How Three Men Combine Positive Self-Esteem With Great Grooming

We can utilise our grooming routines in different ways but does it actually help improve our self-confidence?

man jumping by the seaside
Words by Tom Ford
Feb 07, 2023 

About Tom Ford

Tom spent 3 years as the Editor of MR PORTER and is now a consultant and editorial contributor for Humanery, Esquire, Soho House, Futsol, Eater, Rosewood Hotels and other publications. His main areas of interest are mental health, food, fitness and travel. Tom has completed one year of a psychotherapy training course.

There are myriad motivations for a grooming routine. You could monetise it for the likes and views. Weaponise it to make an ex jealous. You can even use your lotions and potions to go back in time and alter the past (if you need to hide a particularly pernicious hangover). 

Ideally, though, we approach such matters with the vague plan of becoming our best selves. But what if you don’t feel like that inside? The best tweakments come from a solid foundation, after all. No, not make-up. Positive self-esteem. But what does that look like?

We asked three men from the worlds of fitness, mental health and grooming, what authentic confidence means to them (even if they don’t always feel it) and how it helps inform their grooming routines.

David Waters: Business Coach, Corporate Trainer and Psychotherapist

David Waters for Humanery

David believes in the power of relationships, knowledge and self awareness. Before becoming a psychotherapist, business coach, and trainer, he worked in the creative, media and publishing. In the 90s, he was a part of the editorial team of Men's Health Magazine. Currently, he is busy running his private therapy practice. 

Confidence comes from a realistic sense of who we are - our strengths, weaknesses and experience combined with the expectation that we likely will meet the challenges life inevitably throws our way. Hubris, or excessive self belief, often leads to disaster as we lack the self awareness to make provision for our lack of experience. While at the other extreme low confidence, which of course is really just fear, means we avoid challenges altogether and therefore miss the opportunity to grow.

It’s worth taking a moment to think about your confidence concerning how you look and how that might affect your grooming choices. If you are more insecure you may make rash or even fool hardy decisions. No matter how confident we may be in how we look, one thing is for certain - we’re all getting older and how we look deteriorates with time. Of course, our ageing can be slowed down by a healthy lifestyle and our grooming routines, but it can’t be stopped.

There need be no shame in wanting to look good and grooming ourselves to look attractive and healthy can lead to greater success in our lives, as well as personal satisfaction. Yet, extremes can unwittingly slip into our lives too such as over-exercising to the point of damage, an unhealthy relationship to food or addiction to tweakments.

If you’re obsessing about your appearance - checking your face in the mirror twice a day for wrinkles, refusing to go outside because you’ve run out of SPF or finding yourself spending more and more time in the bathroom priming yourself for the day ahead, it is worth asking, ‘what am I really afraid of?’. Or, ‘what is it that I’m trying to run away from?’. It may be that looking older comes freighted with expectations of being less sexually attractive, or less employable or just more of a grown-up who needs to take responsibility. Find out what is driving your anxiety about your appearance and work on that.

Tyler Williams-Green: CEO & Founder, The Outrunners

Tyler is the CEO of charity The Outrunners, based in Hackney. The Outrunners consists of a youth charity, which helps to build the confidence and skills of young East Londoners, and an adults running club. Tyler has organised numerous events for The Outrunners, and also launched the 'Run Your Career' campaign to help mentor, inspire, and empower hundreds of youngsters in the city.

Confidence is about being OK not knowing all the answers and linking a healthy mind with a healthy body and knowing when to look after yourself and take a moment.

I find physical activities which give you space and time for yourself are great for confidence. I love hot pod yoga. Having that space after a long day to stretch, release and sweat out my anxiety is key. It lets me know that I'm taking time for my own wellness. I believe that your body is your most important tool and you only have one. It's important to look after it.

Grooming is about rituals and having time that’s just for you. Also, grooming has the ability to transport you to different places. For example, scents trigger feelings and memories. I use a nighttime cream which I associate with sleep and rest.

Authentic confidence is about how you show up and present yourself to the world. We are our own personal brands. For me, it’s about showing my identity and expressing myself creatively.

It's taken me time to get to a strong place of self-confidence to authentically do this. I’m so happy I'm at a place where I can present my true self, do it with pride and not care what other people think.

Dan Rookwood: Co-Founder, alott

Dan has had an extensive career; writing (mainly concerning men's grooming) for the likes of Men's Health, GQ Australia, ES Magazine and The Guardian. He has previously acted as US Editor for Mr. Porter and Global Senior Director for Nike. In 2021, he founded a new gender-inclusive haircare brand, alott, which focuses on producing premium products made with natural ingredients. 

I believe that healthy confidence is quiet and understated. I should add that I am speaking from a place of aspiration rather than experience here.  

You are a product of your environment. Stay off social media, especially Instagram. Unfollow anyone on Instagram who makes you feel worse about yourself. Replace confidence-eroding inputs with confidence-building inputs such as inspiring podcasts and audiobooks. “Feel Better, Live More” is a great podcast to try.

Grooming can sometimes be about ‘fixing’ our perceived imperfections. The idea of something needing to be “fixed” doesn’t sound like a healthy mindset. It can lead some people to make unwise or even drastic decisions. If we get too fixated on perceived physical imperfections it can negatively affect us mentally. 

There’s an element of self-respect in caring about how you look – and an element of respect for a partner or any kids you may have. Just as making your bed every morning has more impact than we realise on our sense of equilibrium and control, so does making an effort to look our best by getting a great haircut. It helps us to stand that bit taller, to be able to make eye contact and smile. When you transmit positivity, you receive it back in return.

There’s that classic exchange between Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy in the film Trading Places. “Looking good, Billy Ray!” “Feeling good, Louis.” 

You can have more confidence in your grooming routine with mindful intention - using products that align with lifestyle choices rather than whatever happened to be on sale.  

It’s all about how you show up. If you lack confidence, you’re less likely to take your shot –metaphorically or literally. Whether that’s putting yourself forward at work, approaching someone you’re interested in, or having a crack from distance in your weekly 5-a-side.  

There’s that quote from Wayne Gretsky (that Michael Scott from The Office made more famous): “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Read more from The Grooming Journal by Humanery

Why It’s Time To Rethink Your Shower Gel

Why It’s Time To Rethink Your Shower Gel

Words by Lee Kynaston
Jun 07, 2023 

Think shower gels are only there to get your bum, back and bits clean? Then think again, because a shower gel can do everything from lifting your mood to banishing bacne. All you have to do is match the product to the problem. Read on to discover, from Lee Kynaston, some of the best men's shower gels.

Top 5 Classic Men's Summer Fragrances 2023

Top 5 Classic Men's Summer Fragrances 2023

Words by Beck Loades
Jun 05, 2023 

Have you been searching for a bright and energetic fragrance to take you through the summer months? Look no further! The sun is shining and it's time to get those light, bright, and citrusy men's fragrances on our skin!

Sea Salt Hair Spray | What It Does & How To Use It

Sea Salt Hair Spray | What It Does & How To Use It

Words by Thom Watson
May 24, 2023 

What is sea salt spray and what does it do? Learn more about this wonderful new hair styling product for men and take your hair styling game to the next level!

The Ultimate Guide To Men's Dandruff

The Ultimate Guide To Men's Dandruff

Words by Thom Watson
May 18, 2023 

We know Dandruff can be frustrating but there are effective ways of dealing with it. Read on to find out the main causes, the key symptoms and the best solutions, including why you should be using a high quality anti-dandruff shampoo.