Grooming 101

Okay, gentlemen, you can lie and hide it.  You can pretend to leave everything as you found it.  But when you borrow your girls’ products, you must accept that that scrub is really nice and that lotion was probably made in heaven, which means you will probably end up in dire straights indeed if she knows you were using it ($$$)!  So, for the sake of your relationship and your skin, lets give you a rundown of what you should buy and you should religiously put on.  And for those of you who are single and don’t know what you are missing, prepare to have your world changed.

Guys, let’s face it, it is pretty rough out there.  Pollution, damaging UV rays, dry winter air or extra hours in the sun in summer…  Our face and our body gets it all.  We have to take care.  You may not think it is manly.  Call it whatever you want, but you need a special soap for your face.  A moisturizer, a scrub to get rid of the dead skin and dirt that accumulates and clogs your pores.  You’ll need a trimmer, a manicure, a pedicure…

We’re getting ahead of ourselves now.  Let’s not fall behind here, men’s grooming is as ancient as the Pyramids.  In many cultures throughout history, males have aimed to look impressive as part of a ritual or for religious ceremonies.  Even in nature, some species’ males are the more adorned of the two genders, like the peacock feather train and the beyond masculine lion’s mane.

The removal of hair has been a ritual of many civilizations.  For the Greeks, being smooth meant being civilized.  Ancient Egyptian priests shaved their bodies every day as a sign of purity for the gods.  And in Roman times, the first hair removal of a young male marked the beginning of his manhood and adulthood.  So why are you even thinking about this?  Even during the Elizabethan Era, men’s grooming reached a peak with rosemary water for the hair and sage for teeth whitening.  Let’s get back on the wagon, here!  After all, didn’t we come up with our own thing called being “metrosexual”?  What it’s really called is taking care of yourself, and you should do it all the time!

What you should always have:

Face wash.

Our face looses plenty of moisture every time we shave, so we should have a special soap for it.  One that leaves skin clean but feeling comfortable and ready for a comfortable shave.  Our pick: Clinique Skin Supplies for Men Liquid Face Wash.

Shaving brush.

This is the beginning of a great shave.  It’s also a great exfoliator.  So you kill two birds with one stone.  Our pick: Truefitt & Hill Silvertip Badger Style Medium.

Shaving kit.

Please, please find out your skin type, it will make a huge difference.  We talked in our shaving blog about how you should stay away from designer brands and lots of chemicals.  Choose oils and vitamin-based products.  Our pick: The Art of Shaving Full-Size Kit Unscented.

Razor.

Multi-blade, safety or straight razor, whichever you prefer.  Great quality matters most here.  Our pick: Gillette ProGlide Power Razor.

Face moisturizer.

Do not forget this one, it’s not just for women!  You should be more conscious of the damaging sun rays, even in winter.  Our Pick: Truefitt & Hill Advanced Facial Moisturizer (contains UVA protection and powerful anti-aging ingredients).

Eyes.

This is like a magic wand to erase that happy hour that was extended until the wee hours.  You will love it!  Our pick: Clinique Skin Supplies for Men Anti-Fatigue Cooling Eye Gel.

Smile!

A beautiful smile is the best accessory you will ever have!  Take care of it!  Our pick: Sonicare Diamond Clean Rechargeable Sonic Toothbrush (Consider this the Aston Martin of toothbrushes, with great plaque removal, gum health improvement and whiter teeth).  Bonus points: keep those lips moisturized and protected from inclement weather.  Our pick: Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm, SPF 25.

Body wash.

You need this in your bathroom, gym or travel bag for body and hair thoroughly cleansed and reinvigorated.  Our pick: L’Occitane Cade Reinvigorating Shower Gel (with moisturizing shea butter, sandalwood, immortelle and rosemary; essential oils create a purifying zing).

Scrub.

After the gym, a long day at work and all the contamination of a big city, it’s time to scrub.  You should really do this at least twice a week.  It helps remove dead skin and clean residue out of your pores while soothing your tired muscles.  Our pick: Jack Black Performance Remedy Body Rehab Scrub & Muscle Soak.

Sponge.

That loofah?  You can throw it out!  It’s a breeding ground for bacteria.  Choose instead a mesh sponge which you should always wash once a week.  Or, alternatively, a bath brush (the ones for a dry scrub outside of the tub).

Lotion.

You should have a good body and foot lotion.  Face it, dry, rough skin is not appealing on anyone.  Our pick: L’Occitane Shea Butter Foot Cream & L’Occitane Shea Butter Body Lotion.

Clipper.

We are not cavemen anymore!  Groom your back and chest, please (underarms are optional).  If you still have doubts, ladies approve a million percent.  They love a clean guy.  Our pick: the best all-in-one Norelco Rechargeable Cordless Grooming Kit (it includes an ear, eyebrow and nose trimmer).

Ear, eyebrow, nose hair trimmer.

Yes you heard it right.  We are not suggesting waxing or threading, but de-congesting your eyebrows is a good thing (no unibrows).  Nothing should be coming out of your nose and ears, trim trim trim.

Men’s grooming set.

You can’t live without this, even if you religiously do your manicure and pedicure, which we applaud you for.  You never know when you’ll need a refresher and be out of range of such luxuries, so keep one handy.  Our pick: Zamberg 6-piece Men’s Grooming Set (includes fingernail and toenail clipper, a slanted tweezer and a nail file).

And please, never forget to wear a great cologne.

Now, keep an eye out.  She might just start to “borrow” from you!

The Art of Shaving

Nips and cuts.  Irritated skin.  Bad blades.  Yet another chore to take care of in the morning, as if with our busy, fast-paced life we need yet another task, much less one that involves a blade and, if you do it wrong, pain and bleeding.

We don’t even know who to thank for such a genius idea.  No one knows exactly where or how the miracle of wet shaving originated.  It is generally believed that during the 18th Century, certain members of the French aristocracy began cutting their beards into various shapes and configurations using hot water and a straight edge.  Further adaptations to this crude process soon followed.  In London, at about the same time, barbers began giving shaves to wealthy patrons.  This worked well, for barbers were the only ones permitted to perform medical surgeries(!), thus enabling them to develop a very lucrative side business shaving beards, an easy addition to their regular surgical duties, as they already possessed the scalpels, cutting and shaping utensils required to efficiently cut hair.

During that time, several shaving salons arose, including one of our favorites, Truefitt & Hill, listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest barber shop in the world. Over 200 years in business, thanks to the greatness of their luxurious shaves plus the fact that, simply put, every man must shave.  Demand for their business is, likely, eternal.  Unfortunately, for many, the task of shaving has been reduced to the tedium of a daily misery.

Well, not to worry.  The art of wet shaving has been revived with all of its former glory, and is now more pompous than ever.

We cannot stress this enough: shaving should not be a skin-irritating time consumer that’s keeping you from your coffee in the morning.  So, you could either treat yourself to letting a true master of the craft work its magic at your nearest wet shaving salon, or you can get the right tools and put a little time and patience in it yourself and see magnificent results.  Whichever path you take, better skin and less ingrown beard hair plus a fantastic sense of well-being and relaxation await you.

So, here are a few of our observations in regards to this fascinating subject.  Remember, we mention it will take time, definitely repetition, and lots of attention to detail.  It’s just like the extra 5 minutes you put into finding the perfect tie to compliment your outfit, which you already know pays off all day.  Embrace shaving, too!  After all, it is something you have to do nearly every day.

Arm yourself with the best tools.  Customize, get the right tools plus the right products for your skin type for a terrific combination.  Also, keep educating yourself in the subject if you are interested in changing your shaving method.  We suggest you find a shaving clinic in your area.  Think of it as your Shaving 101 class.  A bit late, maybe, but it is always a great time to learn.

Ready to go?

First and most important: hot water.  This is going to be the first prepping step for your perfect shave.  Why hot water?  First, hot water helps in the removal of excess skin cells.  Second, hot water softens the beard hair, enabling it to be more easily cut.  Right after your shower is the best time to shave.

Next, remember to never rush your shave.  There are crucial steps for a perfect shave, and rushing to get out of the bathroom in the morning is the reason why many of us fail in the attempt.  Brush, cut, moisturize, all three are essential!

Brush.  Our favorite is a badger hair brush.  It’s softer and absorbs water quicker (always allow up to a minute to soak in your hot water; for a boar hair brush, allow up to 3 minutes).  The brush generates a rich and warm lather that will soften the beard and open the pores.  It also brings a wealth of water to the skin and is a gentle exfoliator.

Cut.  The razor is used to remove the beard, obviously.  For this stage to proceed correctly, the use of the razor must also be combined with the application of large volumes of water to the face throughout the entire cutting process.  This washing and cutting process is fundamental to mastering a great beard cutting power.

Aftershave (moisturizing).  Please refer to this as a process, not a product.  Aftershave is the phase in which the skin is thoroughly irrigated with very large volumes of water to cool, soften and condition in the most efficacious manner possible.  It does not solely refer to the application of “aftershave.”  However, it is important to remember that the use of extremely high quality colognes, aftershaves and shaving balms is very much a part of the overall pleasure of wet shaving.  Stay away from anything produced by a designer; hence shave creams found in department stores should be avoided.  Such “fashion-forward” shaving products are typically overpriced, in addition to being overly fragranced and full of alcohol.  Many also use various synthetic silicates that can create serious blemishes and exacerbate preexisting skin problems.

Whether you want and need to be pampered or just want to take the challenge and do it yourself, you will soon see the benefits and will not stop telling everyone about it.

Here what you need to get started on your own:

  • The Art of Shaving, Full Size Kit Unscented.
  • Pure Badger Black Brush.
  • Double blade or straight razor, your pick.

Or, if you’re here in the New York area and want the full-service experience, here’s some top spots in the city:

  • New York Shaving Company
  • Esquire of Wall Street
  • The Art of Shaving

 

You’re Going to Look Great in Your Tux…

So, we’ve been spotting a nice, slick hairdo reminiscent of the 1930s a lot lately, from catwalks to our fashionable New York streets.  Just in time for you to look wholesome and handsome in the holiday family portrait.  Even grannie will pinch your cheek and tell you that you look amazing!  So, if you’re ready to cause some buzz of your own out there this, here is what you need to know:

There is one very simple way to describe the typical 1930s hairstyle, and that is SHORT and SHARP!  In the ’30s, hair was a very important and integral part of your style as a gentleman.  Only a vagabond would walk around with long, uncombed hair (we’re looking at you, Williamsburg).  Going to the barber would be an important and often frequent event; you would have a shave, a wash and a trim.  Hair in those days had to be short.  Very short.  If your hair got too long, people would start raising their eyebrows at you in a most disapproving manner, and you certainly wouldn’t want that!  This particular era was obsessed with no less than perfect hair.  Hopefully we won’t get quite so extreme about hair length as our ’30s predecessors were.  After all, they thought if your hair was touching the back of your collar, it was too long, and one had to rush to the barber immediately!

We guess this bit of higher maintenance is what, in earlier revivals of the look, made it a favorite of older stylish gents, like George Clooney.  But for sure, one of the biggest comebacks of this classic male hairdo we owe to Mr. Don Draper, who officially gave it the man’s man connotation that has opened the door for a younger crowd to enjoy it without self-doubt.  Which is why this time around the ‘do can be seen on the younger fashionistas from the Village all the way through to our dear Midtown East neighborhood’s next generation of corporate CEOs, sporting them as the latest accessory to their bespoke suits.

Needless to say, we  like it!  It’s that “man’s man connotation” that makes it a winner every time it comes back.

This is going to be a very graceful and fashion-savvy holiday this year, so just remember this:

This style is all about the cut, styled neat and tidy.  The rule-of-thumb for this look is having a clean side part, with shorter sides and relatively longer hair towards the center.  Your hairdresser must cut the fine hair around the ears, above the neck and around the hairline.  There’s no space for casual untidiness.  When you’re checking your haircut before paying, double-check these areas – they must be cleanly cut.  A razor can be used to trim the hair at the base of your head for an even more refined and tailored look.

Once you have the ‘do, keep the parting straight.  For a wet, slicked look, apply hair gel before parting the hair, and then work the product with a comb all the way through the hair strands.  For a natural matte finish look, part the hair first, spray some hairspray on a brush, and gently comb through the top layers of the hair.  This will keep away flyaway strands.  If you’re after the classic finish to the look popular in both the 1930s and again today courtesy of Mr. Draper, then your product of choice will be Brylcreem.