The Essential Grooming Kit For Modern Men In 2023
Did you come of age in the nineties? In ye olden days, there were no “influencers” – just your gang of mates, a monthly magazine and pop stars who’d only appear when they had something to promote (read: infrequently). Early adopters were the real influencers: that first person to introduce a new style to a social circle. Certainly, your hair cut had to be approved by your friends: going to school with a fresh cut verged on mildly traumatic as the unwanted attention was unleashed. But a skincare “regime”? Laughable. If anyone knew you had dabbled with your sister’s St. Ives face mask? You’d never had lived it down. Even dad’s side of the bathroom was low on inspiration: a Gilette razor, a tin of shaving foam, a sliver of soap and an ancient can of Old Spice talc? Mum was the one in charge of your ablutions – picking up a can of Lynx Africa in the weekly shop.
Collectively, we’ve come a long, long way since the men’s grooming market came to the fore. Fifteen years ago brands started to entice male consumers to add a one-fits-all moisturiser to their nuts-and-bolts personal “care” routine. Today, we’ve become increasingly sophisticated in our choices and personal care goes below the neckline: from manicures and pedicures, to body tanning and hair straightening – all the way down to manscaping. This is in addition to the regular man-maintenance of hair styling and beard care that’s keeping barber shops open on high streets otherwise shuttering at record rates. We’re catching up with women in the self-improvement stakes. Even the idea of makeup is catching on; so whether you’re more of traditionalist or a seasoned pro on a mission to try the latest foil mask enriched by hand harvested sea kelp, we’ve made a comprehensive guide to everything you need in your grooming arsenal.
Let’s start with the key products you need to keep your peepers bright and the skin around them from creasing like an old paper bag. For the mornings, use a de-puffing roller eye gel to massage away bags and help you feel more awake. Choose a richer eye cream for night when the skin is in repair mode and will absorb more of the active ingredients.
Eyebrows are a very important – but often overlooked – facial feature: they define the face (especially in the absence of a strong hair line) and open up the eye area when properly groomed. A pair of tweezers is helpful to keep stray eyebrow hairs in check, along with a brow comb to groom and fix them in place.
Keep some moisturising eye drops on hand to counteract the redness and dehydration caused by fatigue, driving, flying or screen overload.
The classic regime for the face applies to most skin types and all ages. Thankfully these days most brands cater to virtually every skin care concern – oily, sensitive, dry, mature. The basic routine? Cleanse, tone and moisturise twice a day. If time is short in the mornings, prioritise doing a proper job before bed.
Specific facial cleansers are PH formulated to be kinder to skin (than a shower gel) and can have exfoliating or pigment busting ingredients. Toners and facial mists, applied after cleansing, can improve the absorption of whatever you’ll be applying next: cream, lotion or serum. Choose a light daily moisturiser with an SPF to protect your skin from UV exposure. Like with eye cream, your night skin cream or serum should be more nourishing or potent.
In addition, weekly treatments such as an exfoliating scrub or face mask should be used to increase cell turnover, offer extra hydration or an ultra deep clean. Lip balm, often essential in winter, keeps lips soft, smooth and chap free. BB Creams, tinted moisturisers and even concealer are there if you want to enhance the skin, cover blemishes and spots.
Whatever the current trends dictate our facial follicles should be doing, chins are hairy and you need to know how to deal with it. Clean shaven? Get yourself a decent razor. Steel safety razors offer good value for money (a one-time purchase if taken care of properly) and reduce your plastic footprint. Where convenience is still king, cartridge razors seem to come with all manner of unnecessary add-ons including extra blades, batteries and vibrating functions: dare to keep it simple. For sensitive skin, wet shaving can be more hassle than it’s worth, so a decent electric shaver will save aggravation.
No matter what you opt for, prepping the skin is a must. Shaving after, or during, a shower softens and lifts hair, making it easier to cut. Arm yourself with a hot flannel, warm the blade under the tap and apply a good quality shaving cream or gel to reduce irritation and improve razor glide. Finish with a soothing aftershave balm with skin-healing ingredients like aloe vera.
For the hirsute of face, a specific beard wash and beard oil are essential. The former to cleanse the hair and purify the skin and the latter to nourish the skin and condition the hair (use a comb to brush it through to the dry ends). When it comes to keeping your chosen facial hair style in check, look for a quality beard trimmer with a number of attachments and guards for precise edging and cutting.
The essential rule is to stay fresh. Deodorant, body soap/gel and a body scrub should be on your shopping list. Buffed skin is smoother, softer, prevents ingrown hairs from shaving or waxing and provides the best base for natural and fake tans. As for hair removal, a hand held body grooming device will help tame rampant undergrowth.
Hands and Feet
Feet and hands need attention; moisturise daily to keep them in good condition and keep your nails trimmed straight, smooth and clean.
A well maintained hair cut can add more worth to your look than a bespoke suit. Someone who is impeccably turned out makes a good impression. A quality shampoo will remove styling build up and keep the scalp in good condition. Conditioner isn’t really necessary for hair that sits above the ears unless it’s particularly unruly.
In terms of styling, a matte paste is one of the best all-round products for short, choppy styles. Longer length locks can be managed with a salt spray or leave-in conditioner. Your hair is only as good as your barber makes it, so if it’s not working, find a better scissorsmith.
We are given one set of pearly whites for life and as the gatekeepers to your bodily health – plaque has been linked to heart disease – they are worth every penny of care. Make a hygienist appointment every six months and commit to regularly changing that scummy brush head. Whitening strips can help remove staining, but it’s always best to go the professional route.
A sonic toothbrush can be a game changer for both your routine and oral health. Meanwhile designer toothpastes from the likes of Marvis, Buly and Lebon helps switch up the flavours to keep brushing more of a pleasure than a chore.
While we espouse a certain amount of choice in the fragrance department, we also advocate a concise starter kit. In general, a fragrance “wardrobe” should consist of three to four scents: a go-to cologne for daily wear in summer and another staple for winter, and one, possibly two, evening scents that are deeper or heavier than the day options (think seduction).
By all means, if you’re confident you’ve found “the one” then there’s no real need to add to your collection. Others may find that different seasons and moods require different aromas: it’s a personal choice. Perfume houses, such as Floris London and Penhaligon’s, can make the selection process a lot simpler with one-on-one consultations to help you find your signature. On the hunt for a new whiff? Start with the all-time classic scents.