While our new Infinity Suit and Non Iron shirts are designed to keep you clothes looking great all day, we bow down to Cornerstone founder Ollie Bridge when it comes to those all-important grooming tips. This year, the male grooming industry is estimated to top a whopping £14.8 billion, offering a myriad of products from exotic shave gels to somewhat bewildering beard oils. To help your father (or yourself) navigate this fancy new world, we asked shave club Cornerstone founder Ollie Smith for his top male grooming tips.
First of all, talk us through your morning grooming routine.
“As the founder of a shaving business, I daren’t not shave – otherwise everyone spends the rest of the day pointing out my stubble! So, I wet shave every morning: I start off by showering, use facewash and face scrub in the shower, then shave in the mirror. I’ll splash off any remaining shave gel and then apply a bit of post-shave balm to my cheeks and neck. Just before I head out for work, I’ll apply some hair wax and a small amount of moisturiser under my eyes to freshen up.”
Why is it important to use a face scrub?
“Face scrub is good for clearing away dirt, debris and dead skin cells, so even if you don’t wet shave, it’s a great addition to your grooming routine – it’ll give you clearer skin. If you shave, you get the added benefit of the scrub helping to release ingrown hairs. This means the surface of your face is smoother, leaving less chance of nicks and cuts. To get the best out of a scrub, use it several times a week and do so with warm water in the shower, where your pores will open up.”
How often should you change your razor?
“Much like a chef’s knife, sharper is better. At Cornerstone, we suggest changing your blade once a week (ideally on a Monday morning so it’s easy to remember) so that you get a super smooth shave – as soon as the blade starts to drag and pull it gets uncomfortable. That said, everyone has their own preferences (and budget!) so ultimately it is a personal thing.”
What are the most common mistakes that men make when shaving?
“The worst thing you can do is spray an alcohol-based aftershave on your neck/cheeks after shaving. It stings painfully of course, but the real damage is happening at a microscopic level, where the alcohol is further drying out your already parched post-shave skin. This is why you get irritation and soreness later in the day.”
Does shaving against the grain give a better result?
“Although it can give you a smoother initial finish, shaving against the grain is likely to irritate your skin later and cause your hairs to become ingrown. This is because when you shave against the grain you pull the hairs in the wrong direction (thus causing irritation in the hair follicle) and you also cut them too short (meaning they’re more likely to grow back underneath the skin).”
How do you prevent/treat in-grown hairs, razor burn, spots and nicks/cuts?
“It’s a combination of lots of things, but the key points to remember: have a warm shower before shaving, use face scrub, don’t shave against the grain, and crucially, be slow and gentle when shaving – it’s easy to forget that it is razor sharp metal we’re talking about here!”
Shaving foam, cream or gel?
“Rather than creating a huge white fluffy cloud on your face, the purpose of a shave prep is to allow your razor to glide across your face without irritating your skin. That’s why I prefer shave gel – it acts more like a lubricant, so you get less irritation.”
What ingredients should you look out for when choosing shaving products? Are there any that you should avoid?
“Plastic micro beads in face scrubs are terrible for the environment, so avoid those. Otherwise, it’s down to personal choice and your particular skin concerns – some people are allergic to certain ingredients. Generally speaking, the rules on which ingredients you can include in skincare products are extremely tight and well-regulated, so providing you’re buying products from an established brand or retailer, you shouldn’t have any issues.”
What are the biggest gimmicks in the grooming industry?
“A lot of the ‘innovation’ in razors in recent decades is frankly a load of rubbish! Now the leading brands have realised they can’t sensibly add in any more blades to each razor cartridge, they have started to create features that add very little to the shaving experience (though of course they push the price up!). Watch this space for a GPS-enabled, laser powered razor which will make your coffee whilst reading you the newspaper.”
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