Time was, a man who spent too long grooming was met with a level of scorn and suspicion usually reserved for politicians who try to embrace indie music.
Thankfully times have changed but even now it's easy to feel bemused by the overwhelming amount of grooming advice, opinion and small pots filled with expensive Men's Beauty goop on the market.
The trick isn't to spend a fortune on a thousand different grooming products, or to lock yourself in the bathroom for hours at a time. Rather, you should develop a daily grooming routine that is quick, simple and – above all else – about maintenance, ensuring you don't let yourself (or your carefully assembled outfit) down with unsightly hair or unnecessarily puffy eyes.
Presenting: twelve easy grooming habits all men should get into.
1 | Become a regular at your barbers
Book your next grooming appointment while you're there for roughly 4 weeks time, and stick to it. Too many men wait for the 'forlorn tugging of your locks' stage before heading to your grooming saviour : your barber . Basically, if you've noticed your hair needs a cut, then other people have too. The trick is to be proactive, not reactive – and having a regular barber you trust will cut down on the 'oh my God what if he messes this up' anxiety dramatically.
2 | Know which hair products work for you
Hair products for men have got a bit more confusing since the Brylcreem your Granddad swore by, so make sure you're clued up on what each hair product is for. Thicker hair and messy hairstyles can handle hair waxes and hair pomades, but if your hair's thinner, then lighter products and hair sprays will give your barnet some staying power. Ask your barber if you're a bit in the dark, but the right product can make all the difference.
3 | Find your signature scent
Aftershave isn't supposed to be loud or obvious. You don't want people to stop in their tracks and notice (if they do, you've worn too much). Rather, your aftershave should become a subtle part of your overall presence. Rather than owning 8-10 average quality aftershave bottles you pick from each morning at random, find one or two classic aftershave scents you really like and invest in them. Typically woody, spicy or herby scents suit the winter months, while lighter, citrusy scents work best in spring and summer.
4 | "Do a Dylan" with your toothbrush
Two things every woman notices: your shoes, and your smile. When it comes to the latter, there is no longer any excuse for ignoring advances in technology. Electric toothbrushes are designed to do most the work for you, plus, they're better for your health: according to a study by Sheffield University, rotating brushes reduce 11% more plaque than manual toothbrushes, and can also significantly reduce gum problems. And while you're at it, use a mouthwash after you brush first thing in the morning.
5 | Learn how to manscape properly
Trimming your pubic is not only perfectly acceptable in 2017, it's polite. And no, we're not talking about the porn star trimming look either – just aim for what you'd appreciate in a partner, i.e. keep things neat and tidy. Top trimming tip: keep whatever device you use for this sensitive trimming task separate from what you shave your face with. There are plenty of trimming electric razors on the market designed for the nether region's unique challenges without having to fill your Mach 3 with short and curlies.
6 | Scrub your face
Use a microbead-free scrub on a Monday morning to scrub the weekend off your face, and every other day of the week go for a plain face wash that's less abrasive. You'll be looking better than you feel in no time.
7 | Manage your facial fuzz
Unless you're planning to move out into the wilderness to find yourself, facial hair of any length needs to be tamed and maintained if you want to be taken seriously. You don't have to spend much on a facial beard trimmer, so pick one up and get into a weekly habit of tidying up. Don't, however, go too far. More David Gandy, less Bebe from Eastenders.
You might not have time in the morning for an extensive wet-shaving routine, but learning the basics of a good shave is important. Preparing your skin beforehand with a shave oil will help the razor glide over your hairs, while soaking the shaving blades in warm water will help your skin pores expand, allowing the hair to come off your face with less redness and irritation when shaven. If shaving still feels like a chore, leave your precious face in the hands of the experts and get a professional shave once a week.
9 | Put your best feet forward
They might not be on show that often, but a good footcare routine is still important. Take care of your feetc after a bath or shower (when the skin is softest) using a pummice stone on any dead skin, before lathering a generous amount of moisturiser on your feet. Then when summer rolls back around, you can wear your flip flops and cause an absolute minimal feet of disgust in others.
10 | Tackle dark circles
Look, we all made our peace with moisturisering years ago. But the grooming products you use on your face is still too much for those patches under your eyes, where dark circles and puffiness reveal your heavy weekend and make you look under-slept and older than you are. Incorporate an eye cream or roll-on into your morning routine to help counter those eye problems.
11 | Sort those eyebrows
Big eyebrows aren't a problem – see Clooney, Farrell et al – but if they're meeting in the middle, you've got a problem on your hands (and face). Pay attention to those eyebrows spot in the middle, and any errant hairs above and below your brows are also worth staying on top of. Plucking eyebrows is time-consuming, though, so if needs be ask your barber to tidy your eyebrows up when you're next in. Believe us, he's heard it before.
12 | Nail your hand-care routine
Cutting your nails once a week – preferably after a bath or shower, to soften them and make them easier to trim – is basic grooming. But that rough, flaky skin around the nail bed that somehow irritates you more than it looks like it should? Treat your nails with a tiny bit of moisturiser every couple of days to smooth things over. Perfect grooming tip !
13 | Moisturise obsessively
For many men the idea of including a tinted face moisturiser in their grooming routine is one step away from swapping their trunks for Speedos. It really shouldn't be given we all look better with a face tan and good grooming products will give you a subtle healthy glow nothing like the scene with Ross in Friends.
We recommend this grooming Lab series tinted moisturiser, or if you can't bring yourself to bronze, make sure you're at least using a face moisturiser with an SPF to protect your mug.
14 | Wash your face before bed
If you want to head to bed with clean slate then you're going to need a solid face grooming routine, particularly if you live in the belly of a great, coal-powered beast like London, where your face and skin collect grimy pollutants throughout the day.
Start the process with ice cold water (no problem at the moment), before moving onto a light, alcohol-free face wash and remember, avoid moisturising to give your pores a chance to breath a bit.
15 | Wear sunscreen
It might seem counterproductive and, frankly, a bit pointless to apply anything featuring the word 'sun' on to your skin in the depths of winter, but your face will thank you for it (not literally, that would be terrifying). Even at this time of year UV rays escape through the walls of fog, rain and darkness, drying out and damaging that precious skin of yours.
We suggest adding a light SPF 15 moisturiser into your daily grooming routine, a two birds one stone job that will nourish and protect your skin, which is always nice grooming tip.