Give us an engine rattle and we'll just step on the gas. But show us an oil pan full of troubled transmission parts and we'll spring into action--if not by hoisting a ratchet, then at least by lifting the hood on the yellow pages. We're no different in front of a medicine cabinet. In fact, if women didn't insist that we make ourselves presentable, we'd probably all walk around looking like Cro-Magnons. Clearly, motivation matters. That's why we asked a few ladies to write about the powerful impact of great scruff, skin, and scent to anchor Men's Health's fourth annual grooming awards. Their words, plus this year's crop of best new products and cutting-edge tips, will help you look your best. Read on and reap the rewards.


"Old" is all in the eyes

Wrinkles, bags, and dark circles in the delicate skin around your eyes increase your "apparent age" more than changes in other facial features do, according to new research from France. "As the skin loses collagen and elasticity, repetitive contractions like squinting can etch deep lines," says Rhoda Narins, M.D., a clinical professor of dermatology at NYU's school of medicine. Here's how to turn back the clock.

Keep your chin up

Gravity pulls fluid downhill as you sleep. The result? Puffy bags. Reduce them by slipping an extra pillow under your head.

Cover your assets

Wide-frame sunglasses or UV-protective prescription glasses can curb squinting and shield skin from the sun. 

Freeze out lumps

Placing chilled spoons or cotton balls dipped in a 50/50 mix of cold water and milk over your eyes in the morning for 5 minutes can reduce swelling.

Can't wait for clear skin?

Skip the soap. Instead, wash twice a day with Zirh Wash facial cleanser ($14, Harvard researchers found that washing any less increased the incidence of acne lesions by up to 30 percent. Any more dries out your skin's delicate oil balance, says Kenneth Beer M.D., a dermatologist based in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Your lips require protective custody

Your lips can have as few as 10 layers of skin, compared with 20 or more elsewhere on your body. "Men are less likely to wear glosses and lipsticks, so their risk of lip cancer is three times higher," says Vilma Cokkinides, director of risk-factor surveillance at the American Cancer Society. Use a lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher, and reapply it at least every 2 hours if you're in the sun. You should also add a protective swipe in the morning and at night before bed to stop splits and rehydrate the skin.


A menu can be a mirror

Your waistline isn't the only thing affected by what you cram in your belly. Some foods and ingredients can change your appearance in other ways.

For instance:

Vitamin C

People with diets rich in vitamin C decreased their odds of having fine lines and dryness by up to 11 percent, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. To boost your C intake, eat papayas.

Fatty acids

In the same study, a diet rich in linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid found in nuts, olive oil, and eggs) also showed age-preventive effects. What's more, Korean researchers found that skin treated with eicosapentaenoic acid (an omega-3 in fish oil) had 79 percent fewer collagen-destroying proteins after exposure to UV rays. Drizzle olive oil over cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) for a boost of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.


Increasing your daily intake of carbohydrates by 50 grams (a medium order of McDonald's fries) or fat by just 17 grams boosts your odds of having wrinkles by up to 36 percent---independent of both age and sun exposure--according to a British study. But you've already sworn off those deep-fried death sticks, right?


Adding 1 1/2 tablespoons of flaxseed to your diet  could save your hair. Taiwanese researchers found that 50 milligrams a day of lignans, the disease-fighting compounds in flaxseed, slowed hair loss in 9 out of 10 participants in 6 months.