So imagine this… I pull up to a nice semi-exclusive neighborhood, get out the car, glance over at my friend’s black on black Porsche Cayenne as I walked up the driveway (I’ve always loved that car). I get to the door and am met with happy salutations by this friend, and of course he looks nice as always. Fresh shape-up, sea-sick waves, he has on part of his ensemble… well, just the shirt… I believe it was some sort of unique Burberry or Ralph Lauren jean button-up with a club collar. He says to me, “I have to get finished getting dressed”, and just as he turns to go upstairs I glanced down at his feet, and was Highly disturbed at what I saw. Long chipped toenails and ashy semi-crusty feet. I thought to myself, it should be a crime to look good on the surface of things, but then have major grooming flaws underneath it all.
He later came downstairs smelling of YSL, looking dapper from head to toe… he had completed his ensemble with slim fit jeans, desert boots, a custom jacket, and vintage eyewear… but I still couldn’t erase the image of before.
Being stylish, fashionable, wearing well-tailored clothing and all things alike are indeed muy importante, but it almost means nothing when the underneath isn’t matching. Just like women have their beauty routine men must have their grooming routine. And no I’m not saying you should have five or six different specialty cremes and spend as much time grooming yourself as a woman, but you should have a few key basics things that you do on a daily or weekly basis that will keep you a well groomed urban gentleman.
When I first thought of creating the outline for the urban gentleman’s grooming routine I couldn’t help but get constant flashes of Christian Bale in American Psycho. I haven’t seen that movie in years and I only saw it once, but for some reason it stands out as one of the most specific and detailed grooming routines I’ve seen in a film. Though admirable, such a detailed routine may turn some men into narcissists– and no one likes a narcissist. So this routine will be well-balanced, not over the top or bare minimum.
Let’s get started….
The Grooming Basics will always be the same: hair, nails, skin, teeth. Every gentleman must deal with these four key areas.
The hair routine for each man will greatly differ, depending on the hair texture and chosen hair style.
Men with STRAIGHT HAIR, WAVY HAIR, or a LOOSER CURL PATTERN (European-American/Caucasian, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Mixed-Race):
- Should wash their hair on a daily basis or every other day if the hair stays clean and there isn’t a large amount of oil build-up.
- It’s been a long-standing tradition for men with this hair texture to get their hair cut once a month, but it all boils down to the rate at which your hair grows back, the chosen hair style, and the budget you set aside for hair care. I find that many men with straight hair need a cut after about 3 weeks. *It’s very important that your barber knows how to cut your hair so it grows out evenly and looks great for the entire month between cuts.
Shampoos & conditioners:
Axe 2 in 1 Shampoo and conditioners, Patene Pro-V, MenScience Daily Shampoo, Billy Jealousy Fuzzy Logic Hair Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner, American Crew shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. Redken for men, Baxter of California, there’s so many to choose from.
Men with CURLY HAIR/TIGHT CURL PATTERN (Men of Color/Black Men, Mixed-Race, Hispanic/Latino):
- Should generally wash their hair every couple of days or once a week. It is important for men of color to maintain the moisture in their hair so shampooing/conditioning once a week, then washing the hair with a conditioner twice a week is a good routine to acquire. For example: Shampoo/condition your hair Thursday morning while in the shower then get a haircut or shape-up later that evening. Wash your hair with a conditioner Sunday and once again on Tuesday. (If you’re maintaining a certain hairstyle, like if you’re trying to process your waves for the first time then you may want to wait a week and half between washes until your waves process).
- Hair should be lightly moisturized on a daily basis to keep hair from becoming dry and breaking off.
- Again, the frequency at which you cut your hair depends on the hairstyle, rate at which your hair grows back, and budget. I generally recommend a hair cut every two weeks and a shape-up the week between getting your hair cut. So basically, if it’s in your budget, you should be visiting the barber every week: hair cut, shape-up, hair cut, shape-up. Most guys I know have a specific day they go on each week (the more routine your visits are the better).
Shampoos & conditioners:
Patene Pro-V for Natural Hair shampoo and conditioners (in the bronze bottle), ORS (Organic Root Stimulator) Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner, Creme of Nature shampoos and conditioners.
Xotics Sweet Jamila, Nairobi Essentials Botanical oils (purchase at a high-end black/of color american salon, online, or in some beauty supply stores), Softee Extra Virgin Olive Oil Hair & Scalp Conditioner, and ORS (Organic Root Stimulator) has a great line of carrot and olive oil hair moisturizers, and of course Bronner Brothers (BB) makes great products for extra curly hair (purchase the last three at most major stores or at a local beauty supply store). Basically look for natural hair conditioners and lotions that have natural ingredients.
Also, consider a sheen spray, especially if you have braids, dreads, or a thick head of hair. Mizani, Bronner Bros, Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil, and Palmer’s Olive Oil hair spray are great choices. Lightly spray your hair each morning.
For more tips on hair styles for different hair types go here.
There really isn’t too much to say here, but to just get in the routine of cutting your nails every week. It literally takes no more than 5 minutes to cut both your finger nails and toenails, so this can be easily fit into a Sunday morning, Monday evening, or even a Friday night before hitting the town.
I’ve been meeting a plethora of guys who have cut nails, but maintain the preferred nail length by biting them off instead of cutting them off. This is a habit that many men and women share alike, it’s more common than I realized and is quite unpleasant. The best way to stifle this habit is to simply keep your nails cut so that there isn’t any nail to bite.
If you have the budget, getting a professional manicure and pedicure may be an option. If you do have the budget this should be bi-monthly, weekly if you’re a nail biter.
Skin is such a broad topic to cover. There’s the face and the body and both areas need to be washed and moisturized. This means every man should have a cleanser and moisturizer for the face and soap/cleanser/wash and moisturizer for the body. The type of product you use depends on your skin type, and each person’s skin type varies of course.
A basic routine for normal skin could be: Noxzema or Cetaphil as the facial cleanser and moisturizer, Dove Men + Care or AXE bodywash, and Nivea for Men lotion or Palmer’s cocoa butter as body moisturizers.
Another routine for normal skin might be: L’Oreal for Mens Expert Power Clean face wash, Jack Black Double Duty facial moisturizer, Billy Jealousy Ocean Front body wash, and Kiehl’s Deluxe Hand & Body lotion.
(MenScience Daily face wash and Kiehl’s Facial Fuel moisture treatment are also popular choices.)
Raw african black soap is also a popular natural product to use on your skin (thanks YH for the info), especially those with extremely dry skin, eczema, or come in contact with harsh chemicals on a daily basis.
Choosing the correct product can be difficult because there’s not a shortage on choices. You can start with recommendations from friends or our website then pay close attention to how your skin feels and reacts immediately after using the product(s) and 7-10 after using the product(s). This is usually enough time to see whether a product is making your skin better, smoother, clearer, etc.
Body scrubs, exfoliating gels, facial masks, etc go beyond the basics, but there are many of those type products for those that are interested in a more detailed routine. You can usually find products that are a combination of many types of products ie. a moisturizing and exfoliating body wash. As a man the less product you have the better, so a combination grooming product is usually the best way to go.
It is recommended that you exfoliate your skin up to twice a week (so atleast once). A few scrubs many men love: LAB Invigorating Face Scrub, MenScience Face Scrub, Anthony Logistics Facial Scrub, Anthony Logistics Sea Salt Body Scrub.
There’s no big guidelines to keeping your grill fresh. Brush twice a day or after every meal, floss atleast once a day, and use mouthwash (listerine) everyday. If your teeth are dull, stained, or just out right yellow use a whitening kit. Check out one of our previous ‘whitening’ post.
We’ve had plenty of articles on manscaping, and our main one breaks down each section: the Face (head, mustache, beard, nose hair) and Body (chest, armpits, groin, leg/arms, back, and rear) as well as options on whether to wax, trim, or shave.
We’ve technically covered hands and feet since they would be included in nails and body, but it doesn’t hurt to go a little more into detail.
Let me first get the point across that men shouldn’t have extra extra extra soft hands, your hands shouldn’t feel like a woman’s hand, but it should be smooth and well-moisturized.
Firstly, be sure to moisturize from top to bottom when you lotion-up each day, that means from your chest to the soles of your feet.
If you have calluses on your hands, depending on the severity, a simple hand creme may work: Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer, Nivea Hand Smooth Indulgence Hand Cream, Kiehl’s Body Care Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream.
If your hand calluses are very hard and tough use a callus shaver or pumice stone. Just be sure to be careful when using a callus shaver on your hand– focus on removing the hard callus not the softer skin around it.
Heal Tastic Intensive Heel Therapy will quickly smooth out rough cracked feet.
One of the quickest ways to soften/smooth out/heal dry cracked feet is to simply moisturize your feet each night before going to bed. Generously apply vaseline/petroleum jelly, cocoa butter, or natural shea butter (raw, pure, or organic) to both feet then promptly put on socks. When you take the socks off in the morning you’ll notice how much better your feet look. This is a very “old-school” method, but it really does work.
So now that we’ve dished it all out, lets organize our thoughts. We know what is needed and included in The Grooming Routine, but what will the actual routine be. There’s millions of urban gentlemen out there, different schedules and lifestyles so it would indeed be hard to customize the routine for each and every person. We will however provide a rough draft that will aid and guide you as you customize your own.
Brush teeth, floss, rinse with mouthwash
Wash & Moisturize Body
*Wash & Condition Hair
(if you have straight/wavy/loosely curly hair)
Wash & Moisturize Face
*Lightly moisturize hair
(men of color/black men)
Brush/Comb/Style Hair (including facial hair)
2-3 dabs of cologne
Brush any dirt from underneath nails
(men of color/black men):
Hair cut or shape-up
Manscape (trim excessive body hair if desired)
Exfoliate face and body
Notes: Men with straight/wavy/loose curly hair should wash hair daily or every other day. Hair cuts every 3-6 weeks.
The Grooming Routine is all about discipline and efficiency. Having a set routine saves you time, sharpens your organization skills, and most of all makes you more of an urban gentleman.
Lastly, grooming goes beyond the products but extends into having a healthy diet and exercise routine. Having an at minimum quickie calisthenics workout each morning and/or night will go a long way. To maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails eat foods or take vitamin supplements with Vitamin E. Most importantly drink lots and lots of water.
Feel free to share your grooming routine and favorite products below.
- Frederick Benjamin Grooming | The Urban Gentleman | Men's Fashion Blog | Men's Grooming | Men's Style