Common Grooming Problems

I’ve been writing about male grooming for nearly fifteen years now, and in that time have been asked hundreds of different questions about skin and hair care.

Some questions, however, crop up time and time again. With this in mind, I thought it might be useful to answer a few of them.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to know how best to avoid razor burn, thicken your hair or deal with dark circles, read on…

Q: Is There Anything I Can Do To Thicken My Hair?

A: With up to 40 per cent of men displaying some form of hair loss by the age of thirty-five, you can see why thickening what’s left of their hair is often on top of men’s minds.

There are actually quite a few things you can do to make your hair appear a little fuller without resorting to those thickening fibres you sprinkle on your head like pepper.

Shampoos like Kiehl’s Ultimate Thickening Shampoo and Bumble and Bumble Thickening Shampoo are a good bet as they contain polymers that temporarily plump up the hair shafts, giving the appearance of thicker hair.

I also usually advise men to ditch heavy waxes – which can weigh thin hair down and make it look gappy – for lighter gels, sprays or matte clays like Hanz de Fuko’s Claymation.

Finally, never underestimate the power of a hair dryer when wanting to add a little volume to your style.

Kiehl's Ultimate Thickening Shampoo & Bumble and Bumble Thickening Shampoo

Hanz de Fuko's Claymation

Q: What’s The Best Way To Prevent Wrinkles?

A: Keeping skin hydrated with a moisturiser will help minimise fine lines (if it’s dry it’s more susceptible to premature ageing) but unless you tackle its three biggest enemies – sun, smoking and sugar – all the moisturiser in the world won’t save your skin.

Most guys are usually surprised that sugar is in the list but its effect on the skin is devastating, because it turns a strong and robust form of collagen into a weaker, more fragile version via a process known as glycation. The result is skin more prone to sagging and wrinkling.

So it’s definitely worth saying no to that second scoop of ice cream or, if you really care about your skin, maybe the first one as well.

Q: How Do I Prevent Dark Circles?

A: Having suffered from dark circles all my life (I suspect mine are hereditary), I have tried every trick, product and diet change imaginable and the two things that have worked best are sleep and eye products containing light-reflecting particles, like Dermalogica’s Total Eye Care.

Sure, ordinary eye creams can help but ones containing light-reflecting particles – a technology borrowed from women’s cosmetics – make a real difference by evening out skin tone and making dark circles look less obvious.

If your circles are stubborn, though, the best solution is to use a product like L’Occitane’s Brightening Touch, YSL’s Touche Éclat or Menaj’s Camo Concealer Stick to disguise them. Although the majority of men continue to shy away from anything that could possibly classed as ‘make-up’, use these products sparingly and no-one will notice you are wearing it.

Dermalogica's Total Eye Care & L'Occitane Brightening Touch

YSL's Touche eclat

Q: What’s The Best Way To Shave Your Balls?

A: It’s a sign of how much metrosexuality has changed the grooming landscape (or should that be manscape?) that this is the single most common question I get asked. True.

My advice is always the same: trim the hair back first with a gadget like the Philips BodyGroom or the Braun CruZer Body Trimmer (this makes shaving much easier); splash your boys with cold water to tighten them; apply a shaving cream and shave away as you would your face, stretching the skin slightly with your free hand to smooth it as you go to work.

Finally, apply a fragrance-free aftershave balm like Clinique’s Post Shave Soother once you’ve finished. Most importantly, always follow these steps when sober.

Philips BodyGroom & Braun CruZer Body Trimmer

Clinique's Post Shave Soother

Q: Where’s The Best Place To Apply Fragrance?

A: Most of us grew up believing that the best place to apply fragrance was either on the wrists or behind the ears, where the pulse points are located. The problem is, these areas are warm and exposed to the air so fragrance dissipates quickly.

A much better place to apply your scent is the chest. That way, the fragrance will be trapped between your skin and clothes (allowing it to last longer) but still waft upwards and out of the neck of your shirt as you move.

Other good places to apply include the biceps or crook of the arm as the fragrance will waft as you move.

Q: What’s The Best Way To Prevent Razor-Burn?

A: Men hate it when I say this but quite often the cause of razor burn isn’t the shave products or razor you’re using, but your technique.

When shaving we often use long, fast, sweeping stokes, applied with enough pressure to remove several layers of skin and moving against the direction of hair growth. Little wonder, then, that skin sometimes sees red.

To reduce the risk of razor burn, always shave in the direction of hair growth (paying particular attention to the neck where it often grows in different directions); use short, 2cm long stokes; avoid going over the same area twice (if possible); and never press too hard.

Q: What’s A Serum & Do I Need One?

A: I’ve been asked this question a lot lately, presumably because many brands – from Tom Ford and Murad to Lab Series and Anthony Logistics – now include one in their skin care range.

In the war against problematic skin, serums are your smart bombs: designed to deliver concentrated, targeted doses of skin-saving vitamins, antioxidants or other useful ingredients deep into the skin. These days, you can get ones that deal with everything from blemish-prone skin to reducing redness or minimising wrinkles.

The trick with serums is to use them sparingly (most men use way too much) and apply them after washing but before you apply your regular moisturiser.

Do you need one? Well, that’s a bit like asking whether you really need that new deluxe Queen/U2/Johnny Cash boxed set: you don’t but it’s still nice to have, and if you can afford one then why not?

  • Murad Resurgence Age Diffusing Serum 30mlMurad Resurgence Age Diffusing Serum 30ml
  • Zirh Reverse Anti-aging Serum – 50mlZirh Reverse Anti-aging Serum - 50ml
  • Lab Series Max Ls Renewal Serum 30mlLab Series Max Ls Renewal Serum 30ml
  • Anthony Logistics For Men Vitamin C Facial Serum 30mlAnthony Logistics For Men Vitamin C Facial Serum 30ml
  • Tom Ford Intensive Infusion Concentrate ExtremeTom Ford Intensive Infusion Concentrate Extreme
  • Billy Jealousy – About Face Anti-aging SerumBilly Jealousy - About Face Anti-aging Serum
Q: How Do I Avoid Ingrown Hairs?

A: All of us, at some point, have probably had an ingrown hair or two – but if you’ve curly hair you’re particularly susceptible.

They form when a hair curls back on itself and pierces the surrounding skin. By far the easiest way to prevent them is to exfoliate regularly with a face scrub as this ensures follicles aren’t clogged with dead cells, allows hairs to grow freely and also helps free any hairs that are just beginning to ingrow.

But if you’ve a little money to spare, invest in a Clarisonic Aria cleansing brush – it’s a brilliant tool for keeping skin polished and is great for guys with beards and stubble too as it easily gets to the skin beneath.

Thankfully, they come in black and white as well as pink.

lab series multi action face wash

lab series multi action face wash

Got A Question You Need Answering?

These are the most common questions I get but if you have a burning grooming question you’d like answered let me know using the comments section below and maybe we can do part two…