In all scenarios, chances are how you look is going to be front of mind. You don’t need a rogue spot or bad hair to let you down. Fortunately, you can out-groom every blemish that stands a chance of knocking your confidence well in advance. Here are the proactive steps you can take to ensure that, when it comes to personal grooming at least, you’re always at your best.
Freshen Your Breath
According to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research in America, 86 per cent of people said that bad breath on a first date was a deal breaker, while 58 per cent of women said they’d end a relationship if halitosis was a constant problem. These facts probably explain why nearly three quarters of us feel less confident on a date if we’re worried about our breath.
And while it’s easy to blame a love of spicy food and onions, one of the main causes of bad breath is not cleaning between the teeth properly – you only have to swiftly sniff a piece of dental floss after you’ve used it for proof of this. And yet, less than a quarter of us floss daily.
“Men, especially, seem to have problems flossing, possibly because they have bigger hands so find it fiddly,” says Sally Goss, lead hygienist at the Harley Street Dental Studio in London.
If you find it a chore, try using interdental sticks or an electric flosser, which uses rapid bursts of air and water to effectively remove plaque and trapped food particles. An easier way to remove the gunk between teeth than traditional dental floss, it’s much more fun to use to boot. You can also replace the water with mouthwash for super fresh breath.
Be Fastidious About Facial Hair
Attitudes towards beards have changed massively in the last few years as their popularity has – like the whisker themselves – grown. But while women have warmed to them as style statements (one survey, by the University of New South Wales, revealed they perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive and better ‘father material’ than clean shaven ones), many still have concerns about their itchiness and cleanliness.
To make sure these beard-related fears don’t come between you and your date, simply practice a little basic beard hygiene. For starters, keep your beard clean and fresh by washing with a face wash or shampoo – just don’t overdo it.
“Over-shampooing beards strips out the natural oils that keep your beard healthy and moisturised,” says Eric Bandholz, founder of Beardbrand.
For extra freshness on your date – and to ensure your facial fuzz is soft and conditioned – apply some fragranced beard oil like Tom Ford’s Oud Wood Beard Oil, D R Harris’ Beard Oil or Beardbrand’s own Four Vices Beard Oil.
According to Bandholz, the best time to do this is immediately after the shower while your pores are still open. But since they’re pocket sized, why not take them with you and re-apply just prior to meeting your date, so you’re looking on point?
Have Lips That Are Worth Kissing
Pucker up, because your lips lack oil-producing sebaceous glands, which means they’re especially prone to dehydration and chapping.
To keep yours looking – and feeling – approachable, lightly slough off any dry skin with a toothbrush (a mixture of olive oil and salt works too), then apply a flavour-free lip balm like Aesop’s Protective Lip Balm or Lab Series’ PRO LS Lip Tech Lip Balm.
Not only will a balm keep your smackers soft and supple, it’ll also ensure they’re looking as plump as possible. Why’s that important? Well, a study by the University of Louisville has shown that both men and women find plump, voluptuous lips attractive.
Take The Shine Off Your Skin
Since men’s skin can be up to twice as oily as women’s, there’s always a chance that you’ll be sporting a less than ideal shiny patch somewhere on your face. What’s more, the stress of a date can actually trigger oil production – as can nervously touching your face with your fingers.
One way to deal with oil-slick skin is with the help of a product like Clinique’s Exfoliating Tonic or Baxter of California’s Herbal Mint Toner.
“If your skin is oily and you want to quickly cleanse and refresh it before going out in the evening, applying a toner will be very effective,” says dermatologist Nicholas Lowe.
Simply apply with a cotton wool pad and sweep across the forehead, nose and chin, where skin tends to be oiliest. If you can’t do this just before your date, make sure your skin stays shine-free during the day with the help of a mattifying moisturiser like Kiehl’s Oil Eliminator, Witch for Men’s Anti-Shine Moisturiser or Lab Series’ Oil Control Daily Hydrator.
All of these are formulated to hydrate skin while mopping up oil at the same time.
Few things knock a man’s confidence quite like spots, so what if one rears its ugly head on the day of your date? That calls for emergency measures.
This is where a concealer like Recipe For Men’s Anti-Blemish Cover Stick or Tom Ford’s Concealer Stick comes in. Both of these products have an advantage over traditional concealers in that they treat the spot as well as instantly disguising it.
Go slowly, though, gents – according to hair and make-up artist Ciona Johnson-King, the most common mistake men make when applying concealer is using too much. “That’s when it becomes obvious,” she says.
To avoid looking like you’re trying your hand at drag, she recommends cleaning the skin thoroughly first, and then applying a small amount and blending it in with your middle finger. “If you use your index finger, you’ll probably apply too much pressure and won’t get good results,” she says.
Always Be Prepared
Heading for a date after a long day’s work? No time to pop home and freshen up? No worries – there are an increasing number of products available geared to the time-poor man for whom a bathroom and running water are sometimes a luxury.
If you’re heading straight from work, think about keeping a dry shampoo of texturising spray in your office drawer so you can freshen up your hair before you step out.
You can also shave without foam with the King Of Shaves Hyperglide Razor (simply activate the self-lubricating head with a little water) and top up your fragrance by decanting it into a pocket-sized sen7 Refillable Fragrance Atomizer.