Taylor’s Take: Guys’ Grooming Questions, Answered
Presented in collaboration with Rogaine
I recently came across a meme on Instagram that I can’t stop thinking about. One of my favorite “good for a laugh” accounts, @mytherapistsays, posted it a couple weeks ago:
It rang true for me in a lot of ways as a woman who unapologetically loves hyper-specific beauty products—but it also irked me a bit as a member of Team SG. While I’ve got no personal beef with anyone who gets by with a multipurpose product, I hope we can all agree that there is nothing wrong with using specific products to care for specific parts of your body or grooming and skin issues you might face. Right? Right.
Here at Style Girlfriend, our point of view is clear:
It’s cool to (self-)care.
Effort is awesome (it makes you feel good!) and appreciated (the women in your life will notice!). And when something comes up—you want to change your hairstyle, your skin is misbehaving, you want to grow out or change your facial hair—seeking advice is smart.
That’s true for our team, too. While SG’s DMs are always open for your most pressing style and grooming Q’s, we’re not too proud to ask the experts when we’ve been stumped. (Remember this Taylor’s Take about dressing better than your SO?)
Since spring is a season of new beginnings and transformations, I figured now is the perfect time to address the issues that might be holding you back from truly “blooming” into your best self this season. I asked some bonafide experts to solve a handful of hair and skin-related questions we’ve gotten lately.
Below, common guys’ grooming questions, answered:
HOW TO DEAL WITH TIRED-LOOKING EYES
“I’m getting married in June and would love to have my wedding pics not saddled with bags under my eyes. I’ve tried a few products, everything from La Mer to Kiehl’s. Any recommendations on what I should try? I never sleep enough… But don’t think I need that much sleep.” – Joe, 35
The first bit of good news here is that Joe’s not alone. Most people over the age of 30 start to experience a bit of puffiness and dark circles under their eyes—that delicate skin weakens as we get older, which, bummer grande, makes you look older than the age listed on your driver’s license. That’s just part of aging as a human, unfortunately, but there are some things Joe (and you, and I) can do to combat them.
If topical products aren’t doing the trick, consider some more “inside out” remedies, like dialing back your salt intake (it causes water retention, which can make you puffy), and making sure you’re managing your allergies if you have them. You can even use a neti pot to clear out moisture in your sinuses, too!
Sleeping on your back rather than your side or stomach is also recommended for tackling under eye issues because, well, gravity! And finally, that most singular and ubiquitous piece of health advice: Drink more water. Hydrating makes your skin happy.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT THINNING HAIR
“I’m not really showing any signs of losing my hair (yet), but my dad definitely started losing his hair around my age. Should I start using something now, as a preventative measure? You know, like how I take my Vitamin C everyday so I don’t get a cold?” – Ryan, 29
Can I just say, I love a guy who wants to solve a problem before it even comes up?
I know a lot (like, a lot) of guys have insecurities around losing their hair, so Ryan is really taking one for the team here with this proactive question, and am delighted to reward him with some good news.
Because—thankfully!—there are plenty of things you can do now in your grooming routine to get ahead of the game when it comes to addressing thinning hair and hair loss.
NYC-based dermatologist, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, says, “Rogaine can help you maintain the hair you have and promote new hair growth.” He also notes that taking steps to maintain your precious hairs now will actually serve as an “improvement” later on, because Rogaine helps reduce the natural shedding you would have experienced without it—so you really will be ahead of the game.
So that’s one very actionable step to take now. As for other things that have been proven beneficial to hair and scalp health—and therefore, healthy hair growth? Well, options like dandruff-clearing shampoo and scalp exfoliation are definitely part of a proactive guy’s grooming mix. And be sure to be mindful of any hair fall-out you may see in the shower, on your pillows, or in your brushes or combs. That way, you can take action the minute the issue rears its ugly head for real.
PRO TIPS FOR DEALING WITH INGROWN FACIAL HAIR
“Myself and pretty much every guy I know seems to battle ingrown hairs from shaving their face. Is it the razor? Is it the shaving cream? Help!” – Luc, 36
“I shave periodically for work (2x per week) but tend to not shave over the weekends. It’s always a little itchy when my beard grows out and sometimes I get an ingrown hair or two. Any tips?” – Ranjan, 30
Ugh, ingrown hairs. Are they or are they not the absolute worst? They’re ugly, they’re painful, and they’re annoying to remedy because for both guys (face) and women (legs, armpits etc) the upkeep of shaving can directly conflict with the healing process. I sometimes tweeze my angriest ingrown hairs, which can jumpstart the healing process by removing the offending hair, but just note that doing so leaves an open “wound” of sorts on the skin, which can be irritated by harsh ingredients in some skincare products. Alas, there’s no “cure” for ingrown hairs, really, except to improve your shaving game and prevent them from the start.
“Shaving is an interaction between the skin, the hair, and the razor or trimmer,” says Dr. Zeichner. “It is important to take care of the skin before, during, and after shaving because disruption of the skin barrier can lead to irritation and inflammation. The drag of the sharp razor across the skin can lead to microscopic nicks, which is why proper shaving creams, after shaves, and sharp blades are so important.”
We’ve done a deep dive on shaving tips on SG before, and our friend Ben Phillips, a master barber at Wahl, shared some easy at-home tips for getting the best shave possible and keeping your skin in good shape in the process.
If you’re using disposable razors, make sure you’re replacing them frequently because a dull blade is a friend to no one’s skin. Phillips goes a bit further to say:
- “Make sure you rinse the blade with hot water after every use to get rid of any hairs or shaving cream in the blade. Dry the blade using a clean towel. Be sure the blade is very dry after cleaning; this will help keep the blade from rusting. A barbershop method that we use also is to clean the razor blade with Isopropyl Alcohol, also used to clean and disinfect hospital equipment.”
As far as itchy grow out?
Dr. Zeichner says that’s just a natural part of the process because itching is caused by the short stubble-y hairs rubbing against each other. Woof. Other than just, you know, sitting on your hands while waiting it out, you can minimize irritation by keeping your skin properly moisturized, and applying a bit of Argan oil or beard balm to calm and soothe the skin and smooth the hair.
Just be careful about overdoing it with the products (ugh, I know, so many rules!) because they can also have the adverse effect of making things worse. “Applying oily products that get trapped in hair can lead to pimples because of blocked pores as well as potential irritation reactions,” says Dr. Z.
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR CURLY HAIR
As a guy with very naturally Jew-y (read: coarse, curly) hair what can I do to calm down the curls and prevent my hair from going full-Seth Rogen by the end of the day? – Jeff, 36
Is “full-Rogen” not the best visual ever? I’m picturing the actor in The 40 Year-Old Virgin—robust, unruly curls just springing forth with abandon. While I, a card-carrying member of the “straight, boring hair club” am slightly jealous of all this texture and volume, I totally understand the desire to tame its wild tendencies.
Our friend Dylan D’Angelo over at Blind Barber, says that living your best curly-haired life is about both cut and product use. “As far as calming down any frustrating curls that won’t lay as you want, the two things you should keep in mind is how it is cut and what you use to style it,” says D’Angelo. “A cut that is about two to four inches on top is good to keep some curl and structure—a higher and tighter haircut usually works best because it’s easy to maintain. And as for product, I would suggest a mousse, styling cream, or some natural oil like coconut.”
IF YOU’RE OVER THE HIGH-AND-TIGHT HAIRCUT…
It seems like every guy is rocking the high and tight haircut these days, but I think I might be ready for something different. I’ve been growing my hair out a bit, but it’s awkward. How can I manage this phase, and find a new look that suits my face shape? – Jerry, 32
Oh, did somebody say awkward hair phase?! Bring this up to any woman and she’ll meet you with a knowing look, because we’ve all been there. Whether it was a bad cut or bangs we never should have gotten, we know that annoying grow out phase all too well.
Lucky for you guys though, having shorter hair overall (that grows about half an inch a month, just FYI) makes switching up your style a much less dramatic process.
“When anyone grows their hair out and wants some maintenance, I recommend tapering the sideburns and neck,” says Blind Barber’s D’Angelo. “By doing this you can maintain the look of a shorter cut while growing all of the rest of your hair out.”
That’s it? Huh. Cool. Not jealous at all, or anything…
Whether you’re ready to confront a grooming issue like thinning or unmanageable hair, ready for a change in your look, or just ready to stop using one product from head to toe—I hope these tips gave you the push (or maybe just the permission?) to reach for the most 2018 of goals…being better than a viral tweet-that-became-a-viral-Instagram.
So go on!
Replace those crappy razors you’ve been using because they’re cheap. Try a new barber. Start tackling that thinning hair. Put cucumbers on your eyes at the end of a long, hard day. We’ll be right there with you, applying moisturizer to our left elbow and loving every second of it.
In partnership with Rogaine. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Style Girlfriend!
(image via Nappy)
Taylor Davies splits her time between NYC and Sun Valley. She loves writing about menswear, overpriced martinis in dimly lit hotel bars, and cross-country skiing. Not necessarily in that order.