That’s why, to look and feel your best, you’ve got to adopt some lifelong habits. There are no instant, permanent fixes.
Here are nine grooming objectives that will help you start the new year strong—each of them a habit that benefits your health and appearance in the long run.
It’s likely you’re entering the new year with a beard, since you need the added warmth in colder times. So why not start it with the neatest, most shapely scruff imaginable? Get your hands on an electric trimmer and facial hair scissors, then heed this advice: Take the guard off the electric trimmer and trim a U-shaped neckline (imagine shaving from backs of your ears to an imaginary point roughly an inch and a half above your Adam’s apple). Shave everything below this line, and keep everything above it. And as your beard grows, snip strays that hang over the lips or that refuse to blend in. (You can use beard oil to keep everything nourished and tamed.)
While shampoo is essential for keeping your hair and scalp clean, it can also dehydrate the area by stripping away all of the nourishing natural oils. This is why it’s important to follow every shampoo with a conditioner, which adds vitamins and nutrients back into your hair. This ensures you have a healthy, stylable ‘do, rather than leaving it poofy and dry. Never get a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner, however, because conditioner needs to stand alone at the end of your regimen to be effective.
Start the year on the right foot: smooth, free of oddities, and with nicely trimmed nails. The best way to do this is to treat yourself to a pedicure, and study how those experts tend to your toes. (Yes, guys do this.) Pedicurists trim the toes straight across, buff away calluses and rough patches, and massage toes with funk-fighting, skin-smoothing foot cream. They’ll even give you all the notes you need to do it yourself moving forward. In the very least, stock up on nourishing, smoothing foot cream, apply it after a nightly shower (pop on a pair of socks after applying), and let it soften your callused, cracked feet overnight.
One of the best favors you can do for yourself is to study your hair, and then accept what it can and cannot do. If you have thinning hair, for instance, embrace it. Buy a texturizing putty, then wear it short and tousled. The same goes for your face shape: Study it and understand what flatters you best. If you have a long, thin face, you don’t want to wear anything too voluminous, and would benefit from bulkier, longer sides, and a relaxed, shorter top. Wider faces will benefit from shorter sides and higher styles that add length to the face. Lastly, if you’ve been ignoring an extreme recession or your hair has been thinning for years (even suddenly), why not start the year by shaving it all off, just to see what it looks like bald? Sure, you’ve been afraid to embrace age and change, but it might be a relief. Plus, a new year is the perfect time to try a fresh look.
In the same vein of knowing your hair truth, you need to know which hair product best suits your hair type and desired style. Maybe you’ve been using that barbershop pomade by default, which is perfect if you’re heading to a buttoned-up 9-to-5 every day and have straight, medium-length hair. That same product will look different on guys with curly or thick hair—every product has different results in different densities and textures. Plus, you’ll want to account for the variable of hair dampness (how wet the hair is when the product is applied), which can change hold and shine levels significantly. To learn about each product and which one best tends to your needs, check out our hair styler roundup.
Exfoliation is part of the essential three-step regimen (sandwiched between cleansing and moisturizing), but it’s often overlooked. A good face scrub removes dead skin cells that populate your face long after they croak. These cells clog pores and breakouts, as well as alter your complexion. So add an exfoliant to the rotation every three days after cleansing and before moisturizing (anything more is excessive and a bit abrasive). It’ll smooth fine lines and give you clearer skin.
The best anti-aging regimen is a proactive one: Instead of worrying later about reversing those wrinkles and dark spots, why not prevent them in the first place? Swap your moisturizer for an SPF-packed one, and apply it every day before you leave the house. It doesn’t wear heavy like a sunscreen, but it blocks skin-damaging, cancer-causing UV rays, and keeps you looking younger longer. (Also, if you haven’t been using a moisturizer…how did you get here? Move it to the top of the list, and make sure it has SPF while you’re at it.)
Even with your new SPF habit, you might still want an age-reversing, skin-clearing remedy at the ready. (Because, well, you are one year wiser and it’d be smart to start sooner than later.) Retinol, derived from vitamin-A, is a nightly cream loved and adored by pretty much every dermatologist—and that’s no embellishment. After 1-3 months of regular use, you’ll notice clearer skin, smoother complexion, tighter pores, and fewer fine lines. Your dermatologist will be able to prescribe the right dosage and type of retinol, as well as the habits that should accommodate its use. (Like, always wash your face in the morning, then apply SPF before exposure to sun. Retinol increases your skin’s sensitivity, so it’s important to get the doc’s opinion.)
Since you’re going to see the dermo to discuss retinol, why not book a follow-up for July? Seeing your dermatologist twice a year is good practice for discussing how diet and stress factors affect your skin, and for routine prescriptions that can improve your skin and hair health. (They can also prescribe you hair-loss remedies, but it’s imperative to get their expertise and to routinely check in with them as you proceed.) Ditto for dentists: Getting your teeth and gums routinely cleaned and examined will save you all sorts of problems (like needing veneers) later in life. Plus, they’ve got all the best and safest tooth-whitening technologies. Go treat yourself to a professional brightening to start the year—it’s better than falling asleep with the corrosive trays in your mouth at home.