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12 grooming mistakes – and how to fix them

Words by Rob Chilton

Are you making these errors in the bathroom?

Down the years, we’ve all made daft decisions with our grooming regimes that have not only caused damage to our skin and hair but also made us look ridiculous (mohawk, anyone?). Rob Chilton recalls some of his biggest grooming goofs and how they can be fixed.

Shaving with cold water

I’m still baffled why I thought this was a good idea. A mate told me that shaving with ice cold water would eliminate irritation and soothe my skin with each swish of the razor. The cold water was certainly invigorating but the redness that resulted from scraping a razor across my tight, closed pores was disastrous.

Solution: Prep your skin with warm water, not hot.

Cutting my hair too short

It was a hot summer’s evening in London and I was about 25. I got off the train after a sweaty, uncomfortable commute home and left the station. I walked into Trevor’s Barbershop and told him to give me a grade two all over. “You sure, mate?” Yup. Five minutes later, my head felt breezy but my head looked like a fuzzy tennis ball.

Solution: Talk to your barber about what haircut will suit the shape of your head.

Using hair conditioner instead of shaving gel

A girlfriend told me she applied hair conditioner to her legs before shaving them in the shower. Hmmm, I thought, that could work on my face, just think of how easy the razor will glide with the help of a silky blob of Pantene honey conditioner. Wrong – too fragrant and too slimy.

Solution: Gently apply a non-fragranced gel, foam, cream or oil before shaving.

Easy with the clippers

Spraying too much fragrance

If you’d asked the teenage me what a pulse point was, I probably would have said it was a nightclub in London. In my younger days I liberally sprayed fragrance on my head, hair, clothes and face. I’d like to take this opportunity now to apologise to anyone who had the misfortune to sit next to me on public transport during this stage in my life.

Solution: One spritz of scent on each wrist is plenty.

Not washing my hair

My hair expands into a fluffy ball after washing it but, years ago, I noticed that if I left it unwashed for a couple of days it looked much better. I stretched this period for three, four days, even a week, but still kept applying hair product every day. Eventually, my hair became a sticky and unhealthy mess that required three shampoo washes to return to normal.

Solution: Wash your hair with a good quality shampoo every other day.

Use shampoo please

Putting body cream on my face

Soft, silky and luxurious – Nivea body cream is a good product… for the body. I thought it would make sense to use it to moisturise my face. Far too rich and fragrant, it often used to give me a rash. And I must have smelt like a grandma.

Solution: Use a proper moisturiser that’s designed for the face.

Washing my face with soap

Face washes are now a huge area of men’s grooming but there was a time when a bar of soap was all we had. Drying, fragrant and harsh, soap would strip my skin, making it feel horribly tight and look dry and flaky.

Solution: Use a cleansing face gel or foam that’s not heavily fragranced.

Slapping on cheap hair gel

In the 1990s supermarkets stocked tubs of bright green hair gel, the sort of substance that gets dumped on celebrities in gunk tanks at the Nickleodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. I would scoop out far too much of this toxic goo and plaster it on my hair, which then set rock solid. After drying to a crisp, it would disintegrate into a million white flecks – yuck.

Solution: Work one finger swipe of paste, putty or pomade into your hair.

Don’t ever put this on your hair

Splashing aftershave on my face

You’ve shaved successfully, your tender pores are exposed and begging for mercy. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to then apply a stringent, alcohol-based liquid full of harsh chemicals? Me, and millions of other men, who stupidly slapped on aftershave and braced themselves for the agonising sting.

Solution: Use a soothing post-shave balm.

Shaving against the grain

Failure to prepare my skin for shaving meant I wasn’t getting a close shave. When I could feel the stubble was still there, I shaved harder and closer to try and achieve that smooth finish and resorted to dragging the razor painfully against the direction of my beard’s growth. Bad move. Red spots and rashes soon followed.

Solution: Go with the grain and shave slowly and gently.

Shave with the grain, chaps

Using disposable razors

A bag of 10 plastic razors for pennies was too good an offer to turn down. Little more than a Biro with a piece of metal stuck on one end, disposable razors were terrible news for the delicate skin on my face and often turned my bathroom sink into a scene from a slasher movie.

Solution: Buy a reputable razor with three or four blades and a rubber handle.

Scrubbing my face with a flannel

Keen to give my face a deep clean before a first date, I took a flannel and rubbed my face in the shower for several minutes, working the fabric into all the nooks and crannies. The warm water disguised the damage I was doing, as the rough flannel caused angry red marks around my nose and on my cheeks. Not a good first impression.

Solution: Gently exfoliate your face with a scrub a couple of times a week.

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