One of my favorite stories, “My Father’s Fashion Tips,” was first published in a 1996 issue of GQ. The author, Tom Junod, details the intricacies, or what he calls the “secrets,” of his father’s grooming regimen: baby oil to the face, witch hazel in the navel. “He has always been zealous in his hygiene,” Junod writes, “and if you want to know what I learned from him, what he taught me, we might as well start there, with what he never had to say: that fashion begins with the body, and has as much to do with your nakedness as it does with your clothes.”
For years I’ve thought about those words, though, like Junod himself, I don’t always identify with them. I don’t believe the measure of a man is weighed against his cabinet of toiletries, or that “the better you look, the more money you make.” You don’t need an ice pack to cover your eyes when they’re puffy (a la Patrick Bateman). And whatever a man chooses to put in his navel is his own damn business. Yet there’s something to be said about the person who cares about appearances, about their appearance. People who, like Junod’s father, construct a credo, without shame, and stick by it — people who try every day to offer their best face for the world around them.
There’s a middle ground somewhere between extremes, though most days, admittedly, I find myself searching rather than decided. So far, I’ve settled on this much: your grooming regimen doesn’t make you. But it makes part of you. Look your best, as often as you can, and don’t worry about the occasional pimple, bad hair day or stray stubble. Brush your teeth, trim your beard and don’t forget to wash behind your ears. But there are always better habits to be made. So invest in tools that help. Here’s your starter pack.
Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic Electric Toothbrush: The alpha toothbrush from Philips’s Sonicare line, the DiamondClean’s internal motor provides 31,000 brush strokes per minute for a gentle but efficient clean, removing up to seven times more plaque than a manual toothbrush, Philips claims. Available in white or black, the handle charges in a sleek, easy-to-store glass receptacle.
Budget Option: Quip ($25+)
Body and Beard Trimmer
Wahl Lithium Ion Stainless Steel Groomer: Wahl’s heavy-duty home trimmer features interchangeable heads for nose hair and detailing, as well as different guides for beards, head hair and unmentionables. Cordless, the trimmer’s Lithium Ion 2.0 technology provides fours hours of run time when fully charged — though one of its best features is the one-minute quick charge that gives users three minutes of use.
Budget Option: Philips Norelco Multigroom 3100 Trimmer ($16)
Y.S. Park Fine Cutting Comb: Popular among cosmologists and barbers, the Y.S. Park 339 comb from Japan offers precise control for short hair styling at home. It measures seven inches, with both fine and coarse teeth, while the air holes along the comb’s handle are engineered for flexibility around the contours of the scalp.
Budget Option: Kent R7T Pocket Comb ($6)
Mason Pearson Popular Mixture Hair Brush: Mason Pearson’s handmade brushes, with their patented rubber cushions that conform to the head’s natural contours, are the premier brushes for those with medium to long hair. Their boar-hair bristles are gentle on the scalp and distribute natural oils throughout.
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Aesop Double-Edge Razor: Aesop appeals to aesthetes looking for premium grooming products for body, face and hair. The brand’s recent venture into shaving brought about its double-edge safety razor with a high-density handle and chrome finish. (Cartridge-system razor heads, though convenient, are not recommended because they pull at the skin, causing ingrown hairs, and easily pick up bacteria after use.)
Budget Option: The New York Shaving Company Chrome Safety Razor ($35)
Merkur Double Edge Razor Blades: Versatile and compatible with a number of different safety razors, Merkur, from Germany, is perhaps the most trusted name in razor manufacturing. These blades are consistently sharp and smooth, though pricey in the long run. But it’s your face we’re talking about.
Budget Option: Feather Hi-Stainless Double Edge Razor Blade ($4)
Edwin Jagger Handmade Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush: Shaving gels that come in a can are often filled with irritants that inflame the skin, causing bumps and red marks. Instead try a wet shave cream that contains hydrating elements, without all the skin-drying chemicals. Better to use a brush, which creates rich, creamy lathers and also softens and lifts facial hair before the shave. Silvertip badger hair is best, with naturally flared bristles that hold water and create the richest lather. Though expensive, this handmade brush from England is an heirloom piece to pass down.
Budget Option: Omega Boar Bristle Shaving Brush ($12)
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Rubis Perforated Stainless Steel Tweezers: Made from surgical stainless steel, Rubis’s all-purpose tweezers are comfortable to hold and precisely aligned to help clean up unruly brows. To disinfect them, simply set the tweezers in a pot of boiling water for five minutes and pat dry.
Budget Option: Revlon Expert Slant-Tip Tweezers ($5)
Tweezerman Deluxe Nail Clipper Set: Tweezerman’s reliability with grooming tools lies in simplicity. This set of tweezers — one for fingers, the other for toes — is engineered with stainless steel blades for precision and accuracy. Pro tip: cut nails directly after a hot shower, when they’re softest.
Budget Option: Kai W001 Nail Clippers ($8)
Dovo 10320 Cuticle Nippers: Millions of Americans suffer from ingrown toenails every year, a condition exacerbated by sports. Fortunately, the condition is usually self-treatable with a proper pair of nippers, one that features a concave blade to cut under the nail. Dovo, a brand from Germany, has a range of reliable nippers and different blade sizes; that said, half-inch blades are a good starting point.
Budget Option: Revlon Half-Jaw Cuticle Nippers ($11)
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