Put Your Best Face Forward
Before Your Shave
A great shave isn't just about the shaving part — it's also about prepping your face. Try shaving after (or even during) a hot shower, dermatologist Nicholas Perricone explains, 'because the moisture will give you a lot of lubrication, and you'll have less traction on the skin.' Alternatively, you can use a high-quality shave oil to get the same effect, like this one from Ren, made with all-natural Tahitian Tamanu oil. www.renskincare.com
Shave Like This
You know that drugstore shave gel you've been using since you were 17? Do yourself a favor: Stop. Not only do gels smell like high school gyms, but many are also full of irritants. Instead, go for a smooth, lightly scented, modern-style cream. Rubbing it in vigorously will coat and soften your stubble. Try this one from Baxter, which has an easy-to-spread, unscented formula. www.baxterofcalifornia.com
Now shave downward, going with the grain of your whiskers. Then (but only if your face can handle it) shave up, in the opposite direction.
'There's no question that you'll get a closer shave going against the grain,' says dermatologist Bruce Katz, director of the JUVA Skin & Laser Center in New York. 'But if you have razor-bump problems, it'll irritate your follicles more.' Katz's other tips: Hold the razor handle at ninety degrees to the skin and shave in long, even strokes (short ones only mean you'll be chopping at your face).
Give it a rest
As soon as you've finished shaving, thoroughly rinse your face with cold water. This calms down the skin. Then apply a moisturizing, nongreasy balm to stop razor burn. And please, steer clear of traditional aftershaves. 'Most contain alcohol or are extensions of fragrance lines,' says Pirooz Sarshar, owner of Grooming Lounge in Washington, D.C. 'You want something that's going to take the stress away, not burn the crap out of your face.' Give this one from Sharps a shot; it's quick-drying, oil-free, and soothes your face with aloe and chamomile. www.sharpsusa.com
Finally, remember: Giving your skin a rest once in a while is beneficial. Try letting your beard grow out a bit on weekends. You have the day off from work. Why not take the day off from shaving, too?
Put on sunscreen
Ask any dermatologist: The most important thing anybody can do to protect their skin and stave off wrinkles is wear sunscreen. Apply a daily moisturizer, like Kiehl's Facial Fuel SPF 15 (www.kiehls.com) and a lotion with SPF 30 if you're outside for long periods.
Slide on the balm
Wax-based lip balms typically offer an SPF level of 4. This cooling lemon version from Jack Black is SPF 25 and doesn't give off a sheen. Our hands-down favorite lip balm. www.getjackblack.com
Down a cup of tea
Green tea has high concentrations of EGCG, a potent antioxidant believed to keep your mind sharp and reduce your risk of heart attack. If that's not reason enough to drink it, studies are now suggesting that it can reverse the effects of sun damage on the skin. www.teanybeverages.com
Hit the spot
It's not the pimple that's the problem; it's the failure to do something about it. Accept that zits happen to grown-ups, too, and keep a lotion that contains salicylic acid handy. www.anthony.com
Exfoliate once a week
Clean your face and then gently work a small amount of product onto your damp skin, rubbing in small circular motions for one to two minutes. Rinse until clean. And always use a moisturizer when you're done, since exfoliating can leave your skin drier than normal. This wash from Billy Jealousy (which they call 'liquid sand') is much less abrasive than most scrubs you can buy and leaves your face with the perfect polish. www.billyjealousy.com
Clean up those eyebrows…
What, you think Robert Pattinson was born with those manicured things? Even guys who don't have unibrows need regular maintenance. And yes, you can try it at home. New York brow specialist Maribeth Madron (more than 10 percent of her clients are guys) offers a plan for achieving a natural (not hypergroomed) look. Aim to follow it about once a week.
Check for strays: Brush your eyebrows toward your hairline with a toothbrush (one reserved for this purpose, obviously). With scissors, trim any hairs that are a lot longer than the others — don't pull them out or you'll get a big bare spot.
Thin them down: If your brows look a little bushy, you can thin them from the bottom — carefully. Using tweezers, start in one corner and move horizontally, pulling adjacent hairs in the direction they grow until you've cleared out a line across. Start with one row and check yourself in the mirror before doing a second. Note: Never yank hairs from the top of your eyebrow — it's easy to mess up the arch, which makes mistakes much more noticeable.
Clear the way: If you do suffer from unibrow action, pluck individual hairs from the center of the space between your eyebrows until the deforested area is the width of your index finger.
Set boundaries: If your brows come dangerously close to connecting with your sideburns (it happens), do this: Place one end of a pencil at the outer edge of your nostril and hold the other end toward the corner of your eye. Pluck any hairs that are past the pencil's edge.
…Ears and (yes) nose
When you're in your twenties, dealing with ear and nose hair is simple: If you have a stray, snip it or pluck it (oh, c'mon, have you seen what your girlfriend puts herself through?). As you hit your midthirties, you'll need the following tools to keep yourself tidy.
Electric Trimmer: The thin head of the Philips Norelco NT9110 allows for a more controlled cut. Even so, use this trimmer on nose and ears only; use tweezers on brows. $13, www.amazon.com
Tweezers: Specially aligned tweezers by Rubis should be used primarily for the brows, but they'll get rid of strays in the nose or ears, too. $30, www.rubis.ch
Scissors: After using your trimmer, target any wayward hairs with these round-tipped (stab-preventing) scissors from Wüsthof. $35, www.wusthof.com