Grooming for Modest Men, Part 2: Hair Care

This is the second of a two part series about basic grooming for men. Part one was about men's skin care.

Hair care is just as important, and many men are not caring for their hair properly (including their facial hair).

That's why I asked Josh Meyer, founder of Brickell Men’s Products, to break down basic hair care principles and techniques here on The Modest Man.

Pay close attention to his advice, and if your grooming products could use an upgrade, use the discount code MODESTMAN to get a free travel size product with the purchase of any Brickell skincare routine.

Take it away, Josh!

Hair care and facial hair basics

First off, if you have a full head of hair, congratulations – there are many men out there who envy you.

If you are losing your hair, no big deal – sporting a short buzz cut or totally shaving it is the way to go.

If you do have hair, you should be doing everything you can to keep it healthy, strong and full. Women love hair, and if you have a full head, you already know this.

Regardless of the type of hair or amount you have, there are some key steps to keeping it look its best. Follow the below three steps for better hair:

Step 1: Shampoo

The point of shampoo is to cleanse your hair of dirt, unnecessary oils and to clean the scalp. The key word is unnecessary – meaning you want to keep some oil in your hair.

Do NOT rinse and repeat

Do NOT rinse and repeat!

If a shampoo makes your hair feel squeaky clean, it means it is stripping the natural oils from your hair – which cause permanent hair damage, hair loss, and thin/flat looking hair.

After shampooing, your hair should feel clean, but slightly oily (not greasy).

Unfortunately most shampoos on the market clean your hair to the point of damage.

Shampoo Tip 1: Shampoo no more than once a day. If possible, only 3-4x a week. Dry/flat hair from shampooing too much is the number one cause of thinning hair (outside of genetics).

Shampoo Tip 2: Lather up the shampoo by working it into your hair, and also making sure to cleanse the scalp by rubbing it with your fingers.

A shampoo really does not need to lather to clean your hair, in fact, the chemicals used to create lather in shampoo are what cause your hair to look flat, and are only added to give the impression of “cleansing” your hair.

Bonus Tip: There’s really no need to rinse and repeat. If anything, it will only strip your hair of oils you want to keep.

Step 2: Condition

What’s the purpose of conditioner, and is it really necessary?

Each strand of hair is covered in tiny cells which look a bit like fish scales. Damage to these cells cause them to stick out, which causes hair to look dull, rough and out of condition.

Conditioners work by smoothing down these scales so your hair looks smooth, softer, and shiny again. Essentially, they are moisturizers for your hair. All hair types, even greasy hair, benefit from conditioning.

We recommend everyone use a conditioner at least 1-2x a week, but the length of your hair matters:

Shorter Hair

In general, short hair only requires a shampoo. The same goes for short hair that feels oily to the touch. Use conditioner only 1-2x a week. However, if you have short curly hair, use conditioner with every shampoo. Short curly hair tends to be more dry and frizzy and a good conditioner will tame it.

Justin Jeffers

Justin Jeffers of Jay Butler wears his hair long (Credit: Black Lapel)

Longer Hair

The longer your hair is, the more likely you’ll need a conditioner. Oils produced by the scalp that naturally descend down the hair strand have trouble making it to the end of the strand.

If you have long hair, condition it after every shampoo. If you have long, oily hair, only condition the ends of your hair as the rest of it will already be very well conditioned naturally.

In all cases, it is important to choose a sulfate-free men’s hair conditioner.  Sulfates make a conditioner lather but also causes over drying, which defeats the entire purpose of a conditioner (the vast majority of conditioners contain sulfates).

Step 3: Style

As mentioned before, if you have a nice, full head of hair, you should have a haircut that displays how awesome it is.

Is there a haircut that’s best for shorter men? Not particularly, but a hairstyle with height can add an inch or two to your height.

That being said, your haircut should match your facial structure. A quick primer can be found here, but in general:

Styling Tip 1: A haircut should always be kept well maintained – trim around the ears with a trimmer or small scissors between haircuts and shave the back of your neck as well.

Styling Tip 2: If your hair is thin or thinning, long hair cuts are your worst nightmare. Long hair makes thinning hair very noticeable, so keep it short or shaved.

There’s nothing more awkward than the guy who is losing his hair and making weird hair styles to cover it up.

Showing you’ve acknowledged your fate shows confidence and security.

Styling Tip 3: There is no perfect styling product – you need to experiment to see which works best for your hair. Pomades, gels, and waxes are typically the best modern day products for men.

Styling Tip 4: Don’t bother trying to figure out what hair style looks best on you – leave that to a barber or whoever cuts your hair. There’s no shame in showing a picture of a hairstyle you like.

If you feel awkward bringing in a photo, take a picture on your cell phone and then that way everyone will think you’re sharing a funny text or picture of your last date.

Facial Hair

Whether to shave or have facial hair is very much a personal preference. If you’re looking for all the masculine points you can get, there’s nothing more manly than a big beard or its cousin the goatee.

Aaron Paul with facial hair

Aaron Paul, 5'8″ (Credit: Contact Music)

For the modest man, a well trimmed beard, goatee, or mustache can add an interesting detail to your persona that can be the focus of attention when someone looks at you.

If you are going to have facial hair, remember the basic same principles as with hair care apply – the best facial hair style for you depends on your face type and it should be kept well groomed at all times or you’ll look like a hobo, totally defeating the purpose.

See Also: Best Facial Hair for Various Types of Faces

If you’re someone who prefers a clean shaven face, or rocks facial hair that requires shaving around it, then you’re a member of one of the most frustrating clubs on Earth: The Men’s Shaving Club.

Few things in life irritate guys as much as shaving. I’ll cover the basics to creating a better shave.

Change Your Shave Cream

A quality shaving cream can make the difference between a comfortable, close shave, and one you avoid. Shave creams that either foam (basically, air) or lather are actually a detriment to your face.

Barbasol Original Shaving Cream

Classic…but not your best option.

While foam might appear to be thick and frothy, it’s actually not dense at all. Foaming shave creams create an air barrier between your razor and your face, meaning your razor is scraping over your face when it hits those little air pockets within the foam, versus a nice lubricant.

Lather on the hand, might feel cool, but the chemicals used to create lather are generally toxic and are major irritants to the skin, which can dry it out and cause razor burn.

Look for shaving creams that are just that, either creams or lotions. They are able to soak into the skin and create a thin lubrication between the blade and your face – saving you a torn up, burned up, pimply face and neck.

Upgrade Your Blade

There are three main types of razor blades a man can use, each with its pros and cons:

Merkur safety razor

Merkur Safety Razor

Straight Razors were popular shaving tools in the 1700 and 1800’s. They provide a great shave but will require lots of practice and a steady hand.

Safety Razors are the choice of many men because of their close, smooth shave. They are used by more men than any other type of razor in the world.

While they’re a small investment up front, they’ll last forever and give you an easy, clean shave every time. The cool thing is that they only use a single blade, which offers a better shave than a razor with multiple blades – meaning less facial irritation.

Cartridge Razors (or disposable razors) provide easy and convenient blades for shaving. They generally come in two forms, single use and replaceable cartridges.

Unfortunately, despite all the advertising, they do not provide a very close shave and often cause irritation. Due to the need for frequent replacement, they’re actually much more expensive, over time, when compared to either of the other types of razors.

If you do prefer using disposable blades, discard them every 4-5 uses.

Pre-Shave

While most men have been taught that shaving first thing in the morning is part of any good routine; it’s a lie.

As you sleep, your face slightly swells up, causing hair to retreat back into your follicles.

When shaving you want as much of your hair exposed as possible resulting in a very close and clean shave. Upon waking up, it takes time for the swelling to go down and allow hair to be fully exposed again. Try shaving at night and see how much closer of a shave you get.

Read Next: 3 Essential Grooming Upgrades for Modest Men (opens new window)

If you’re hair grows quickly this may not be an option, if so try shaving as the very last thing you do before walking out the door in the morning.

Warm up your face by either taking a hot shower, or running warm water over your face. Showering is best as the warm water and steam will soften your hair and open up follicles.

Thoroughly cleanse your face before every shave and exfoliate your entire face with a face scrub three to four times a week before you shave. As mentioned earlier, cleansing and exfoliating helps bring your hair to the surface and removes dead skin, meaning less friction for your razor and a better shave.

The Shave

Apply your shaving cream, working it into the skin and then let stand for 1-2 minutes. This is important as it allows the ingredients to soak into your skin, preparing your face for the razor that’s about to scrap over it.

Shave with the grain of your face. When you shave against the grain, the blade rakes across the skin, pulling hair up harshly away from the face.

The hair on your face grows in a downward direction, while the hair on your neck generally grows in an upward direction.

Shave in short, slow strokes, which prevent you from quickly “ripping” hair out with faster, long strokes. Rinse the blade in warm water every three to four strokes, cleaning it of skin and hair- to keep a close shave.

Second Shave

If you require a second shave, first use some face moisturizer for men before immediately shaving again. This will prevent unnecessary shave irritation and dryness. Re-wet your skin with warm water and reapply shave cream and allowing to stand on your skin for a minute.

Related Video: Watch Brock Get a Manicure and Pedicure

Then, as before, shave with the grain. If this is not satisfactory for you and you’re hell bent on donating blood and running the risk of attractive ingrown hairs, reapply shaving cream and gently shave against the grain.

Post Shave

Pat and dry your skin, checking for any irritation or redness. If you notice minor irritation or are prone to razor burn, apply an aftershave.

Do not use a brand with a “cooling effect” such as menthol, or alcohol. It may feel nice, but it wreaks havoc on your skin and can cause irritation, ingrown hairs and unsightly pimples.

Conclusion

As you can see, men’s skincare and grooming doesn’t need to be complicated. With the right knowledge, you can develop solid routines that allow you to look energized, youthful and healthy, regardless of your height.


Be sure to check out Part 1 of this series to learn the basics of skin care for men, and use the discount code MODESTMAN to get a free travel size product with the purchase of any Brickell skincare routine.

Comments

  1. Should you still avoid shampooing every day even if you use styling products? (I generally use styling paste for the style and texture and hairspray for the hold) and on top of that I use rogaine. I’m always worried that if I don’t shampoo, I’ll step out of the shower and my hair will just be a greasy mess…

    • I’d recommend first experimenting with using less shampoo each time you shower. Start using half as much and see if your hair feels okay.

      I use very little shampoo (when I do actually use it), and it gets the product out just fine. Every other day, I don’t use any shampoo – I just scrub with my hands and fingernails until my hair feels clean.

      • I agree with Brock. Unfortunately, styling products are not very good for the hair. You need a lot less shampoo than you think. Your hair should never really feel “clean” after you wash it, as odd as that sounds. Use just enough to get rid of the product, but not so much that it strips the hair of it’s needed oils. On weekends and other days where you don’t need to style your hair, avoid using product.

  2. I’m with him on only shampooing a few times a week, one thing I would add is to focus mostly on shampooing the scalp area and not so much on the ends, this leads to dry/brittle ends, and vice versa with conditioner. Condition the ends and stay clear the scalp!

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent
    http://thekentuckygent.com

  3. Recommend hair styles for slighlty bald on sides.

  4. I shampoo once a day, because if I don’t, my hair gets greasy and hard to maintain, especially if I sweat. What else should I do, just wash it with water instead and no shampoo? When I need to shave fully, I use Gillette Fusion Proglide Power, but usually I just use a trimmer and maintain 1.5mm stubble.

    • It can take a few days for your hair to get used to less shampoo. Right now it’s used to being stripped of natural oil daily. Try using less shampoo each day, then going to every other day. And yes, just scrub rigorously with water. Let me know how it goes!

  5. Alexander Cruz says:

    That was great! There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding shampoo and hair care thanks in part to the lather, rinse, repeat campaign. Thanks Brock!

  6. Great tips, brock! I have a thick and thus dry hair. I shampoo twice a week. It would be great if you could write an article on dandruff and maintenance of scalp. I am sure most of us want to hear about it. Thank you.

  7. Brock is spot on, except I would avoid rubbing the hair vigorously. Ripping our hair and breaking hair by doing that is a real thing, especially as we get older and hair becomes more brittle. Once your hair adjusts to not being shampooed everyday, the excess oiliness should calm down a bit.

  8. What a fantastic grooming article for us men! Us men also have our own maintenance rituals that we stand by to present ourselves to others. I’d like to share a personal experience of mine when I was on a trip abroad that may benefit others when it comes to facial hair. With the hope that I would look attractive to the people I encountered, I grew my facial hair and hair out. The responses I received were definitely not what I was hoping for. It wasn’t until a wise friend pointed out that if I wanted to don facial hair, I would need to cut my hair, or vice versa. When I decided to cut my hair, the end result caused my physical appearance to shine as well as my inner self-confidence. Truly, a night and day difference.

    Have any of you encountered something similar to that? It’s understandable that shaving is a ritual that some don’t like, but a well-groomed man is a piece of art to the rest of the world.

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