Here's everything you need to know about taking care of the hair on your head and face.
Note: This article was written by Josh Meyer, founder of Brickell. This is the second of a two part series about basic grooming for men. Part one was about men's skin care.
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.
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:
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.
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.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can even try cutting your own 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.