Grooming Guru poll reveals top five male grooming crimes

A while back a ran a poll on here to discover what readers of The Grooming Guru considered their worst male grooming crimes to be. Actually, the results surprised me somewhat.

Admittedly, I expected smelling worse than a Ginsters pasty on a Tube train to be high up on the list but I also expected dandruff (up until now considered to be a contraceptive as effective as Durex) to garner a higher percentage of the score. But no, of the 512 people who voted the second worst grooming crime was dirty fingernails, with hairy backs a distant fourth and not quite the ‘scary backs’ I would have thought. Anyway, here’s how the votes stacked up, along with a few tips on how to ensure you don’t end up another nasty statistic.

The worst grooming male grooming crimes

Bad body odour 45% Apart from the obvious advice of using a good anti-perspirant (I like Sanex For Men which offers great protection but is gentle on the skin) a really good tip is to trim your pit hair. Less hair means less surface area for the bacteria that cause BO to live on. Since you’re not a prima ballerina there’s no need to shave it – a neat trim is fine.

Dirty fingernails 27% Every women I’ve ever talked to hates a man with dirty fingernails but sorting them out is so simple. Keep them neatly trimmed (it’ll minimise the risk of dirt collecting under them) and invest in a good quality manicure set. I like the Japonesque Manicure set (£19 from www.japonesque.com) . Honestly, it’s not rocket science is it?

Dandruff 13% Treat the flakes with an anti-dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders For Men and read my ‘How to deal with dandruff’ post here.

Hairy Back 9% Avoid shaving (it’s itchy and if you try yourself you’ll probably dislocate your shoulder) and rope in a willing accomplice to remove it with Veet For Men Wax strips. Spraying the area with an anticeptic spray like Elemis’ Tea Tree SOS Spray can help soothe and protect skin afterwards.

Dirty Neck 5% Oh please. Just wash it you mucky bugger. With that stuff called water. And a bit of soap.

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 Essentials: Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene

Probably the most common question I’m asked as a grooming writer is what fragrance I wear. Like most people I wear a few but my all-time favourite is Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel.

Geoffrey  himself (and I’ve put so much money into his estate’s pocket I feel entitled to dispense with surnames) was an American designer, big in the States but less well known over here, whose clients included President’s wives to A-list celebrities.  Grey Flannel, lunched back in 1976, was his first and most successful male fragrance. I initially came across it back in 1985, following an advertising blitz in some of the UK’s earliest male style mags. The ad itself, featuring a naked James Dean lookalike, was remarkably  bold for its time , though very ‘Athena’, and though I’ve searched high and low to find it for this post I’ve failed so if anyone has a pic let me know.

Anyway, Grey Flannel rapidly became my own signature scent, so much so that I’m still wearing it today, more than 25 years later. Sure, I flirt with other fragrances but I always come back to Grey Flannel, which like the fabric itself, is a trusty, reliable and hard-wearing. And when I say hard-wearing I mean it in both senses because as I’ve discovered, Grey Flannel can be a difficult fragrance to wear.

With an sweet note of violet, along with citrussy orange and neroil,  oakmoss and a warm, masculine sandalwood base it’s distinctly floral (think parma violets and you’re halfway there) which means it isn’t the kind of thing every man’s going to love. In fact when I wrote about it for a grooming retail site a while back a customer shot back with a review so at odds with my own it had me in stitches: “Grey Flannel,” he wrote, “is by far the worst scent I have ever come across and believe me, I’ve come across some stinkers in my time!  It bears a remarkable resemblance to ‘Raid’ pest killer.”

Of course, I’m totally unfazed by this damning indictment. For me, the test of a great fragrance is not how it unites people in praise but how much it polarises them. So go on, give Grey Flannel a go. I dare you.

Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.

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.

Hugo Fragrances announce Jared Leto as face of their new fragrance Hugo Just Different

In an increasingly tough marketplace, where a celebrity face can help you earn that all- important extra recognition, fragrances houses are increasingly reliant on famous names to get their product coverage.

The latest celebrity to be co-opted as the face of a fragrance is American actor/singer Jared Leto, who is today unveiled as the new mush behind Hugo Boss’ latest offering Hugo Just Different. He’s also been confirmed as the face of Hugo Man, following in the footsteps of the likes of bad boy Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The press release says he’s ‘renowned as one of the most digitally connected artists in the world.’ So if you’re reading this on your iPad Jared, the Grooming Guru says hi.

Not entirely ugly is he?

Korres launch new soap collection. The Grooming Guru is a happy man.

Okay, okay so by now you know I’m something of a soap junkie (I don’t know why I don’t just set up a special category on this blog for ‘Soap News’!) so forgive me but when I opened this little package this morning I couldn’t have been more in my element.

What you’re looking at is the new gentle-cleansing soap collection from Korres, one of my favourite ‘cult’ beauty and grooming brands. Each one is made from 95.5%- 99.3% natural ingredients, is glycerine-based and is free from nasty chemicals.

What’s more, none of them honk to high heaven. Instead, each has a fantastically delicate, clean aroma based on the active ingredient it contains (choose between Pomegrante, Wheat, Milk and, my own personal favourite, Chamomile). Anyway, the upshot is that bathtime just became… funtime!

Korres soaps are available online from www.nivenandjoshua.co.uk

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male summer fragrance goes all Maori

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male isn’t just a fragrance phenomenon. Thanks to the continual supply of limited edition versions (and bottles) it’s become a collecting phenomenon, too, with many fans desperate to snap up the latest quirky bottles for their collections.

Latest in the line up is this Maori motif tattooed torso for the Stimulating Summer Fragrance – a seasonal version of Le Male. Unlike many fragrance repackages Gaultier’s work because they’re always clever, fun and playful – a bit like the man himself I guess.

As for the fragrance (yes, that’s important too) this summer version isn’t quite as sweet and heavy as the regular version and is perked-up with summery notes of lavender and mint, making it perfect as the weather starts to warm up.

Available now priced £37.50 for 125 ml.

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.

The Grooming Guru scoops prize in Lacoste’s Unconventional Chic competition

 

By nature I’m a fairly low-key, modest kind of person but indulge me for a moment if I blow my own trumpet briefly to tell you I was thrilled to win 1st prize in a competition at the Lacoste ‘Eau de Lacoste L.12.12’ fragrance launch last Friday.

Part of the swanky launch event for the new Lacoste men’s fragrances, the competition asked people to come up with their interpretation of  ‘Unconventional Chic’ using a classic Lacoste L.12. 12 Polo Shirt. You can see my ‘unconventional’ approach to the competition here.

Anyway, a huge thank you to everyone who cast their votes for my entry on the night – it was an excellent evening (obviously!) and I can’t wait to raid the Lacoste shop with the vouchers I won as my prize.

The evening was also a great opportunity for everyone to sample the three fragrances – Blanc, Bleu and Vert. Blanc is the signature fragrance but of the three Vert – with its fresh, woody greenness and outdoorsy freshness – is my own favourite, though there’s something there to suit every man’s tastes – whether he’s unconventional or not.

PS. The cake you see was part of the goodie bag. And welcome it was too – especially for soaking up all the fancy cocktails I sank on the night!