10 No-Nonsense Grooming Products You Should Try Out Right Now

Do it for your face!
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano

Serums on the face! Brews on wrinkles! Creams for zits! We've slapped them on and scrubbed them off, all in the name of good grooming. Here, face and body essentials you thought you'd never get into, but should really try out right now.   

1| Soap 

I left the L’Occitane Vetiver Wood Soap on a shelf and forgot about it. When I came back later, the room smelled like leather trees with tobacco leaves—a scent that reminds you of your granddad, a no-nonsense fella in that time when good grooming meant a bar of soap. This produces a lather as light as coffee froth, but does a thorough job of cleaning. After drying, it leaves a suggestion of vetiver. Which is good because you wouldn't want to smell too much like your lolo. The form is cool. The pebble shape feels good on the hand (no slipping) and those grain marks make the soap appear if it was carved from wood. 


2| Body Wash

Of the three variants of Dove Men + Care Body and Face Wash, I'd go for the kick of the Extra Fresh bottle. It revs up your body in the morning and soothes it after a long day at work. The wash bubbles up nicely. Just right. It won't engulf you in a cocoon of white. And that cooling effect peaks after rinsing the suds off. The double-duty bottle does a decent job on the face. Keep it in your go-bag for the gym or impromptu overnighters.  

3| Face Wash 

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The skin on your mug is more delicate, so you'd want a cleanser that treats it like a baby.  Malin + Goetz Grapefruit Face Cleanser is like a soft hand. The gel is color-free. The foam is almost clear. The scent is natural. It's like I rubbed my face with the slippery peels of grapes and oranges. That leaves the skin with a silky feeling. Not tight. A little science: Grapefruit extract helps maintain a healthy pH balance of something called the acid mantle, a combination of sweat and fat that protects your skin. Harsh soaps kill the mantle. This does not.  

4| Post-Shave Solution

Here's an aftershave that doesn't feel like teeth, pincers, or needles. John Allan's Cool Face is more like a moisturizer, which is really what you need after a duel with the blade. The weightless lotion pumps in hydration right away, adding a damp film on razed skin. A comfortable level of cooling—like a mentholated breeze—blows in upon contact. Rub a small amount on hands and pat lightly on shaved areas. When stubble growth gets itchy, slap this on, too. 


5| Moisturizer 

Consider the Dermalogica Active Moist, a light-weight formula for oily or sensitive skin. No grease. No redness. Just soft skin throughout the day. There's a soothing vapor rub-like scent upon application—a quick kick that dissipates. A couple of drops are enough. That quick-dissolve liquid sinks into skin. 

6| Eye Cream 


La Mer The Eye Concentrate is the expensive stuff that keeps your wife looking fresh. It comes with an applicator that looks like a matchstick with a metal bulb. Use it. The silver-tipped wand cools the skin. It also softens a heavy hand, allowing for a more precise application on the very thin area around your eyes. Apply cream with stick. Pat in with fingers. Do not crush skin with your giant pads. The cream smells like the ocean (sea kelp is a main ingredient). Puffiness appear softer and shadows lighter. Dark patches near the inner corners of your eyes may take longer to brighten.  

7| Sunscreen 

Lab Series Power Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 50 is more like a sunscreen and moisturizer rolled into one. Aside from shielding your skin against UVA (causes aging) and UVB rays (can cause cancer) with a higher SPF (500 minutes of wear), it provides moisture and improves the appearance of dark spots and discoloration. Sun protectors don't feel completely weightless, so expect the feeling of a soft veil on the skin.  


8| Zit Cure 

Trust the Mario Badescu Drying Cream. For the night before meeting her parents, when an unripe bump has grown beneath the skin of your forehead, dab a tiny, tiny amount on the thing. Next day, it's dry, dying, or dead. The cream has a beige hue, so it blends in if you're fair. You can also apply it on angry pimples, so they don't reach their mutant stage. But don't use it for whiteheads. There's the Drying Lotion for that. 

9| Wrinkle Defense


Perricone MD Formula 15 is a skin lab in a bottle. Three patented sciences work together (alpha lipoic acid repairs micro-scars, DMAE pulls things taut, and a delivery system drives the two deep within the skin) to address the length, width, and depth of wrinkles. True results will appear with longer use, but the immediate effects are notable. Lines soften. It's like the walls of a gorge have been pulled closer together. The only downside is that funny glue smell (appropriate for the stuff), which can be addictive for some.  

10| Anti-Red 

Murad Recovery Treatment Gel is more serum than gel. It soaks in wet and ends up as a supple layer on your skin. Very smooth. Left this overnight on my face, and woke up looking more human—with a more even tone, especially around high-scratch zones above the brows and on the sides of the nose. If you have sensitive skin prone to irritation or redness (caused by dryness or wild weather), the gel calms skin and provides all-day relief.

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Clifford Olanday
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