Social gatherings are more intimate occasions. That’s true not just emotionally, but also physically. People stand closely, look at screens and papers and other distractions less, and in general, have way more time and inclination to look at the details of your appearance than you’re used to.
That makes this the perfect time of year to fix some common grooming mistakes. Don’t feel bad if you’re making any or all of these — just take steps to fix them! Most are needs that don’t develop until after puberty, so none of us really got a chance to build good habits early in life.
Play catch-up now by identifying and eliminating these common grooming mistakes:
Unkempt Beards and Mustaches
There’s nothing wrong with a sweet ‘stache or a big ol’ beard, at least as long as your workplace allows them. But a messy one? No thanks.
Trim the edges of beards and moustaches into shape on a daily basis. You know how guys without beards look scruffy and scraggly if they skip shaving for more than a day? That’s happening to the edges of your beard, too.
You don’t need to do anything fancy on this one. Just go lightly over the edges of your facial hair with a trimmer and the appropriate guide comb, cutting everything back to a uniform length and making sure the outline (where the hair ends and naked skin begins) is nice and crisp.
It’s the difference between “sexy lumberjack,” which is a fantasy, and “unkempt woodsman or maybe just a hobo,” which is more realistic but decidedly less appealing. You want to look like you’d be natural holding an axe, not a rusty shiv made from an old bean can.
Poorly Groomed Stubble
Trim your stubble? Yes, men who sport the stubble look need to know how to keep it in check.
Contrary to popular belief, the stubble and five o’clock shadow is now a preference.
In fact, a 2012 study from the University of New South Wales and a 2008 paper from Northumbria University studied the role of facial hair in women’s perceptions of men’s attractiveness. Both studies found that women are more attracted to men with stubbly chins than those with clean-shaven faces.
However, men who prefer this look must know how to maintain it. To make stubble work, keep it trim. Just because you have stubble doesn’t mean you are off the hook for maintaining it. That’s what causes you to look sloppy.
To avoid the hungover look, a well-kept stubble is a must. Use a stubble guard or a shorter guide com when trimming your stubble.
Does this one sound really pathetically nit-picky to you?
Think again — eyebrows are actually one of your most important features.
Human beings use them to express a wide range of emotions.
A pair of clearly defined, fully separated eyebrows actually makes you a better talker — like in a literal, measurable way.
You are communicating more clearly than the guys with out-of-control brows.
That makes a couple of minutes of at-home trimming one of the best time investments you’ll make this year. For the dedicatedly natty, eyebrow threading can do an even better job, but at the very least use some trimmers to tidy up the outline of each brow and make a clear separation above the bridge of your nose.
Remember how Bert of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street always came across as the more fussy, easily-flustered one? Yeah, part of that visual coding was his oversized, drawn-together eyebrows.
Think about it.
So easy to avoid!
It’s literally thirty seconds with a trimmer to remove this incredibly unsightly element from your face.
Guys, remember: the taller you are, the more people are looking up your nose instead of at it. That means tall guys especially need to be vigilant about their nose hairs.
Trim ’em back so no one’s staring at those weird, scraggly danglers when they should be admiring your whole handsome face.
And since all of us can safely expect to be taller than at least a few people, well…you get the point.
Trim the nose hairs. Just do it.
Same theory as nose hairs, although it’s now the side-on view you’re worried about rather than the straight-up view.
But once again, we’re talking less than a minute to trim, every few days or weeks depending on your hair growth. Well worth the time.
The general rule of thumb for both nose and ear hairs is straightforward: the ends shouldn’t be visible.
Trim them back until they’re not.
That means trimming the hairs off inside the rim of the relevant opening, but you don’t have to go any deeper than that.
And with ears especially, you don’t want to — just trim the tips and call it a day.
If you like to zone out with a newspaper while your barber does his thing, you may not have noticed the work he does along the back of your neck.
Most haircuts involve neatening up the nape, which is the bottom outline where your haircut end, usually on the back of the neck.
Guys with hairy backs will want to make sure their hairs aren’t creeping up to join the nape, or worse yet to be visible above the collar but below a naked, shaven strip of skin.
FYI – any man can shave his neck at home with trimmers – the advantage here is you can work this 30-second job into your schedule and have the convenience of not having to travel across town for a touch-up before a special event.
That keeps growth even and prevents the nasty “my back hairs and my haircut are engaged in trench warfare” divide along the back of the neck.
Shaven smooth back there is the best way to go, from the point where your haircut ends all the way under your shirt collars.
Hair Over or In the Ears
Men with side parts, take heed: your hair is not supposed to be curling around and sticking itself into your ears.
If your hair is at the length where it starts invading your ears, use a little product to either slick it back or help it curve around the ears in a nice, natural-looking arch.
Ideally, your whole ear should be visible on both sides, but if you want to hide some of it, do it with hairs that end behind or beneath the ear, not in or on it.
If a product isn’t doing the trick, it’s time to trim it up. The good news is that you don’t’ have to wait for your next barber visit to keep your hair looking clean or sharp.
When the hair starts to go over your ears, it’s a warning sign to pull out a clipper and tidy things up.
Well-made clippers have a number of guide combs to clean up around your ears as well as cut and blend the back, sides, and top of your hair.
This gives you the opportunity to extend the life of your haircut.
How To Avoid These Seven Grooming Mistakes
The best advice I can give you is:
Have a routine schedule when you address these issues. Daily for stubble trimming, weekly for nose hair trimming, bi-weekly perhaps for the back of the neck.
Have quality tools at home that can help you keep your hair in check. The right tool for the job is critical – it saves you time and money in the long run.