Over the two decades or so that I’ve been writing about male grooming I’ve probably been asked thousands of questions. Many of them are answered in this blog, others across the various publications I’ve written for over the years. Some questions come up time and again, though, and I recently answered 20 of the most common of them for The Telegraph. So if you’re wondering how much fragrance is too much, whether five blades really are better than one or what products you should never put near your nether regions you can find out here.
Whether you’re logging on to buy a brand new bike, source the one football programme missing from your collection or are trying to track down a mid-century sideboard eBay.co.uk is a shopping experience like no other. And now you can kit yourself out with all the latest grooming gear there, too, thanks to the company’s brand new Men’s Grooming Hub.
Offering everything from moisturiser and moustache wax to state-of-the-art electric shavers, the hub is a one-stop destination for everything grooming, featuring a mind-boggling array of products from well-known brands like L’Oréal Men Expert (who announced their partnership with eBay earlier this year), electrical giants Phillips and masters of facial hair maintenance Mo Bros. As well as offering products at great prices, the hub is a cinch to navigate and everything is covered by the usual buyer assurances the online marketplace is famous for.
Perusing some of the 230,000 items on offer (yep, 230,000!) I came across everything from my favourite fragrances to one of my favourite face washes – L’Oreal Men Expert’s Purifying Face Wash For Skin & Stubble – along with a raft of bathroom cabinet basics like deodorants, shower gels and dental products. What’s more, there are some great statement-making gift sets, too, just in case you’re looking for the perfect pressie for someone.
The hub isn’t just a great place to buy your grooming gear though: thanks to fantastic ‘how to’ guides on everything from achieving a barber-worthy shave to how to adjust your routine to suit the season and a host of tip-packed videos, it’s also a superb source of information for anyone interested in maximising their looks.
So whether you’re after something for yourself or are looking for the perfect Father’s Day present, eBay’s new Men’s Grooming Hub is one bookmark you’ll definitely want in your browser.
To explore eBay’s new Men’s Grooming Hub click here.
An eBay/Grooming Guru promotion.
They might be stylish. They might be convenient. But like grizzly bears, grizzly beards can be wild, untamed and prickly old things if not taken care of correctly. So here are five ways to tame the beast – with a little help from me and Brisk beard care…
1. Keep in trim.
A neat beard is a sweet beard so ensure you keep your face fungus tidy with the help of a decent, adjustable beard trimmer. Use a brush or comb to straighten the hairs out before trimming and always trim your beard when it’s bone dry: hair expands and relaxes when wet so if you trim it when it’s damp it’ll look shorter once it dries. Remember, too, that your beard doesn’t have to be the same length all over. By cutting it a few millimetres shorter under the chin you’ll create a much softer, more natural transition line. You can do the same if you have a bushy beard and very little hair on your head – by ‘fading’ the sideburns up towards the head you’ll prevent a jarring divide.
2. Comb and condition.
As with relationships, beards tend to be trickiest in their early stages. The first few days of growing one can be uncomfortable and challenging: your new chin accessory may itch, tickle and feel strange to begin with. But there are things you can do to minimise any initial discomfort. Applying a little Brisk Beard Oil throughout the growing process will help keep hair soft, manageable and conditioned. Quickly absorbed and non-greasy, it’s the perfect for minimising the itch and there are four versions to choose from: Tea Tree; refreshing Citrus; warm and masculine Cedarwood; and Unfragranced if you prefer to smell au naturel. You can apply using your fingertips or use a moustache comb or beard brush to distribute it evenly throughout your beard
3. Give your beard a blow dry.
Yep, you can blow dry the hair on your face just like the hair on your head. Simply use a small brush or comb to ease the hair downwards with the help of a hairdryer on a cool setting. Once dry, apply a little beard oil to finish off. This a great way to tame unruly beards, fill in small bald patches and to ensure your beard looks neat, tidy and at its fullest.
4. Dodge dandruff.
If you were to run your fingers through you beard right now chances are, you’d trigger a small snowstorm of skin flakes (go on, try it). If you do, don’t feel too bad – beard dandruff is an occupational hazard of having facial hair. It occurs because hair tends to draw moisture away from the face, leaving the skin beneath dry and dehydrated. On top of that, because you’re not shaving regularly any dead skin cells can build up beneath your beard.
Thankfully, minimising beard dandruff is simple: firstly, cleanse your beard thoroughly with Brisk’s Beard Shampoo, which is designed to cleanse without stripping skin and hair of its protective oils. By massaging in with your fingertips you’ll quickly dislodge any stray dead cells. Choose between the Unfragranced Beard Shampoo or the Tea Tree and Cedarwood version. Tea tree is known for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties so is great for ensuring your beard is clean and fresh. Then apply one of Brisk’s Beard Oils (my own favourite is the Citrus one) to ensure hair is conditioned and the skin beneath it is hydrated. Again, make sure you massage in with your fingers to ensure it reaches the skin beneath.
5. Be patient!
If your face furniture looks patchy and uneven in places be patient. Like raising a child you never quite know how your beard will turn out until it’s fully grown. If it looks patchy don’t panic – as it grows in length some gaps will fill in naturally. Yes, it will look a bit wild for a while but keep it clean and conditioned and show it some love and you’ll soon have a beard that’s tamed and looking top-notch.
Brisk Beard Oils combine nourishing natural almond, avocado, argan and jojoba oils in an ultra-light formula that’s highly conditioning is quickly absorbed. All Brisk Beard Shampoos are designed to leave facial hair clean, soft and manageable and are paraben & sulphate free. Available from Waitrose, Boots, Superdrug and from briskgrooming.co.uk.
A Brisk/Grooming Guru Promotion
When it comes to looking good and dressing well we all know that it’s all about the edit: about choosing just the right products for your skin, a fragrance that reflects your personality and clothes that suit your very personal sense of style. But with so much out there to choose from it’s sometimes difficult to know where to begin when picking out the perfect moisturiser, fragrance or new winter jacket. Which is where GT Shopping comes in handy. A new site in partnership with Gay Times Magazine, it helpfully points you in the direction of the very best fragrances, skincare products and grooming gadgets on the market (along with some of the most stylish menswear picks and a whole lot more) so you don’t have to go trawling the internet to find just the product you’re after.
A lot of the products I mention in my monthly male grooming column in GT can be found there but that’s just the tip of the iceberg and you don’t have to be a reader to use the site, though there is an option on there to subscribe to the mag and get regular (very useful) style updates if you wish.
So whether you’re looking the perfect new fragrance for yourself (bottle of Tom Ford For Men anyone?), something to wear for an upcoming party or are looking for the perfect gift for a loved one GT Shopping is the place to head. To see what’s on offer go to shopping.gaytimes.co.uk.
A Grooming Guru/Octer Sponsored Post
Whether you’re an active guy who likes to be in the great outdoors or one who has to walk the dog on cold and windy autumnal nights it’s important to protect your skin and hair from the elements. So here’s a little top-to-toe survival guide I wrote for Mr. Porter. To read it and find out what products I recommend click here.
One of the main criticisms of beard oils is that their fragrance is so fleeting. Of course, many men prefer it this way but for those who want a longer-lasting fragrance the choices are pretty limited. Tom Ford’s new beard oils certainly correct that, introducing a new way for men to wear fragrance in the process.
Available in three Tom Ford Private Blend fragrances – Neroli Portofino, Tobacco Vanille and (my favourite) Oud Wood – it’s probably the punchiest and longest-lasting fragranced beard oil I’ve tried. I wore the Neroil Portofino one last night to the annual Beauty Magazine Beauty Awards and it pretty much lasted all night.
In truth, this is both a blessing and a curse; a blessing because you smell great and if you’re layering your fragrance it gives you a new place to scent yourself but a curse because the fragrance will be right under your nose for hours. So here’s a simple application tip: apply a small amount with your fingertips or using a moustache and beard comb but avoid the moustache area directly beneath the nose. Incidentally, since the oil itself isn’t particularly greasy you can also use a small amount on the hair on your head too. One thing’s for sure – fragrance layering just got a whole lot more interesting.
Available from Selfridges
Every year I come across scores of men who don’t just enjoy growing a moustache for Movember but who positively love it. What’s more, many of them go on to keep their Mo once the annual charity event is over, having discovered that their ‘tache looks rather dashing (a bit like the ones in the pics above and below, taken by acclaimed photographer Christian Anderl). Anyway, this year Canon – makers of cameras like the PowerShot G7 X – asked if I had any moustache tips for guys taking part in Movember, to ensure that their Mos always look picture perfect. Here’s the advice I gave them…
1. Comb and condition
The first few days of growing a Mo can be uncomfortable and challenging and your new lip accessory may itch, tickle and feel strange to begin with. Applying a little hair conditioner to your ‘tache will help reduce itching, while combing your Mo with a moustache comb once it gets going will improve its appearance and help prevent ingrown hairs.
2. Keep in trim
A neat Mo is a sweet Mo so ensure your ‘tache is tidy with the help of a trimmer or facial hair scissors. Use a moustache comb before trimming and aim for just above the lip line – that way you’ll keep it free of food when you come to eat. Oh, and always trim your Mo when dry; hair expands when wet, retracting when it dries, so you may discover you’ve been a little over zealous with your trimming once it does.
3. Moisturise your Mo
Facial hair might protect skin but it also draws moisture away from its surface leaving it dry, tight and flaky. Make sure you moisturise your Mo twice daily – you can use special facial hair oil for this but regular moisturiser will work just as well. Simply apply a little to your fingertips and massage into your Mo, using gentle circular movements to help reach the skin beneath.
4. Wax lyrical
Moustache waxes aren’t just the preserve of dastardly ‘tache twizzlers – they’re perfect for adding definition and shape to your facial fuzz too. Simply warm a small amount between your fingers and work into your moustache, shaping it with your fingertips, or rub into your fingers, apply over your Mo and distribute evenly with a moustache comb.
5. Be patient
Like raising a child you never quite know how your ’tache will turn out until it’s fully grown. If you’re not convinced that the style suits you, experiment with the shape until you find a style that does work. Bottom line – there’s a moustache out there for every man – you just need to find the one that works best for you!
PS. For those of you taking part in Movember this year I salute you (and your ‘taches)! For more info on what it’s all about click here.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Pall Mall Barbers‘ rather excellent and deliciously fragrant new grooming range (all the products are scented with a combination of sandalwood and clove). Anyway, whilst demonstrating the products during a ‘live’ wet shave the staff revealed some great little tips. One was about the application of aftershave balm (gently pat it onto the skin until it disappears rather than rub it in if you want to avoid sensitizing the skin) and the other was about blow drying your beard if you want it to look its best.
I must confess, I thought I knew pretty much everything about facial hair care but even I hadn’t heard of this piece of beard wisdom before. Seemingly, the beard blow dry is an increasing part of Pall Mall Barbers’ business and with good reason. According to stylist Michael Beardsley (yep, that’s his real name!) – whose own facial fur is a fine testament to the technique – a blow dry teases out the hairs, making them look fuller and thicker, pretty much in the same way it does with the hairs on your head. To do it yourself simply need a small brush or comb, a hairdryer and the will to gently tease the hair downwards while putting the wind up it at the same time. Not only will your beard dry in a fraction of the time after washing it’ll look miles better. Helpfully, the new grooming range includes a beard oil to keep it in tip-top condition too.
For more information about the range go to pallmallbarbers.com
If you’ve always fancied growing a beard or just enjoyed Movember so much you fancy continuing with the facial hair then December is the perfect time to grow one – and raise some cash for charity in the process.
Decembeard is the annual fundraising initiative organised by Beating Bowel Cancer and this year I’ve been helping them out by providing some beard-growing tips. And below is a slightly extended version of them. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now and grow one!
1. Get growing! The great thing about growing a beard is that you don’t have to do any prep – in fact the opposite is true. All you need to do is down tools and let the fuzz flourish.
Every man’s beard grows at its own rate, though, so don’t be put off or disheartened if progress seems slow at first – some of the best looking beards were late developers!
2. Keep it clean. Keeping facial hair fresh is no more hassle than keeping your face clean – you simply need to spend a few extra seconds massaging in your regular face wash. Pay extra attention to rinsing to ensure no soapy residues are left and then gently pat dry with a towel. Don’t rub your beard aggressively to dry it as this can cause irritation.
3. Invest in a good trimmer. Like privet hedges beards need regular pruning if they’re to look their best. To keep your Decembeard looking tip-top whiz over it occasionally with a beard trimmer. Opt for one with a good range of cutting lengths and a removable safety guard or pop-up definer so you can tidy the hair around the lips.
Always trim when the hair is completely dry, though, as hair relaxes and expands when wet, contracting again as it dries, so if you cut it when it’s still damp you may find you’ve trimmed too much off.
4. Switch to oil. If you want to shave around the edges of your beard to keep it defined use a shave oil – because they’re transparent you’ll be able to see exactly where you’re shaving and will get better accuracy.
5. Draw the line. For a smart, defined beard trim it so the outer edge lies at the top of the adam’s apple, moving towards the corners of the jaw diagonally. For a softer, more natural-looking beard line, use a beard trimmer and gradually decrease the length towards the outer edge so you get a blended effect.
6. Moisturise. Facial hair ‘wicks’ moisture away from the surface of the skin making the stuff beneath your beard especially prone to flakiness. To avoid dryness and beard dandruff spend a minute or so massaging a specialist beard balm like The Happy Bear’s Superior Beard Balm into the skin beneath your burgeoning face fungus.
7. Ditch the itch. Using a moisturiser or beard balm twice daily (see above) will help keep skin and hair soft and supple but applying a hair conditioner to the beard can help keep it soft and reduce itching too.
It’s also worth giving your beard a light brush with a stiff bristle beard or hairbrush or moustache comb to minimize curl, even out the growth and minimize the risk of ingrown hairs.
8. Dye right. If you’re worried about grey whiskers disguise them with a specialist beard and moustache dye, available from most large chemists. Specially formulated for facial l hair, which is tougher than the stuff on your head, they’re easy to apply, cover greys in less than five minutes and deliver great, natural-looking results.
9. Be patient if you’re patchy. Beards are a lot like lawns – sometimes they’re cursed by annoying bald patches. But don’t give up if your beard’s a bit uneven at first – gaps often fill out after a few weeks once the hair gets to a decent length.
10. Have fun! Remember, facial hair fun to experiment with. You won’t know what you’re getting until you’re a few weeks in but that’s part of the fun. And when you’re growing it for Decembeard you’re doing it for a great cause (or something incredi-beard as the charity like to put it). You never know you may even decide to keep it!
For more information about Decembeard go to beatingbowelcancer.org
If the number of pieces I’ve been asked to write about beards lately is any barometer of what’s happening in male grooming then, undoubtedly, facial hair is the big story of 2013. In my first piece for the perennially-stylish Matches Fashion I look at the burgeoning vogue for beardage. To read the full story simply click on the pic above.