Why Good Grooming Shouldn’t Stop At Your Face And Hair
It’s no good looking after your face, hair and teeth if you neglect your legs, chest and bum. So, take your grooming to the next level with Lee Kynaston’s guide to looking after all those forgotten (but important) bodybits.
Feb 22, 2023
About Lee Kynaston
Grooming Guru Lee Kynaston is one of the UK’s best-known and most knowledgeable male beauty experts, with over 20 years experience of writing about men's skincare, haircare and fragrance.
Social media and the internet are awash with hacks, how-tos and in-depth articles about how to take care of your face, hair, teeth and toes but looking after these is only half the story. In fact, it’s only a tenth of the story. What about your scalp, arms, knees, elbows and bum for example? Neglecting these and only tending to your face and hair is a bit like polishing the roof of your car and ignoring the grubby hub cabs and dirty doors. So, for superior selfcare, take a 360° approach to your grooming routine by tending to these six oft-neglected body bits.
“It’s easy to forget about your scalp when considering haircare,” says Rufus Cavendish, author of The Little Book of Modern Grooming. “After all, it’s kind of hiding most of the time. But the scalp can be the root cause of various hair issues.” He’s not wrong. According to research published by The Institute of Trichology, scalp health may even be linked to hair loss, so it certainly pays to look after your pate as well as your hair.
Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent scalp savers around – from Augustinus Bader’s The Scalp Treatment, which is packed full of nutrients to boost scalp and hair heath, to John Masters Organics’ Scalp Exfoliating Scrub, which is designed to remove the dead cells and product build up that can hinder normal hair growth. (Massage these products in with your fingertips to help boost microcirculation to follicles in the process).
Other steps to take to boost the health of your scalp include avoiding cigarettes (smoking reduces blood flow to the hair follicles and damages the DNA in hair producing cells) and protecting any exposed skin with a sunscreen. This is important because sun damage causes the production of a compound called superoxide – which is thought to cause hair follicles to switch from a growth phase to a shedding one. Since the scalp is also one of the most common sites for skin cancer inmen factoring up is a good insurance policy for all round health too. To make application easy use a dry-to-the-touch mist like Ultrasun UV Face & Scalp Mist SPF50, which is great for bald head sand bald patches alike.
Finally, think about incorporating an anti-dandruff shampoo containing zinc pyrithione into your routine – there’s some research to suggest using one is useful also for preventing hair loss, even if you don’t suffer from visible scalp issues.
Few things age a man like hairy lugholes. You can have the freshest, youngest-looking skin in the world but if your ‘Lords and Peers’ are ‘Bloody Mary’ your age-defying skincare regime will be for nought.
Turkish barbers are famous for singeing ear excess ear hair away with a flame but unless you’ve asbestos ears it’s not something you’ll want to try at home. Instead, use a gadget like the Braun All-in-one Beard & Hair Trimmer Grooming Kit which features an ear and nose hair trimmer and a quick trim once a week or so should keep it at bay.
If you’ve ever suffered spotty shoulders, you’re not alone. As well as being susceptible to acne they’re also prone to acne mechanica – aversion of the condition triggered by physical factors like heat, pressure and the friction caused by tight clothing and backpack straps. To minimise the risks, wear loose fitting clothing, carry bags in the hand rather than over the shoulder and keep them blemish free with acne-busting products (all three products in Barber Pro’s Acne Essentials Bundle can be used on shoulders, even the peel of mask).
Individual spots, if they do appear, can be zapped with a product like Jack Black’s Clearing Spot Treatment which features spot-shrinking sulphur. If your problem is excess fur rather than zits, and you’re worried your hairy shoulders might be become scary shoulders, phase out the fuzz with Baldape Parlour’s Charcoal Hair Removal Cream which will remove unwanted hair in minutes and helps prevent the itchy regrowth that sometimes comes with shaving.
Skin on your upper arms uneven and bumpy like Braille? The most likely cause is keratosis pilaris aka ‘chicken skin’ due to its texture and appearance. It’s a condition caused by an excess of keratin accumulating in the hair follicles and forming small, raised bumps and though harmless, it can be unsightly and unpleasant to the touch. It’s often worse in winter and though it’s not known why only some people are susceptible it can run in families so there’s likely a genetic link.
Gently rubbing skin with a washcloth or buffing mitt can help (avoid using harsh scrubs as this can make the condition worse) as can moisturising the area with a cream containing exfoliating acids like alphahydroxy acid, lactic acid, or salicylic acid, which will help keep skin soft and hydrated too. (Jack Black’s Overnight Repair Moisturizer, 1% Salicylic Acid + AHA is a good option). If the problem is persistent and is bothering you, speak to your GP as some specialist treatments are available to treat the condition.
Elbows and knees
Elbows and knees are a bit like unpaid bills: you know they’re there but still tend to ignore them. Which is a mistake given both are on display a lot of the time – especially in summer. The skin on elbows and knees is designed to be flexible and tough so is thicker than much of the skin elsewhere of course but it also has less oil-producing sebaceous glands which makes it particularly susceptible to dryness.
To keep the skin on your elbows and knees supple (and to avoid unsightly cracking), always apply a nourishing body moisturiser to them after showering. As with the skin on the face, it’s also worth removing any dead skin twice a week using a scrub like Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Scrub. Exfoliating and moisturising are especially important if you’re thinking of applying a self-tanner as dry skin tends to absorb more of the product, leading to tell-tale, unsightly darker patches at the knees and elbows.
Oh, and don’t forget to protect elbows and knees with a sunscreen whenever they’re exposed to sunlight to avoid the risk of hyperpigmentation – a problem also triggered by friction, dryness and injury, especially if you have darker skin to begin with.
In terms of self-care, buttocks rarely feature on the radar: They get a bum deal you might say. Yet, like the cheeks on your face, the cheeks on your behind do need a little selfcare on occasion. Acne can affect the buttocks (yep, there’s such a thing as buttne) but any blemishes on your backside are most likely to be folliculitis – a blocked and inflamed hairfollicle. Lots of things can cause follicles to become inflamed – sweat and friction from tight fitting briefs are two common causes.
Switching to looser fitting, cotton underwear can help, as can exfoliating your butt skin with a body scrub a couple times a week. (Exfoliating will also reduce the risk of ingrown hairs so is a good habit to get into). You can also treat spots on your tush in the same way you’d treat them onyour mush (Popspot’s Spot Treatment Dots are a good remedy as you can pop one on before bed and they’ll go to work while you’re sleeping.)
If your cheeks are hairier than you’d like, you can safely remove the fur by waxing or by using a hair removal cream or, if you’re after a longer lasting solution, laser hair removal. Avoid shaving as this can cause hairs to grow back with itchy, blunt ends and nobody wants to be scratching down there every five minutes. Think twice before removing hair between your cheeks though – it’s there to help minimise skin on skin friction and chafing. It goes without saying that, you should avoid putting hair removal creams on your actual anus – unless you’re hell bent on starting a TikTok trend that’ll grab headlines for all the wrong reasons.
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