By Adam Hurly.
You know the guy in the office with the scaly handshake? Of course you do, because every office has one (and if you don't, well, then you might be that guy). There's a likely chance that the guy sanding down your palm with his greeting suffers from self-inflicted grooming neglect. Same goes for the guy whose razor burn glows painfully red above his collar or the dude whose beard is creeping all the way into his chest hair. See, grooming neglect is a universal problem, and here at GQ, we take it upon ourselves to fight back.
Of course, the first step to mounting a grooming neglect resistance starts with actually knowing which, if any, common mistakes you're making and then pursuing a remedy ASAP. Here are nine of the most common signs we've seen—and how to deal with each:
1. You have dry, cracked hands
Nothing buries a first impression like a scaly handshake. The problem is that hands get rough and cracked quite easily, given how frequently we use them. Also, every time you wash them they get a little more dried out. It's a near-universal problem. Especially in winter. The only solution is to apply a nutrient-dense hand balm daily. Lather it on every night before bed, every morning before you leave the house, and any time during the day when your knuckles start looking ashy—especially after coming in from the cold, or after washing them in hot water.
2. You have dark under-eye circles
Dark, puffy eyes can mean a few things. You might've just slept badly last night. Or maybe you're not fighting back against aging like you should be. Whatever it is, there's stuff you can do to rectify this situation. In the short-term, we recommend a little temporary camouflage. Then get your hands on an under-eye cream to apply each morning—some can even lighten those dark spots. Eye creams and serums will tighten the skin, de-puffing those bags as much as possible and helping you feign a good night’s rest. Oh, and start getting enough sleep. That’s the true workaround.
3. Your hair is dry and limp
If you’ve got brittle, un-stylable hair, it’s very likely that you’re overusing shampoo, underutilizing conditioner, or both.
Here’s the truth about shampoo: It dries out the hair while it cleans, removing the good, hydrating oils along with the grime. Conditioner adds nutrients and moisture back to those dried-out hairs. But it can't repair all the damage if you're shampooing too much. Start alternating days between using shampoo and just rinsing with water. Condition after every shampoo. And don’t buy a 2-in-1 because it's usually B.S.
4. You have dandruff
Another sign of a poorly balanced hair-care regimen. If your scalp gets too oily or if it gets too parched, the skin will die and flake away. This is yet another reason why an every-other-day shampoo is crucial, followed immediately by conditioner. This balanced routine washes away excess grease without stripping the scalp of its natural, nourishing oils. It also adds some nutrients into the scalp and hair, fortifying cells and preventing them from dying and peeling away. If you’re struggling to fix the problem once it’s begun, then grab a dandruff-targeted shampoo and use it daily until things clear up. (Then rotate it into your regimen once a week.)
Oh, and while you’re at it, try to avoid beard dandruff, too.
5. Your lips are cracked or peeling
Good luck sealing any deals with those things.
There are a few obstacles standing between you and smooth lips. During winter, the lips will succumb to dry, cold air well before anything else. In the summer, they easily burn and peel from sun exposure. Plus, regardless of season, your saliva can dry out the skin and lead to splitting.
So, for one, don’t lick your lips. And secondly, get a lip balm with SPF. It’ll protect you from the sun’s burn (in winter, too!), while shielding and nourishing the lips with a nutrient-rich wax.
6. You have a neckbeard
We are pro-beard, 100 percent. But, don’t mistake “growing a beard” with “not shaving or grooming your facial hair, ever.”
It’s of great importance to know where your beard should stop, which will prevent you from trimming it too high or keeping it too low. Cut from about an inch above your Adam’s apple; the neckline should also form a clean U-shape from behind each ear, meeting at this point above your speaker box. Leave everything under the chin, as well as on and behind the jaw, and then shave everything below this “U.”
7. Your eyebrows are out of control
Yes, you need to tame your brows. Eyebrows don’t grow in one clean, uniform direction. Some sprout up in the middle of your face, while others migrate north up the forehead. Lack of attention to your 'brows is one of the most acute forms of neglect.
Get a tweezer, pluck the strays, and trim any hairs that grow above your natural arch. If you skip this one, you probably won't die.
8. You have rancid breath (and you don't know it)
White teeth sure are visually appealing, but we hope you give your oral hygiene regimen just as much attention. Your mouth is a hotbed for bacteria—especially the tongue—and bad breath is usually an indication that those bacteria are being ignored and left to multiply. That's why you wake up with bad breath. The moisture in your mouth isn't refreshed as often, and the odor-causing bacteria have had extra time to spread. So, stay diligent with brushing, flossing, and gargling. It’s the only way to actually keep your mouth smelling healthy, and not just looking healthy.
9. You get razor burn after shaving
If your skin breaks out after a shave, then you’re doing something—or a couple things—wrong. There are multiple steps to the shaving process, so let’s just lay out the essentials: You need a clean, sharp razor, one that hasn’t been collecting bacteria from past shaves, and that won’t drag across the skin. Secondly, you need to properly prepare the skin with hot water and skin-softening oil or cream. The fresh blade will give you a clean, smooth shave, which should be chased with a cold splash of water, plus an alcohol-free aftershave (toner or moisturizer) to minimize irritation and ingrown hairs. Then, chuck the blade, or let it air dry—but don’t use it more than a three or four times, or more than a couple weeks.
Watch Next: It's Time to Get Your Eyebrows Professionally Groomed
This story originally appeared on GQ.
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