The Affordable Grooming Guide
Bargain hunter? Strapped for cash? Saving up for that Lanvin suit? Contrary to popular belief, you can still look after your skin and hair without having to spend a fortune.
Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to try thousands of male grooming products, from the ridiculously cheap to the ludicrously expensive. And, truth be told, in many cases inexpensive products are just as good as (and sometimes even better than) those that cost ten times as much.
So here are ten great value products that won’t break the bank but will save your face.
1. The Moisturiser: Bulldog Original Moisturiser
In the last few years, British brand Bulldog has been giving much bigger skincare companies a real run for their money in the UK. So successful have they become that their products are now available everywhere from Malmö to Melbourne.
High quality, performance-driven, and with an ethical edge, Bulldog’s products are worth buying for what they don’t have in them (parabens, synthetic fragrance, artificial colours and other assorted chemical nasties) as much as for what they do (skin-saving vitamins, assorted botanicals and a myriad of essential oils).
This no-frills moisturiser is one of the best I’ve tried – in any price bracket. Quickly absorbed, non-sticky and instantly hydrating, it’s justifiably what the British like to call ‘the dogs’.
Available at Mankind, priced £5.99 for 100ml (plus three for two multibuy offer).
2. The Shampoo: Head & Shoulders Instant Relief Shampoo
With half of us likely to suffer from dandruff at some point in our lives, it’s little wonder Head & Shoulders is the number one shampoo brand in the UK.
As well as keeping hair clean and fresh smelling, it boasts a powerful zinc formula that goes to the root of the problem – a fungus called Malassezia Globosa that irritates the scalp and causes the flakes.
This latest version of the shampoo is designed to give instant relief from the itch the second it hits the scalp. It might not look very glamorous but it’s a bathroom cabinet staple nonetheless.
Available at Superdrug, priced £3.32 for 100ml.
3. The Post-Shave Product: Nivea Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm
Extra gentle, alcohol-free and packed full of anti-inflammatory ingredients like calendula and bisabolol (extracted from chamomile), this no-fuss balm has a great consistency and is a perennial best-seller for Nivea Men.
And for good reason: it does the job beautifully.
Available at Boots, priced £3.57 for 100ml.
4. The Gym Bag Essential: Wingman 3-in-1 Jetwash Boom
Space is usually at a premium in your gym bag, so a perfectly sized multi-functional product like this is essential.
Not only is it a shampoo and shower gel, it can also be used as a shave gel if you need to spruce yourself up post-workout.
Less than the price of the average sandwich, it’s great value too.
Available at Tesco, priced £2.95 for 250ml.
5. The Everyday Fragrance: 4711 Eau De Cologne
Don’t be fooled by 4711’s low price tag, this timeless blend of zingy citrus notes and herbaceous rosemary and lavender is a true classic.
Light and fresh – like CK One, Agua de Colonia or Balmain’s Monsieur – it’s perfect for daytime or gym bags.
However, since it’s an eau de cologne, it has one of the lowest concentrations of fragrance extracts, though, so you’ll need to reapply throughout the day for best results.
Available at Amazon, prices £15.39 for 300ml.
6. The Body Exfoliator: Lynx Manwasher
Also known as the Axe Detailer in the US (a far superior name to the ‘manwasher’), this palm-sized alternative to old-fashioned loofahs and expensive body scrubs is perfect for exfoliating skin on your body, while its smoother side is great for whipping up a lather with your shower gel.
Since the exfoliating particles of many body scrubs can get stuck in your most intimate man bits – not to mention in body hair – it’s indispensable as well as inexpensive.
Available at Boots, priced £3.99.
7. The All-Round Essential: The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil
Essential oils may have their detractors, but I always keep a bottle of tea tree oil in my own bathroom cabinet.
Not only do a few drops of this added to water make a great mouthwash, some men swear by tea tree oil as a treatment for athlete’s foot. What’s more, a study by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia revealed that it’s effective at treating spots and acne, too.
Available at The Body Shop, priced £7 for 10ml.
8. The Toothbrush: Braun Oral B Vitality Precision Clean Electric Toothbrush
According to a study by Sheffield University, electric toothbrushes not only remove 11 per cent more plaque from teeth than manual ones, they can also reduce gingivitis (i.e. gum disease) by 17 per cent.
With many brushes priced at the three figures mark, they can be what shopping channels like to call ‘a considered purchase’. Unless, that is, you buy this one, which costs less than a pair of designer underpants.
It’s not an all-singing, all-dancing, lights-a-flashing kind of device, but it still gets the job done better than a manual brush, allowing you to save money and your teeth at the same time.
Available at Amazon, priced £17.50.
9. The Boutique Fragrance: The Library Of Fragrance
Looking for a fragrance that’s a bit different from department store designer brands, but don’t have a fortune to spend? Try one of the colognes from the huge Library Of Fragrance range.
Quirky scents that capture both wildly exotic and familiarly mundane smells – from sandalwood, sawdust and gin and tonic to the smell of freshly fallen rain on pavements – they’re a fun and inexpensive way to bring some originality to your fragrance wardrobe.
You can wear one at a time or, if you’re feeling adventurous, create your own scent by combining different ones. There’s even one that smells like pizza if you fancy channelling your inner Homer Simpson.
Available at The Library Of Fragrance, priced £15 for 30ml.
10. The Beard Trimmer: Remington MB320C Barba Trimmer
I’ve had a beard for so long that they’ve come into (and gone out of) fashion about three times already – and in that time I’ve tried almost every beard trimmer known to man.
This relatively inexpensive one remains my favourite. Devoid of the gimmickry that boosts the price of many grooming gadgets, it’s sturdy, reliable, easy to use and proof that, sometimes, simple really is superior.
Available at Amazon, priced £24.61.
What’s your favourite inexpensive grooming product? Do you have a supermarket brand you really rate?
Let us know using the comments box below.