The Modern Gentleman’s Guide to Grooming: Hair

Read Part 1 – The Modern Gentleman's Guide to Grooming: Shaving, here.

Read Part 2 – The Modern Gentleman's Guide to Grooming:  Skin and Teeth, here.



The gods already gave you the perfect hair for your skin tone and features.  The question is: which god? 

Hair on men tends to be the one thing that stays the same for the most number of years.  This, unfortunately, means that many of us have the same grooming patterns that we had in high school.  Or maybe we see other men on television and wish we had their sheen.  And so we look like men who wish we didn't look like we do. 

Perhaps in college we wanted to part our hair just like George Clooney, only we have no idea that we actually part our hair in the mirror like George Clooney and end up with the opposite. 

Whatever your take on style is, the most wonderful thing about hair is having someone lovingly run their fingers through it. Like Elvis sang, "Make me feel at home, if you really care. / Scratch your back and run your pretty fingers through my hair."  Do you really want your sweetheart to have to go wash her hands after?

Certain styling products are perhaps best left for special occasions.  Simple old-school products like Krew Komb can be found in the grocery store, and belong with any outfit worn to an awards show.  But the best styling products are always natural.  Most men wash their hair far more often than they need to, which means they replace natural oils with greases and gels. Washing once a week is appropriate for anyone who doesn not work outdoors or in sandpits.  You certainly never need to "Wash, rinse, repeat."

What I recommend that most men try for a few weeks – especially in the summer – is to give their hair some time to itself.  Don't comb it (except with your fingers), don't wash it daily, and see how it comes out. Hair products automatically darken your hair, so time off will leave you looking sunnier. If you feel like your hair is too greasy at the end of a long day, try my little secret.  Take a dusting of cornstarch in your fingers and rub it along the crown of your hair, and also along the back.  Avoid the sides and the bangs.   Johnson's 100% Corn Starch Baby Powder is perfect and smells delightful (avoid the moisturizing kind).

Baby powder is a very good friend to the Modern Gentleman.  He shakes a bit in his topsiders when he's worn them a bit too much that weekend, and powder alleviates this.  He might add a touch to the collar of a shirt that he wishes to re-wear to a dinner party while traveling.

If you spend too much time worrying about humidity levels and rain sending hair gel into your eyes, you are missing out on some fundamentals of life.  Also, if you spend too much time blow drying your hair and making sure it's combed perfectly, you will never get to experience the joy of riding in an exquisite-sounding automobile with one elbow out the window.  (That being said, the Modern Gentleman always asks a lady if she would mind him rolling down the window).

Which leads us into scent:

We all know the guy we don't want to be. That choking, walking-cloud who leaves a trail across the room that makes you wonder if someone had tossed a men's magazine after him. 

You hear different generations argue differently.  Some say you should spray it on your shirts while they're on the hangers, others advocate pulse-points. The old couplet from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is "Spray and walk away," which is exactly what I recommend if you want to smell like 2003.

But let's say you wear unscented deodorant (recommended: Arm & Hammer Unscented).  If you don't have hair products gumming up your hair, you eat a good diet and get lots of fruits and fresh vegetables (nothing contributes to a good natural scent more than eating good natural food) and if you wear a little baby powder in your hair, you will always smell fantastic.  Furthermore those closest to you will be able to identify your scent and grow to love it.

Then you never run the risk of sending a lost lover into some Proustian involuntary memory of you anytime they pass a rack of air fresheners.

 Now, to shoes.

You need only own one single pair of shoe-trees.  Simply put them on the last pair of shoes you wore.  If you find your feet are sore and tired after a long day, get a pair of Dr. Scholl's Work Inserts.  Also, it helps to bend your knees when standing if you find yourself running around all day.  If your feet have a noticeable odor, just spread on more of that cornstarch.

It is important to let your feet breath and keep your toe nails as manicured as your finger nails (whatever that means to you). Foot problems usually begin under the toenails.  And be honest with yourself.  If you caught sight of your toenails on the beach, would you want to talk to you?  Most men who wear dress socks suffer from some discoloration.  A regular application of tea tree oil (they make convenient wipes) will make yellow toenails disappear.

Chest Hair.

As with all things, the important thing here is comfort.  Many men who have just a small amount around their areolae choose to shave it when they shave their faces.  But if you have a very hairy chest and a loved one: please do not shave.  You'll leave red marks on said loved one every time they brush up against you., like a shark.  If you are uncomfortable with your own chest hair, ask yourself if you would be more uncomfortable screaming in a small room of a waxing parlor.

If you've decided that you have a hairy back and you need to wear basketball jerseys once a week, or you have hair where you don't want it, laser surgery is a quite affordable option. 

Dr. David Ores of Lower East Side Manhattan practically subsidizes his public health operation by offering laser hair and tattoo removal.  The rest of his practice is dedicated to providing primary care to the poor and uninsured.  His prices are listed as "Pay what you can."  Helping a stranger in need is just about the most gentlemanly thing we can think of.


Eyebrows should stand on your face like an unassuming pair of apostrophes.  If you have a uni-brow you might find you're simply saying, '–'  to the world.  However, if you have regular eyebrows, try not to meddle.  Men who tweeze always end up looking like failed magicians. 

If you're going to get into waxing: have your barber or stylist do them for you when you get your hair cut.  If you do it before then, you'll look like you need a haircut.  Too long after, and you'll call too much attention to your haircut.

Images courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.