It’s easy to be skeptical of grooming products. They’re often expensive, and most of them deliver temporary effects—or they require months and years of commitment to deliver the results. Some of them are preventive, too, in that the results are so long-term that you may be blindly using said products without the assurance that they’re working.
But they’re working. Like some magic act, they’re improving your appearance via hair-plumping, skin-clearing, age-fighting superpowers. (And all this without a visit to the plastic surgeon or hair transplant doctor.) Yes, you may need to dedicate yourself to the regimen for the rest of your days, but that goes in hand with any other self-care practice: Hopefully, your entire lifestyle is built around maintenance and sustainability, and not some one-off, short-sighted occasion.
Here are five of our favorite grooming tricks, and how you can achieve them at home (or at the dentist’s office). Stick to this regimen, and your friends, family, and colleagues will notice. More importantly, you’ll notice the improvements, too, and will then believe in the magic for yourself.
How To: Restore Limp Hair to a Stylable State
If your hair is feeling lifeless and uncooperative, you may be over washing it—or even under washing it. Find a balance, somewhere between 1-2 times per week, for a full-on shampoo. Condition it after each wash, and every other day between. A thorough rinse should suffice every other day.
After a few weeks, your scalp will effectively train itself to create just enough sebum (that is, oil) to nourish the hair, without over-greasing things. Yes, it actually responds to the changes and adjusts its oil production accordingly. Your hair should rarely be dry and brittle, as a result of shampooing less, nor will it be greasy and floppy, as a result of not washing enough. Conditioner ensures that it stays nourished and soft—the perfect canvas for whichever styler you prefer.
How To: Clear Your Complexion, Once and For All
If persistent pimples plague your existence, then it’s high time you speak to your dermatologist about a tailored skincare plan. Our guess is that he or she will recommend a retinol cream, above all else. This vitamin-A derivative works overnight to smooth fine lines, shrink pores, disappear dark spots, as well as prevent and clear up acne. It takes nearly 3 months to be fully effective and will require ongoing nightly application. But that’s a small price to pay for a crystal-clear, confident complexion.
How To: Look Younger Now, and Forever
In addition to the aforementioned anti-aging powers of retinol, there is such a thing as a youth serum. And it’s bottled and sold...as serum. Look for skin-brightening and plumping ingredients like vitamin C or hyaluronic acid. When applied to the skin after cleansing, and before any other products, these serums seep into all three layers of your dermis to correct any discoloration or inconsistencies in tone. They firm and nourish your skin cells, and leave you looking radiant. Ready yourself for the number of “your skin looks amazing” compliments you’ll receive within the first couple months—and beyond.
How To: Whiten Teeth, Safely
Everyone wants a brighter smile, but most people want to take a shortcut. Yes, those at-home whitening strips will bleach your teeth, but at the expense of some valuable gum tissue and tooth enamel. The best way to whiten your teeth is to have a dentist do the task. You can pick the severity of whiteness you wish to achieve, and he or she will advise on the likelihood and safety of the matter. They will keep the bleach away from your gums, and, while you’ll still experience sensitivity for a few days after the fact, you’ll have the reassurance that your doctor used grade-A, long-lasting means to undo years of discoloration. And you only need to schedule a touch-up every 6-12 months, or even further out. Just add it to your bi-annual dentist visit. It’s as easy as that.
How To: Regrow Lost Hair
This one requires some pills (finasteride) and potion (minoxidil), but they’re easy to obtain and deliver profound results. First, visit your dermatologist to discuss any potential side effects of this two-pronged approach to hair revival. You’ll learn a couple of things: First, you’ll need to monitor your sex drive if you take finasteride (the generic form of Propecia, a pill which fights the hormone byproduct that thins hair and shrivels your follicles). In about 1% of cases, men experience a decrease in sex drive or performance. So, keep close tabs, since that’s a disappearing act you don’t want to witness. (The other drug, minoxidil, has less severe risk. It comes as drops or foam and works to increase blood flow and nutrient delivery to the follicles, thus thickening and strengthening them).
Secondly, you’ll need to understand which hairs you can restore in the first place. Anything that has receded cannot be brought back. But anything up top can be restored, assuming you lost it within the past 1-3 years. In this time frame, the follicle is still alive and is simply dormant. It needs a push from finasteride or minoxidil to produce hair again, but it isn’t yet dried up. If you wait too long, the dormant follicle will wither away, after which that hair is lost and gone forever.
This conversation with your dermatologist will create an accurate expectation for what kind of regrowth you can expect from a pills-and-potions approach. But they do work—and they help to prevent and slow hair loss too. So even guys with full heads of hair (and a family history of hair loss) should consider.