The Best Grooming Tips From Around The World
Venturing overseas? We’ve combed the globe to bring you the top hair and skincare tips from beyond our shores
For generations, grooming education was limited to watching one’s father shave in the mirror. In other words, it was rather local. Well, things have changed as we power on, for better or worse, through an age of increasing globalisation. Nowadays, grooming knowledge from around the world is more accessible than ever and it’s high time you expanded your haircare and skincare horizons.
Our friends abroad have done all the field research – on oils and serums and salt sprays – so you don’t have to. These nuggets of wisdom are extremely helpful whether you’re packing for your next big trip, especially if you’re going to a drastically different climate, or looking to improve your everyday routine.
To help distil some key lessons from around the globe, we turned to a couple of experts who have a distinct vantage point on the world of grooming. Mr David Olds is master barber at Truefitt & Hill in London, an institution with 40 shops worldwide, including in South Korea, Kuwait, Australia and India. Mr Lewis Lim is managing founder of Sultans of Shave, a group of home-grown Singaporean barbershops with locations on Orchard Road and Jewel Changi Airport. Between them they have insurmountable experience that will keep you looking sharp wherever you hang your hat.
The Middle East: flawless facial hair
In a region where beards are far more common than a clean shave, facial hair maintenance is crucial. Not everyone is fortunate enough to experience the magic of a Turkish barber or an ultra-luxe spa day in Dubai, so we homed in on a couple of important tips and tricks from the Middle East’s best bearded men. There are essentially two key things to keep in mind when it comes to upkeep, beyond conditioning, of course: the proper shape and clean lines. Sounds complicated, but it’s all relatively easy, thanks to centuries of practice and fine tuning.
A trusted barber is your best bet when it comes to landing on the right beard shape for your face, but it can be done from the comfort of your own bathroom. Accentuate your natural features (jawline, chin, cheekbones) and opt for something that creates the closest thing to an overall oval shape. A wide or round face will benefit from more length around the chin, while a fuller beard is better suited to long, thin faces. If you have an oval face, you have a little more flexibility. Just remember to stay proportional and brush out your beard (always downwards) to keep everything nice and tidy.
Now for the finishing touches. Threading may seem like a trendy grooming gimmick, more commonly used to shape eyebrows, but it’s a tried-and-tested means of removing facial hair in the Middle East and south Asia, where barbers use it to edge up their clients’ beards and clean up cheeks with speed and precision. It’s deceptively simple. A loop of thin cotton string is tightly twisted several times, then repeatedly rolled across the areas of unwanted hair. Those twists create a vice-like grip that yanks out the entire follicle, often several at a time. The result is neat lines, less skin irritation and no more stragglers. A few dabs of a post-shave toner that contains witch hazel or aloe followed by a cold towel will quickly close pores and reduce redness once the process is complete.
Asia: cutting-edge complexions
Walk down the streets of Harajuku in Tokyo or Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul and you’ll notice two things: one, these guys are incredibly stylish; and two, they’re practically glowing. That’s because this part of the world has perfected the art of skincare. Carefully formulated moisturisers, serums and cleansers can take any grooming regimen to the next level. The most impeccably turned-out men in these cities don’t shy away from using concealer to mask the inevitable blemish, and neither should you.
Assembling the right products really depends on what you want to achieve. If your face is too oily, opt for a water-based cleanser, such as SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser, a mild toner, such as Aesop B & Tea Balancing Toner, and a light moisturiser, such as La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream. If you have noticeable pores or rough skin, go with an exfoliator, such as Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel, which will flush out impurities without stripping away the natural oils in your skin. Follow with a repairing serum – we like Lab Series Future Rescue Repair Serum.
For those who might want to streamline their grooming routine, sheet masks such as SK-II Facial Treatment Masks will save the day. They may look like something out of Silence Of The Lambs, but these miracle masks can do everything from rapidly hydrating dull, dry skin to regenerating collagen for a healthier, more youthful complexion.
Australia: sun and surf done right
A country dominated by surf, sun and sand can be your best friend – or worst enemy – when it comes to staying well kempt. Salt and sunshine are good for you in moderation. They’ll add a healthy dose of texture to your hair and warmth to your overall complexion. But if you want to stay looking young for ever (who doesn’t?), sun protection is paramount. “Even if it’s not that sunny, you may not be used to the UV exposure in the tropics,” says Mr Lim. The last thing anyone wants is a nasty burn and other negative consequences.
Unless you’re based in the southern hemisphere, a trip to Australia will involve logging some serious air miles, so Mr Lim has some pro tips to mitigate the damage of a trip down under. “I always take facial mist and a lip balm on board when I fly,” he says. “These go a long way to getting your skin comfortable. If you plan on going to the barber to get a shave, wait until a few days after you land because your skin will be much drier and more prone to cutting straight off the flight.”
To recreate the beachy look from the comfort of your own home, grab a salt spray such as Lavett & Chin Sea Salt Texturising Mist. For a cut that will really capture the vibe, go for a top knot, a local favourite, or a mid-length crop – a tousled look that has a longer fringe, which you can tuck behind your ears for ease and comfort.
North America: in pursuit of the perfect product
From East Coast swagger to West Coast chill, there’s one thing this diverse region loves: no-frills grooming essentials made for easy, everyday use. Established brands such as Kiehl’s have mastered the formula while new ones, such as Blind Barber and Fellow Barber, are reinventing classics. In a nutshell, this region’s grooming regimen is dynamic.
The breadth of hair products available in the Americas was born out of necessity. A region this vast and diverse, in terms of both culture and climate, calls for a wide range of conditioners, clays, pomades and pastes. “Humidity affects your hair and scalp in different ways,” says Mr Olds. “The way you style your hair in one climate can be very different in another, so I always recommend having a clay, which has a stronger hold, and a paste, which is lighter.”
Taking care of your facial hair has become just as important as what’s going on up top. In fact, shaving is more of a hobby than a chore these days, thanks to a growing roster of razor companies that focus on the entire experience. Balms, oils, tonics and soothing gels have joined the ranks of your go-to shaving cream. “Beard balm gives more shape to mid-length facial hair when brushed,” says Mr Olds. “Oil is good for shorter beards or stubble. You want to keep the skin underneath and the hair on top moisturised.”
Scandinavia: balancing mind and body
As temperatures begin to drop and the days shorten in the northern hemisphere, it’s paramount that you counteract the inevitable dip in serotonin with a grooming routine that addresses your mind and body. Moisturise and moisturise often. Harsh winds and freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your skin. If there’s one thing you take away from all these vastly different parts of the world, it’s that hydrated skin is healthy skin.
Wake up a tired-looking complexion with an invigorating face wash formulated to hydrate your skin and repair damage. And put those extra evening hours to work with an overnight mask. Try 111Skin Meso Infusion Overnight Micro Mask. A brightening serum, such as Dr. Barbara Sturm Brightening Serum, will undo the damage of a harsh winter, while toners can be used to soothe inflamed skin and restore your skin’s natural pH balance.
Seasonal affective disorder is no joke, so finding the right supplements and maintaining a healthy diet is key to looking and feeling good. Scandinavians fight off the winter blues by following a healthy diet, exercising and embracing the cosiness of their homes. So give your skin much-needed nutrients by topping up with supplements that contain vitamins C, D and E, and light a few scented candles to help elevate your mood and reduce stress. If all else fails, take a trip to sunnier climes.