Hairy New Year

Loads of products and stunts and "interview opportunities" come across the Man Scape desk every day.

Most are too stupid or puerile even for me and - after a brief sigh or giggle - are consigned to grooming oblivion. But now and then something makes me sit up and take notice. This happened the other day when I heard about a Canadian writer, Dr Allan Peterkin.

Peterkin is, the PRs told me, "the acknowledged global guru of male grooming," which piqued my interest. In a report he has written "on behalf of Philips electronics" (which depiqued it a bit, but I pressed on) he claims that "men are freer today than ever before but aren't making the most of this freedom when it comes to shaving and grooming". And that's the interesting bit. We aren't our fathers, so we don't need to dress, or groom ourselves as they did.

The world is more open to a wider range of self-expression than ever, he reckons, and men should take advantage. So, with my most sceptical eye, (and keeping a careful watch for too much blatant product placement) I had a look at more of what he had to say.

Here's his tip for first thing in the morning: "Try to stimulate all five senses each and every day. Luxuriate in your morning grooming ritual rather than rushing out the door with wet hair. Quality colognes, shampoos and face creams can awaken your sense of smell like nothing else. Touch your skin (or beard) and hair. Look in the mirror and admire the results. Then check in with what you are tasting, smelling, hearing, touching and seeing throughout the day. If everything is beige and bland (and you are too), it's time to shake things up."

With the New Year only a week or two away, shaking things up is what we, perhaps, all need to be thinking about so I thought I'd better get him to elaborate.

"Nothing is simple in modern life," Peterkin told me. "But paying attention to small details and becoming more mindful of thoughts, feelings and habits can help us all feel more present and grounded for the day. This can lead to more creativity, playfulness and self-expression instead of moving through life on auto-pilot. For many men, grooming is a calming ritual and the first act of self-care in their busy day."

But the world's heading for economic disaster, the environment's ruined and millions live in poverty. Don't you think there are better things to worry about than facial hair, I ask?

"Absolutely. Why fiddle around when Rome's burning? At the same time, as I've mentioned, paying more attention to small details, allowing for self-expression every day and performing daily acts of self-care can boost a man's resilience, confidence and sensitivity to others. Becoming more mindful of one's own need to self-express and to de-stress can often translate into paying more attention to family, community and the global village. You can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself."


Good point. Now, as we all know, it's almost Christmas and with gift giving - and getting - in mind I wondered what his favourite grooming tools were.

"I have a pretty simple routine," Peterkin told me. "If it's below zero here in Toronto, I use a hair dryer, so as not to have icicles in my hair when I arrive at work. I like Kent combs and keep one in my pocket. I had stubble last year and used the Philips Stubble Trimmer Pro because it was easy to dial the length you want. I used to hate shaving (electric OR razor), but have been using the Philips Sensotouch 3D – a close shave with zero irritation."

January's not too far away, and I wondered about the trends in grooming for the year ahead. Peterkin has his finger on the pulse: "We may see more clean-shaven faces due to the 'New Preppie' thrust in fashion and retro-styling in TV programs like Mad Men," he said. But it's not all Don Draper-style smooth.

"There are 15 moustache variants, five soul-patch shapes, five sideburn lengths and over 40 beard-styles. Facial hair combinations and permutations are almost endless. In 2012 men will continue to experiment with grooming their facial and body hair. They'll continue to be playful and rebellious in their furry expressions, but not take themselves too seriously."

So, 2012. If the world doesn't come to end in some Mayan Maelstrom, what are you planning, grooming-wise?

Is everything in your life "beige and bland", or are you intending to be more "playful and rebellious"? I'm on the side of furry expression. Happy Holidays.