To paraphrase everyone’s favorite born-again Night’s Watchman: winter is coming all over your face. It’s a theme returned to again and again in Game of Thrones’ north. The cold brings with it a whole host of bad shit, and not least for your delicate southron complexion. Red noses. Beard-druff. Dry skin. Chapped lips. It’s the end of December and you’ve the countenance of an undead ice wraith.
Me? I look fucking great. Hailing from the weather-beaten south coast of Wales grants me immunity to such climes. We’re like the wildlings of the UK. Except that this particular wildling-cum-moisturizer-journalist also has a time-tested grooming routine involving an army of oils and creams. Please don’t tell my dad.
Here, then, is how it’s done. Pick the right products and you can face up to winter like the brave little grooming warrior you are. Grrrr.
Stage 1: Remove the undead
Anyone who’s ever been outside for more than an hour knows that cold weather equals dry skin. It’s a fact of life. Perhaps less obvious is how the opposite is also true. Moving from cold weather to hot interiors – office heating, sweaty public transport, Berghain darkroom – plays havoc with your skin.
This chopping and changing cuts dead flakes from your face. And that’s why you have that crusty stuff around your lips, eyes and nose. It’s for that reason your exfoliation game needs to be on-point during the chillier months. But something too coarse can further aggravate irritated skin. So I recommend Neville’s Rescue Scrub, which uses ash to slough off dead skin and cocoa butter to soothe it.
Stage 2: Cleanse your enemies
Worse than dry skin is the dreaded beard-druff. Even if you just have stubble you’re at risk. Dead skin flakes away, catches in your hair and you then leave the house with what looks like yesterday’s surplus cocaine ensconced in your ‘tache.
Not a good look if you’re hoping to impress at your workplace. Or even if you’re just simply trying to appear a moderately-functioning facsimile of a man. So let’s to it. L’Oreal’s Men Expert Skin & Stubble Face Wash is designed to clean your skin, while softening your facial fuzz and removing that white shit. Also useful if it does in fact turn out to be last night’s coke.
Stage 3: Face your fears
Baby, it’s cold outside. So bin off that shitty $3 moisturizer your grandmother got you last Christmas because she knows literally nothing about you – your tastes, your habits, your likes, your wants or dreams – and just reaches every year for the first thing she sees at the shop bargain bin. I know: bitch, right?
It’s time to cream yourself. Aesop’s Facial Barrier Cream adds a layer so protective your skin would do alright in Svalbard, let alone on your cycling commute to work. Sure, it’s a bit more than $3. But I bought one last winter and still have enough left for this one. It’s an investment in your face for the months it needs it most.
Stage 4: Watch the night
So you’ve been about your day. You and the squad have been hanging by the mall throwing pogs at pigeons (IDFK what cool people do I’ve never left Wales nor the ‘90s) and you retire to your bedroom, thinking all is well.
WELL GUESS WHAT IT’S NOT YOUR SKIN IS LITERALLY DYING YOU FUCKING DELINQUENT. Bed time is the best time for looking after it. This is doubly true if you’ve got the heating on full blast all night. After your usual wash and moisture routine apply a serum, like Kiehl’s Age Defender Power Serum, which will penetrate you deeper than the lyrics to that Michael Bublé song you fucking love.
Stage 5: Up your defences
This last one needs no explanation. If, like me and my wildling buddies, you have a proper bit of beard going on, it needs extra care as you make your inexorable march across the icy tundra to wreak havoc upon all in your path. During the January sales, maybe.
So buy a really nice-smelling beard oil. This one by Kiehl’s is my personal fave. It makes my beard shiny and fragrant and delicate to the touch, which is what I want when I’m being all super-manly and violent and shit.
Hit me with your grooming questions below so I don’t have to come up with column ideas for myself and can just answer them next week.
– Alex Harris
Knock, knock. Who is it? Groom service.
- Photography: Cindy Parthonnaud