washcloth or sponge in the shower - Since the advent of liquid body wash, many men simply squirt in their hands, lather, and start washing. But your skin is covered with a layer of dead skin cells, so the combo of smooth hands, smooth soap, and smooth, wet skin simply glosses over that layer. No frilly loofas need apply ... just use something as simple as a wash cloth or sponge that will lightly exfoliate the dead skin and, as a result, get you looking cleaner and fresher.
5. Use warm and cold water when shaving - Warm water opens your pores, and softens your beard, making it easier to cut. Keep things warm and steamy when shaving - soaking, rinsing, etc. Shaving in the shower (or just after) will make things plenty smooth.
Once you've rinsed and wiped down, splash your face with cold water to close your pores while everything is clean, which will further prevent burn and irritation. Only then should you lightly apply an after shave or moisturizer.
6. Your beard and facial hair shouldn't all be one length - You don't grow a beard by simply not shaving. Unless you're going for the Santa Claus look, facial hair, no matter the style, requires some care. You don't expect the barber to just buzz your hair all to one length and have it come out looking kempt, so don't expect the same of your beard.
So, try to fade all transition lines - your cheeks, your sideburns, your neck, perhaps even your nose and mustache, depending on your growth. Avoid a rigid, overly manicured look, and continue to use a razor on your upper cheeks and anything below the top of your Adam's apple.
7. Smell Like a Man - At some point, you're going to have to figure out what your smell is. Now's a good time to start incorporating it into your daily routine. According to a survey commissioned by Gillette, 83% of women surveyed said smelling bad would be the biggest turn off when meeting guy, so even if you don't notice it, someone else will.
If you don't already have a cologne, lotion, or body wash that suits you, try experimenting. There's nothing wrong with ordering a bunch of samples online and wearing one a day for a few weeks. Keep a log of what you like and what you don't, and what reactions you get. That's usually the best way to go. Ask the people you trust - women and men - for their honest opinion.
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8. Tuck In Your Shirt - Just try it, especially if you're wearing a sport coat or sweater. It can help give shirts you already own a whole new look.
9. Take care of your hands, fingers and toes - Like it or not, people will judge you by your hands. Whether you care what they think is entirely up to you, but at least be aware that the state of your hands, fingers, nails and toes says something about you. Make sure you like what it's saying.
If you're in the workshop, the garage, or at the gym, your hands are going to show it. And that's fine. But for most other contexts, you want your fingernails clean and trimmed; same goes for toes, and clean up those hangnails. Dry, flaky skin is a problem for everyone this time of year (winter), so find a basic, unscented lotion you like and use it. A basic $2.00 pumice stone can work wonders for your feet.
10. Trim Your Nose Hairs - I know, this is kinda weird, but it's true ... as you get older you get nose hairs, and you need to keep 'em out of sight. Nothing says, "I didn't even look in the mirror this morning" like a big 'ol scraggly hair hanging out of your nostril. Get a nose-trimmer attachment for your beard trimmer, or just some nose-trimming scissors (the kind with the rounded tips so you don't butcher yourself), and make a point of not becoming your grandfather (at least in that one department).
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This post is sponsored by Gillette Clear Gel.
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