How Not to Let Your Grooming Habits Fall to the Wayside During Self-Isolation

Man shaving at home
Supply/Unsplash

For the weeks (and likely months) ahead, our lives are all about self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We can’t leave our houses for more than groceries or fresh air. We won’t be face to face with families, friends, colleagues, or dating app matches for an indefinite amount of time.

A lot of people, as a result, will probably let their hygiene and grooming regimen slide. On the one hand, that’s understandable, since our barbers and stylists are also quarantined—and since nobody can smell your B.O. through a Zoom conference call. But we urge you to take this opportunity during self-isolation to change a few things.

And while our grooming woes are secondary to the real issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a good argument for maintaining some semblance of your regular routine during this time. It provides structure—bookends to your day, or a break from the work-from-home slog—and can even procure some much needed optimism despite the soul-crushing news cycle.

So, if you’re up for it, here are seven ways you can keep on top of your grooming habits, or even build some new ones.

1. Respect Your Barber—and Don’t Cut Your Own Hair

As barbers and stylists sit on the bench for the foreseeable future, the rest of us are faced with a conundrum: Do I let my hair grow out into a mop, or do I buzz it all off? The answer is yes. You can choose one or the other. But here’s what you’re not going to do: You’re not going to cut your own hair and disrespect those sidelined professionals. Either buzz it all off, or just let it grow and mind the changes.

A hat goes a long way in suppressing bulk, especially when it’s worn for 10 minutes post-shower, as your hair dries. And there’s no harm in trimming the perimeter of your hair—like the neckline and sideburns. Just make it your goal to keep the hair and scalp healthy and clean. You can always try new products and styles as it grows, too, though they won’t be textured, layered, and coached into place, since that’s the job of the pros. Heck, why not find your barber’s Venmo and send him or her $50, too? They probably need it, and it’s money you’d have otherwise spent. Besides, it’s not like you need stylish hair for the next couple months anyway.

2. Sit Near the Window—but Wear SPF

On the bright side of all that’s happening, at least it’s happening as the days get longer and sunnier. Yes, it feels like a waste of all these nice spring days, but can you imagine being boarded up while the sun sets at 4 p.m.? The spring weather may be the one thing preventing this from feeling apocalyptic.

Anyway, try to bask in the sun as much as you can, from your balcony, backyard, or even seated by the window. This vitamin D will help keep your complexion bright, rather than dull and blotchy (effects we experience in winter from a lack of light). When your body produces vitamin D (by absorbing sunlight), it also works as an anti-inflammatory on the skin, which can reduce acne. (And given the stressful times, you’ll need as much defense against breakouts as possible). Then, of course, is the most obvious benefit of sun and Vitamin D: optimism. And since that reduces your cortisol levels, it can counter any stress and in turn keep breakouts at bay.

Since you’ll hopefully be enjoying the sun more, be sure to apply SPF every day as well; you don’t want your pursuit of sunlight to result in accelerated signs of aging.

3. Improve Your Skin From the Inside Out

We’ve all read those blithe interviews with supermodels wherein they share their No. 1 beauty secret: staying hydrated. Wow, that’s quite novel! But there is some truth to it: Given that water improves every single one of your bodily functions, it’s also the best way to regulate and improve your appearance, from head to toe. This is a good time to mind your alcohol and sugar intake, and to swap unhealthy snacks for something organic. We’ll spare the preaching, but just consider this: You’re in quarantine for an indefinite amount of time. If you’re downing a few bottles of beer or an entire bottle of wine every night, in addition to eating junk food and being dehydrated, that’s going to take its toll. If this thing turns out to be 90 days long, then the difference in your appearance between healthy habits and unhealthy ones will be drastic. Your hair will become more brittle. Your skin will be dull, worn, and patchy. You’re at a higher risk of breakouts. You get the picture. Oh, and go for a long walk if you can; that’s an easy way to get some exercise, sun, and fresh air without interacting with people or touching anything.

4. Build an Intentional Grooming Regimen, at Long Last

Lots of guys use baseline skincare or hair care products, but few would say they actually have a “regimen.” They wash, rinse, repeat—literally. And that’s great, but now that you’re home with your thoughts and have more time to audit every facet of your day, why not focus on your hair, shave, and skin regimens? Which products are you using intentionally, and do you now have enough time to order a few new products—like a pre-shave oil, conditioner, exfoliator, night cream, or face mask—to build a routine daily or weekly regimen? (Yes, you do have that time.) Simply put, this isolation presents you with an opportunity to think about your intentions. Maybe it’s “I don’t want my hair to fall out, so I’m going to research the best DHT-fighting shampoos and conditioners, as well as the medicines I can take to keep a full head of hair.” (Try hims for that!) Or maybe it’s “I’m going to re-teach myself how to shave, except to do it slowly, with all the steps of a thorough and hygienic shave regimen—and I’ll try to master a safety razor shave this time.  You can even adopt a new but minimal skincare regimen, one backed by education. You’ve got the time, so make the change!

5. Wear Cologne Every Day

Why would anyone need to wear cologne when they’re holed up inside all day? Who needs to smell your fragrance… the pharmacist and the grocery clerk? Cologne is expensive, why would anyone waste it on quarantine?

These are all excellent arguments as to why you should shelve your preferred scents during quarantine. But, those are your preferred scents. Perhaps your colleagues know you as the guy who smells incredible, thanks to your signature scent; or maybe you have a confidence-boosting cologne for first dates. That’s the power of smell, after all—it transports you. So, transport yourself to that office routine, to a confident first date, to simply caring about how you interact with other people. Wearing cologne during the day, even if you’re the only one smelling it, will be one of the things you look forward to, and one of the best ways to stay optimistic about normalcy’s return.

6. Get Resourceful

Truth be told, you’ll probably be able to maintain most of your existing grooming practices. The post office is currently still delivering your razor replenishment, and you can sprint over to the grocery store to get decent soap and shampoo if your favorite brand is otherwise out of stock. But, if you want to take the strain off the delivery services (which, collectively, is needed right now), and you find yourself in a pinch late at night, you may need to makeshift a product or two. This can be fun: There’s almost always a solution for a good DIY mask (oatmeal, yogurt, honey, and eggs), as well as ways to sharpen a dull razor (run it reverse against some denim, over and over—not the best or cleanest habit to get into, but it works). You could also try your hand at some sillier stuff, like: Do dryer sheets actually work as dry shampoo? And does baking soda really work as a mouthwash, whitening toothpaste, deodorant, dry shampoo, and foot powder? If you’re bored, why not channel your inner Bill Nye and find out?

7. Invest in a Multitasking Trimmer

A full-service trimmer is the one device that’s going to be your sidekick—and save you from sinking into hirsute hermit-dom. One of the best is Philips Norelco’s multigroom kit. Consider all the things it can do: line up your hair edges (no self haircuts, remember, although it can buzz you entirely), zap stray eyebrows and nose hairs, trim and detail your beard, shave stubble, tame your neckline, manicure your chest hair and pubes, make-gone your back hair. Here’s one investment in your quarantine grooming regimen that’ll keep you looking as presentable as possible—a practice that’s important to preserve right now. Don’t let your good habits slip.

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