Burnt skin, incessant sweating, insect bites, hay fever. Summer’s a handsome time of year. More than any other season, it calls for you to restock your bathroom cabinet and think proactively about grooming, if only because there’s more skin on show.
So how to look devilishly good when it’s devilishly hot? Well, you start by getting the best summer grooming tips and the latest in all things manscaping from the people who know it best. We have a few of them on speed-dial and below they’re spilling the good suff like a Cornetto in a heatwave. From the biggest hair trends to intense new skincare treatments, this is what’s hot this summer.
Good news: this summer it’s okay to turn up at the beach with your hair looking like the sea and sand have already been at it. After years of slick-backs and skin fades executed with micron-precision, this summer’s hair trends are looser, longer and messier.
“Lately, I’ve seen fewer skin fades and more longer layered cuts, or traditional short back and sides,” says barber Ken Hermes, from the Lion Barber Collective and an ambassador for The Bluebeard’s Revenge. “Many men are rolling with longer hair. Plenty of texture and a dab of sea salt spray is all that’s needed for these guys and can really transform their look.”
Unless you already look like Thor (fair play), mid-length styles or tapered haircuts are the most realistic in the time you have. Stay away from the clippers, says barber Betty Lingwood, from the Ruffians barbershop empire in London.
“Gone are the days of bashing out a 3 back and sides, but more intricate scissor techniques are being used to create softer (but still short) shapes. It’s a huge trend this summer, effortlessly cool – in both meanings of the word.”
Up top, embrace the hard-won freedom by letting your hair fall loose and messy, with the minimum amount of product and the minimum amount of getting-ready time.
According to a new survey by British high street store Superdrug, manicures are the most popular grooming treatment for men – bigger than facials. One in four guys now book their nails in for a trim and a polish, and it’s not just fans of The Cure asking for some black varnish.
Like tanning, eyebrow threading and skincare treatments, having well-groomed fingernails another noticeable finishing touch that a growing number of men are turning to professionals for.
Complex Summer Fragrances
It wasn’t so long ago that 90 per cent of summer fragrances for men either had citrus notes that made your eyes water or were blandly ‘aquatic’, smelling roughly like every deodorant you used as a teenager. Not any more, it seems. Fragrance houses are getting bolder, selling richer summer scents to guys who evidently expect more.
Some of those fresh notes are still present, of course, especially in ever-popular neroli fragrances, but they’re mixed in complex ways with spicy, woody or smoky ingredients. Look up the ones you’ve got your nostrils on before you buy them. Check for base notes of oak or sandalwood, or spicy heart notes like saffron or ginger. If they do feature these notes, chances are the scent will change and age in a more interesting way on your skin.
Embracing the Grey
Not on your head (well, that too) but we’re talking specifically about the hair on your chin in this instance. Some of the most distinguished looking facial hair we’ve seen this year belongs to men of a certain age who aren’t afraid to let said age show. Think Chris Pine, Jon Hamm, Idris Elba or Steve Carrell, who understand what George Clooney has known for years: this is one instance where silver wins first prize.
“If you have become a fan of Just for Beards to mask the white hairs coming through, this summer is a good time to step away from the colour bottle and embrace your natural grey, salt-and-peppery goodness,” says Denis Robinson, Ruffians creative director.
Here’s something that doesn’t sit well with wider trend for conscious consumerism: a bathroom cabinet full of plastic bottles that you often can’t recycle and which leave behind them a trail of chemical pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It was only in 2018 that the UK banned the use of plastic micro-beads in grooming products but now the race is on to make your morning routine as soft on the environment as it is on your skin.
Where to start? Well, you can cut your plastic use by switching to toothbrushes and razor handles made from bamboo. Biodegradable sponges are also available. Next, check the eco credentials of the company you’re buying from. Some of our favourites include Bulldog Skincare, which has introduced things like refillable shower gel and sugarcane packaging and Korres, which uses recycled materials wherever possible and limits air freight to only 2 per cent of its shipping.
Manscaping Made Permanent
Swimming with dolphins this summer? We only ask because, if you want to, you can also be as hairless as one. Call it the Love Island effect if you want but the option of removing body hair has been gaining popularity for years with brands releasing trimmers specifically designed for the neck down. Now, some men are taking the trend to its logical conclusion: having their body hair lasered to oblivion.
“We have noticed a surge in bookings for various different grooming and aesthetic treatments with men, especially now that summer is fast approaching,” says Lucy Xu, head therapist and director of London’s Premier Laser clinics. “The two most popular have been the abdominal and chest laser treatment, as well as the top to toe laser package which is a great option this time of year for men who want a hair-free bod for the summer.”
Do we expect you to talk? No, Mr Bond, we expect you to fry.
We’ve lost count of the number of times people have declared the death of the beard. They’re always wrong, so we’re not going to do that here. What we will say is, they’re shorter again this year, with A-list inspiration coming from the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, David Beckham (him again) and Michael B Jordan.
“Our clients have been requesting more natural and ‘lighter’ looks, especially if they are going away,” says the team at Ted’s Grooming Room’s latest barbershop in London’s Moorgate. “Some clients would prefer having their beard trimmed, leaving just a bit of stubble for a natural look.
“Clean shaves are a classic as well, which is highly requested too and somehow replaced the longer bearded looks that used to be in trend the past few years.”
It wasn’t so long ago that for a lot of men, ‘skincare’ consisted of a quick wipe with a damp flannel. Now, most of us at least have a moisturiser, but also maybe a scrub, a serum, an eye cream, some kind of anti-ageing potion and a concealer just in case.
Just a couple of steps further in this direction of travel and we find ourselves in chemical peel territory, something Xu is taking increasing numbers of bookings from men for. Her clinic offers peels designed to help with acne, the effects of ageing, pigmentation and more. “For some this could be considered a more ‘extreme’ procedure as it is effectively a skin peel, which to first timers could seem pretty scary, but they are actually very effective, safe and a popular choice for many men and women.”
Raising A Threaded Eyebrow
Given that we talk so often about beards, it’s perhaps unsurprising that our ‘other’ facial hair is no longer being ignored by men. As well as being available at high-street chains like Superdrug, eyebrow threading is increasingly something you can ask for at the barbershop, with many barbers offering a wide menu of treatments to meet demand from clued-up punters.
What does threaded bliss look like for men? It’s subtle. Ask your threader to remove the finer hairs from around the edges to make your brows (and the eyes below them) better defined.
Last year, a rare good news story for British retail was that barbershops were the fastest growing sector on the high street, with 813 new ones opening in 2018. Some of the most prominent in recent years have been Turkish-style barbers, which offer a much wider menu of treatments than traditional shops or even the friendly, beardy hipster barbershops that have mushroomed in the last 10 years.
Why? Well, maybe it’s because the rest of us are slowly catching up with Turkish culture, where men have for centuries visited baths and prided themselves on their well-groomed appearances. If you’ve never had a hot towel treatment, massage and ear flaming thrown in with your short back and sides, we recommend you book immediately.
“A long beard can look a little odd with fewer clothes,” says Ruffians’ Robinson, quite rightly. “The summer is a good time to cut it back and allow the skin the chance to feel a little more fresh air than during the colder months. This will give you a fresher, sharper look while wearing your more relaxed threads.”
Robinson advises the beardstache, a shortish mowser kept just a little longer than the stubble on the rest of your face. David Beckham and Henry Cavill do it well. Or, for something a little more throwback, try a pencil moustache or a short chevron style, the likes of which have graced the upper lips of Miles Teller and Lil Nas X this summer.
The extra benefit of all these styles is that they need very little product – a good thing in the summer, says Robinson. “Moustache wax goes soft in the heat. Go shorter, sharper and more straightforwardly sophisticated with a no nonsense, no maintenance moustache style to avoid lips covered in beeswax and drooping hair.”