Ask the Guru: How do I get rid of my monobrow?

I know a lot about the dreaded monobrow. Though I don’t quite look like the lovely Bert here, I do have brows that like to meet and hold hands occasionally. Part of me is rather proud of the little touch of Werewolf in me but since I don’t really like frightening old ladies and children (not unless it’s intentional anyway) I do tend to keep things in check.

Certainly one of the simplest ways to do this is with a product like Parissa’s new Brow Groomer. Designed for men’s eyebrows they’re little wax strips you warm in your palms, apply to the fuzz between your brows and yank off while gritting your teeth. It’s a process not without a little pain but it doesn’t quite requite a peg in the mouth and it does keep you hair-free for weeks.

My only criticism is that though the pack contains 8 wax strips it only contains one after-care wipe and the wipes are important for soothing skin afterwards and preventing post-wax spots. But anyway, I’ve used them and they’re a good way to meet the challenges of the monobrow. If you want to know how to use them, the company have produced the handy little vid below. A pack costs £8.69 and they’re available from Boots.

Ask The Guru: How do I prevent ingrown toenails?

Ingrowing nails occur when a piece of the nail curves downward and grows into the skin piercing the flesh of the toe. Usually affecting the big toe, they can feel like a splinter, can be extremely painful and in more severe cases, can cause pus and bleeding.

Active, sporty people are particularly prone as are people who cut their nails too low.  Preventing them is simple enough though – for starters, make sure your shoes aren’t too snug and learn how to trim your nails properly. Always cut them straight across and don’t cut too low at the edge or down the side. The corner of the nail should be visible above the skin. Also, cut them after a bath or shower when they’re soft.

I prefer  to use a pair of spring toenail clippers and you get more leverage and they cut quickly and neatly and don’t tear at the nails as some inferior clippers can. The ones above are available from simplyfeet.co.uk. If you do get an annoying ingrown, though, visit your local podiatrist. One visit may be all that’s needed to get it sorted.

Everything you always wanted to know about facial hair but were too afraid to ask

With Movember finally upon us I thought it’d be a good time to pull together a trio of columns I wrote for the Men’s Health website on the subject of facial hair. So if you’re giving a Mo a go, then check out this sound advice…

How to look after a moustache. Click here.

How do I look after my beard? Click here.

How to prevent beard dandruff. Click here.

PS. If you think Mo’s can’t look cool take a quick look at this post.

Ask the Guru: Can I dye my moustache?

One of the main excuses for not growing facial hair is that men don’t like the colour of it. For some, it’s the fact that flecks of grey give the game away about their age. For others it’s simply that their facial hair is ginger (personally I don’t get why this is a problem but then I do have a touch of the copper in my own facial fuzz). Anyway, if this is the only thing putting you off growing a moustache this Movember then there is an answer – just dye it!

What you need, however, is a dye that’s specially formulated for facial hair which tends to be courser than the stuff on your bonce. I like Trevor Sorbie MG Beard, Moustache & Sideburn Colours (£7.45 from trevorsorbie.com) which are a cinch to use, work in just five minutes and give great results. You simply mix the contents of the two tubes to activate the dye, apply with the small brush provided and rinse off.  If you’re just dying your ‘tache you’ll probably get three or more applications from it too so it’s pretty good value. They appear to work well on body hair as well, should ever you ever feel the need to disguise the grey chest hair. Etc.

So that’s one excuse dealt with for not growing that Mo! Next!

Everything you ever wanted to know about shaving but were too afraid to ask!

Over the years I’ve provided hundreds of male grooming pieces for menshealth.co.uk in my capacity as Online Grooming Editor. What’s emerged is an invaluable online rescource for anyone who cares about looking good. To make things easier for you to access, though, I thought I’d gather a few of the links together, via subject matter. So I’m kicking off this week with probably men’s biggest grooming concern – shaving. Read these and you need never leave the house covered in bits of loo paper ever again!

Foam, cream or gel?  Click here.

How do I use shaving oil? Click here.

Can I slow down the growth of my stubble? Click here.

Why it’s not a good idea to shave against the grain. Click here

How do I use a shaving brush? Click here.

How to prevent ingrown hairs. Click here.

The rules of electric shaving. Click here. 

How can I make my razor last longer?  Click here

How do I treat nicks and cuts after shaving? Click here.

How to pick the right shaving balm for your skin. Click here

Ask The Guru: what’s the best way to look after fragrance?

Two of the questions I’m often asked about fragrance are: “how do I look after it’ and “how long will it last”. And with economic times more trying than ever, looking after your investment has never been more relevant. So I asked James Craven, Perfume Archivist at Les Senteurs in Belgravia so his advice.

“The answer to the first question is very simple,” he says. “Keep the fragrance in the original packaging, and keep that box in a cupboard or drawer out of the light and at a constant cool temperature. Stored like this, perfume will last for years. But there again, don’t save it for those ‘special occasions’ which so rarely come – use it up, enjoy it and buy another bottle.”

And the answer to the second question? “If stored correctly (as above) a fragrance will last for years,’ he says. “Lighter, citrusy and flowery scents tends to decay quicker as their oils are more volatile. Oriental, woody, chypre scents mature and macerate with time, possibly even improving.”

He also points out that  scents with atomisers will last better than splash-ons. “The latter are more vulnerable, on account of removing the stopper inevitably admits air and dust and corruption – if the stopper is used in the traditional manner to apply scent to the skin there is even further room for contamination.”

He’s quick to point out, though, that fragrance is for wearing not for hiding in cupboards so protect  your purchase, by all means, but only hoard if you have to!

Illustration kindly supplied by Chris Jones. Check out his work at www.jonesyinc.co.uk

Ask The Guru: How do I prevent bogies?

The moment I added a form for readers of this blog to ask me grooming questions I knew I’d get some curveballs. But nothing fazes me. So, without further ado I am answering this for “Mr P’ who chose to pick  (if you’ll excuse the pun) a rather novel question to throw at me. The question being ‘ how do I prevent bogies?’

First off, let me be clear up something. Contrary to fact, nasal mucus wasn’t created purely for man’s pleasure –  it’s there to act as a filter, protecting the nose and lungs from all kinds of nasty irritants like smoke, dust, grime and bacteria. Let those irritants build up for a few days and you soon have an impressive rhinolith (or bogey, if you prefer the schoolyard slang). The fact you have them at all is actually a good sign, not a bad one, as it indicates that your hooter is working properly.

You can’t prevent them altogether (nor should you try in fact) but you can reduce their numbers with sensible nasal hygiene – in other words, gentle blowing and judicious daily cleaning with a tissue. If your nose gets very dry and crusty, try steam inhalations (try adding some Tisserand Organic Eucalyptus Oil) or a tiny bit of Vaseline rubbed inside the nostril. Clearing the nasal passageways with a sea water nasal irrigator (available from chemists) can help keep your passages clean too and is surprisingly good fun.

Whatever you do, at least try to resist the temptation to have a good dig. One of life’s great pleasures it may be, but it also increases your chances of nosebleeds and can transmit germs from your nose to your eyes and mouth. Picking your nose and eating it (a practice known as mucophagy and something even Gordon Brown has been caught doing in Parliament) won’t kill you – in fact one scientist has gone on record as saying it may be beneficial to the immune system – but isn’t going to win you many friends either. Wiping bogies on tables/under chairs/on your boss’ annual report isn’t funny or clever either. Well, it’s not clever anyway.

Got a grooming question for The Guru? Simply fill in the form below. Don’t worry, names and address will not be published.

Ask The Guru: How do I deal with dandruff?

If you’re coming to this post as a dandruff sufferer take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. In fact, it’s thought that 50% of all men will suffer form dandruff at some point (I know I have!). Nor are you alone in worrying about it. Dandruff is consistently ranked as men’s biggest hair worry, even above baldness.

The culprit is a tiny fungus called Malassezia, which lives on us all but which can multiply out of control in some people, causing flaking of the skin. Since dandruff seems to be exacerbated by stress it’s not uncommon to suffer outbreaks when we’re under pressure.

Using an anti-dandruff shampoo is the simplest and most effective strategy (ones containing Zinc Pyrithione, like Head & Shoulders, are especially good) but if things are particularly bad try a product like Nizoral which contains an anti-fungal agent called ketoconazole to tackle the fungus itself.

Avoiding heavy conditioners for a while often helps, too, as does taking a long hard look at your diet. According to trichologist Philip Kingsley, a diet high in salt, fat and sugar can often trigger an attack since all of these things can affect the balance of the scalp’s protective secretions, allowing the fungus to spiral out of control. Avoid scratching too. The more you fiddle with your scalp the more you’ll irritate the skin and the bigger the flakes will be, plus you’ll also run the risk of damaging the hair follicles and the hair itself.

Thankfully, dandruff tends to ease off as we hit middle age but if you can’t wait that long you might want to abandon the Wii and get outdoors a bit more – one scientific study revealed that men who spend a lot of time outside tend to have less dandruff. Just one more reason to jack it all in and become a landscape gardener then.

Got a grooming question you’d like answered? Submit yours using the form below. And kindly keep ’em clean(ish). Your details will not be published.