Who's a pretty boy: what real men use in the bathroom

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‘A spot of dry skin convinced me of the need to moisturise’

Any man who tells you they don’t have a beauty routine is, frankly, lying through the prongs of their Kent pocket comb. When I was a child, I remember my father ascending from the first-floor bathroom looking like a shiny balloon, the contours of his face glistening like a sweet wrapper. Something was off, even though his standard line was: “Just soap and water!” My mother was also a serial, although not so secretive, moisturiser-user, religiously slathering her face in Pond’s cold cream. So, early on, I knew what was important, and, as a teenager, a spot of dry skin convinced me of the need to moisturise.

For years, my gloop of choice was Vaseline Intensive Care, which has the consistency of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and suggested that it might work if you ran out of glue. Thanks to a sample, I now use Clinique’s For Men moisturiser. It feels significant because a) it costs £25, which officially means I’m in the realm of “male beauty product users” and b) it’s feels slightly magical, because it photoshops out the cavernous brow marks that make me look like the thoughtful emoji. My hair, after fighting aeons-old wars with gel, mousse and “fudge” (no idea), now occasionally gets treated with Bumble and bumble (thanks, sample box) for curly hair. By the time this part of my morning routine is done, I realise that I’ve ignored the plaintive cries of my two-year-old out of pure vanity. And then, of course, the brow frown reappears. Priya Elan

‘I own a spray-on facial serum brought back from Kyoto’

Tim Jonze’s beauty products


Skincare obsessive? Tim Jonze’s beauty products. Photograph: Tim Jonze

Instinctively, I’d say I don’t really care about skincare. However, looking at the list of products I use, I probably come across as a skincare obsessive. In fact, I sound like I’m only a small step away from being one of those people who gets vox popped by the Evening Standard while pottering around Shoreditch and then goes viral for being such an insufferable berk.

I own a spray-on facial serum brought back from Kyoto (at least, I think that’s what it is; the blurb is in Japanese, so if someone writes in to say I’ve been spraying antiseptic mouthwash on my cheeks for the past six months I’ll be quite embarrassed). I’ve also got an aftershave that cost more than my mortgage (Vetiver from Le Labo – in mitigation, it was a gift) and some 4711, which scent insiders will tell you spells similar to Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino.

A man after Tim Jonze’s heart … Cristiano Ronaldo dons a soothing face mask.

Despite this fondness for fancy scents and creams, absolutely nothing I do – besides hot-cloth-cleansing my face each night and blowdrying my hair for two minutes before rubbing clay into it – takes any time. Things that take time are for people who care about skincare and, like I said, that’s not me. Tim Jonze

‘No self-respecting metrosexual can be without Tom Ford’

Metrosexuality is relative: as a student, I washed myself with basics-range soap, so the Radox shower gel I mostly deploy is positively Cleopatran in its decadence. Korres’ version, meanwhile, makes me moan like a Herbal Essences waterfall model. I remain totally resistant to the charms of moisturiser, in the same snootily ascetic way I do with caffeine, assuming that I’ll become addicted and start smoking pentapeptides off tinfoil within a week. This tub is used only as a piece of hopeful detritus thrown at the prison wall of a hangover.

Ben Beaumont-Thomas's beauty products


Ben Beaumont-Thomas’s ‘beauty shelf’. Photograph: Ben Beaumont-Thomas

I started wearing fragrance after a bottle of Clinique Happy was left, along with a hula hoop, in a flat I moved into, like some upbeat voodoo kit. On this front, no self-respecting metro can be without Tom Ford, but it’s not just sexy marketing – his scents have more layers than a Bake Off showstopper, and make even the likes of Armani smell like Toilet Duck. Ben Beaumont-Thomas

‘Water is a very underrated beauty treatment’

Beauty regime? Me?! I’m a 53-year-old father of two, for God’s sake: the closest I get to grooming these days is splashing water on a sticky-out clump of bed hair in the morning and patting it vaguely back into place. It’s all a far cry from the days when my morning routine involved a mirror, a tub of Black & White and, eventually, an immaculately sculpted flat-top.

As it happens, I use no products these days – literally none. I’m a longstanding eczema sufferer, especially on my scalp; the last time I put shampoo in my hair, Kajagoogoo were at No 1. I rarely use soap, even, for the same reason, and when I do it’s Simple for the, erm, simple fact that it’s the only brand I’ve come across that doesn’t bring me out in a rash. Water is a very underrated beauty treatment.

There’s another upside, too: if the marketeers are to be believed, while every other bloke is giving Cheryl Fernandez-Versini a run for her money and spending their hard-earned on moisturisers, hair products, beard oil and all the rest, I’ve always got enough in my pocket to get another pint in. Bob Granleese

‘Free yourself from the tyranny of shaving cream’

Richard Vine’s beauty products


Richard Vine’s minimalist approach. Photograph: Richard Vine

Other than wading through piles of hair gel, mousse and hairspray in the very distant teenage past, and a brief dalliance with Kiehl’s moisturiser (did it do anything? It didn’t seem to make a difference when I forgot to use it), the idea of a beauty regime has largely passed me by. Does bulk-buying Body Shop Maca Root deodorant stick count? It’s more a survival technique, a stock-piling approach to consumerism adopted a few years ago when every branch I went into seemed to have run out. Yes, other brands are available, but when you find a product that works, and you realise how inadequate the other options are (too smelly! Not smelly enough!), it’s a lot easier to stick to what you know.

Perhaps my aversion to anything more elaborate comes down to growing a beard after deciding that the industry dedicated to relentlessly smooth shaves is a bit ridiculous. Free yourself from the tyranny of shaving cream and five ninja-blade razor tech and it’s easy to stop buying everything else. Well, apart from the odd bottle of eau de parfum, that is. Love those wonky Comme bottles. Richard Vine

‘It makes me smell like nice trees’

My beauty regime is limited by a desire to spend the maximum amount of time in bed before a long commute. But one does what one must …

My face is kept clean by the Cidal soap which my wife has been using since she was a teenager. I’m not sure whether I like it because it’s good for spots or because the smell reminds me of having zero responsibilities at university. I usually attempt to control my cowlick with some fancy Phyto hair paste that my old hairdresser, Charlie, insisted I start buying in 2013 (which, like a mug, I did). Naturally, any effort is quickly annulled by wearing a bike helmet. Cycling also makes aftershave a bit pointless, but when I do it’s Czech & Speake’s Spanish Cedar. Which makes me smell like nice trees.

In the winter, I occasionally get dry skin, which is something else bike-affected; it’s exacerbated by the freezing, wet morning rides. I’ve got a bottle of Clinique For Men moisturiser which, at £25, is about £23 more than I want to pay for moisturiser. Thankfully, it was a Christmas present and is still about half full. For most of the year, my face is usually – how to put this – moisturised enough. Who needs moisturiser when you’ve got chips? Will Dean

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