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Saturday, June 11, 2005

100 Rules of Looking Great!

Better looks in a bottle? Believe it. Here's where to start

Your charm? Magnetic. Your wardrobe? Impeccable. Your nose hair? Rampant--tropical almost. So, your chances? Slim.
You get the point: Your oversight is her litmus test, and your body is full of portentous deal breakers. That's why our first annual grooming awards are more than just a trophy show. First, we solve your 20 most vexing problems with advice from a distinguished panel of polished and buffed experts. Then we cut through the snake oil and name the top products for every grooming conundrum--108 in all.
Our inspiration? You. More than 2,000 Men's Health readers sent us questions. And we think we know why: With help from Cosmopolitan magazine, 1,000 women told us about the head-on collisions they've witnessed between guys and grooming. So read on--after you're finished checking for overgrowth, of course.
Section 1: Hair Do's
My hair is healthy. Besides using shampoo and conditioner, is there anything I need to keep it that way?
Your hair is healthy, you say? You sure? The reason we ask is because, well, your hair is dead, big guy. "Once it emerges from your scalp, all you can do is clean it and coat it for texture," says Paul Jarrod Frank, M.D., author of Turn Back the Clock without Losing Time. "You can't bring it back to life." That said, you can also slow the decomposition process. Wax, clay, and other products strip your strands like an overused tug-of-war rope, leaving them shattered and dry. They also gum up your scalp, which is very much alive. Our rule: If you apply product to your hair daily, use a salve, such as Bumble and Bumble's excellent--and creatively spelled--Bb Deeep Treatment ($20, 800-728-6253). Use it a couple of times a month and the protein-laced paste will shore up your sickly strands in a jiffy.

What's the best cut to camouflage thinning hair?
Depends on the location of your fleeing follicles. If your hair is thinning all over, first try a thickening shampoo like Nioxin, says Sam DiMira, head barber at the Westgate Hotel barbershop in San Diego. For bald spots on your crown, wear your hair shaggy and tousled, enough to cover up the clearing--as long as you don't have to grow your hair any longer than an inch or two to do it. For a receding hairline, buy some time by wearing your hair combed forward, cut Caesarlike in a straight line, with some texture added to help hide the reverse creep. But be careful: "There is a fine, fine line between looking good and looking atrocious," says Johnna Pasquan, a barber at Gentleman's Quarters in Denver. When all else fails--and it eventually will--cut the denial, and your hair, very close. After all, 42 percent of the women we surveyed said bald is beautiful in their book.

What's the easiest way to achieve that just-rolled-out-of-bed look?
The easiest way is to stop washing your hair. That's also the easiest way to kill your chances with the 48 percent of the women we surveyed who said "clean" is the most important descriptor of a man's hair. A better bet is a styling cream. Rub it between your hands to loosen it up, then apply it from the roots out, starting at the crown. "Tousle it, spike it a little, and let it fall naturally," says Pauline Ushigusa, owner of the Chairman Salon and Spa for Men in Seattle. "The drier your hair, the more you should use," adds Vaughn Acord, a stylist for Bumble and Bumble. Our favorite cream is Kiehl's with Silk Groom ($17,

I use hair gel but hate the crispy look. How can I make it look more natural?
Pull your head out of the '80s, Swayze: Even though half of you told us you use it, gel is old news. "A lot of gels dry the hair, leaving the scalp flaky," says Shannon Jones, owner of Timeout at Shannon's barbershop in Chicago. Instead, try a medium-weight wax or heavier pomade for a gel-like hold without the angel dust. Another benefit of wax: "You can restyle throughout the day if you want to change your look," says Edward Tricomi, cofounder of Warren-Tricomi Salon. Another option: Aveda's Control Granules ($29,, product-filled pods that liquefy when you rub them together, which is just cool.

How do I know if my head will look good shaved? I want to look like Michael Jordan, not michael chiklis.
Make like another Michael--Phelps--and grab a swim cap. "It'll show off your shape," says Ushigusa. Feel your head for dents or bumps--the large occipital bump at the base of your skull is good, Mount Kilimanjaro on your crown is not. "Without a prominent occipital bump, your head will look too round, like a basketball," says Pasquan. But if your pate is begging to be Bic'd, don't let us dissuade you. "I have clients I shave twice a week who I didn't think had the head for it," says Jones. "But they wear it well." Besides, it'll grow back.

What's the best dye for hiding gray hair?
Stay away from permanent color, which can lead to visible gray roots when your hair grows out. Instead, opt for a semipermanent dye that will camouflage the gray, says Pasquan. "It rinses out as you go, so you never end up with that bare zone," she says. We like Just for Men ($7, and Min ($25, If you're looking to change your hair color completely, perhaps to test the blonds-have-more-fun theory, turn to a pro. In the wrong hands (yours), the procedure can go so wrong, so fast.

How much attention is too much to pay to my eyebrows?
If you always look pleasantly surprised, you've probably gone too far. On the other hand, if you look like Bert, let Ernie show you to the mirror. Most men need to pluck (real men don't wax, said 70 percent of the women we surveyed) only the hair between their eyes--the unibrow. "It's an instant face-lift," says Ushigusa. Use scissors to trim scraggly hairs that go above the brow line, but leave the arch alone.
Section 2: Facial Fixes
What's the best way to get rid of my facial oil?
Easy there, Senator Kerry. Ridding yourself of all the oil is a bad idea--your face needs it to stay moisturized. Too much of it, though, will clog your pores, causing acne. Our advice: Take a page from OPEC and carefully manage your pipeline to ensure that supply never exceeds demand. Start by using oil-free moisturizers--about half of all lotions fit the bill. If you still end up shiny only moments after you towel off, try a soap that contains salicylic acid, which will dry out your skin a bit more, says Howard Sobel, M.D., director of the Skin and Spa Cosmetic Surgery Center in New York City. People still calling you Slick? Move to an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide cream, like Fostex (available at pharmacies). Finally, if you have a real gusher, bring out the big gun--a leave-on mattifier that soaks up oil like a sponge. We like Neutrogena's Pore Refining Mattifier ($13,

What's the best treatment for blackheads?
Manage your oil flow--see the previous question--and you'll rarely have a blackhead. Once one arrives, though, you have to address the problem at the source. "A blackhead is sebum, or oil, that's trapped in the pore and turns black as a result of oxidation," says Dr. Sobel. "You have to remove that blockage." Glycolic skin pads and at-home peels will help by chemically and mechanically cleaning out the gunk. Follow with a toner that contains witch hazel to remove traces of soap.

How much moisturizer should I use?
Wear enough to see shine but not whiteness. Hit the bottle within 30 seconds of toweling off and anytime your skin is dry, says Dennis Gross, M.D., author of Your Future Face. "The moisturizer acts as a sealant and locks in the water." Start with a dime-size amount for your face and neck (front and back). If you have a giant face, you'll need a nickel's worth.

What's the right order in which to apply facial products? This is madness.
We feel your pain. Skin experts, perhaps not understanding the scope of the average guy's sloth, recommend that you apply six products each morning--cleanser (regular soap can irritate your face), preshave oil (to bring your follicles to attention), shaving gel, aftershave, face serum (to moisturize and rejuvenate), and a lotion-sunscreen combination. All are good products, so use as many as you can as often as you can. But when in doubt, you can't go wrong with just the bookends: cleanser and lotion.

How can I eliminate dark circles under my eyes?
Your natural eye shadow, caused by broken blood vessels under the skin, is largely the result of the shoddy DNA from whence you sprung. So, as with LeBron James, your only strategy is containment. Try topical products with vitamin K and caffeine, or a roll-on like Bullie's Under Eye Restorative ($20, The ChapStick-size plug contains black tea, cucumber, and aloe to firm and treat your bags. Cutting the booze, cigarettes, and caffeine (in drinks) will help bust the bags, too, says Dr. Gross. And if you regularly notice blue circles, see your doctor--it could be a sign of iron deficiency.

Section 3: Body Basics
What's the best way to protect my skin from the sun?
What's the best way to prevent pregnancy? Abstinence. Same here. But we're thinking you want a fun answer, so here goes: Pick something that has UVB protection and also contains Parsol, an organic blocker that works against a broad UVA spectrum. But there's no "one-blocker-fits-all," says Dr. Sobel, "so find one that matches your skin type." Dermalogica's Full Spectrum Block ($27,, for example, is fine for dry skin, but those with oily or acne-prone skin should look for something oil-free and noncomedogenic. Neutrogena and DDF make sunscreens for oilier skin.

How can I get rid of the acne on my back?
You can't beat bacne--stress and hormones cause it--but you can make it harder for it to flourish. "Acne is caused by a combination of dead skin cells, skin oil, and bacteria," says Dr. Sobel. Start by wearing a moisture-wicking underlayer to keep sweat away. After you finish a workout, scrub your back with antibacterial soap. If you're really plagued, try using a soap with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid--it'll soak up excess oil. Then apply benzoyl peroxide to fight off the bacteria.

Section 4: Shaving Secrets
I get bumps on my face after shaving. What's up with that?
As with anything involving a blade and human flesh, a little technique goes a long way. "The cleaner the face, the better the shave," says Shannon Jones. Start by washing with an exfoliating scrub. Apply a preshave oil, and then, using a newish razor (we love Gillette's vibrating M3 Power, $12, (, shave slowly with the grain. When you're finished, rub in a good aftershave. "Bumps result when hairs are pushed back into the skin," says Andrew Parlino, lead barber at Shaving Grace in the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. "Aftershave helps close the pores and prevents new growth from curling." Finally, follow up with a specialty bump-cutter, like Maleface's Razor Bump Remedy, which blasts your skin with acetylsalicylic acid and glycerin to help new hair glide up through the skin.

How long before shaving should I lather my face?
"Leave the cream on for 30 to 45 seconds and your beard will come off far easier," says Russ Studivant, owner of the Friendly Barber Shop in Carboro, North Carolina. Of course, it's always best to shave in the shower or right after you step out--the heat opens your pores and loosens your beard.

Preshave oil is pricey. Does it really work?
Oh, it works. Use it and you'll have smoother skin, fewer ingrown hairs, less razor burn, and a closer shave. "The oil helps your hair stand at attention and gives it a smooth coating, so you'll reduce razor drag," says Ushigusa. As for ways to save some dough, Ushigusa offers this tip: Don't overuse your shaving products. A few drops of preshave oil is all it takes. Likewise, you need only enough shaving cream to coat your skin. "If you look like Santa Claus," she says, "you've put on too much."

Section 5: Tooth Wisdom
There are so many toothbrush types. Which are best?
Come on, really? You're going to make us say this again? Fine, here goes: First, you should brush for at least 2 minutes, holding the head at a 45-degree angle away from your gums. Go with medium or soft bristles--stiff brushes will scrape your gums raw. Best, though, are the electrics--they clean better, they're gentler on gums, and they make you commit to the entire 2 minutes. You should ditch your stick every 60 days or when the bristles become bent, whichever comes first.

Do over-the-counter teeth whiteners really work?
Yes, but--and this is where most men go wrong--you can't just suck a strip and forget it. You have to commit to rigorous maintenance. Here's your four-step program.
STEP 1: Start with a heavy-hitting gel tray--we prefer trays to strips because they reach back teeth and get between all teeth better. At 9 percent hydrogen peroxide, TresWhite ($60, is one of the fastest around. Use it for 30 minutes a day.
STEP 2: The plaque-heavy areas between your teeth soak up colors, so blast them daily with a whitening floss--we like Reach whitening tape ($3.50,
STEP 3: A whitening toothpaste will keep the shine from fading. Our favorites: Supersmile Professional ($16, and Crest Tartar Control Plus Scope ($3,
STEP 4: Coffee, juice, wine: They're oral-bling killers. Travel with the GoSmile Daily Tooth Whitening system ($40,, a paint-on whitener for midday touch-ups. There's no rinsing, and it leaves your breath fresh.

Evidence suggests I have bad breath. Any solutions?
If brushing and flossing aren't doing the trick, go hunting for tongue gunk. "Your tongue is like a shag carpet from the 1960s--bacteria are hanging out, clinking champagne glasses," says Jonathan Levine, D.D.S., which means they're probably smoking pot, too. The answer: a tongue scraper. Look for one with a rigid edge like OraSweet's ($3.50, Reach as far back as you can, then pull forward, scraping your tongue. Follow with a peroxide mouthwash. Don't overscrape, warns Fuad Malik, D.D.S., a New York City dentist. It can cause "hairy tongue," which isn't kinky at all.


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9:32 PM


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