By Tudor Caradoc-Davies; Photography by Freepik
Dishevelled sloth or preening narcissist? Your guy probably falls into one of these grooming categories, or somewhere in between. WH asked the Guy Next Door how to tame those unattractive habits…
What you’re looking for is a hybrid: a man who looks good effortlessly, but retains enough of the caveman for you to feel like the fairer sex. Not too smooth, not too rough – like Goldilocks searching for the perfect porridge, you’re seeking a man who combines the attractive elements of the male types to the right and marries them seamlessly into a guy who looks, smells and feels like a guy. He doesn’t reject grooming, but he doesn’t take it to the extreme either. He clips his toenails (behind a closed bathroom door), but doesn’t own a foot spa that he refuses to share. He can grow a fine level of stubble, but shouldn’t spend hours curating his facial hair; he should also refrain from growing a hipster beard that would look more at home on Zach Galifianakis.
So put your order in… Just ask nicely…
Which is your guy?
Does your man own a hairdryer? How about a GHD? Does he opine authoritatively about cologne, moisturisers and… gasp… base? You might have a modern-day Adonis on your hands. This chap doesn’t borrow your moisturiser, he has his own – the same brand as his exfoliator, toner and aftershave balm. He’s not incensed that men’s mags have grooming pages: he actually reads them. Like you, he cares about scientific ingredients and the fact that you can (finally!) buy Kiehl’s and hair products with argan oil at more than one boutique store in South Africa. He waxes his chest for hygienic reasons, manscapes his garden path, buzzes his pits and is seriously considering a back, sack and crack – even though he knows deep down it won’t make his package look bigger.
At the other end of the spectrum… Does your man argue the benefits of just “rinsing” his hair to preserve the natural oils? Does his BO announce his presence several paces before he opens the door? It’s possible that you have a caveman in your bedroom. This guy looks at his fellow men and feels like the last bastion of real maleness. As his partner, you may want to buff and polish him, but the onslaught of “gent-rification” leaves him feeling a bit like the designated driver: it’s the right thing to do, but he feels vaguely fraudulent. Where there was beer and melktert, he now sees raw food, Paleo living and CrossFit. It’s like when the last algemene handelaar gives way to an ostrich craft boutique – something cultural is lost forever. That’s why he fights it. The caveman eyes cosmetics of any sort suspiciously (and with quotation marks), much like he does “yoga”, “vegans” and “20/20” cricket. His beauty routine consists of Lifebuoy soap, a spritz of Axe and a trucker cap. Finished and klaar.
How to shape his habits…
Now that you’ve identified your bloke, read on for how to work off the rough (or overly smooth) edges.
Caveman: Laugh lines are good; dry, flaky skin – not so much. Tell your Cro-Magnon man that he looks good when he takes care of himself and that you’d like it to stay that way as you get older. That means using moisturiser and sunscreen, especially the latter. If he has a fair complexion, tanning is outright stupid. But don’t discriminate against gingers, albinos and goths. Slap on the SPF and stick him in the shade so he can talk to you while you sun yourself poolside.
Adonis: He falls hook, line and sinker for anything cosmetic companies throw at men, which is why he is seriously considering buying foundation. There is only one scenario when this is permissible: he’s on TV. Save base for jumping, and keep yours locked away. Same goes for tinting his eyebrows, lining his lips and colouring his hair.
Caveman: Removal of hair that you find a turn-off is between the two of you. If you don’t mind his fluffy shoulders, cool. If they make you mock-charge, send him for a wax. And remember: practise what you preach. It’s not fair to criticise his hirsute suit if you’re wearing a permanent winter coat.
Adonis: Hair implants, comb-overs and wigs are out for your would-be Donald Trump. If he’s losing it, buzz it close. If he carries tweezers to manage his eyebrows, or he’s considering a beard implant (as hipsters in Brooklyn are now doing), he’s gone too deep. Rule of thumb: he shouldn’t be spending more time plucking than you do.
Caveman: Make it clear to your woolly love mammoth that if he wants to caress your body, fingernails carrying a CSI lab’s worth of miscellaneous detritus will not get him VIP access. Neat, trimmed, clean nails will.
Adonis: He’s considering a French manicure. You want your partner to have the hands of a man, not Le Comte de Frou Frou; hands that can open a penknife and fight off tigers and weasels; hands that can open jars you can’t be arsed to open yourself. He can keep them clean, trim his nails – hell, even buff the gym calluses off his palms – but draw the line at a manicure.
Caveman: If he revels in his natural pong, break it down for him that natural pheromones and man musk are only good in minuscule amounts (one drop per farm dam). If he blinks at you blankly, spell it out. Bad BO = sex no-no.
Adonis: On the flip side, if he smells worse than bad potpourri laced with the flowery nectar of a thousand Bahraini brothels, that’s just as repulsive. If people start coughing as he enters the office and he leaves a trail of wilted colleagues behind him, it’s time to let him know: with cologne and aftershave, less is always more… Sweet stuff is for boys; cedar, citrus and herbal notes are for men.