Valentine’s Day, anniversaries and first dates all bring out the same stress to impress: You’ve got to clean up your act and look your best for your date. You owe it to that person to present your best, brightest self, and odds are that they’re going to return the favor. (If it’s Date 1, then a lack of effort is a big red flag.)
This readying regimen requires more than a shower and a hasty shave — but it doesn’t demand you go so far out of your way, either. In fact, many of the steps are simply best practices for your overall grooming regimen, too. They’ll help you look great at work, for job interviews and even at the gas pump. (Hey, why not look great pumping gas?)
These are the things you can do on the day of (and in the days leading up) to ensure that you look and feel sharp — and in turn, look and feel confident, too.
Get a haircut 2–3 days before
Even if you get a skin-tight fade, that haircut always takes a couple days to “settle in”. And even if you get the same haircut each and every time, you should take zero gambles on date night. Besides, if you have the freshest fade in the world, it signals that you got this haircut solely for the date itself. And instead, you want to look sharp while flying somewhat under the radar: Your cut should convey that you look great, but that you do so every single day. Plus, if you get a same-day cut, you might risk some clippings falling onto your shoulders or into your G&T. (Please at least take a shower.) The one exception we’d offer is for guys who shave their entire head: A day-prior shave is your best way to have a polished dome minus any nicks and cuts.
Shampoo the day before
Shampoo strips your hair of its buoyancy since it sucks away all the natural oils that nourish and soften your hair. On the one hand, this underscores the importance of conditioner (and that you should always condition your hair separately, and after, a wash). On the other hand, it proves that you need not wash your hair every day, because a simple rinse (or a standalone conditioning) can flush away much of the grime and product buildup without drying out your hairs. Apply this rule of thought on date night: Shampoo the day before, so that your hairs have a full 24 hours to collect natural, nourishing oils. Then, on the day of the date, simply rinse it out, no shampoo, and enjoy a cooperative, voluminous coif.
Oh, and maybe best to pick a dandruff-fighting, scalp-soothing wash, like Davines’ purifying shampoo. It never hurts to fight flakes while washing dirt and grime.
Purifying Shampoo by Davines $32
Shave smarter and safer
Do yourself a favor and review our guidelines for a healthy, hygienic shave. It’s important to apply these rules each and every time you shave — chief among them, using a clean, sharp razor that has properly been stored and dried. Secondly, you should follow a meticulous, slow shave regimen that opens the pores and calms the skin, cuts hairs while preventing friction, irritation, and bumps, as well as closes and cleans the pores at the conclusion. Doing all of this allows you to shave close to the occasion — even in the hours prior, without risk for redness and razor burn.
Check your eye bags
Rarely is your date the first thing on your day’s agenda. And even if it were, we’d still have the same advice: Treat your tired, strained eyes — liven them up with a caffeine-packed eye cream, a depuffing serum, or a firming eye mask. There is no reason to arrive at your date looking downtrodden and poorly rested; it’s the first thing your date will notice. Each of these products takes mere moments to apply (to clean skin, ok?), and the masks can work their wonders in 10–15 minutes. Follow with a moisturizer and, if you’ve still got dark circles, some skin-matching concealer. (See below for more on that.)
Eye Fuel by Kiehl’s $24
Eye Balm by Jack Black $25
Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels by skynICELAND $32
Minimize pores, mattify shine
If you’re naturally oily or always sweaty or simply nervous, then you’re right to worry about a shiny forehead. Slowly but surely, a film of oil will form across your face, and you’ll find yourself wiping away at your brow all night. Not a good look. Instead, get ahead of the matter by applying a mattifying, pore-minimizing lotion before the date. It soaks up oil and prevents you from looking like a bike reflector all night — plus the best products go on clear and light. Menaji’s shine eliminator is a prime product for these reasons.
For what it’s worth, date night is a good time to opt for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer, too. Apply something like Baxter of California’s oil-free moisturizer as a base layer for your anti-shine product.
Liquid Powder Shine Eliminator by Menaji $36
Oil-Free Moisturizer by Baxter of California $26
Every single adult should have a concealer in his or her skin tone. It’s the best way to cover up dark circles and bad blemishes. Plus, if you match your tone properly, nobody will notice the difference. This little stick is your best friend and the last step in your pre-date skincare regimen. Simply blot it onto any red spots or dark circles, and your date will never know the difference. (It’ll take your mind off of the discolorations, too, which is perhaps even more important.)
NARS has more than a dozen skin tone options with its concealer stick, and won’t rinse away until you wash your face.
Concealer Stick by NARS $26
Pick an antiperspirant
Say what you will about antiperspirants — the unknown effects of using aluminum, or the stains some antiperspirants leave on your shirt. These products are lifesavers, and you should keep one on hand for the moments you absolutely need them. For some guys, this is daily. For others, just ad hoc for date night and job interviews. (Heaven forbid the HR director or Hinge date hone in on your sweaty, musty armpits.) Plus, some of the best antiperspirants, like that from Dove Men+Care are engineered to prevent clothing stains. So, there’s yet one less worry.
Stain Defense Antiperspirant by Dove Men+Care $5
Sign off with a signature scent
If you don’t wear a fragrance, your date may not know the difference. And that’s perfectly fine. However, if you wear an incredible scent, your date will not only notice, but s/he will also compliment the cologne and ask its name. That’s a high honor, as it reflects your good taste — not to mention, it gives them a very significant and positive association between you and that brilliant scent.
If you don’t yet have a go-to fragrance, then read our guide to finding a signature scent.
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