Movember has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that every man has already shaved off his moustache and/or beard. In fact, quite often when a guy grows some facial bliss he is welcomed into a world of new opportunity, including better health, more women, higher confidence, boosted respect; and did you read the part about more women?
A moustache can reduce the amount of dust, pollutants and pollen that would otherwise find their way into your lungs. A beard can keep your neck warm in frigid temperatures. It also has ability to protect your face from the sun, and will help hold moisture and oil inside the skin to keep you looking younger. According to one study, facial hair can also instill more trust in your peers, and help you to appear more physically fit, especially in the eyes of women.
And a beard is one of a man’s greatest concealers, suggests celebrity grooming expert, Diana Schmidtke. Whether you’ve gained some weight over the holiday or have a jawline that just doesn’t quite suit the rest of your face, a beard will create shadow and mystery, allowing onlookers to fill in the blanks with a more flattering silhouette.
With so many benefits of facial hair, it’s easy to see why some guys take advantage of it year round. However, it isn’t all fun and health benefits. A beard needs to be groomed and cared for in order to produce the kind of benefits mentioned above. But if you follow a few essential rules and product recommendation, there is practically no limits to what a man’s moustache/beard can accomplish (pull a kitten from a tree, save a whale, sing kumbaya, etc.).
The Growth Phase
“A great ‘stache (or awesome beard) doesn’t just happen on its own,”says Mike from the Grooming Lounge.”It’s got to be grown, maintained and nurtured.” So how can you take action? Well, you can rub it, massage it, or feed it with plenty of Biotin. But in the end there is really only one key to growing facial awesomeness.
“Patience! That is the key word to growing either a moustache or a beard,” says Paul from Beard And Ink. And Paul should know; he has an awesome beard. Give yourself at least a month to expect anything worth being proud of to make an appearance. In reality, a great beard can take a lot of time, so you have to be willing to put in the due diligence to get it just right.
“The first step to growing a Great moustache is to always moisturize,” says Greg from the Blacklabel Beard Company. “You need to invest in a good, all natural, organic beard oil or beard balm if your going to grow a mustache.” What should you get exactly? Well, Blacklabel Beard is the expert on these matters, and we kind of like the idea of having a soft smooth beard while attracting the finer members of the opposite sex. This is a job for Aphrodisiac Beard Oil. With scents of vanilla and cinnamon trailing you, your beard could become the best wingman you’ve ever had.
A lot of guys might make the mistake of not caring for their beard until it gets to a certain length. “You must start [the oil regimen] the first week or you are likely to be uncomfortable, itchy and unsightly,” recommends Greg. In that way, a beard is like a champion sumo wrestler–It is never too early to start training like a pro.
Beard & Moustache Care
“My personal favorite is the Captain Fawcett Sandalwood Moustache Wax,” says Liam from Regal Gentleman. “A great wax and all with a traditional sandalwood scent. I’m a huge fan of Sandalwood!” So are we Liam, and Regal Gentleman has a huge selection of sandalwood scented grooming products, including pre-shave oil, shaving cream, and aftershave.
“I use Apothecary87 and Bear Face for my beard and moustache,” says Paul. “Also Captain Fawcett; they’ve got a excellent reputation.” Apothecary87 has a huge assortment of grooming essentials, but we like the Man Club Gift Box, which offers up a classic barber comb, a bottle of their “Original Recipe” beard oil, Milly’s Vanilla & MANgo conditioning oil and some Powerful Moustache Wax for maximum handlebar hold.
Do you really need an entire gift pack to grow a moustache or beard? Heck no, but you will need a selection of these items to do it right.”Your results will depend on how you treat your stache, what you use, and how often you use it,” reminds Greg. “If you do this, you’ll be happy with the result.” And if you don’t do any of this, well– you can always taking up knitting at your local nursery home while you wait for your awesome moustache/beard to happen.
Bear Face offers an Ultimate Gift Set that any bearded man will put to good use over the winter season. It comes with a Duster Beard Comb, Beard Oil, Beard Balm, and some Mo Wax. So, what’s the difference between beard oil and beard balm, you might be wondering? Well, beard oil conditions your beard, allowing it to maintain a healthy appearance. Beard balm is a thicker formula that will help tame an unruly beard into submission.
And while we’re on the topic of taming; your beard will also benefit from a high quality boar Bristle Comb, like the one on the left by Kent, sold by the Brighton Beard Company. The advantage of using a natural bristle brush like this over a synthetic brush, is that it helps to draw out impurities (dust, excess product, etc.) from your beard as you use it. It also stimulates the follicles to help promote new growth. Urban Beard offers your moustache a comb, which is slim, balanced, and contains no synthetic plastic.
“Once you have the ‘stache you so desire, it’s all about keeping it well groomed and maintained,” says Liam. “Try trimming into shape and using a good moustache wax to get your handle bars in action.” Captain Fawcett offers a Moustache Wax Cornucopia gift box that is a classic recipe developed by the captain himself. It features an assortment of three scented pomades, including the aroma of Lavender, Sandalwood, and Ylang Ylang.
“Don’t neglect cleaning the skin underneath, so it doesn’t get infected,” says Mike. “And be sure to condition it like you would your hair on top, otherwise it’ll get itchy and scratchy and you’ll want to get rid of it.” Rather than worry about a bunch of individual products to keep your beard clean and soft, the Grooming Lounge offers an Ultimate Beard Maintenance Kit, including a collection of Bluebeards Original Beard Wash, Beard Saver, a Kent Slim Jim Comb, plus a few optional extras. Zeus Beard offers their own formula of shampoo and conditioner, featuring all sorts of natural goodness to help reduce irritation, prevent dandruff, promote healthy growth, offer a soft natural look, and leave you smelling like a freshly squeezed batch of Verbana-Lime margaritas.
The one bit of extra advice we can offer, is not to over shampoo your beard or mustache. This can backfire by damaging and dulling the facial hair (yeah, its more sensitive than some manly men realize). A weekly shampoo is probably all you will ever need to maintain an even balance between cleanliness and good moisture retention.
As in the hair on top of your head, a good cut will make or break your look. “Grab either a detailing razor or trimmer to keep it the right shape and length,” says Mike. Yeah, we’ve been so focused on growing that beard or moustache, we’ve forgotten that any beard needs to be shaped and trimmed to maintain its stature and your level of confidence. While a regular razor can do the job for basic shaping, a detailing razor, like this Merkur 907, will allow you to get a lot more fancy with your designs. It specializes in trimming those hard to reach places, including in between your eyebrows.
For bigger shave jobs we turn to the experts at Dreadnaught. Their Spartan Double Edge Razor is a classic, precision-engineered stubble buster that is hefty, shiny, and will likely outlast an upcoming apocalypse. It is easy to clean, takes standard razor blades, and look darn good. Another option is their “Cut-Throat” Shavette/Straight razor, which offers the precision of a standard straight-razor with the convenience of blade replacement. Harry’s Winter Winston is another good option for guys who prefer multiple blades.
You are also going to want a good foundation from which to work from for future shaves to come. “Moisturize in a manly way with the Cooling Moisturiser containing Jojoba,” says Justin from Dreadnaught. “It enjoys a fabulous reputation as the only natural wax ester with an amazing similarity to the oils created by our own skin, and is thought to help prevent oily skin and outbreaks of irritation.”
So far we have managed to avoid all electronic gadgetry, but ones beard can get a little messy without the occasional trim. Scissors work for this, or you could get something a little easier, like the Norelco 7300 beard vacuum. And your nose and ear hairs could use some attention too. Panasonic has a great line of wet/dry trimmers, including the Panasonic ER430K.
And speaking of gadgets with electricity, if you prefer an electric shaver, Fashion Beans recommends the Braun Series 7. Details is partial to the Remington AQ7A WetTech Rotary Shaver, and we like the Philips Norelco SensoTouch. But if you want the closest shave possible, we say—ditch the electric and go old school with either a double edge or cut-throat.
A tip for you electric guys considering making the switch, a razor is like a woman. It requires a gentle touch and slow stroking motions. A lot of guys who are used to an electric razor go at a double edge like they were hacking down a forest, but you need to think of it as carving out a Venus de Milo—with a slow and steady hand. It is also better to take short strokes rather than one long one, use a pre-shave oil to help the blade glide across the skin, rinse the blade often, and don’t forget the shaving cream.
To keep up with the need for new blades and other shaving accessories, the Dollar Shave Club can send you a monthly care package with most of your favorites at a reasonable cost. And if you’re wondering what do to with all the equipment we’ve shown you so far, there are a lot of options when it comes to shaping your beard:
As far as general skin care goes, a man has a lot of options. If you’ve ever watched a woman stand in front of the skin care isle for hours reading all the labels, you probably have an idea of how lost you can get down this yellow brick road. We’ll make it easy for you. You’re going to need one good facial cleaner. Kieh’ls Facial Fuel Face Wash is a great day to day cleanser. It features active ingredients to help scrub off old skin cells, but it is also gentle enough not to cause too much irritation. Anthony Logistics Glycolic Facial Cleanser exfoliates the dead cells, stimulates the growth of new ones, and can even help if your skin if it is prone to breakouts.
As far as moisturizers go, you don’t need anything too fancy, just something that works. The Motley recommends the Port Products Balancing Daily Moisturizer, and we can’t argue with that. It offers a natural ingredient list free of parabens, sulfates, and fragrance, which are the enemies to awesome skin. One important tip is to remember when choosing your moisturizer is that dry skin will enjoy the extra lubricating properties of oil-based lotion, while oily skin will fare better with water-based. If you have normal skin, it is usually best to lean towards the oil-based side of the fence.
To allow your moisturizer to work at maximum performance, apply it while your skin is still damp from cleansing. This will help lock moisture in, and allow your moisturizer an easier time at doing its job. The nighttime is when a man has the greatest chance to repair any damage that has occurred from the day before. Fashion Beans recommends Baxter of California Night Cream AHA, which helps to dislodge dead skin cells and will leave you looking more refreshed by the morning.
What goes into your body also demonstrates what you get out of it, so keep in mind that sleep is important, eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, avoiding direct sun with a good UVA and UVB protectant with at least an SPF of 15 or more. The Motley offers a nice balance of sun protection with their Beyond Coastal Active SPF34 Sunscreen. It absorbs quickly, doesn’t leave your skin feeling oily, and offers a few extra ingredients (aloe vera, green tea, vitamins) that also help to nourish, repair and hydrate as it protects.
The eyes are one of the first things that a woman notices on a man, and it is a shame that some guys don’t care for this all important body part as well as they should. In particular we are talking about the skin around your eyes, which frames your character along with your eyelashes and eyebrows. Wrinkles, bags, and dark circles will take away your youth before it’s time, and the skin around your eyes can begin to breakdown as early as your mid to late twenties, so it is never too early to begin. Biotherm makes a killer eye cream called High Recharge Eye Shot. Dior Homme has an anti-fatigue firming eye serum that will not only moisturize, but can help remove some of the damage that has already occurred (dark circles, puffiness, etc.). Another good all-purpose eye cream is Dermalogica Total Eye Care with SPF15.
Men like to know their shampoo and conditioner is working for them, which is why a lot of peppermint formulas are popular in the guy markets. They cause the scalp to tingle and dance with icy fireworks. This year we learned that one does not need to travel far to enjoy such bliss when you shop online at Mr. Pompadour.
Dry shampoo is a relatively new addition in a mans arsenal grooming products, and from our own experience it works great at absorbing excess oil while applying a little freshening fragrance to the mix. Batiste Dry Shampoo Original offers a simple formula that keeps your hair fresh, and you won’t have to steel the flowery smelling stuff in your girlfriends medicine cabinet.
We have also learned that hair gel is always better to be seen than heard, which is why we are big fans of the brand, Hair Situation. It combs out almost as smoothly as it goes on, and they offer enough variety in their four products to enable you to do just about anything you want, and not have to pay for it later with the dreaded fly trap head (locks of stickiness). Pomades, sculpting clays, and wax go into the hair (rather than on top) to create a natural, touchable style. It works best for the gentleman with short to medium hair, and we’re big fans of Mr. Pompadour’s Matte Sculpting Clay. Just remember that a little dab goes a long way.
While some guys are more worried about what they’re putting into their hair, other guys are more concerned with just how much more time they will have with theirs. Male Pattern hair loss is difficult to avoid for some, but before you classify yourself as doomed without a doctor’s opinion, keep in mind that there are plenty of other reasons that some guys experience temporary hair loss. The basics of hair care can be forsaken, while relying too much on hair products to make all the magic happen. You need to sleep somewhere between 7 to 8 hours a day, reduce your daily stress, and eat your vitamins to maintain a healthy head of hair.
However, if there is no denying that your hair is on the way out, and the standard tricks and tips don’t seem to be helping–own the look. Guys, you may see change as bad, especially when it has to do with your once full head of hair, but you should take pride in your style no matter what. Any look (hair or no hair) can be carried out with grace as long as you approach it with class and confidence. If you’re all out of ideas, head to your barber with an open mind. They have been trained to deal with these sorts of problems, and they can probably give you some pretty good advice on how to wear your hair to get the most out of it.
And no grooming lesson would be complete without touching upon the topic of manscaping. According to various surveys, close to three-fourths of men trim or shave their body hair at some point in their life. The legendary tool for most all your manscaping needs should fall to the Philips Norelco Bodygroom 5100. it offers a handy back shaving attachment and its unique head design will help to protect from nicks in those, ahem, most sensitive areas.
We asked Mr. Porter for some suggestions to keep your beard awesome this holiday season, and they suggested that every beard looks better on a gentleman when he smells like a gentleman. We agree, which is where a couple ounces of Byredo Gypsy Water comes in. It has a unique scent of bergamot, peppers and berries, with just a hint of vanilla and amber. Tom Daxon’s Reverie offers up a a bouquet of Iris oil, which has been painstakingly dried for a period of five years to develop its refined aroma. He then supplements it with some ginger, rosemary, and citrus to offer you a lasting signature note.
Regal Gentleman recommends the manly scent of Sothys Eau De Toilette Intense. D’Marge has done their homework, offering up the best men’s fragrances of 2014. Their list includes Pour Homme by Bottega Veneta, Ambre Nuit by Christian Dior, Rose D’Arabie by Armani Prive, Brit Play by Burberry, Forever Now by Gucci, Tobacco Oud by Tom Ford, and Gentleman Only Intense by Givenchy.
And to nick two birds for the price of one stone, Castle Forbes Essential Oil Aftershave Balm offers up the light scent of lime along with a dose of moisturizer and razor rash busters (Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera). And don’t forget about the huge selection of beard oil scents available at the Blacklabel Beard Company. And for general cleanliness and pleasant aroma, we highly recommend the ManCave “Originals” Gift Set. It comes with all the everyday essentials, including moisturizer, face wash, shampoo, shower gel, and aluminum-free deodorant.
The Czech & Speake Number 88 Shaving Set offer by Mr. Porter make traveling more enjoyable, by including everything you need for a great shave all in one kit. It includes a badger hair brush, Number 88 soap block, soap dish, and a safety razor that accepts Gillette Mach 3 blades. Baxter of California also makes a nice travel-sized shave brush. The Tweezerman G.E.A.R Grooming kit by the Grooming Lounge takes care of your nails and hair with the basic tools (multi-nail tool, tweezers, scissors, and fingernail clipper). If air travel is a concern, Czeck & Speake make a teflon coated travel-friendly manicure set also available at Mr. Porter.
As far as keeping all your stuff together, we like the classic look of the American Heritage Leather Travel Kit, by the J.W. Hulme Co, or the simplicity of the “Guy Stuff” Pouch by Flight 001. For whipping up your own shaving cream lather, Dreadnaught offers a nice porcelain shaving bowl. There is also a drip stand to keep your natural shaving brush in peak condition. EShave.com offers a classy and elegant t-stand for both your razor and brush.
A Goateesaver can keep your goatee straight and true, and a razor sharpener by RazorPit will keep almost any single blade cartridge sharp for months. A good old-fashioned Razor Strop is also a must for the guys who like to keep your straight razor clean, sharp and awesome. And once your officially a part of the bearded/moustache man’s club, display your pride with a t-shirt from Beard And Ink. We like the “Your Face Needs a Beard” Tee. But there is a lot more than that to choose from.
We humbly thank all the experts who helped make this guide possible.
Final Word: Beards, hair and skin cost money; How awesome do you want to be?
Get more ideas from Our Holiday Gift Guide.