GQ’s back-catalog of grooming advice is packed with tips covering pretty much every possible issue when it comes to superficial self-care. And while we hope you’ve spent time learning about everything from vitamin A to zits, we thought it would be helpful to boil down some of the hardest-won knowledge and put it in a single place.
Here, then, are nine grooming habits that we think every guy should follow. They’ll fast-track you to looking your best and feeling more confident and comfortable.
1. SPF. Every day.
We talk a lot about anti-aging skincare strategies, and those products that reverse sun damage, fine lines, dark spots, and more. However, by taking a more proactive approach to this, you can save yourself a lot of trouble (and wrinkles). In the morning, apply moisturizer with SPF to bounce UV rays and pollution. Coat yourself with sunscreen before big days of sun exposure. Together, these prevent the skin from leathering, wrinkling, and developing dark spots (while also preventing skin cancer). And keep up the habit in winter as well as on cloudy days—or if you work by a window. Those UV rays are sneaky bastards.
2. When is comes to your beard, the details matter.
When trimming their beards, most guys just take a single trimming guard and go over their entire face with one setting, then they clean up the perimeter with a naked guard. In other words, many of us neglect beard styling, and in turn overlook the various detailing options that come with many beard trimmers. If you invest in a detailing trimmer (either a device with a dozen different heads, or two separate devices—one for trimming, one for details), then you have various guard widths and lengths that allow you to add weight and contrast to the mustache, goatee, or sides. You’ve got your entire canvas in plain view—so get creative with it.
3. Swap out your razor cartridge frequently and consistently.
This is a core tenet of razor hygiene. It prevents the accumulation of dead skin, hair clippings, and bacteria. It also ensures a sharp, close shave, free of dragging, razor burn, and ingrown hairs. Most shaving subscription companies send blades at low cost and designated intervals, allowing customers to swap safety razor blades each time, and cartridge razors after four or six shaves or two weeks, whichever comes first. Between shaves, store your razor upright in a dry, ventilated space after rinsing it thoroughly.
4. Get a new toothbrush every 3 months.
Per ADA hygiene standards, your toothbrush’s bristles are rendered mostly ineffective after 3 months of use. They’re whittled, bent, and are just a few bucks to replace, so… replace them. The easiest and most rhythmic way to do this is an oral care subscription from brands like Goby and Boka, who send you brush heads at the proper intervals, including a heavy-duty rechargeable brush with your first order. That way, you’re not the guy who has “Buy new toothbrush” as a recurring calendar event at the start of each quarter.
5. Find yourself a dermatologist.
Dermatologists aren’t just there to check out your moles and cure eczema. They should be visited as frequently as your GP, ophthalmologist, or your dentist. That’s because there are so many different skin (and hair!) concerns to cover, from maintaining healthy feet, locking in that hairline, preventing and treating acne, and of course, reducing signs of aging. These are the gatekeeps to that retinol prescription, but most importantly, they will get to know your skin concerns, needs, and goals intimately, and they will be the best source of tailored, customized advice moving forward. Think of it as a therapist for your dermis.
6. Have a signature scent—or two, or three.
You contain multitudes. And while it’s great to have a signature scent, there are few fragrances that work universally for all occasions. Think of what kind of tempered message you want to send to your colleagues (a timeless classic cologne seems appropriate), while you may want a vibe-ier vibe for date night (like a sultry tobacco scent). Plus, what wears well on a warm spring day (florals, groundbreaking!) won’t necessarily feel right at the height of winter (when broodier potions shine). For all of these reasons, we suggest a bit of nuance in your personal cologne library.
7. Condition more, shampoo less.
Here’s how to have “good hair days” back to back to back: Condition daily, and shampoo far less. While it’s a good way to flush away dirt, grime, excess sebum, and hair product, the truth is that a thorough rinse will handle most of that. Plus it will do so without stripping the hair entirely of its natural oils—the stuff that keeps it healthy, hydrated, and style-able. If an oily scalp is the issue, then you should actually shampoo less in order to train the scalp. It will in turn produce less oil over time. Start with an every-other-day wash, and move slowly to every third or fourth day.
8. Scalp care is skin care, too.
Many of us tend to our scalps only when it starts itching or flaking. We all need to retrain our brains: The scalp needs as much effort as the skin on your face, in order to grow healthy, strong hair, and to prevent sebum buildup as well as bacterial and fungal growth. So, try incorporating one or two scalp-centric products into your regimen, be it a scrub (to lift dead skin and stimulate circulation, which strengthens hairs), a balancing serum, a weekly antifungal wash, or a weekly deep-nourishing scalp mask.
9. Improve your skin while you sleep.
An overnight skincare regimen is the shortest path to clearer, firmer, and even-toned skin. This is because your body’s cells regenerate fastest while you sleep, and its systems work hardest to correct and restore themselves. (It’s also the reason a full night of rest often separates you from being sick and feeling spry.) The skin is no exception, which is why it’s imperative to cleanse before bed, and layer on a nutrient-dense night cream and/or anti-aging retinol products. When paired with a full 7-8 hours of rest, these products magnify the benefits of sleep on your complexion, as their own power is doubly effective in keeping your face hydrated, nourished, and youthful.