In case it wasn’t already abundantly obvious: Yes, being stuck inside for months on end did change some of the calculus of grooming in 2020. Rallying under the flag of “Who’s Going to See It, Anyway?” we countered cabin fever with enthusiastic experimentation. We gave ourselves haircuts, we tried different facial hair, we painted our nails, we spent way more time on skincare. And thanks to all those endeavors with the new and novel, we reminded ourselves of an old standby: Grooming isn’t always about quantity, it’s about quality. And, hell, we had the time to find it. So, through extensive trial and error, we discovered updated essentials, revisited a few classics, and reimagined our routines from the ground up thanks to these winning products.
Anti-Dandruff Styling Cream
As our hair grew longer this year, cream became our go-to. It smooths frizz and gives a natural hold. This one would be top-notch on its own but has an extra kick: dandruff-busting pyrithione zinc.
Smoothing Hair Balm
This is not your grandfather’s greasy pomade. The airy texture has just enough hold to keep hair in place, and the formula contains kale protein and biotin to strengthen strands. Most of all, though, we love how moisturizing it is.
Marula Cream Conditioner
This subtly almond-scented conditioner isn’t thick or goopy and won’t weigh your hair down. The thinner consistency makes it a good everyday option even for thin or fine hair, but it doesn’t sacrifice the hydration that thick or curly hair needs.
Like a salt spray, this spritz imparts a fuller, tousled look. But it does more than that. “It gave my hair new life,” bragged one tester. It could be that the salt comes from real seawater or that the nutrient-rich algae prevents crunch. Either way, we can’t get enough.
Deep Clean Shampoo
Going days without washing your hair isn’t that bad, but the longer you wait, the deeper the clean you’ll need. The apple-cider vinegar in this new formula is like a power wash for your scalp, removing product buildup and oil in a flash. Plus, it’s sulfate-free, so it won’t leave your hair feeling dry and brittle.
Avocado + Kiwi Mega Moisture Hair Mask
A hair mask can fix a host of evils, from dryness to general unmanageability. Briogeo’s is suited for all hair types and textures and isn’t too heavy. Even using it just once a week gave us the kind of “damn, that’s impressive” hair you see on TV.
Elite Pro High Performance Hair Clipper Kit
In the Annals of Grooming, 2020 will always be the year of the DIY haircut. This clipper was powerful enough to mow through the growth and user-friendly enough for novices. Plus, it comes with a wide variety of guards and accessories.
Skin Balancing Purifying Gel Cleanser
Many cleansers out there force you to choose between getting gunk out of your pores and protecting your skin from feeling stripped and dry. Instead of compromising, get one that does both. This one uses polyhydroxy acid to help remove oil and dirt from pores but won’t upset the all-important skin barrier.
Clear-Out Blackhead Expert Stick + Mask
The dual-action vibes of this mask made it a clear (pun intended) winner. The exfoliating stick on the cap “really feels like it’s doing something” to eliminate blackheads, according to one tester, and the green clay mask absorbs oil and deep-cleans your pores, leaving a spick-and-span complexion.
Invisible Daily SPF 30
By now you probably know you should be wearing daily sunscreen on your face and this sunscreen is a great one. It’s lightweight, leaves no white cast, and doesn’t feel sticky or tacky. What we love most, however, is that while it’s good enough for your face, it’s specifically designed for your scalp. If you’re bald or have thinning hair, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better protectant.
Rain Or Shine Daily Moisturizing Sunscreen
As the name of this top-notch product suggests, sunscreen is an everyday essential no matter the weather. This one is barely-there thin, rubs in easily with no white cast left behind, and doesn’t make your skin feel greasy. Use it in place of your moisturizer, since it also offers hydration, or in addition to it.
Ultra Repair Oil-Control Moisturizer
We spent most of the year switching between battling skin-drying inside air and fighting mask-induced skin issues like acne. A good moisturizer helps with both problems. This cream protects and hydrates skin effectively without a heavy, greasy feel and controls oil and shine when you need it to.
Potent-C Power Scrub
Our testers loved this scrub because it felt like rubbing your face with “fancy sand that smells like expensive citrus.” The powerful combination of vitamins C and E and ferulic acid leaves skin feeling instantly smoother and looking brighter, and the cocoa-butter beads moisturize so you’re not left with that uncomfortable tight sensation.
Supreme Seed Delicate Purification Mask
We love a deep cleaning clay mask, but some of them can leave our faces overly dry and feeling tight. This mask, which contains kaolin clay as well as aloe, calendula, and Vitamin B5, is specifically designed to scrub out your pores without disrupting the rest of your skin. It’s welcome news for anyone with sensitive skin and we found ourselves reaching for it again and again whenever we wanted a little TLC.
Vitamin C Dark Circle Correcting Eye Serum
After sleepless nights and Zoom parties that stretched into the wee hours, this eye cream quickly diminished the look of dark circles and puffiness around the eyes. It’s packed with vitamin C to brighten eyes and make them look more awake, even when you’re feeling the opposite.
Stress Rescue Super Serum
Even our skin got stressed out this year, and this blend of niacinamide, adaptogens, and superfoods came to the rescue. It targets signs of aging and fatigue, hydrates, helps diminish the look of pores, and calms redness.
Universal C Skin Refiner
When it comes to an all-around amazing skincare ingredient, you can’t go wrong with Vitamin C. The potent antioxidant helps skin stay healthy and protect itself from environmental damage like pollution and sun damage. It also helps your skin look brighter and healthier. Out of all the Vitamin C serums we tried, this was a clear winner. It has a high dose of the C, but doesn’t irritate our skin. We saw a difference in our mugs in just a few days.
Aloe & Wild Sage Body & Face Bar
Developed with sensitive skin in mind, this bar soap is dye- and paraben-free and gentle on any skin type. Our testers liked it for its natural feeling and not-too-strong scent, but most of all for its gentle, moisturizing formula that doesn’t compromise cleansing power.
Antiperspirant & Deodorant Dry Spray
Sometimes to really combat sweat and odor, you need to pull out the big guns. Just one application of this antiperspirant spray lasted through two days of at-home HIIT workouts before one tester noticed even a speck of sweat. Best of all, the quick-drying formula doesn’t leave telltale marks on your clothes or white residue on your pits.
Blue Eucalyptus and Birch Body Wash
After a particularly grueling at-home workout, you want something that will cool you off and help you get clean fast. This body wash became our number one favorite for that exact reason. The fresh, natural scent has the bite of eucalyptus and the moisturizing formula gives a good, deep clean without that too-tight feeling.
Our testers noted that this aluminum- and baking-soda-free deodorant wore “extraordinarily well” even in the height of summer heat. We’d expect nothing less from a brand that’s tested by members of the U. S. military, who demand performance. Perhaps most importantly, we found that the scented and unscented versions curbed odor equally well.
Supreme Oak Body Wash
This “genuinely refreshing” body wash, as one tester called it, exfoliates away dead skin cells gently while giving dry skin the hydration it so desperately needs. It comes in a variety of scents, but the rich Supreme Oak aroma (a blend of sweet almond, bourbon, and birch) won it the crown.
EveryDay Shea Body Lotion
One side effect from staying inside more than ever before: dry skin. Like, very very dry skin. Lotion became our best friend, specifically this lotion, because it has a subtle scent that doesn’t overpower or linger and made our skin stay hydrated and soft without a heavy or greasy feel. Keep this next to your shower and don’t be afraid to slather it on to your heart’s content.
Mineral Body Gel Sunscreen Lotion
This revolutionary mineral sunscreen is the antidote to every time you’ve felt like a mime (or Mark Zuckerberg) on the beach. The gel formula goes on clear, stays that way as it quickly soaks into your skin, and dries without any stickiness. It’s so good, you may even remember to reapply.
If it ain’t broke, why fix it? In this case: because you can. This razor looks the same, but the new blades are sharper and stay that way longer. That means a closer shave and fewer blade changes.
Soft Beard Balm
Just like pomade for your hair, the ideal balm will keep scraggly whiskers in place but won’t make your facial hair feel greasy. It’s a tough line to walk, and this balm, with moisturizing ingredients like cocoa and shea butters, does it perfectly.
Activated Charcoal Shave Cream
A lot goes into this shave gel, like activated charcoal to soak up dirt and tea-tree oil to clarify pores. Those ingredients work together to create a rich cream that delivered a close shave and left our skin feeling smooth and fresh.
Washing your beard is one thing (seriously, wash your beard), but conditioner is the flex. This one—somewhere between a wash and a balm—can be rinsed out or left in to keep whiskers soft and maybe even strengthen them, thanks to the biotin in its innovative formula
A good beard oil not only keeps whiskers smooth and hydrated but also keeps itch at bay. This moisturizing oil isn’t too heavy, but it’ll help your beard stay soft all day. On top of that, “it smells good enough to be a cologne,” raved one tester.
Ultimate Razor Burn & Bump Relief
The perfect after-shave should do more than just make you smell great. That’s where this magical product comes in. It’s not just that it contains aloe vera to help soothe and calm angry skin (and post-shave irritation) but it also contains exfoliating ingredients that help prevent razor bumps from forming. Yes, it still makes your face smell good, but it also makes it feel good, which is way more important.
Sandalwood Stubble Balm
Those of us who grew a beard during lockdown, or attempted to, learned something real quick: the grow-out phase is tough. Stubble can feel itchy and uncomfortable when you’re not used to it, which is why we fell in love with this stubble balm. It softens stubble and the skin beneath it so your face doesn’t feel quite as itchy. It helps make that grow-out phase more manageable or can act as a conditioner for perma-stubble looks.
Precision Power Beard, Mustache and Hair Trimmer
Sheer cutting power, a rotary length dial that (unlike some others) includes half-step settings, and a charge indicator make this an almost idiotproof trimmer to get your perfect length easily.
Naturally Fresh Antiseptic Mouthwash
Alcohol-free mouthwashes have a reputation for not giving you a tingly-fresh feeling, but this one solves that by using peppermint-derived menthol (which also serves as an antiseptic to kill germs).
Optic White Renewal Toothpaste
Most whitening toothpastes use abrasive ingredients to scrub away surface stains. This one uses a high dose of hydrogen peroxide to remove them more effectively while also tackling deeper-set discoloration. Even our testers’ coffee habits were no match.
This biodegradable silk floss is coated in essential oils so it glides between teeth easily and leaves a pleasant taste in your mouth, which is what you want most from a dental floss. We especially love that the glass container is refillable, eliminating plastic waste.
Teeth Whitening Strips
Strips are nothing new, but they do the job and do it well. And these come with a bonus: a protective oil for your gums, which helps curb the sensitivity that all too often accompanies the whitening process.
Series 9 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Allow us to introduce you to your new favorite toy. The combination of a dentist-inspired rotary head and artificial intelligence turns brushing into a game. Green lights tell you when you’re using the right amount of pressure, reaching a full two minutes of brush time earns you a smiley face, and everything is stored in an app that tracks your progress.
Dirty Vanilla Eau de Parfum
The name says it all: A fusion of woods (sandalwood, cedar, ho wood), musky patchouli, and spicy coriander doesn’t overpower the hint of vanilla but instead turns it into something overwhelmingly sensual. It’s an attention grabber that stops people in their tracks and invites them in for more.
Colonia Futura Eau de Cologne
We’re all hungry for the outdoors, and wearing this fresh, herbaceous fragrance feels like being in nature even when we’re . . . not. It’s all about the clary sage, which adds an earthy freshness to the botanical notes of lemon and vetiver. And continuing on a theme, it contains 99 percent natural-origin ingredients.
Blue Eau de Toilette
A fresh, watery scent is a staple. What makes this one stand out is the ozone-fueled electricity running through it and the grounding layer of cedarwood and amber. Like thunderclouds gathering on the horizon in an otherwise clear sky, it’s somehow both airy and precarious.
Homme Eau de Toilette
Reinvention never smelled so good. A modern interpretation of the classic, this new version is fresher and lighter but still grounded in notes like cedar, patchouli, and vetiver, producing the feeling of a smoldering fire just below the surface. It’s bold but not off-putting, like showing up to the opera on a Ducati.
Guilty Eau de Parfum Pour Homme
There’s a vintage feeling to this cologne. It comes from the patchouli and cedarwood punched up with a kick of hot chili pepper, all tempered with a dash of florals. It’s warm but a little badass, like wearing a velvet suit to an after-hours party in a dingy basement.
Rōzu Eau de Parfum
If we didn’t tell you this fragrance had rose in it, you might never know. It’s floral at first spray but quickly wears down to something smokier and darker. Spices and woods jump into the mix, giving it a mysterious vibe. So can you wear a rose cologne? Yes. This one.
Hand Therapy Lotion
So much handwashing this year created a need for hand lotion like we had never experienced before. This winner sinks into skin almost immediately with no greasy feel and has more in common with a face moisturizer than any other hand cream we’ve tried. It’s packed with lipids to help maintain your skin barrier, and we swear the more we used it, the better our hands looked.
Big Sur After Rain Hand Sanitizer
Who cares about a Purell shortage when you can use something that smells this good? This nondrying sanitizer employs one of our favorite scents from the niche perfumer’s collection to leave your hands smelling pretty damn fancy. Best of all, it comes in a jumbo bottle—a 2020 must-have.
Softening Hand Wash
This year’s biggest crossover star may have been hand soap, which you always had to use but suddenly became A Thing. Naturally, the dawn of status soap followed, and this hand cleanser rose to the top of the pack. It’s gentle enough to use multiple times a day without leaving your hands cracked, it smells luxurious but doesn’t overpower everything, and the refillable glass bottle is actually something you want to leave out on your sink
Supremely hydrating and tinted to better blend with darker hair, this conditioning beeswax will help lock in hold for braids, curls, locs, and more. — as chosen by Leon Bridges
Hot Springs Milky Bath Salts
The type of product that’ll transform taking a bath from a once-in-a-blue-moon treat into a near-daily ritual. — as chosen by Bowen Yang
Lumiere D’Hiver Super Comb Prep & Protect
This leave-in conditioner strikes the perfect balance: It’ll keep your hair under control and hyper-nourished, but won’t weigh it down or make it greasy. — as chosen by Perfume Genius
Beard Gang Bundle
A bundle of grooming essentials that’ll help keep your beard in tip-top shape with one swift credit card swipe. — as chosen by JB Smoove
Touch For Men
Everyone can appreciate a little much-needed confidence, and Burberry’s cologne provides just that. Simply splash some on when you want to stand a little taller. — as chosen by Rich Brian
Tobacco Vanille Eau de Parfum
Tom Ford makes the type of fragrance that always smells like a special occasion, no matter how many times you spray it on. Through subtle hints of vanilla, and yes, classic tobacco, this one earns its place in the pantheon of iconic Fordian scents. — as chosen by Alexander Hodge
Read more about their go-to grooming products
Daily Facial Moisturizer
I’m partial to the extremely basic Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer (with SPF 15!) that’s super lightweight and ideal for sensitive skin. My coloring—if not my outlook—is really rosy, and I tend to burn easily, so I’ve been slathering this on after my morning shower for the last year or so. (It also helps that a version of it is available in pretty much every drug store across the world if you can’t be bothered to go through with the ritual of emptying out your usual products into smaller, airplane-friendly containers every time you’re on the move.) Even with any travel plans on pause indefinitely, it’s still a go-to for me. — Avidan Grossman
Two things happened in quick succession at the beginning of my personal lockdown: my computer broke, and I started running dangerously low on Malin+Goetz’s eucalyptus deodorant. I was significantly more stressed about the latter issue. I could work on a crappier computer, sure, but there was no way I was going to stop using the one deodorant that smells fantastic (bright and bracing, but not overwhelming), keeps my sensitive skin from freaking out, and actually does its job of stopping odor. I’m currently tapping away at a beat-up old laptop that loves to crash, but now I’ve got a cache of that deodorant squirreled away in the bathroom. Problem solved. — Jonathan Evans
Ernis a Ongles 713 Dorothy Turquoise Nail Polish
I’ve been painting my nails for a while, but I usually stick to dark colors like black or dark gray (it’s the inner goth in me, what can I say). Given that we declared 2020 the year of the menicure thanks to all the stylish dudes out there experimenting with nail art and bold colors, I decided now was the time to branch out. Gucci Vernis a Ongles 713 Dorothy Turquoise nail polish, a vibrant turquoise that also happens to be creative director Alessandro Michele’s personal favorite color, is eye-catching and happy. When I wear it, I get an instant emotional buzz like I’m an extra in an especially trippy Harry Styles video. — Garrett Munce
Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment
If there’s any one product that started my deep dive into skincare, it’s Sunday Riley Good Genes. My skin had inexplicable breakouts, uneven texture, and it was rebelling against anything I did. It affected my confidence and just plain stressed me out. After using Good Genes, I experienced less inflammation and redness on my skin overnight. I woke up so relieved that my skin felt better. With continued use, acne and pigmentation disappeared. My skin achieved a vitality that I didn’t even know was possible. I finally became a person who got compliments on my skin. — Alfonso Fernandez Navas
Vetiver 46 Perfume Oil
I came across Le Labo Vetiver 46 Perfume Oil about four years ago in Milan and as long as they make it, I won’t wear anything else. I think it’s a good rule of thumb to buy watches from people who make watches, and the same goes for fragrance: For certain things you have to go to the experts. Le Labo uses very expensive essences (46 in this one, hence the name) that create long-lasting, natural-feeling scents. They aren’t trying to cut corners. I always get the oil, not the eau de parfum, and I’ve had it confiscated at airports twice, a costly mistake. You live and you learn. — Nick Sullivan
Against my better judgement, I have a tendency to let the sun do its worst to my skin. No place is that more apparent—especially in that little 16×9 Zoom window—than my face. For those boozed-up Saturdays spent passed out by the pool, I have a secret weapon for recovery thanks to Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Calming Serum. Not only is it instantly soothing to my irritated skin upon application, but under the surface, Sturm’s serum opens up a boot camp for my skin’s own defense systems to combat my continued abuse. Now I just need a similar tool for my liver. — Ben Boskovich
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Source : Esquire