There is one key, cardinal error men make when looking to improve their grooming:
They try to simply emulate the men they deem to be most attractive.
Most men take a quick look at the celebrities they most admire, and think ‘hmm, maybe I could look like Ryan Gosling/Reynolds/Seacrest with the right haircut/moisturizer/jacket…’
But the reality is, really effective grooming – grooming that makes you more attractive, more confident, more successful and more in control – is about responding to your own, specific personal attributes.
It’s about focusing on your natural strengths, and minimizing your natural weaknesses.
Because unless you’re Brad Pitt or Danny DeVito, you’re probably a bit of a mix:
You have some absolutely great features and some…decidedly less so.
And that’s fine:
It’s not about what you’ve got.
It’s about what you do with it.
Now, most men’s grooming tips tend to focus on specific instructions:
And that’s great – we need that.
But in this article, we’re going to look at eight men’s grooming tips that tend to get lost in all the noise.
We’re going to look at some truly fundamental principles that the average grooming guide overlooks.
Principles that will actually help you understand and see yourself in a new, more positive light.
Rather than trying to emulate someone else, you’ll be on the way to cultivating a routine that’s specific to your needs and aspirations.
Because it’s no good knowing which male grooming products are ‘best’ if you don’t know what you’re working with, or what to do with it!
So we’re going to talk about you:
What you need to know about ‘what you’ve got’, and how you need to approach ‘what you do with it’.
And we’re going to start all that by making sense of your hair…
1. Your Hair Has Very Specific Needs, Limits And Potential
Hair is more complicated than you think.
While we all understand that there are many different ‘types’ of hair – wavy, straight, thin, thick – we often forget that different people’s hair varies far more than even these numerous categories suggest.
There is thickness, texture, color, hairline, the speed at which it grows and any number of other considerations to take into account.
And each of these facets adds up to the very specific cocktail of strengths and weaknesses that is your hair.
In part, this difference is ‘rooted’ in complex genetic factors.
But there are also huge environmental and contextual factors – from how much stress you experience to how old you happen to be.
The truth is, lots of men wait until something is going wrong – until, for example, they need help because it’s thinning – before they pay proper attention to their hair.
The most important thing is to be honest:
It may be there are things about your hair you would prefer were different.
But denial won’t change this, and being honest is actually the very best way to ensure you can make real, tangible improvements to your style and grooming.
Of course, lots of men look at men’s hair grooming tips and invest time into taming their mane.
But plenty more are guilty of overlooking quite how idiosyncratic their hair might be, and this diminishes the quality of their grooming regime.
Because they miss out on all sorts of ways they might use what they’ve got to their advantage and improve it.
Think of it as a person:
If you’re trying to nurture a person, there are plenty of things all people have in common.
But clearly, knowing this particular person’s proclivities – their limitations, needs and potential – is going to be essential to ensuring they grow to be the best person possible.
And it’s the same with your hair:
There is plenty of advice that applies to all hair types and all men.
And some hair problems can be tackled with a scientific approach.
But just as often, you will be best served by having a clear, pre-existing understanding of which bits of advice are relevant to your hair and what it is you’re specifically trying to achieve with it.
So the best investment in your grooming regime may well end up being taking the time to figure this out.
Experiment, talk to your barber and really observe how your hair behaves.
Because then you’ll be ready to take on everything else…
2. Your Facial Shape Is Always Relevant
Lots of men’s grooming tips will try to tell you which haircuts are ‘in’ right now, or how you ‘should’ wear your beard.
But the problem is, there simply is no one-size-fits-all solution to how you should cut your hair, shape your eyebrows, grow your beard or dress yourself.
It’s not just that your hair is uniquely yours:
It’s that these things– and many more – are entirely reliant on the shape of your face.
Yet most men don’t even have a very good sense of what kind of facial shape they’re rocking.
Generally, that’s because men don’t often talk about things like that.
And we don’t like to feel limited in what we can achieve.
But the reality is those limitations are actually opportunities.
Because understanding your particular facial shape opens the door to finding new ways to hugely improve your appearance.
There are four basic facial shapes:
Round, Oval, Square and Heart-shaped.
And there is no ‘correct’ or ‘best’ facial shape – so there’s no need to be scared!
Figuring out which type of facial shape you have – as well as noting all the idiosyncratic elements of your facial structure – might just be the difference between good grooming and great grooming.
Because this understanding will do several things for you:
It will save you from wasting time on haircuts and beard-styles which do less than nothing for you.
It will help you implement grooming advice more effectively, by knowing which advice is relevant to you.
And most importantly, it will help you determine the style icons most in-line with your appearance, so you can take your cues from someone you might actually be able to emulate!
Beards aren’t just another type of hair to style.
They actually shape and frame your face – like makeup for men.
So by understanding your particular facial shape – and what it’s strengths and weaknesses are – you can utilize your beard to sharper your jaw, lengthen your cheeks or any number of other things you might want to achieve.
3. Your Skin Is Unique And You Need To Understand It
Skin is one of the most challenging, troubling elements of any man’s grooming regime.
And annoyingly, it’s also one of the most important.
Your skin is a complex biological entity which is constantly interacting with your surroundings.
Everything from the heat of the room to the amount of stress you’ve been under can radically effect the tone, quality, texture and complexion of your skin.
And all of those things, in turn, can radically affect how attractive you look and how confident you feel.
Many men spend huge amounts of money trying to fix their skin with expensive products.
But not enough spend the time to really get to know and understand their skin.
In fact, 51% of men believe a good diet is enough to maintain great skin.
And while proper healthy eating is super important, if that’s the only thing you’re doing to improve and maintain your skin, you’re seriously missing out.
There are several fundamental ‘types’ of skin: some are dry; some oily; some sensitive; some combination.
And you probably already know that.
But what you may not know is this:
The boundaries between these types are actually very fluid, and most people’s skin is in fact rather unique to them and their particular experiences.
So while some aspects of your skin are generalizable, and you can follow advice for a specific ‘type’ of skin, it’s also important to have a more nuanced understanding of it.
Getting to know your skin – how it reacts in different situations, to different chemicals, at different times – is absolutely essential to being able to really work with it and give it everything it needs – at all times of the year.
All that in order to get the absolute best results possible.
And that is not at all straightforward:
You may actually need to do some experimenting.
Rather than waiting for the magic moisturizer that will give you the skin of your dreams with a single drop, you need to be proactively trying different products, making notes and taking the time to really understand what it is your skin does and does not respond well to.
All of which sounds rather a lot like research…
4. Great Groomers Learn To Research
Here’s a galling thought:
77% of men use their friends and significant others for information about grooming, yet only 43% use magazines or blogs.
Which means that over half of men approach their grooming based on word-of-mouth speculation, rather than expert recommendations and proper, rigorous research.
Now, you might see no problem with this:
Who can you trust if not your family and friends?
But in truth, unless you happen to surround yourself with dermatologists, stylists and hygiene experts, the information you’re getting is based entirely on their own experience and will be particular to their own specific attributes.
And as we’ve already discussed plenty here, your personal grooming needs and wants are deeply specific to you.
You need to start thoroughly researching the products you use and the grooming techniques you practise– so that you understand not only what is available, but what’s in it, how it works and why.
Let’s say you’re thinking about shaving your armpits:
How do you make that decision?
If you ask your friends, you’ll get a litany of individual ‘hot takes’ on the apparent benefits or drawbacks.
But what you won’t get is the sort of meticulous, detailed perspective you really need to understand how your body might react and how the decision might affect your life.
Now that you know more about your specific facial shape, skin and hair, your choices will need to reflect that.
And the best way to do so, is by starting to devote the time and effort to really getting to grips with what’s out there.
Not just taking your mate’s word for it cause his hair happens to be on point.
Now, I get it:
Research feels like work.
And who needs more of that?
But the truth is, research is actually incredibly empowering.
It will save you time, help you find cool, unexpected grooming tricks, and prepare you to make more informed decisions and know what to expect.
And it will draw your attention to the nitty-gritty details that make the biggest difference in the end…
5. Never Neglect The Small Stuff
Here’s another galling thought:
Within seconds of you meeting, people form all sorts of opinions about you based almost exclusively on your appearance.
And once those opinions are formed, it takes a great deal of effort to change a person’s mind.
These are opinions on your attractiveness, competence, authority, likability – basically everything your grooming is supposed to enhance.
And interestingly, people are almost never consciously aware of how or why they formed these opinions.
It’s often small, imperceptible things like slightly awkward posture or uneven hair that dictates these all-important first impressions.
And therefore it’s often these small, seemingly-unimportant things which are actually most influential in how effective your grooming is.
Most men’s grooming tips focus on the big stuff – what hair style to have or what jackets to wear.
But this means lots of men likewise focus the lion’s share of their attention on these things.
Which of course, you should.
However, you should never focus on big questions of hair style and outfit choice at the expense of smaller details.
There’s a danger of assuming that some aspects of your grooming – hair on your back, or on your feet, or in your ears – can simply be neglected and ignored.
Because it can be hidden, right?
And it won’t have any real effect on your life.
But the truth is, neglecting these small things will have knock on effects to your confidence.
And leaves you open to all sorts of embarrassing mishaps.
Trimming your nasal hair is nobody’s favourite task.
And it might seem like something you can ‘get away with’ overlooking.
But 46% of women say they would rather talk to a man who has bad breath (!) than someone who has stray hair sticking out of their nose.
So can you really afford to ignore it?
I suspect people neglect the smaller, less glamourous aspects of grooming for a few reasons:
For one, no one is ever going to compliment your perfectly shaved ears or superbly smooth, well-groomed back.
And it feels supremely boring to spend time attending to tiny details which appear – to you – to have no effect whatsoever on your appearance.
But really great grooming is all about details – about approaching everything with a level of clinical specificity and considered care and attention.
Which means you need to develop the discipline and skill to attend to even the smallest, most unsexy details of your appearance…
6. Grooming Is A Discipline, And You Have To Keep Learning
According to some reports, men spend, on average, as much as 3.2 hours per week grooming.
However, if you’re like a lot of men, you spend most of this time going through an established routine.
You’ve learned to wash your face properly and do your hair ‘just right’, and now you can basically do the whole thing on autopilot.
Which is great if your goal is to save time, be consistent and have one less thing to think about.
The problem comes when you realise how limiting it is to approach your grooming this way.
Because while you’re perfectly competent at all the things you’re used to doing, this complacency leaves you unable to take more risks and make more challenging, interesting or bold grooming decisions.
What you can do with your grooming is limited by what you’ve already done with it in the past, and that leaves very little room for improvement, experiment and fun.
Think of it like a sport:
You’re competing with other people, sure.
7. But Most Importantly, You Should Be Competing With Yourself
Rather than resting on their laurels and thinking ‘I know what I’m doing here’, really well-groomed men are always learning more and adding new skills to their repertoire.
Because they know that every part of their grooming regime – from how they do their hair to how they trim their nails – is a discipline which can be improved with a little care and attention.
And they know the effect of putting in that care and attention will be more than worth it in the end.
So well-groomed men aren’t just making good decisions:
They’re really highly skilled.
When you first shaved, you probably made a right old mess of it.
But even a few weeks later, I’m sure you were seeing visible improvements and feeling more confident.
Lots of men simply stop learning once they attain that perfectly acceptable, adequate level of skill – once they stop cutting themselves when they shave, or know how to apply hair product.
So here’s the question:
Do you want your appearance – and therefore your confidence and how people perceive you – to be dictated by limitations in your abilities?
Or do you want to continue improving your grooming – and therefore the results you get?
If it’s the latter – and I suspect for most men, when they actually think about it, it is – then you need to start thinking about every part of your grooming routine as a skill you’re honing.
And start putting the time and effort in to really, truly master it.
Because apart from anything else, this will make grooming so much more fun to do…
8. Enjoying Grooming Is The Best Way To Succeed At It
Having fun and enjoying yourself doesn’t only make things more pleasurable:
It also helps you learn new skills and encourages you to maintain your routine.
For lots of men, grooming becomes a tiring, tedious chore.
And this means they’re likely to get lazy, rush or overlook it altogether on certain days.
But you can’t get great grooming results if you’re picking and choosing when to bother with your routine.
Because it builds over time.
Improvements in your skin, for example, will slowly build up via consistency and confidence.
It’s no good having a solid exfoliating regime one week and not washing your face even once the next.
And therefore making sure that grooming is something you want to do – that you feel good doing and actively look forward to – is essential.
For some, this might seem strange:
Grooming is seen as serious.
And of course, it is, in the simple sense that it’s important and has real effects on your life.
The problem comes when men see this seriousness as an obligation:
They come to think of grooming as something they have to endure, a Sisyphean burden they must heroically undertake for the good of their complexion.
But this idea is ludicrous:
Seriousness is never incompatible with enjoyment.
If you’re going spend several hours each week doing something, it seems a more than worthy investment of time to figure out ways you can make it fun for yourself.
It might be that you start listening to exciting, uplifting music during your morning grooming session.
Or you might figure out games to play with yourself while you do it.
Or, as with the previous rule, turning your grooming into a challenge, something you’re working on actively improving might be the thing which makes it genuinely engaging for you, something you genuinely look forward to.
The more idiosyncratic your routine becomes – the more you are paying attention to your specific attributes and following your personal vision – the more enjoyable it will become.
And this positivity will have a knock-on effect into everything else in your life.
It’s important to remember the reason you spend your time grooming – all the research and energy and money you invest in it:
Because you want to look good.
And a big part of looking good is feeling good.
As informative and important as all other men’s grooming tips are, the single most powerful thing a man can do – for his appearance, his status, everything – is feel confident, comfortable and happy in who he is.
Never forget to do that.
And there we have it.
We’ve looked at eight simple ways you can immediately improve your grooming routine.
Just a little bit of self-awareness and attention to detail can make all the difference.
Rather than offering the standard men’s grooming tips, I’ve tried to give you some insights which will have a more far-reaching impact on the way you approach your routine.
I know that these simple steps have helped me totally transform the way I think about grooming, and the way I see myself.
So which grooming tip has had the most impact on you?
What simple change has made the biggest difference?
How do you believe grooming should be approached?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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