Men need beauty tips too.
I didn’t take care of my face for years, all through my early 20s. I shaved, slapped some Old Spice aftershave on my face and walked out into the world, horrible razor rash and all. I didn’t care. I was a man. Well, let me tell you that once you hit your late 20s the dryness, the lack of maintenance starts to cost you. Right now you think it won’t but it will especially if you throw in smoking, booze, and lack of sleep. The trouble is that most men don’t grow up with much guidance on what to do about it. So, here’s a guide to doing your daily routine while also protecting your skin from crappy ingredients. Where I can, I’ll make tiered product suggestions based on cost because I know a lot of young people are working with a tight budget. For high end products on a budget I recommend TJ Maxx. I also recommend setting aside 20 bucks for three months because nearly everything on this list lasts a very long time even if the initial buy in seems high in a few cases. Think of it like a wardrobe, you don’t buy it all at once.
There are 13 items on this list and you absolutely don’t need to use them all. I just want to present options from someone who’s used them for years and found them to work because when I first started I didn’t know where to start. I’m in my mid-30s and people think I’m in my mid-20s. Part of that’s genetics but the other part is maintenance.
Nobody’s paying anyone for me to pimp certain products here so there’s no ulterior motive. Links are in each picture. Ladies, I recommend any of the below (minus the razors and the low end stuff you cheapskate) as Christmas gifts.
If you have a multi-bladed safety razor such as the Gillette Quattro or whatever the hell it’s called then get rid of it. You’re spending way too much money on blades and not getting a better shave. Go out and invest in a pack of these guys…
That’s a pack of 10 for $3.75 and you don’t need anything else. Do not buy brand name. The last pack of razors I bought was Target brand and they’re exactly the same, and I mean exactly the same, as brand name razors. I know this because one of my best friends used to work in a razor blade factory. Yes, they exist even though you never see them. He told me that they made exactly one type of razor blade and two types of handles. The generics had no branding and the brand names had Gillette and Schick on them. The blade was the same. Don’t waste money
The reason that companies are coming out with multi-bladed Wolverine style razors these days has more to do with inadequate shaving preparation on the part of the consumer. People just slap some slime on their faces and hold forth, slashing their way to a bad shave. The multiple blades mitigate somewhat against this poor shaving method as does the absolute nonsense “moisture strip.” You don’t need a moisture strip. You also don’t need a pivot head. It actually gives you less control of the blade. So, buy those cheap razors.
So, you have your blades and now you need shaving cream. You may have guessed this already but I’m a brush and bowl kind of guy. I bought a badger brush on sale at The Art of Shaving but any medium priced badger brush will do. Don’t skimp and don’t blow a bunch of money. You just need something serviceable. This one…
…is $35. The thing with natural hair brushes is that you can’t leave them sopping wet after you shave or the glue in the handle will erode over time and the hair will come out. Give them a shake and a squeeze and another shake and hang them bristles down if you can. I’ve had mine since 2006 and I use it every day. Badger hair is softer than horse hair, used in some brushes, and it absorbs and lathers better than synthetics. You’ll get a good creamy lather from this brush.
Next you need shaving soap, don’t buy gel, you need soap or cream. I have three favorites. I’ll arrange them from most expensive to least.
Number one is Santa Maria Novella’s bad ass super creamy shaving soap. It is hands down the best shaving cream I have ever used in my life. It moisturizes your face when you apply it and leaves a nice finish after you rinse that isn’t dry at all. It’s as slick as it needs to be and no slicker. It foams extremely easily and spreads very evenly. It’s the bomb. I’m also out of it and have been for two years because it’s $71 per container. However, that container lasted me nearly a year so it’s possible I’m just being short-sighted. Regardless, here it is. If you have the money and can splurge then do so.
Number two is Truffit & Hill, possibly a bit predictable as a second choice but right now it’s my daily shaving soap and it’s a true soap. It’s a hard disc that comes in a teakwood bowl which weathers the wet/dry cycle of daily shaving quite well. It’s a bit harder to lather than SMN but it does lather. I find that two runs through the bowl as in, wet your brush a lot, lather the soap, shake the excess water off the brush, then lather again, works best to get a true lather and not just soap on your brush. Truffit & Hill is $50 and I’ve been on my current bowl for seven months and will probably use it up in a year’s time…you do the math.
Number three is Col. Conk World’s Famous Shaving Soap which I first bought for my brother in 2004 because the bonehead was shaving using Ivory soap while finishing up with rubbing alcohol for aftershave. He still does this which is why his entire face has a powdery “I’m very dried out” look. To his credit, he used the stuff I sent him and I gave it a try soon thereafter. It’s good, it lathers quickly and is plenty slimy. The only problem I have with this shaving soap is that the bars are relatively small and you go through it quite a bit faster than the first two on this list. However, if you’re on a budget then this really is the way to go. You’ll need a shaving cup so just get a cheap coffee mug that’s short. One bar is $6 and you can get a four pack for under $20 so it’s an economical way to go without sacrificing quality.
I said there was only going to be three but I I have two spots on my neck where my hair grows in a swirl and this can make daily shaving a pain in the ass. My 72 year old Vietnam vet neighbor (thanks Jerry) fixed this problem for me by giving me a half full bottle of the following in 2004 straight from his medicine cabinet. You only use about a dime sized amount every time and it will last you half a year. It’s $18 and you just lubricate your trouble spots with this prior to applying your shaving cream. It makes the whole process easier for me and I get way fewer nicks.
So, now you shave. Hold a washcloth soaked in hot water to your face for 30 seconds prior to doing anything else. This loosens up the skin and softens the hair. Don’t rush your shave. It saves you seconds and costs you precision. Shaving is about hair removal in steps. Don’t try to get a full shave with one pass. Re-lather and go again where you need to. Be gentle because not being gentle causes skin irritation. Shave, then rinse with cold water, not hot. You want your skin to contract and if you cut yourself a bit this will slow any minor bleeding. Dry with a clean towel.
2. Post Shaving Tools
I grew up using Old Spice because my grandfather used it. In the mid-2000s I started to suspect that Old Spice had changed their formula. The powdery finish was still there but it left my face greasier than it should have and it felt sticky by midday. Well, they had changed their formula and you can now only get the original stuff from India. Nice one, Procter & Gamble, way to screw up a classic.
I was sad but this forced me to branch out. I have four aftershaves that you can try that are all good and, again, I’ll tier them according to price. They’re also not super common so there’s a novelty factor that you might very well enjoy while also knowing that you’re getting a quality product.
Number one is Santa Maria Novella Russian Cologne from Italy. This stuff is incredible. It’s floral over musk with just a hint of medicinal. It wears well and it has a tingling powdery finish and scent that lasts. You’ll get a noticeable astringent effect with it as well. I am absolutely not exaggerating when I say that I’ve not met a single woman that didn’t love the way this smells. It’s also $65 and I’m stretching my last bottle of it out as long as I can. I only have a quarter of a bottle left. Is it worth it? Yes, if you can afford it. Again, it is worth it. It’s the most unique aftershave scent I’ve ever smelled.
Number two is Musgo Real After Shave Classic Scent from Portugal. This is a bold scent and by that I mean strongly medicinal at first but it mellows and evens quickly. What’s it smell like? It smells like it’s straight out of 1925 Europe, manly but not overcompensating (vetiver and patchouli). This stuff is great for sensitive skin as well. It moisturizes a lot and I use it a fair amount in the winter because it kind of forms a wind barrier on my face. It does this without being greasy. It’s medium priced at $32 and I really love it.
Number three is Proraso Italian aftershave. It’s the most medicinal of all the aftershaves I’m listing here but that medicinal quality comes from the Eucalyptus. This is the black dress shoe of aftershaves. It’s not fancy but it’s absolutely classy. It has a powdery finish and tingles wonderfully. It’s also only $11 so it can be a daily driver if you like it.
Number four is really two from one brand and that brand is Pinaud Clubman. Pinaud is French aftershave and it’s stuff you can get at CVS or Walgreen’s which is where I first bought it. Back in the day it was as big a brand as Old Spice but while Old Spice marketed straight to customers Pinaud marketed to barbershops which is why they’re not now selling deodorant and everything else under the sun while attaching idiotic, Axe-like names to their stuff. Their product is what their stuff has always been. You can trust them not to mess with a good thing.
The first of two is Pinaud’s classic scent which is more complex than it has any right to be at $6 for a big bottle that will last you a couple of years. It has a powdery finish that doesn’t dry sticky which is rare at this price point. The scent mix is Jasmine, Orange Flower, Lavendar, and Geranium.
Next is Lilac Vegetal by Pinaud and it’s unique and, frankly, not for everyone. I like it because it’s light and has a very clean smell. On me it dulls fairly quickly but it maintains a smooth scent even though it fades. It’s smooth, that’s for sure, but it smells odd while it’s still in the bottle. If you pick this up then don’t let that deter you. It’s totally different when on. Use about half of what you think you should use while still using enough. It’s floral, it’s nice, but it is unusual. Don’t be timid. $8.
Now you’re done shaving but you have razor rash. Do this. Don’t question, I promise this will solve absolutely all of your ingrown hair/razor rash problems. It’s $27 but you’re going to have enough for probably three years. That’s $9 a year. This stuff is magic. Black men, razor bumps stand out more on you. This will fix it.
3. Moisturizing Tools, Do This if you do nothing else
Now you’re done shaving. You can apply lotion now or later. I apply lotion all over my face at night and use the following two products. The first is tonic that smells like oranges. I do this after I’ve washed my face. The second is Anthony For Men “high performance moisturizer.” The name is annoying to me but the stuff is fantastic and it’s almost completely unscented.
Even more important than shaving properly is hydrating your face and, yes, your neck. Ever see those old men with leathernecks? You don’t want that. You need to be putting lotion on your neck. Bill Burr explains why.
Here’s the tonic. You will feel it tighten and I appreciate that because I like to know these products are actually doing something. Plus, it’s got caffeine in it and I endorse all things caffeine related. It’s $18 and it will last you several months.
Alternatively you can go with something like Thayers facial tonic which feels like almost nothing going on but does tone your face. I use it sometimes but I don’t prefer it. Here’s a link to in Lavender. It’s only $7 and will also last a long time.
Anthony’s is the bomb. It also has sun block in it which is absolutely essential since most skin damage comes from the sun. It soaks in quickly and leaves no grease and if you use it right after the above tonic dries then your skin will take it right up. Do this with tonic at night and then just put the lotion on after you get out of the shower in the morning for the sake of speed. I generally don’t put lotion on over my aftershave. Do as you like but I’m always afraid it will mess things up somehow. I apply lotion to my forehead, nose, cheeks, and neck. This stuff is $30 and I’ve found that it lasts about two months.
And that’s it. Be consistent with this and it will pay dividends.