The top 5 male grooming mishaps – and how to avoid them

legsInjuries caused by male grooming treatments are on the rise. So what are the most common and how can you avoid them? 

1. BBQ’d skin

According a new survey by first4lawyers a whopping 20% of male grooming related claims come from men who’ve had a tanning bed trauma. By far the most dangerous treatment, men are four times as likely to sustain an injury from using a sunbed than women.

How to stay safe: “Sunbeds emit radiation similar to that in midday summer sunlight, with the same effects, so you should avoid them altogether,” says consultant Dermatologist Professor John Hawk bluntly. If his advice doesn’t convince you then maybe this stat from Cancer Research UK will: if you’re under 35 and are using sunbeds regularly your risk developing malignant melanoma – the most dangerous form of skin cancer – increases by 75%. Scary.

2. Fake tan foul ups

According to the survey men are eight times as likely to suffer a tragedy after a spray tan than women, partly because of their unfamiliarity with the process. The injuries men reported from tanning treatments varied from allergic reactions and skin rashes to dermatitis caused by the chemicals used in spray tans.

How to stay safe: “Spray tans are remarkably safe these days and reactions to them are very rare,” says self-tanning expert James Read who bronzes the bodies of a host of top celebrities. “If you have sensitive skin or have had reactions before, though, ask for a patch test first on the skin behind your ear on your inner arm and come back 24 hours later you’re your tan if everything’s okay.”

3. Treacherous trims

Visit a good hairdressers and having your barnet trimmed is no more dangerous than a trip to the supermarket. Stumble into a salon staffed by an Edward Scissorhands, however, and you’ll be searching for a lawyer, not to mention the tip of your left ear. According to the survey 13% of grooming-gone-wrong claims by men are hairdresser related.

How to stay safe: According to Simon Shaw, European Artistic Director at Wahl UK, the easiest way to avoid accidents is to treat a visit to your stylist as you would an appointment with your doctor. “The most important thing to do when you’re getting your hair cut is to listen to your barber or stylist,” he says. “Do exactly what they ask of you, for example tilting your head either side, and don’t work against them.” Switching off your phone so there are no sudden distractions helps too.

If you’re thinking of having a dye job then visit your hair salon for a patch test 48 hours beforehand to make sure you aren’t allergic to the dyes it uses.

4. Eyebrow raising accidents

Eyebrow shaping treatments are increasingly popular with men but threading – an ancient technique using a cotton thread to remove hairs –  takes skill, talent and practice. “If it’s not done by a qualified and skilled practitioner you can be left with broken and ingrown hairs, unnecessary pain, infected follicles and thin, uneven eyebrows which will take months to grow back,” warns Maria Dinopoulos from Pulse Laser Clinic in London’s Mayfair who specialize in threading.

How to stay safe: Avoid informal threading kiosks and look for a professional salon or clinic that will offer you a more personalised service. “An experienced threader will also work quickly and will ask you to stretch the skin to minimize discomfort,” says Dinopoulos. “If tweezers, eyebrow scissors or brushes are used, these should be sterilised between clients to eliminate infection and a lotion with soothing/antibacterial properties should be offered after the service.”

5. Wax disasters

Remarkably, 1 in 10 claim-related male grooming accidents accidents are connected with leg waxing. “That’s probably because the leg is a large area and if hot wax is applied it can cause a burn or heat rash breakout. It’s very painful and common mistake with therapists,” says Sarah Louisa O’Looney, author of Fresh, Clean Men: Advice for Men and Beauty Therapists.

How to stay safe: “To prevent problems ask for a small amount of wax product be applied to the inside of your wrist so you can test the temperature,” says O’Looney. To minimise sensitivity issues afterwards she recommends avoiding hot showers and baths, fragrances, and work-outs that make you sweat for 24 hours after waxing.

Grooming Guru Guides – get your feet ready for sandal weather

Anyone who follows me on Twitter (if you don’t look me up @grooming_guru) will know that my real bete noire is men in flip flops. Not men in flip flops on beaches – that’s fine. Not men wearing flip flops at home either. I can even excuse men who pop to the local shop for a pint of milk in them. But men wearing flip flops around town instead of shoes is a mortal fashion crime as far as I’m concerned.

Australians doing this I can forgive, because the flip-flop (or ‘thong’ as they say down under) is practically national costume but English men, with their flithy, sooty soles and gnarly trotters? No.  

So my fashion advice is to buy some decent summer footwear (Birkenstocks will do) and attend to those terrible trotters! And just in case you need a little help, here’s how to get yourself a pair of ‘plates’ you can be proud of…

Step 1: Exfoliate

Most men neglect their feet something rotten (and I chose my words carefully) during the winter and that plays havoc with their appearance come the strip-off season. Ill-fitting shoes, poor maintenance and general wear-and-tear cause calluses to build up on the heels and skin becomes dry, rough and unsightly.

To remedy this start by removing dead skin and calluses with a pumice stone or a foot file like the Margaret Dabbs Abrasive Foot File . Not only will removing this dead skin make your feet look better it’ll make them healthier too since, if left, dead skin can become soggy, making it the perfect home for bacteria and fungal spores. If you’re on a beach, by the way, try gently exfoliating feet with some wet sand – it’s a great way to remove any dead skin.

Step 2: Moisturise

Just as your mush needs moisturising, so do your feet. In fact, our extremities often have some of the driest skin on our bodies. But since the skin on your feet can be up to four times thicker than the stuff on your face you need a specially formulated foot moisturiser. I like Australian Bodycare Hand & Foot Cream  which is particularly good because it also contains anti-bacterial Tea Tree Oil to keep feet fresh and healthy.

Step 3: Trim

Toenails, like fingernails, tend to act as advertisments for your grooming routine. Neglect them and it says you don’t care about the finer details – or (worse still) the bits of you that aren’t on display. So keep your tonenails looking tip-top by investing in good quality pair of toenail clippers like Mekur’s Toe Nail Clippers. Start by soaking your feet in warm water for a while to soften the nails – this will make them much easier to cut.

Then cut each nail straight across the top, from edge to edge and avoid cutting down the side of the nails as this will only encourage the nail to grow inwards. If you’re a perfectionist, it’s worth spending a couple of minutes gently softening the edges with Boots’ 4 Way Buffer Block.

STEP 4: Protect.

Unlike hands our feet barely see the light of day for most of the year making them especially vulnerable to sunburn. What’s more, studies have shown that the survival rate of patients with malignant melanoma of the foot is significantly lower than if the melanoma is elsewhere on the body – partly because we simply don’t spot them in time. So check your feet regularly for any unusual moles and if you’re heading for the beach, or are just heading out in the sun wearing sandals don’t forget to protect feet with a sun cream.

STEP 4:  Finishing touches.

If feet are particularly palid on their first unveiling you can try giving them some temporary colour with a tinted moisturiser like Botanics Instant Glow Tinted Moisturiser. Because it’s not a fake tan you won’t get streaks but it will give you some subtle colour – and you can easily wash it off at the end of each day. And finally (and I know this is a subject that scares a lot of women) there’s the question of hair toes. In reality hairy toes are actually healthy toes, indicating there’s good circulation down there, but if you do want to remove the fur whatever you do don’t shave – it’ll leave stubble. Instead use small amount of Veet Hair Removal Cream or a Wax Strip.

And with that you’re done. Fantastic feet ready for anything. Except flip flops, obviously.

Note: If you suffer from diabetes, haemophilia or circulatory problems consult your doctor before using pedicure tools.

Grooming Guru Guides: How to hang on to your hair

Thatch not quite as thick as it used to be? Hair going the way of poor old Prince William’s? Don’t worry, hang onto what you have with The Grooming Guru’s hair-maximizing tips…

STEP 1 Look after your scalp.

In the same way that a field of corn needs good soil to flourish, your hair needs a healthy scalp if it’s to emerge strong and healthy (or emerge at all!) So make sure it’s in tip top condition by using Aveda Men Pure-Formance™ Exfoliating Shampoo to gently exfoliate the skin, remove any follicle-blocking dead cells and maintain optimum hair quality.

Tip: Not only does sun make hair brittle and fragile, burning your bonce causes the scalp to produce a compound called superoxide that can cause hair follicles to switch from a growth phase to a shedding one. So always wear a hat on the beach and protect your scalp (even if you only have a tiny bald spot) with a sunscreen. Transparent sprays like Ambre Solaire Clear Protect Spray are best as they’re non-sticky, easy to use and provide good coverage.

STEP 2 Don’t scratch! You might not realise it but dandruff isn’t just a disaster when it comes to dating, there’s some research to suggest it may be linked to hairloss too. That’s because the bug that causes the flakes (a yeast called Malassezia globos) makes your scalp sore and itchy which in turn makes you scratch. And scratching often leads to hair snapping off.

Research has also shown that dandruff sufferers often have less shine and flexibility hair too – signs of weaker hair structure. And that means your crowning glory is more prone to tearing and snapping. Thankfully, though, dealing with dandruff is pretty straightforward.

To tackle the problem head on (sorry!) try an anti-dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders For Men which contains flake-busting Zinc Pyrithione. And if you tend to suffer from an itchy scalp, stop the itch in its tracks with Philip Kingsley’s soothing Flaky Itchy Scalp Shampoo.

Tip: Rough drying, harsh rubbing and over-combing can all cause hair to break so instead of rough towel drying, try gently patting hair dry and try styling with your fingers rather than a comb. Don’t fiddle with your hair either! Playing with it can cause damage.

STEP 3 Feed your head!

Hair might be dead but the follicles that produce it are very much alive and need adequate nutrition to function properly, so stock up on foods rich in B vitamins, zinc and iron (like breakfast cereals, liver and apricots) and vitamin C-rich fruits like strawberries which help the body retain the nutrients essential for hair health. And up your intake of silicon – some studies have shown this to limit hair loss. Wheat, rice and onions are good sources. You can also improve the condition of hair by washing with a nutrient-packed shampoo like Korres Magnesium and Wheat Proteins Hair  Loss Shampoo.

Taking a supplement like Holland & Barrett – Vitamins for the Hair can help too by providing hair with a concentrated and potent array of  vitamins and minerals to promote healthy growth.

Tip: If you smoke, give up. A study by Harvard School of Public Health in America showed that smoking not only increases levels of the hormones that trigger hair loss, it also constricts the tiny blood vessels that supply the scalp, quite literally starving your hair of nutrients.

STEP 4 Halt the hairloss.

Hair loss is thought to affect as many as one in three men ages between 25 and 34 and as much as 18% of men under 24. Over half of us will have experienced some thinning by the time we’re 50 and in Britain alone, thinning hair is thought to affect a whopping 8 million men.

The first thing worth thinking about if you notice your thatch is beginning to thin out a little is a topical hair loss treatment like Regaine For Men Foam which contains Minoxidil – an ingredient clinically proven to trigger hair growth and minimise hairloss.

It won’t work in every case and it’s a long-term strategy rather than a short-term fix so be prepared to be diligent (you’ll need to build using it into your daily regime) and have a deep pocket.

Tip: Hair maximizing products tend to be most effective in men whose hair has just begun to thin so as soon as you notice your hair isn’t as thick as it used to be don’t delay –  take action!