It’s an oft-cited fact that, during war time, sales of red lipstick skyrocketed as women set about putting their best face forward. But what about men?
Self grooming at a time of crisis isn’t about vanity, or keeping up appearances for other people: it’s about the psychology of appearing (and feeling) ready for what life is throwing at you, for yourself.
So in our new working from home reality, I’d wager that keeping up that morning grooming routine is all the more important. And while you can keep yourself freshly shaved and nails neatly clipped, there’s little that can be done about a barnet that increasingly smacks of Worzel Gummidge’s unrulier brother.
I was due a haircut a week ago, in my usual 4-6 week cycle, but circumstances becoming ever more fraught, it passed me by. Now, with barbers and salons closed, my hair is looking increasingly shambolic. Fine for indoor daily life and alarming only to my cats, but when you want to feel in control – or at least look it while on a conference call to the office – it doesn’t help. Eyeing up the kitchen scissors, dare I take matters into my own hands?
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“No, I would not recommend that,” says the rather more sensible Zamaine Ismail, master barber at Italian grooming specialist Acqua di Parma. “Even if you do an OK job, you’ll mess up the template that was left in place by your last barber. Instead of hacking any length off, instead this is a time where styling products become your best friend in keeping your hair out of your face and eyes as it grows.”
Ismail points to the importance of a hairdryer in hair styling, something I’ve been rather dismissive of as redundant for shorter hairstyles. But the heat, he says, will make the hair more malleable and easier to control, especially if it’s wavy, textured or curly, while waxes and pastes will make it look groomed even at longer lengths.
Think about how to style it, too. To keep messier hair away from your face, Ismail recommends a neat side parting in the direction that the hair naturally grows. Sweep it away from your forehead for a more polished look.
And if the situation is becoming dire? Ismail reluctantly recommends asking a family member, if you have someone to hand, to trim only the neckline, and any hair cresting over your ears, if it’s absolutely necessary.
No one expects a matinee idol makeover at a time like this, but little steps towards keeping up appearances can go a long way.
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