From Caveman To He-man

Got a hot date coming up—or want to find one? Try these 5 guy grooming tips for putting your best foot forward.

By Bob Strauss

f you’re like most men, your pre-date regimen is pretty routine: Shower, shave, tousle your hair and splash on some cologne. (Of course, you should also brush your teeth and roll on some deodorant, but if you only do that when you’re heading out on a date, you’ve got bigger problems than I can address here.) But have you ever wondered why a woman can spend two solid hours grooming herself in the bathroom, while the average guy plows through the basics in time to catch the end of Lost?

The fact is, male grooming doesn’t have to begin or end with a toothbrush and comb. Here are some
Male grooming doesn’t have to begin or end with a toothbrush and comb.
less-known tips that may mean the difference between a dud date and a night in wonderland.

Get a pedicure.
Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch for some of us, but if you haven’t taken care of your feet for the past 20 or 30 years, your date is bound to notice eventually. A professional pedicure involves more than just clipping and filing toenails; there’s scrubbing, sloughing, hot-wax dips, moisturizing and… oh, I could go on and on. My girlfriend, dismayed by my Pinky Toenail from the Fourth Dimension, recently took me for my first pedicure, and what with all the gruesome excavation work, it took the better part of an hour. Bring a book.

A multibillion-dollar industry has been built on women’s constant need to moisturize, babe-ify and peach-scent their skin, but men (aside from the occasional smear of lotion) are mostly clueless. The experience of Charlie, from New York, is typical: “I was at Starbucks for a meeting with a female client,” he says. “At one point during the discussion, she went rummaging through her bag, pulled out a trial-size foil envelope of some sort of hand cream and handed it to me. I guess my hands were pretty dry. Like, lizard-skin dry.”

Shave your back hair.
Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not completely disgusting (and by that, I mean pop-out-your-eyes disgusting, not a sweet and clumsy “aw, sweetie, let me get rid of that for you” disgusting). There are back-scratcher-type gadgets you can buy that will rid you of years of undergrowth, but if time is at a premium, call in a favor and ask a friend to do the job for you. (No, it’s not weird to ask another man
Buy yourself one of those all-purpose trimmers.
to shave your back hair. At least I don’t think it is. Consult your local expert.)

Don’t shave your chest hair.
Speaking as a guy who has exactly as many chest hairs as Homer Simpson has cranial hairs, I can state for a fact: Women like chest hair. All of them. Don’t wind up like the guy who Rain from Ohio married: “When I met my dude, he had been single for a few months,” she says. “His idea of transforming himself into a sexy bachelor was to shave his chest hair. I laughed mercilessly at him and then had to deal with a very rough situation as his prickly cactus chest flourished. It took months to grow out. I threatened to play washboard tunes and scrub the pots and pans on him.”

Keep an eye on all that other hair.
Nature is wonderful. Once you get past your 30s, some obscure gene on some otherwise unimportant chromosome suddenly kicks in and you wind up growing hair in places you never thought possible: out of your ears, in your nose, between your toes, etc. Buy yourself one of those all-purpose trimmers — you know, the ones with weird, angular, David Cronenberg–like attachments — and get all Grim Reaper on the pesky follicles’ butts.

Pluck your eyebrows.
If you’re starting to look like Sir Freddie Francis from David Lynch’s Dune (quick, search for that image online to see what I’m talking about), consider visiting a neighborhood salon and having your eyebrows plucked. Whatever you do, don’t try to shave them yourself. I attempted this once, couldn’t get my eyebrows to quite match, and in a fit of pique wound up shaving them off altogether. When friends asked what was different about me, I told them I was wearing a new hat.

Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on, the online information network owned by the New York Times.
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