Grooming: A sensible and low key take on male grooming

I’ve had a few emails asking me about my “grooming regime”. I take this to mean there are people curious about how much coconut water I drink, which mud-masks I prefer on a rainy Tuesday evening, which carefully formulated lotions and potions I enjoy slathering my skin with, whether I prefer hair tonic to gin & tonic, whither scents of a summery day you may catch a waft of if upwind of me on a draughty day, and so forth and so forth.

The grooming industry is apparently vibrant. Not least witnessed by the number of emails I get asking me to promote their products. I’m not saying male grooming is as big a thing as female grooming, but it seems to me that ever since metrosexual became a thing, it’s somehow expected of guys to step up their game, get softer, more fragrant and fussier. Oddly though, the advertising seems to have a similar focus problem to the female side of the industry, using models that it’s incredibly difficult to relate to. By that, I mean that a 20-something shirtless model with ripped abs and a sultry look doesn’t really sell me on the idea of adding fragrance to my daily routine. Quite the opposite really, and I can only imagine how alienated most women find their advertising (though they may actually be more in the target audience for the said male model).

I’ll be honest though, and if you’re really into products and spending time pampering yourself you will be disappointed. I’m 50 years old, so there is some mileage evident. Still, nowadays we call that patina in most other cases, so I’m really not inclined to head in for Botox and a spray tan, which appears to be the rejuvenation technique du jour (even though the result is appallingly hideous). No, while I appreciate a sharp haircut, the monthly visit to my barber is my sole indulgence when it comes to using the external help.

Starting with hair, the past two years have seen me shun conventional shampoos. Conditioners I’ve not used since my late teens in any case. Most shampoos today are a cocktail of ingredients that could strip the burnt in oil off an engine block. Ever noticed how tingly your scalp feels after washing your hair? That’s the feeling of your scalp trying to regain some balance. Sure, your hair and scalp and clean and degreased, but was that really the goal? I use pomade in my hair, a must really for anything resembling a hairstyle, and I do like to start each day with a fresh application of pomade. I prefer the water-soluble type though, so in actual fact, I don’t need to use an industrial strength degreaser.

A sample photo of Aleppo Soap. My own bar was looking so depleted and shoddy that I didn't portray well...

A sample photo of Aleppo Soap. My own bar was looking so depleted and shoddy that I didn’t portray well…

My father was an early convert to Aleppo Soap and convinced me to give it a try. This soap is a type of castile soap, made from lye and olive oil. His favorite has a high content of laurel oil, though in my experience that makes it harsher on the scalp, so I prefer plain olive oil. The result is hair that feels clean enough, though not dried out, and a scalp that doesn’t need to regenerate. This soap also works for the rest of the body, though to be fair it doesn’t quite see off the sweaty smell of armpits. A bar of the soap is inexpensive though and lasts a long time. There is something very satisfying about rubbing a chunk of soap against your noggin, though that may just be me!

The two deodorants I currently use, both eco-friendly.

The two deodorants I currently use, both eco-friendly.

Speaking of armpits, I did a piece a while back on eco-friendly deodorants. Since then I’ve only used two of these and find they work very well, Jason and Every Man Jack. Long lasting, reasonably priced (more so online than in the local eco extortion emporium, mind you).

I endeavor to find products with natural ingredients and avoid as many of the dubious ingredients as possible. When it comes to pomade though it’s tricky, as most contain some bad stuff or other. My main types the past year have been Suavecito “Strong hold” and Layrite “Superhold”, though I’ve had to just accept their contents. I’ve just received a couple of tins of a new brand by my local barber though that are made in Northern Norway from only natural ingredients. Initial trials are positive.

Three pomades in the current grooming rotation. The two outer ones will probably be dismissed when empty due to parabens.

Three pomades in the current grooming rotation. The two outer ones will probably be dismissed when empty due to parabens.

So, that’s head and pits covered. That’s pretty much it. I wash my face briefly with an eco-friendly soap and warm water. For my sins, I use a regular brand of toothpaste, as it just doesn’t feel clean enough without the foaming effect of the lovely sodium laureth sulfate, which really should be avoided.

Ah, I almost forgot to mention shaving. These days I just run an electric beard trimmer over my face once or twice a week. My significant other prefers me to be all stubbly and the time saves not shaving suits me just fine, so I’ve not gone down the razor route in a while. When I did my big test of shaving lubricants though, it was obvious that the tub of goop from Body Shop ticked all the boxes, so I would not really bother with anything else now. And use a classic razor for best value for money and to deposit less plastic disposables in Mother Nature.

Save money by buying a cheap double edged razor and a pack of blades. Be careful though, they're easy to do damage with!

Save money by buying a cheap double-edged razor and a pack of blades. Be careful though, they’re easy to do damage with!

A final port of call in the grooming stakes is nails and nasal hears. I did a write up on the removal of nostricular folliculars a while back (read it here), but I still use the very handy device to clear out the stray hairs (and this is something that gets worse with age, so it’s not a bad idea to add it to the routine). Nail clippers can be picked up for little expensive and it only takes a minute or two to tidy the talons. It helps if the device can collect the clippings, as leaving them all over the sink will only lead to aggravation.

Apart from all this, a daily warm shower and a change of underwear will see you right. It’s not all that difficult.

I’m not all that keen on scents and fragrances, though naturally, most products do have some smell or other included. You may like to read about the issues with this a while back.

Nails and nasal hair soon give up in the face of proper tools.

Nails and nasal hair soon give up in the face of proper tools.

At this point you’re absolutely desperate to hear my take on colognes, aftershaves, follicular lotions, night cremes, body butter and general skin lotions, right? This is where I really disappoint you as the answer is: I don’t use them. I don’t believe in their claims, I don’t see any need for them and they’re vastly expensive.

All in my humble opinion, naturally.



  • Peter 26/01/2018 at 21:54

    Dear WDD,

    Why anyone would use soap for practically everything is anybody’s guess/choice. The thing about Body Shop vs Arko (sick) indicates you’re very much in the same camp with me as far as a close shave is concerned. This thing about pomade irrittates me, though: Why would anyone want to use a water-soluable pomade, especially in preferance to something like pomade? For me the thing about pomade has always been that you don’t have to wash it out, and neither would you want to.

    Being a youthful 48 (and only this far removed from what the synod of Whitby called a Roman tonsur) I have found fat-based pomades to be a convenience rather than nuissance.

    That being said I’d welcome a WDD pomade discussion, especially as I have often asked myself what was so great about Layrite.

    Kind regards,

    • nick 27/01/2018 at 22:03

      Hi Peter,

      I think «soap» covers many categories, using the same product for hair and body seems no stranger to me than using a bottle of «shampoo/body wash». There are so many variations around thst it’s really just about finding something that feels right.

      I’m curious about fat based pomade though, why do you see an advantage in them being much harder to wash out 🙂

      Feel free to email for a deeper discourse on the relative merits of pomades!

      Kind regards, Nick

  • Peter 27/01/2018 at 13:57

    I thought about the soap-thing again. Maybe an article about soap, what it can and what it can’t do for you, what to expect and what to look for would be a nice idea. With a big soap-shootout, of course.
    I have been wondering what this recent trend with coal-soap is about. There probably are tons of articles on the internet already, but yours would be a good read.

  • Ian 27/01/2018 at 20:41

    Maybe want to reconsider the title of this post…

    As to a cheap DE razor – maybe £20 quid cheap else you are into a wallet busting rabbit hole and a selection of other products you never knew existed or were somehow essential, When a good, razor, blades, soap brush and moisturiser will suffice.

    • nick 27/01/2018 at 21:43

      I’m open to suggestions for a title!

      Indeed, a cheap DE razor can be found secondhand, cheap and good for another few decades. Plenty on eBay. Buying into all the kit and caboodlw certainly gets expensive. I find my preferred shaving lube even works fine without using a brush.

      • James 12/02/2018 at 10:36

        Hi Nick, you can probably use the Macca root (or any other high quality shaving cream) without a brush but it will be very wasteful as you’ll need to use a lot more to get enough lather.
        No need for a fancy badger brush anymore as the new generation Plisson/Plissoft synethics are actually better than any badger or boar brush.

        • nick 12/02/2018 at 11:31

          Indeed, I’m quite sure most of the magical properties of the badger’s fur are mostly in our minds. No reason why some thoughtful synthetics can’t be as good or better. Good call on the price as well!

  • Ken gates 31/01/2018 at 17:00

    I totally agree with just about everything. We as a society somehow have resorted to worshiping genetic freaks . Most models are not composed of standard dna and their shelf life is less time than it takes for a hot cup of coffee to get cold . Ken Gates ( bearded dragon) another over 50 proud smart ass ????.


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