Already set about a sartorial overhaul? Then save some new year enthusiasm for switching gears on your grooming routine – after all, it’s a much simpler way of enhancing your appearance than hours spent curling barbells and cycling carbs.
That is, of course, provided you ignore all the marketeers’ new year noise, demanding you become your best self in an effort to shift a face cream chock full of ingredients that sound like sci-fi characters.
Ditch the nonsense and get back to basics with this, our blueprint for grooming success in 2017.
1. Learn To Wash Your Face
A fat bar of Coal Tar might seem like the only legitimate way for a real man to clean his face, but – and we hate to break it to you – your dad was wrong. Most bar soaps strip your skin of the oil it naturally produces, leaving it flaky and feeling like sandpaper.
To remove surface dirt but retain moisture, use a large pea-sized amount of mild gel or foaming face wash. Do this twice a day, in the morning and at night, before drying your face with a towel and moisturising.
Bonus point: use running water to lather your face wash (using a wash basin full of water only leads to splashing grime and product residue back onto your skin) and rely on your clean fingers (rather than the germ-breeding ground that is a wash cloth) to do the dirty work.
2. Moisturise Your Face
Still think moisturising is embarrassingly metro? Then brace yourself for a face more lined than Mick Jagger’s because, unlike the Stones, time really isn’t on your side on this one. Moisturising your skin is essential to keep it looking and feeling smooth, supple and healthy.
To moisturise properly, always wash your face first (see above), and then use a generous fingertip-sized dollop and dot around your face and neck before rubbing in gently but thoroughly.
More importantly, find the moisturiser that’s right for you: sensitive skin types will want to steer clear of any potential irritants like alcohol, fragrances and colours, while oilier skin types can benefit from ingredients such as salicylic acid.
3. And Your Body
Unless you’re bionic, the skin on your body needs moisture just as much as your face. In fact, many areas, especially the knees, calves and elbows, need a great deal more as they have considerably fewer oil glands.
Try applying a vitamin E-rich moisturiser after you shower. And don’t skimp – this isn’t as quick a paint job as moisturising your face.
4. Stop Soaking Up The Sun
This isn’t a cruel joke aimed at UK readers, still hopelessly searching for stray traces of sun to bask in, but a warning that, while the first few months of the year might not be its sunniest period, UVA (longwave) rays can still pose a threat to your skin.
Although less intense than UVB (shortwave) rays, UVAs penetrate the skin more deeply, often causing photoaging (i.e. the wrinkling of skin) and the development of skin cancers.
That isn’t cause to go full Edward Cullen and avoid the outdoors altogether though – your skin relies on the sun to produce calcium-absorbing, bone-strengthening Vitamin D. So, rather than shun sunlight, put the brakes on photoaging and protect your skin using a SPF. While a traditional SPF cream works, a SPF15 or SPF30 daily moisturiser makes guarding your skin even less of a hassle.
Yes, it’s about as fun as finding yourself at a free bar when doing Dry January, but it’s also essential for your oral health.
Often overlooked, daily (or better yet, twice daily) flossing removes food and plaque trapped between your teeth where your toothbrush – no matter how deftly you handle yours – simply can’t reach. Not only will your breath be fresher, but you’ll give gum disease-causing bacteria the boot too.
6. Care For Your Facial Hair
There’s never been a better time to reform your facial fuzz. Whether you’re going shorter, longer, or even giving sideburns a whirl, remember that hair on your face needs TLC, too.
Prefer a clean shave? Then start shaving with, rather than against, the grain. Although shaving against the grain might seem like it makes perfect sense when looking to achieve the smoothest possible finish, it actually roughly pulls the hair up and away from the face, resulting in the increased likelihood of nicks and ingrown hairs. Not a good look.
Currently cultivating a beard? Use a facial scrub twice weekly over your entire growth area to remove dead cells and flakes of skin, and release ingrown hairs. Similarly, washing your beard with a specialist shampoo every couple of days helps retain moisture, preventing flaking and dandruff, while a quality beard oil will keep it moist and smelling great throughout the day.
7. Keep Your Tools in Good Nick
Much like your car needs its annual MOT, your grooming gear also requires upkeep if you want to ensure it continues to deliver best results.
Probably the most valuable weapon in your arsenal is your beard trimmer. Take care to periodically wash the snap-on adjusters in soapy water, leaving them to dry on a towel. As for the trimmer itself, use a trimmer brush to clean yours of hair and then spray the blades lightly with a lubricant like Wahl’s Clipper Oil to keep them rust-free.
Clean shavers, on the other hand, will want to give their razor a thorough blast of hot water at the end of shaving, remembering to adequately dry the blades afterwards: water is essential for unclogging blades but wreaks havoc (read: rust) if not dried prior to storing your razor, so use a towel or, even better, a hair dryer to do the job.
Finally, products like RazorPit can help extend your blades’ lifespan by keeping them clean and sharp.
8. Accept Or Address Thinning Hair
If you spent most of 2016 desperately trying to cover up a bald patch, make this year the one you man up and confront your follicular fears.
Swap the combover for a shorter, cleaner cut that makes the most of your thinning hair. Use a thickening shampoo to plump up the hair you have (giving the illusion of volume) and steer clear of styling products that clump your hair together and/or weigh it down – that means waxes and gels are out; sea salt sprays and matte clays/putties are in.
Alternatively, if you feel your lack of hair really holds you back, look into Regaine and Propecia – the only two treatments (topical and oral, respectively) that have been proven to significantly reduce the rate of hair loss in men.
Both come with potential drawbacks, so make sure you do adequate research before taking the plunge.
As a last resort, you can consider a hair transplant to replace hair you’ve already lost.
This (often expensive) procedure involves transplanting healthy hair follicles from your neckline into your scalp, and while it’s not perfect (you only have a finite number of transferable follicles and you may require multiple transplants going forward to maintain your appearance), it can significantly enhance both the appearance of your thatch and your overall confidence levels.