Style is what you put on your body. Grooming is how you present your body. Even the most stylish men can leave grooming as an afterthought. However, just as people notice your bow tie, blazer or oxfords, they also notice your hair, skin, and appearance. In this guide, we’re going to discuss the top 15 men’s grooming mistakes to avoid.
Grooming Mistakes Video
1. Using Inferior Products
Most women use a ton of products, whereas most men stick to just a few. Perhaps they use a daily face wash, a shampoo, a conditioner and maybe a hair product. Most men will also incorporate some shaving products into their routine. Whether you use a few products or a range of products, what you put on your body has a direct effect on your appearance.
You can determine if a product is inferior by looking out for these things:
- Does the product not stand up to its claims? For example, does a strong-hold gel hold strongly? Does it flake?
- Do you have any skin reactions that are unexplained?
- Are you concerned about the chemicals you put on your body?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to reevaluate your products. A product that doesn’t live up to its claims or that simply underperforms should be the first to go. Bad products can leave you hair sticky, come undone just a few hours into the day, or flake all over your shoulders, which will ultimately bring down your whole look.
Many, if not most products contain harmful ingredients. Of course, this isn’t something the brands advertise, but the vast majority of the hair, skin and body products used by men (and women) that are found in grocery stores and pharmacies contain products that are often a leading cause of skin irritation. In fact, one of the leading causes of most shaving ailments like razor burn and sensitive skin is actually due to inferior products. If your skin is reacting in an area in which you frequently use products, back off using your products entirely, and add them back into your routine to see which one is causing the reaction.
Check ingredients on the bottle and stick with products that contain as few harmful additives as possible. Some key ingredients to avoid are alcohol, fragrance, parabens, and phthalates.
2. Unsightly Nails
Manicures are great, and even though some men feel they aren’t masculine, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your nails. Dirty, scraggly nails, though they are a small detail, can be a powerful negative distraction. Your hands make gestures, hold glasses and silverware, and shake other people’s hands, so they are frequently a point of focus. Keeping your nails healthy and neat will render them neutral, and they then offer a clean canvas free of distractions to those around you.
Biting your nails is especially damaging, and it can be construed as a sign of weakness. Consider putting insect repellent on your fingers as the taste will immediately remind you to stop biting.
To maintain your nails, first, pick up a well-made manicure kit for men. Clip your nails so a slim border of white is showing and file the rough edges. Use the point of the small metal file to clean under the edge of your nails, and use the small clippers to trim off any hangnails. If you have issues getting your nails clean, pick up a small brush or a toothbrush and use soap as needed to scrub your nails.
We recommend spending just a few minutes every 4-7 days each week maintaining your nails.
3. Ungroomed Body Hair
From the doctor at your annual check up to the people on the beach, many men forget, that occasionally, people will see our bodies. And if you’re dating, well, chances are at some point you’ll be taking off some clothes. If you don’t have body hair concerns, then you’re fine, but if it makes you uncomfortable, then you should consider body hair maintenance.
It’s expected that men will have hair on their legs, arms, and chest, but consider keeping any overly long, dense, or tufted hair on the back, chest, arms, feet, and hands trimmed. Coarse and overly thick leg hair can be trimmed as well. Use an electric trimmer that can be set to different heights, such as for trimming hair, and taking off small amounts at a time, as once it’s off you can’t put it back.
On your neck, there should be a clean break of the hair at the back of the hairline and below the beard. Keep the neck, the tops of the shoulders and chest closely trimmed to create a clear distinction between your beard and hairstyle from your body. This is something a good barber will help you with, and you can maintain yourself between haircuts.
If the presence of hair entirely is undesirable for you, such as on your back, consider waxing, depilatory products or laser hair removal treatments that can remove the hair at the root. In general, shaving is a very temporary solution, and it can be awkward while it grows back in.
4. Using Canned Shaving Cream
Gentlemen, under no certain terms, canned shaving cream is a waste of money in addition to doing a terrible job lubricating and softening bread hair. Some would argue that canned shaving cream is convenient, but if you take a hard look at that point, that is not nearly enough of a reason to redeem it. Canned shaving cream came around long after shaving soap and creams, and the big difference is that you pay for air and chemical stabilizers to keep the product inflated. As a result, you get less actual soap on your face, which you need to act as a barrier between your skin and the blade.
Canned shaving cream is a money-making, instant-gratification tool that men need to abandon entirely; almost ANY other lubrication method does a better job (including old-school bar soap!) and will cost less over time. Do your face a favor and get a real shaving cream or shaving soap.
For a comprehensive look at how to change your shave for the better, check out our Shaving Guide.
5. Looking Like an Oil Slick
Few people think of oily skin as a genetic gift – it’s challenging to manage and can make an otherwise perfectly presentable man look like a greasy teenager. It’s not a desirable look, but it can be tamed. In general, washing your face more often isn’t a solution, because it will only cause your face to create more oil. Stick to a twice-daily cleanser and a moisturizer routine and use a few of the following tricks to manage grease and shine throughout the day.
Sometimes it can mean using products you may not think of. Products like Paula’s Choice Shine Stopper can keep you looking dry even when you know there’s some sweat on the brow. In jobs where appearance matters, this can be quite important. In a recent interview with Bryan Barron from BeautyPedia, he explained how a friend of his in real estate hated looking like he was dripping with sweat and now uses a shine stopper daily. He says it’s increased his business and his confidence when showing homes and meeting with clients.
If a shine stopper product doesn’t interest you, keeping blotting papers on hand can be a quick, as-needed fix for oily skin. You can also blot your skin using a tissue or a (clean, obviously) toilet seat cover from the restroom.
6. Over Tanning and Burning
We get it, it’s nice to have bronzed skin in the summer or after a vacation. It looks masculine, relaxed, and of-the-moment. At the same time, we all know that the sun is dangerous to our skin. You can still get some color while protecting yourself, so it’s really important to use a high SPF sunscreen. Not only will it help prevent skin ailments and diseases such as cancer, but it helps to regulate your tan and stop you from burning. Many men complain about it looking greasy, feeling like makeup, having an odd smell or even giving a white and pasty glow, but there are good products out there. La Roche Posay’s Melt In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60 is a high enough protection level that you can spend a few worry-free hours in the sun without the mess or smell.
7. Ignoring the Signs of Aging
Compared to the scrutiny women endure, men have it good when it comes to aging. Wrinkles and gray hair are considered dignified and classy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want them!
The skin on your face, chest and hands are the first places that aging becomes apparent. Fine lines, sun spots, bags under the eyes and thinning skin slowly appear over time. If you’ve had a lot of sun exposure, this process can often be accelerated. Using anti-aging creams and moisturizers once daily can help to combat these lines and wrinkles giving us a more youthful and energized appearance. Consider using products that contain retinol, AHAs, BHAs and glycolic acid to help skin turnover such as Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream or the Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment with BHA. Want one-stop shopping? Checkout Tiege and Hanley’s Level 3 skincare subscription. They send you everything you need in one kit, and their formulas leave out parabens, phthalates, and fragrances.
8. Untrimmed Nose & Ears
We can all agree that hair hanging from nostrils or protruding from ears is unsightly. It’s a mistake to overlook maintenance of nose and ear hair.
An inexpensive nose and ear trimmer can quickly trim the hair down so no one sees it. You may have heard plucking is better, and if you can’t be bothered to pick up a $10 trimmer a pair of tweezers is a great, if more painstaking, option. Most trimmers on the market today so a good enough job that no one will see the hair. Just remember to focus on the entire ear and not just the canal as hair can often grow in other areas as well.
9. Rough Feet & Hands
The build up of callouses on the hands and feet is normal. Shaking hands with a gentleman who has dry and rough skin is never elegant. The same goes for men who don’t care for their feet but show them to the world in sandals or barefoot in the summer. Like a good manicure, the skin around your nails should be cared for. The easiest way to remove dry skin or callouses on the feet and hands is to take a hot shower to soften the skin and then use a pumice stone to remove the excess skin. Once the skin is dry, use a large nail file to smooth the surface further. Don’t want to do this yourself? Get a salon pedicure and they will remove your calluses and dry skin.
10. Forgetting What Goes in Comes Out
For many men (and women), we care about what we eat and drink because of the way it affects our health and body image. While it’s true that the products we put on our skin can barely seep through into our body, the reverse is quite the opposite. The skin is the largest organ on the body. Just like the heart, kidneys and liver, the foods we eat and beverages we drink can have a huge impact on the health of our skin, nails and hair. In other words, it’s not just weight that can be affected by what we put in our body. Eating healthier is a quick fix to many skin ailments and will give you noticeably healthy skin and hair.
11. Body Odor
Body odor is a tough one, because most of us don’t perceive our own scent the way others do. First, start by asking a trusted friend or partner to help you identify if you need to make a change. Here are some tips to help combat off-putting smells:
- Don’t use colognes, body sprays or scented products to mask bodily odors. They don’t work, and the result may attract more, rather than less, attention to your scent. Instead, wash with mild soaps and unscented products.
- Deodorant isn’t optional. The drugstore brands will work but classic deodorants like Penhaligon and D.R. Harris will keep a soldier dry in full gear in India during the summer. If they aren’t enough, consider asking your doctor for a prescription-strength version.
- Undershirts are a great tool to mitigate sweat at the office. Choose a moisture-wicking undershirt that will keep you feeling fresh all day.
- Dress for the weather. Just because you have to wear a suit to work, doesn’t mean it has to be a heavy wool suit. Consider linen and summer suits in hotter months.
- Foot powders can combat foot odor and baby powder can keep your armpits smelling fresh.
- Bad breath isn’t grooming, but it does turn people off. Consider carrying strong breath mints with you and keeping a toothbrush, floss and mouthwash at the office.
12. Wearing Too Much Cologne
We all know the guy in the office that smells like he bathed in cologne – he thinks it’s cool, and everyone else gags as he walks by. These days, there is fragrance is just about everything, including your laundry detergent, dryer sheets, shampoo, aftershave, lotion and your cologne. It can all be too much.
The key to wearing the right amount of scent is to eliminate it where it’s not wanted and then add it only in the quantity and scent that you particularly like. For the most part, fragrance can be an irritating and unnecessary additive to most of the products that come in contact with your body, so it’s better to choose the fragrance-free options for your moisturizer, body lotion, and detergent. Instead, add a scent with your aftershave or a cologne. If you like both, then use a thin layer of aftershave and walk through a fine mist of cologne. If you prefer just a cologne, add a touch to your throat and wrists, but limit yourself to no more than two spritzes.
13. Grown-Out Haircuts
Between haircuts, there is that period of awkwardness where the back and sides grow out but the rest of the hair still looks neat. To combat looking sloppy, allow the top to grow out and keep the back of the neckline and the sideburns trimmed. This is also important if you’re not growing out your hair but are in between hair cuts. Many hair stylists and barbers offer free or discounted maintenance between cuts. That or ask someone you trust to trim your neckline. Just don’t attempt it yourself. It will not go well. Similarly, check the bottom of your neckline. Men who do have thicker back hair will often inadvertently push it up so it peeks above the collar of their shirt.
14. Cracked or Flaking Lips
Many people argue that the perfect smile is important. It really is, but even the most engaging smile can be will be less convincing with dry, cracked or flaking lips. In the winter and dry months especially, this can be unsightly and even painful. It may be tempting to lick the lips or even bite the skin, but both will make it worse in the long run. A good quality, natural lip cream, ointment or stick can keep your lips nourished, hydrated and healthy. If over the counter products don’t work, consider asking your dermatologist or physician for a prescription. However, like any skin product, there are some that are better than others. Most of the products made for men will not alter your appearance or look like you’re wearing makeup. They will simply keep your lips looking healthy.
Unless you’re Groucho Marx, bushy eyebrows are never an attractive look. In fact, they can be so distracting that people will have a hard time looking you in the eye. Not maintaining eyebrows is also one of the biggest mistakes men make when it comes to grooming because they are such a prominent feature on your face.
This is one part of the body worth shaping, but it can take some practice to get it right. The biggest thing is creating an attractive border to limit random loose hairs. It also means shaping them and preventing the eyebrows from touching in any way, shape or form. Stay tuned for a step by step video on how to do that!
Now you have the 15 most common grooming mistakes even stylish men make. What other grooming mistakes do you see men making?