Blokes’ beauty expert Sarah Brooks-Wilson gives the lowdown on the easiest grooming regimen ever.
Looking after your skin, hair and body is no longer relegated to “women’s business”, it’s important for guys to take care of themselves too. Let’s face it: dry, rough skin and hairs sprouting out of everywhere is not cool or sexy, no matter which way you look at it. But your preen routine doesn’t have to be a chore; this guide is so easy, and the results so flawless, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start grooming sooner.
Cleanse, don’t strip
Cleansing is the foundation of any good grooming routine, and what you cleanse with is crucial. According to Emma Hobson, Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute, you should avoid soap at all costs as “it just makes the skin oilier and more sensitive”. She recommends a soap-free facial wash or a clay-based cleanser, which is great for drawing out congestion and absorbing those excess oils which men have.
Try Nivea Men Active Energy Face Wash Gel, $8.99 and Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser, $55.50. If you want to go one step further and follow the big trend in women’s skincare, use a cleansing device for a power clean. Just apply your cleanser to a damp face and instead of using your hands, use the gadget to work in the cleanser for an even deeper clean. The Clarisonic Alpha Fit, $315 has been especially designed with two settings just for men: one for shaved skin, the other for bearded skin. It’s worth the investment and your skin will thank you for it.
Speed up cell turnover
Dead skin that hangs around on the face not only makes the complexion look dull, but over time can age the skin and cause breakouts. So exfoliation (giving your face a good old scrub) is another important step, and one that will remove deep-down dirt and congestion from the skin. Hobson warns against overdoing it, as too much scrubbing will leave skin vulnerable to the elements. She recommends applying a face scrub twice a week after cleansing, using a gentle, circular motion and always avoiding the delicate eye area. One like Milk & Co Wash Face Wash + Scrub, $14.95 will do the job.
Products containing salicylic acid also get the thumbs up in the skin renewal stakes, as this miracle ingredient decongests the skin and helps prevent blackheads. This can be found in pads like Radical Age Defying Pads, $110, which you literally just wipe over the face after cleansing two to three times a week.
Moisturise your face
If you still think it’s embarrassing to slather on a moisturiser, think again — it’s essential to keep your skin looking and feeling smooth, supple and healthy. To do it properly, always wash your face first, then use a generous fingertip-sized dollop of moisturiser and dot around your face and neck before rubbing it in gently and thoroughly.
It’s important to find a moisturiser that works for you. Sensitive skin types will want to steer clear of any irritants like alcohol, fragrances and colours, while oiler skin types will benefit from, the hero ingredient again, salicylic acid.
While it might not seem necessary to slather on sunscreen as the temperatures drop, there are still wrinkle-causing UVA rays which pose a threat to the skin. “UVA rays are constant, even in winter, so you must protect with sunscreen even on cloudy, cold days,” warns Hobson. “It will not only shield your skin against UV damage, but it will protect the skin’s natural barrier and help to prevent dehydration and the appearance of fine lines. These often occur from environmental factors such as the weather, air conditioning, sports and excessive sweating.”
Apply a daily moisturiser which includes a sunscreen like Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Clear Face Lotion SPF30, $16.99 in the morning, and go for a lightweight hydrating balm minus the SPF like Lancôme Men Hydrix Balm, $85 at night.
When it comes to eradicating those fine lines and wrinkles, unfortunately there is no quick fix. All you can do is slow down the rate at which they appear.
Hobson says it’s all down to protecting your skin against the harmful effects of the environment and making sure your skincare contains the right ingredients to mop up free radicals (the stuff that ages the skin).
Peptides, vitamins A, C and E, retinol and antioxidants are the top ingredients to look out for and will help to strengthen and regenerate the skin.
The best way to deliver them is with a serum or moisturiser like Clinique for Men Anti-Age moisturiser, $65 and Kiehl’s Age Defender Power Serum, $72.
If you find yourself getting a bit shiny and oily throughout the day, keep a pack of oil blotting papers in your bag. I know it might sound a bit excessive, but they do work. Just dab the fine sheet over an oily t-zone and it will keep your skin in check. Alternatively, Hobson suggests using a medicated facial wipe.
Got a spot? Dab on a medicated spot treatment, which will heal it quickly. “Key ingredients to look out for are again salicylic acid, tea tree and biotin, which are all fantastic at purifying the skin helping to prevent breakouts,” Hobson says, like The Body Shop Tea Tree Blemish Gel, $12.95.
Mask away problems
You may feel self-conscious about applying a clay mask, but they’re very good for improving the texture and tone of the skin, as well as mopping up any excess oil.
It’s best to apply your clay mask the end of the day, after cleansing and exfoliating. Leave on for 15 minutes, wash it off and finish with your serum and moisturiser before you hit the sack. Do it a couple of times a week and see how much your skin’s appearance improves. Try Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque, $68.25.
Roll your eyes
The skin is thinner and more delicate around your eyes, so it’s no surprise that it shows signs of ageing before anywhere else. Apply a lightweight eye cream or gel that helps to de-puff the eye area and smooth out those fine lines. L’Oreal Paris Men Expert Hydra Energetic Cool Eye Roll-On, $15.95 contains caffeine and refreshing vitamin C to revive and awaken tired eyes. Just roll around the orbital bone after moisturising your face.
Clean and mean
Unless you’re bionic, the skin on your body needs the same treatment as your face: cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising. In fact, many areas like your elbows, knees and calves need greater attention as they have fewer oil glands. Applying a lightweight body moisturiser containing vitamin E after the shower will keep moisture levels in check. Try Natio for Men Maximum Energising Body Wash, $9.95 and VitaMan Sea Salt Body Scrub, $38 and Body Moisturiser, $29.
Spending time in the sun just for a tan is a bad idea, so don’t even think about it. Instead, consider the sunless option, and don’t worry, fake tans have improved massively over the last few years. You can now even use them to sculpt muscle definition!
Your main choice is whether to go instant with a product like Le Tan Coconut Water Instant Wash Off Self Tan Spray, $14.99, which is a mist so it doesn’t stick to facial or body hair, or gradual like St Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Body, $33.95, which builds up the colour the more you use it. Whichever you go for, just make sure you exfoliate and apply moisturiser to dry areas such as wrists, elbows, knees, heels and ankles before applying the tan to avoid patchy, uneven results.
When it comes to grooming products, a fragrance should be the final touch as you walk out the door. With so many to choose from it’s a minefield on what to wear. As a general rule, go for light citrus fragrances in summer and heavier, aromatic woody scents when the weather cools. Keep in mind that just because you can’t smell your fragrance doesn’t mean everyone else can’t, so don’t overdo it when you spritz. Two or three sprays is enough, and focus on applying the fragrance to areas such as forearms and back of the neck, as these will help it to last longer. Top seasonal picks include Zadig & Voltaire This Is Him! EDT, $77/50ml, Tom Ford Noir Extreme, $168/50ml and Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb EDT $95/50ml.
The hairy bits
Excess hair should be dealt with pronto, there’s no excuse. Should you be plucking your eyebrows? Yes, you should. It’s the most fuss-free way to tame bushy brows at home. Start by using a pair of tweezers to remove any stray hairs bordering your eyebrows and in the middle (there should be around a thumb’s width between the two). The best time to do it is after a hot shower when your pores are open and the hair follicles softened. Tweezers should only be used to tidy up the surrounding areas — don’t over-shape or try to create an arch, and don’t use a razor, ever. To bring the natural shape of your brows into line, take a comb and brush the hair up, then use a small pair of scissors to trim any hairs that stand longer than the rest. If you’re unsure that you’ve done enough, brush them down and check. Less is more: if they still look a bit bushy, you can use a tiny amount of hair product to weigh down and smooth out the hair. Add the Rolls Royce of tweezers to your kit, the Rubis Slant tweezer,
As for your ear and nose hair you can either use a small pair of scissors to cut any stragglers or go for a grooming device like Remington Washable Nose & Ear Trimmer, $19.95 which will do it for you with no extra hassle.
Thicken it up
No man likes to admit his hair isn’t as thick as it used to be, but trying to disguise it is a recipe for disaster. You’re much better off acknowledging it and tailoring your haircut to work with it while adding thickening products to your hair care kit. Trichologist David Salinger recommends a traditional short back and sides when hair is thinning as it evens out the two densities. Don’t grow it too long as it will only highlight the thinning areas.
As for what products to use, a volumising shampoo and conditioner will help to thicken hair and look after the scalp. Styling products that also create volume like hair powders, texturisers, salt sprays and matte styling clay all add texture without weighing the hair down. Try Raw MUK Styling Mud, $24.95 and Toni & Guy Sea Salt Texturising Spray, $15.99.