What makes a man? I don’t know, and I’m willing to bet that you don’t, either!
I mean, I could fill this buying guide with whiskey stones and novelty golf paperweights, but does the world really need another one of those lists? If you identify as a man, chances are there’s more to you than the hobbies and interests people assume that you enjoy.
So I’m going to propose something different: Rather than fill your screen with the sort of stereotypical sea-drift you’ve scrolled through time and time again, I’m going to offer up some much-needed practicality. These thoughtful things have been tried, tested, and talked up; not just by me, but by scores of folks everywhere—many of whom are men.
Not everything here may be for you, but some of them might be precisely the game-changer you never knew you needed. If you don’t identify as a man, please stick around—you might find something, too!
1. Beard shampoo & conditioner that just works
Credit: Zeus / Amazon Reviews: 147Average rating: 4.6
While you can often find me with a beard, I don’t particularly enjoy thinking about it more than I need to. I’m trying to wear this thing, not turn it into a hobby (though if you consider yourself a beard enthusiast, it’s certainly no hair off my chin). When it came time to find a decent set of beard shampoo and conditioner, my criteria was simple: I didn’t want anything heavily scented and I didn’t want anything tested on animals.
The Zeus beard shampoo and conditioner set was an immediate winner. Although it’s available in three different scents, my preference is “Verbena Lime,” which offers a subtle, fresh, citrusy scent that won’t linger long after you step out of the shower. Since I started using it, my beard is soft to the touch and free of flaky, dried skin. The best part? Zeus’ products are cruelty free and made in the USA.
It might not have thousands of user reviews just yet, but this up-and-coming brand has all the makings of a future favorite for fellas with facial hair. If you’ve been searching for a beard-washing set that gets the job done, look no further.
Get the Zeus Beard Shampoo & Conditioner Set (Verbena Lime) for $28.90
2. Beard balm that won’t leave you feeling greasy
Credit: Honest Amish / Amazon Reviews: 7,554Average rating: 4.3
While we’re on the subject of beards, let’s talk about balms and oils.
In my quest to find an effective beard conditioning balm, the hardest part was tracking down something that didn’t coat my face in oil or leave behind a strong, pervasive fragrance. I don’t need my face to smell like pine, cedar, or any other scent deemed “manly” by a boardroom full of business suits—I just want a product that leaves my follicles feeling fine and my whiskers looking wonderful.
Amish Beard Balm has racked up over 7,500 reviews on Amazon (most of them positive) for a reason: The stuff is perfect for softening, strengthening, and maintaining a beard. Just put a dab between your fingers, work it into a liquid, and apply. The fragrance—which I’m happy to report is on the subtler side—has traces of herbs, pepper, and clove, but don’t expect the smells to linger all day (and thank goodness for that).
And, not for nothing, but Honest Amish doesn’t test its products on animals, either.
Get Amish Beard Balm for $11.43
3. The only shaving razor you’ll ever need
Credit: Edwin Jagger / Amazon Reviews: 4,756Average rating: 4.3
My colleague Mark Brezinski recently wrote about the benefits of shaving with a straight razor, and consider me a convert—never again will I cave to the costly cartridge lifestyle.
Why make the switch? I’ll let my good buddy Mark break it down for you:
“Cartridge-based blades have anywhere between two and seven blades and wrap their razors in plastic buffers. Have you ever tried to shave a clean line with a multi-bladed cartridge? Not only do the lubrication strips obfuscate where first razor actually starts, it’s really easy to overshoot and wind up with a small notch in an otherwise neatly groomed line.”
“Since safety razors have just a single razor that sticks out, it’s easier to both see and feel where you’re about to shave. It’s very easy to gently line up the blade exactly where you want it to be, resulting in smoother, straighter, and more consistent lines.”
So what does Mark recommend as a solid entry-level razor? The Edwin Jagger Double Edge Safety Razor (DE89) is his pick, and given its average rating of 4.3 over 4,500 reviews, it seems that other folks out there agree with him. When it comes to refills, Mark recommends Astra razor blades (which, coincidentally, also enjoy thousands of positive reviews on Amazon).
Get the Edwin Jagger Double Edge Safety Razor (DE89) for $28.08
4. Luxurious shaving cream to liven up your grooming routine
Credit: Taylor of Old Bond Street / Amazon Reviews: 294 (for the “Grapefruit” variety)Average rating: 4.5
All right, I’ll stop talking about shaving in a minute, but first, allow me to gush about one of my favorite luxury items: Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving cream.
I always wince whenever I have to fork over the cash for this stuff, but I can’t bring myself to shave with anything else at this point. It lathers spectacularly, smells incredible while in use, and treats my sensitive skin with the respect it deserves. Personally, I lather up with a shaving brush, but you don’t necessarily need one to experience all of the good vibes that this cream brings to the bathroom.
I’m a fan of the “Grapefruit” version, but it’s also available in a number of other scents, including sandalwood, lavender, cedarwood, and fragrance-free (though the scents vary in price).
Does it cost more than your average, run-of-the-mill shaving cream? Absolutely. But it’s worth it.
Get Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving cream (Grapefruit) for $12.34
5. A daily face cleanser to keep your skin looking fresh
Credit: Kiehl’s Reviews: 633Average rating: 4.5
Kiehl’s—a premium skincare brand with a cult following—offers a lineup of facial care products that are as effective as they are pleasing to use. Kiehl’s products not for everyone (and usually come with a fairly hefty price tag), but if you choose to go down this road, you’re probably gonna have a hard time leaving it.
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser is a fantastic entry point into the Kiehl’s family of products. I have to admit: Not every Kiehl’s product I’ve tried has been a slam-dunk, but this particular cleanser is worth the relatively steep price ($10 to $20, depending on the size).
Get Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser (5 oz.) for $17
6. A gadget that’ll stop your shower drain from clogging
Credit: TubShroom Reviews: 18,589 (!)Average rating: 4.3
Clogged drains aren’t just a problem for long-haired people; if you’ve got hair, there’s a good chance that gobs of it will eventually circle the drain.
Why not address the problem head-on like the thousands of people who use (and swear by) the TubShroom? This ingenious little device fits in most bathtub drains and catches hair while allowing water to sluice.
I must admit that, even after reading the overwhelmingly positive reviews of the TubShroom, I balked at the idea. “I don’t need this,” I thought to myself. “Even if it works, I am a short-haired boy.”
Reader, I was wrong. Two calls to the plumber later, I decided to give it a whirl. And I’ve not had a clogged drain since.
Get the TubShroom for $12.99
7. A travel bag for all of your bathroom gear
Credit: Herschel Reviews: 523Average rating: 4.7
Folks, listen up: When traveling, you need to stop packing all of your toiletries in plastic freezer bags.
Herschel specializes in simple, fashionable bags—from backpacks to duffle bags. This swanky-looking travel bag will keep all of your bathroom products in one easy-to-stash place, and it’ll look good doing it.
It comes in an array of colors, but all of them feature a fabric liner and waterproof zipper. With over 500 reviews under its belt and an average Amazon rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, it’s the perfect excuse to ditch the sandwich bag.
Get the Herschel travel bag (Navy) for $23.50
8. Collar stays for staying sharp
Credit: Smooth Stays / Amazon Reviews: 2,002Average rating: 4.7
Nothing drives me crazier than a curly, creased collar that won’t stay in place. Collar stays—the thin tabs of plastic that you’ll often find slipped into the fabric of a new shirt collar—go a long way in preventing the unwanted misshaping of said collar. Unfortunately, the ones that typically come with the shirt are flimsy, and due to their size and nature, often go missing.
I once found myself at the office without a collar stay and, after much anxiety, opted to use a jumbo-sized paperclip instead. Crafty? Perhaps. But not a solution I wanted to turn to ever again.
This set of stainless steel collar stays comes with 36 of them that range in size. I use them and love them, and so do thousands of other people, too. Is it the most exciting thing on the list? Hell no. But with any luck, you won’t be caught by your coworkers with a misshapen collar, or worse: shoving paperclips into your shirt.
Get the Smooth Stays Stainless Steel Collar Stay Set for $7.95
9. A shower cloth that isn’t totally disgusting
Credit: Salux / Amazon Reviews: 1,015Average rating: 4.6
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about that filthy ball of nylon mesh hanging in your shower. In fact, I’ve been known to spontaneously bring up the horrors of these things to friends, family, and total strangers on the street.
Shower puffs do a fantastic job lathering up soap and body wash, but because of their design, they’re also a breeding ground for bacteria. You can’t really stop this from happening, either, since they live in one of the best places in your home for bacteria to fester: your warm, humid bathroom. Dermatologists feel similarly and urge people to seek alternatives.
The solution? Ditch your disgusting, dank nightmare ball with a cleaner alternative. The Salux nylon wash cloth is similar in texture to your filthy shower pouf, but can be draped over a surface for fast-drying or tossed into a washing machine with the rest of your towels if it gets a little gross.
The best part about it, however, is its length, which makes it easy to exfoliate those hard-to-reach spots on the back of your body. If you suffer from occasional acne on your back and shoulders, I can’t stress enough how much of a difference this cloth makes. It’s cheap, longer lasting, and way better for your skin.
Get the Salux Nylon Wash Cloth (1-pack) for $4.94
10. The best boxer briefs I’ve ever worn
Credit: Me Undies Reviews: 629Average rating: 4.6
If you’ve listened to a podcast in the last couple of years, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the hosts rattle off advertisements for Me Undies, a Los Angeles-based underwear company that sells premium underwear at a premium price.
I used to think that no underwear could possibly be good enough to warrant a price tag over, say, $10, but then I caved and ordered a couple pairs from Me Undies and it completely re-wired my brain.
Look, as someone who struggles to pay my bills on time every month, I’m never going to feel comfortable forking over the cash for a pair of boxer briefs. But I’m always going to feel comfortable wearing Me Undies—they’re the softest pair I’ve ever worn. It’s a tradeoff, I guess.
Even having been through my apartment building’s cheap, destructive washer and dryer units, these boxer briefs still feel as good as they did the first time I wore them over a year ago—there’s not a single unravelled seam to be found. Is it my favorite brand name to say aloud? Absolutely not. In fact, I try not to move through life without having to say the phrase “Me Undies” to anyone, ever. But if you want a cushy pair of underwear, I can’t recommend these enough.
Get a pair of Me Undies boxer briefs for $24
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.