A Man’s Guide to Grooming, Primping and General Unslovenliness

Let’s talk about the man in the mirror

March 29, 2016 9:00 am

Here’s the thing about your body:

You get exactly one of them.

And yet, we too often let them grow lumpy and misshapen.

Same goes for your face: Are you currently doing everything you can to make sure your punim maintains its ruddy, elastic youthfulness well into your silver years?

To rectify any shortcomings, we submit the InsideHook Grooming Guide, a compendium of head-to-toe tips for looking your finest.

From paunch control to effective barber talk to the basics of better hand and foot care (let’s be honest: we could all live to do better in the foot department), we’ve got you covered.

The 10 Commandments of Better Skin

Exercise more.

Drink less.

Sleep more.

Eat dairy and fried foods less.

Carry a water bottle and drink from it. Constantly.

Cleanse twice a day.

Moisturize twice a day.

Exfoliate at least once a week.

Know your skin type. Buy products accordingly. Here are a bunch we endorse.

Always use sunscreen. Even if it’s not sunny. La Prairie smells good and errs on the right side of greasy.

A Better Shave, in Six Easy Steps

Change your blades. Often. If you use cartridges and haven’t switched to Dollar Shave Club or Harry’s, you’re throwing money away. If you want an even closer shave, consider getting a double-edged safety razor like Bevel — it’s specially designed for guys with difficult hair types but works for everyone.

Wash before you shave. Warm water opens your pores and provides your first layer of lubrication.

Switch to a lube or oil. Shave lube: thing. Thing that — unlike shaving cream — is translucent and thus allows you to see what the hell you’re doing under there. We like PRZMAN’s Easy Rider Shave Lube.

Foggy mirror? Hit it with a blow dryer for 15 seconds. The heat will prevent condensation from forming. No dryer? Wipe it down with a dab of shaving cream to create a protective film between your mirror and the water droplets.

Technique is everything. Use long, even strokes, rinsing between each, and always go with the grain.

Mind the post-shave. Splash your face with cold water once you finish trimming and finish with a moisturizer. After-shave gels and lotions are okay, just make sure they don’t have alcohol, which’ll suck you dry and make you smell like your grandfather.

Tone ‘Em Up:

Keep the body guessing by practicing “periodization”: that is, mixing up your arm/leg exercise selection, intensity, volume and other variables in a systematic way to overcome your body’s natural adaptability and avoid training “plateaus.” Bonus: a varied workout helps stave off gym boredom and will keep you coming back.

Keep ‘Em Hydrated:

For most people, arms and legs are most susceptible to dry-skin “ashiness” brought on by winter’s cold, drying atmosphere. Hit ‘em with a layer of time-tested Eucerin each morning to bring back a healthy glow.

Decorate ‘Em:

For the arms in particular, a well-placed tattoo is not as taboo in the business place (or your in-laws’ house) as it once was. Three tips on doing it right:

Placement: Inside of the forearms beats outside of the bicep these days. Think edgy gent rather than sailor on leave.

Type: This ultimately boils down to personal preference, but simple black ink in a classic style (here are some pointers) is a great place to start.

Size: Don’t fear going slightly larger than you would normally think. A tattoo is meant to be a statement, not a whisper.

Talking (Barber) Shop

Of all a man’s monthly appointments, the barber should be at or near the top of the list. And we say “barber” because we definitely do not mean salon. There’s a reason why we’ve seen a resurgence in traditional barbershop culture: they’re trained specifically in the tonsorial technicalities of masculine cuts. Plus: Who doesn’t love those swirly pole things?

Pledge your allegiance. When you find a barber, follow him (or her) to the ends of the earth. But how do you find one and when do you know? Referrals are the easiest. Ask a well-coiffed chum. And remember, you’re not looking for a conversationalist, you’re looking for an exceptional cut. Keepers always have a great memory. If they understand your hair by the second visit (i.e., growth patterns, the way it falls), and the cut is noticeably better than the first, you’re well on your way.

Show up early, expect a wait. On barbershop etiquette: a man’s haircut takes time. A man’s haircut is important. And therefore, a man should not be perceivably sore if their barber is behind schedule. Likewise: show up early. Respect their schedule.

Be overly descriptive. “Just a little off the top.” “Uh, clean me up.” “Whatever you want. Something simple.” These are things no barber wants to hear. Get personal. Tell ‘em what you don’t like and ask how they can fix it. Ask them if there’s a term for that. And do not be abashed by bringing a picture. Ten out of ten barbers say it really does help.

Tip well. Tip always. Goes without saying. Standard is $5. Anything more, they’ll remember you and take note.

Hair Products, Decoded

Are you a Dapper Dan Man or Team Fop? Hair products are many and their effects distinct. It’s easiest to evaluate them by two criteria: hold and shine. The former denotes strength, the latter, well, shininess. Here’s a quick guide:

Cream: Medium shine, medium hold. Good fur curly hair. We like Baxter of California Grooming Cream.

Gel: High shine, strong hold. Very ‘90s boy band. Very not recommended.

Paste or Putty: Low shine, medium hold. Port Products makes a good’n.

Pomade: High shine, medium hold. Try The Byrd.

Wax: Low shine, strong hold. Go with American Crew Fiber.

Spray: Best used to “set” or “finish” any of the products above.

Chest Intentions

First, that hair. We’re not suggesting you need to go waxing your pecs down to a dolphin-like bodybuilder sheen. But if you’ve got a thicket growing, you’d be surprised how much a slight trim will help your definition. Pick up an electric trimmer with a few different guard lengths, run it over your hamburger meat and call it a day.

Next, the muscles themselves. Three tips on maximizing your he-vage:

Start each day with three sets of 15 push-ups. Gets your blood pumping, helps shake off the cobwebs, and makes a difference over time — especially when done in addition to your regular workout.

At the gym, “pre-fatigue” your chest. Before hitting the pec-dec, run the same push-up routine — getting the muscles firing makes them work harder during the main workout, leading to quicker gains.

Slow reps. Focusing on the “eccentric” part of the movement (see: lowering the weight). Not only helps perfect technique, but also increases the time under tension on the muscles.


Gut Check

Let’s keep things simple: three ways to help flatten that spare tire:

Run. You can do crunches till the cows come home — nobody’s gonna see them if there’s a layer of beer belly draped over the top. If you’re soaked in sweat and panting like a dog in heat, you’re on the right track.

Trade beer for clear. Booze, that is. A vodka or tequila on the rocks with a splash of soda and lime is every bit as refreshing when the merc’s up at a fraction of the calories.

Sugar is your enemy. And it’s in everything. So keep an eye on it and cut it whenever humanly possible — awareness and vigilance are the first steps.



Trim your nails and hit ‘em with a solid exfoliating scrub to remove rough dead skin, then a heavy-duty lotion to lock in moisture. And don’t fear a mild scent — shaking a supple, pleasant-smelling mitt will leave many folks with a solid first impression of the man who wields it.


Step One: Swallow your stupid pride.

Step Two: Go to a nail salon.

Step Three: Relax in a comfy massage chair and dick around on Instagram for 30 minutes while a trained professional soaks your talons in soothing warm water and then lovingly transforms them into something more befitting public display.


Similar to the chest — no need to take it all off, but excess foliage does tend to obscure the trunk, so to speak. Hit it with the electric, beginning with a longer guard than you think — you can always work shorter.

To Wax or Not to Wax?

Waxing is definitely not for everyone. But if you want thorough, low-maintenance depilation (waxing is good for about 4-6 weeks), it’s the way to go. Just beware of a few things before you sign up.

The sweat. Better stock up on baby powder if you live on the East Coast; your man tuft is doing God’s work when it comes to keeping the region dry.

The itch. The death and taxes of manscaping. You will want to put your hand down your pants to relieve yourself all day long. Don’t. It’s unbecoming. Do consider investing in some aloe or Gold Bond Anti-Itch lotion.

The bumps. Little red ones. It happens. Pick up some antibiotic cream and ingrown hair medication (the waxer — or aesthetician — will be able to recommend one). And your skin should toughen up after 2-3 sessions, at which time they’ll subside.

The erection. As in, the one that greets 50+% of first-time waxees once the procedure begins, according to one NY aesthetician. Don’t be embarrassed — they’re professionals. They won’t tell on you.

The pain. It’s not as bad as your girlfriend or Steve Carell in 40 Year-Old Virgin says it is, but it’s certainly not pleasant. On a scale of one-to-tattoo, it’s about a five.