Another new year has begun, and along with it comes the promise of renewed hope and better fortune than the year before. In that universal push to make this year the best one yet, lots of us are re-evaluating our daily routine, diet, exercise regimen, productivity quotient, etc.
So while you're taking stock and making resolutions (and sticking to them!), we wanted to highlight a few Basic Grooming Practices that you can incorporate into your new & improved routine on a weekly basis. These won't be earth-shattering, new, or even surprising to a lot of you, but since a solid foundation is key to success, we're ringing in 2014 by going Back to Basics:
1. Get Your Facial Hair in Check. The reason many of us grow beards in the first place is to save time by not shaving (i.e. we're lazy). That does not mean you don't have to maintain it and keep it presentable. The tricky part about beards is they can get out of control before you even notice, so take a few minutes every week to line it up, and scissor out those rogue extra-long hairs that compromise the stately integrity of your beard's shape. Even if you're "growing it out," it helps to trim to a uniform length to encourage a consistent growth rate.
Beyond beards, remember that your face has other hair that, as you begin to age, must be taken care of. I hate to break it to you, Twenty-somethings, at some point in your life the hair in your nose and ears will probably begin to grow dark and long and your nose and ears will no longer be able to contain them. They literally overflow with hair. It's gross. And it will definitely distract from your face's finer features. You need a little pair of grooming shears or an electronic trimmer. Either way, stay on top of it.
2. Take Care of Your Hands. The neatness of a man's hands, laborer and executive alike, can be a subtle demonstration of the care he takes in his overall appearance or even the way he lives his life. So, Gentlemen, clip your nails! Regularly!
I'll admit, for years I would clip my nails only after noticing they'd become overgrown talons. Now however I feel a sense of empowerment in actively maintaining both the length of my nails and the condition of my cuticles, rather than passively pruning them at the last possible moment. There's power to be gained from disciplined self-government. Now that I'm a grown-up, I delight in that truth.
3. Shampoo Your Hair. Regular readers of the blog will remember my confounded approach to the culture of (over)shampooing. Are you one of the millions of people who shampoos his hair daily? Many of us do it not because it's dirty, but simply because we've always done it. What are you doing in life that renders your delicate, beautiful locks in need of aggressive detergents and chemical foaming agents every twenty-four hours?
Once I saw the light and stopped scrubbing away my hair's natural oils, I discovered a head of hair that had body and shine on its own. Now, I only shampoo about once a month, opting instead to rinse my hair with water. When I tell people this I usually detect a hint of repulsed disapproval. So I won't tell you to only shampoo twelve times a year: that would be too radical. But it works for me and my hair. You too should play with your shampooing habits, and discover what works for you and yours.
4. Exfoliate Your Face. If you use daily moisturizing creams, topical anti-aging potions, facial serums or sunscreens, well good on you! I'm pleased with your active approach to your skin's health. But are you exfoliating regularly? If not, then all those wonderful products you're slathering on your face probably aren't doing much good. Exfoliating removes the top layer of dead skin that your face tries to hold onto in order to protect itself. Remember, the skin is a barrier.
You shouldn't exfoliate more than weekly, so be careful of buying an expensive cleansing scrub and using it too often. The goal is skin that is fresh-looking, healthy and receptive of the products you apply to it: not rubbed raw. There are exfoliating masks, scrubs and face-washes available at every price-point. Or you could concoct your own using oil, water or honey to carry a scrubbing agent like salt, sugar or ground coffee.