Grooming routines are personal, but hopefully we have the same goal: to smell fresher and look better every day. Doing anything on repeat, day in and day out, means that we start to auto pilot through our ablutions. It’s a bit like starting out at the gym under the careful tuition of a personal trainer; technique is everything, but without someone there to watch, monitor and guide our performance we can forget to bend here or straighten up there and before you know it, we’re not getting the most out of our work out time. The same thing can happen to our personal care regimes. So, here’s a list of hacks, tips and pointers to remind yourself how to do it better.

Shaving before you shower

Hot water softens hair and a steamy atmosphere open pores. A post-shower shave should be easier, faster and help improve your skin by removing more impurities.

Shaving too quickly

In contrast, if you start from dry skin, take your time. Rushing or corner cutting leads to mistakes, nicks and angry, reddened skin.

Sloppy Teeth Brushing

Nobody really gets taught how to brush their teeth. As children, it’s something we learn under duress and bribery, and then we’re more or less left to our own devices, save for biannual dentist appointments (for those who are good at keeping them). It’s no wonder most of us are actually really bad at cleaning our teeth effectively.

Dentists recommend we brush for at least two minutes, and that’s why some of the more sophisticated electric brushes have timers and apps to help you see where you’re brushing and how long for. The angle of the brush head is also important, regardless whether it’s manual or electric: if it’s flat against the gums it won’t be getting in and around the underneath where plaque builds up. So slant it to catch under the gum line. This will lead to less time in the hygienist’s chair, a healthier mouth and a healthier body overall.

Overdoing the aftershave

It’s tempting to go all out on the spritzing, but if you can smell it strongly, it’s massively overpowering to other people. One or two sprays should be enough for any decent eau de toilette or eau de parfum. Perfumers call the trail of scent that wafts behind you the sillage. It can be a nice thing but for people who stink out a room with their chosen scent, we’re here to tell you: less is more.

Not using a hairdryer

It’s not rocket science: a blow dryer speeds up styling time and achieves a smoother look and more polished finish. The heat produced also helps plump up the individual strands, making thinning hair appear thicker.

Over plucking

A monobrow or wolverine brows may benefit from a little tweaking, but know when to stop. Don’t go above the brow, or take out too much from the middle. You want them to appear natural.

Not seeking out professional treatments

Too embarrassed to have your bits waxed? Or a facial? Never laid out in a floatation tank? Ever tried microdermabrasion, needling, or IPL? Some treatments, like massage, have holistic benefits that help with stress and mental health, or they are results driven (i.e. will make you look better). If you want a chest so smooth you can see your face in it, or an all-over sunless tan, or to permanently remove every last hair on your back, there’s a way to do it, even in your own home. Treatwell is a good site for finding local appointments and mobile services.

Being disorganised

Packing in a hurry means you will have forgotten your razor/retinol moisturiser/glycolic peel. We’ve heard from well-travelled gentlemen that a pre-packed wash bag usually entails a well-groomed trip. Apply this logic to your routine at home: if you often go straight out from the gym, have doubles of everything you need in with your kit, or store them in your car glovebox/a drawer at work.

The same goes for regular hair cuts – remember to re-book with your barber as you’re paying. That way, the weeks won’t slip by before you get round to doing it.

Ignoring your nails

First impressions count and a manicured hand says you notice the details. This goes double for toe nails, especially if you’re thinking of putting your feet on public display after a winter’s hibernation. Don’t be scared to try a manicure or pedicure in a high street nail bar; the treatments aren’t expensive compared to an upmarket spa, the technician will do a better job than you will at home and you get to zone out and relax for a bit.

Loyalty to a lack lustre barber

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There’s comfort in familiarity but if you’re auto-piloting to the same barber and have been getting the same style since you can remember, you might be in a bit of a rut. To secure a better cut, ask around – word of mouth is still the best way to find someone good. Or see who’s coming out top near you on Instagram.

Using the same products for years

Been using a certain product for years? Shampoos can stop feeling as effective over time, or maybe your moisturiser is no longer up to scratch. Our hair and skin’s needs often change over time, so it might be that your tried-and-trusted are trusty no more.

Shampooing curly/wavy hair

Wavy, curly and unruly hair types might be missing a trick by regularly shampooing their hair when “co-washing” (conditioner washing) might be more suitable. You don’t need to cut out shampoo all the time, but skipping it and washing out with a conditioner instead helps keep the hair clean and the curls defined and frizz free.

Overloading the hair gel

It’s common, and we’ve all done it, but cut back on your hair product if you’ve been getting a little heavy handed recently. Also, always warm it up between your hands and work it in from the back of the head to towards the front. This means you won’t overload the hair and grease up your hairline. Remember: it’s always easier to add a little more than have to start over and wash your hair again.

Hiding a bald spot

Losing your hair isn’t an easy experience. However, sometimes it’s best to embrace it and move on. There are paint-on dyes and filling powders and all manner of ways to waste your money on products that play to our insecurities. These things fool no one; you’ll look better with a buzz cut or a short textured crop, trust us.