Style, Fashion and Grooming Tips for Men

Men's Life Today delivers style, fashion and grooming tips for today's man

A Mens Guide to Home Haircuts

Okay, we've all been locked up at home a lot longer than we expected, and we're getting a bit shaggy. When I look at myself in the mirror I see a Sasquatch version of myself that hadn't shown itself since sophomore year in college, which is a sad because I liked that version of me. But times have changed (understatement!) and my unkempt appearance is not out of choice but rather out of circumstance. I could spend some time on YouTube watching home haircutting videos, but that would spoil this glorious opportunity to do something truly memorable and reinvent myself for a while. A chance like this won't come around again for a very long time, if ever. Sure, I could get out the kitchen scissors, cut cut of the tufts of hair above my ears, try and mimic what my regular barber does and use a comb and slice off a nice straight line from the top, but what is the fun in that? And because I believe that home haircuts are here to stay, I think experimentation and practice are the way to start. Soon we'll all be proficient in giving ourselves a passable haircut.

And so, this is my 'not your normal mans guide to cutting you own hair at home while the barber is closed' how to:

1. Don't let your Wife of Girlfriend do it

My wife, and I suspect many women, have been waiting for this moment for a long time. A fairly inconsequential chance to make over their man in their own image, in what version of him they want, at least hair-wise. This is why you can't allow it. They make most of the decisions already, and if they make this one, what is left? This isn't about you caring, because you probably don't care very much what you new hair looks like for your Zoom calls. Plus, you'll be able to go the barber soon anyway to fix whatever mess you make up top. But because home haircuts are here to stay, now is the time to practice, make mistakes, and learn from them.

2. Treat the First go as Practice

So why not get started by doing something really reckless and stupid? Nothing makes a statement like a Joe Strummer-style mohawk, so why not go for it? You can always fix it later. Nothing is forever, and as the saying goes, "The difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is about 2 weeks."

3. Get Your Supplies Ready

Now that you brimming with consequence-free confidence, you will need some tools of the trade. You will need a comb, a trimmer (your dog shears will work too!), some decent scissors, a mirror and some potentially some booze. Oh, and those layer cutting scissors are also good to have. Home haircuts works much better when your inhibitions are lowered. It is also a good idea to attempt your first try when no one else is home, so your wife, girlfriend, daughter or really anyone can talk you out of it.

4. Go For it.

Start on one side, around your ear and clean-up the hair wings that grow over the course of a month. This is the part of your hairdo that drives the rest. Take off and inch or so, and then move up toward the top of your head. Now do the other side and shake off the hair new trimmed hair so you can see your work so far. Repeat this cycle until you've got an even looking cut. Now, cut the front hairline by your forehead to your desired length. Be a little conservative here in case you screw something up later and need to fix the front again. Finally thin it out with the thinning or layering scissors. It is hard to screw this part up, so don't be afraid to get aggressive here. Most of the time your hair is too thick anyway. Now it's time for the back. This is tricky since it is unlikely you'll be able to see the back of your head in a double-mirror set-up and keep both hands free. If possible, get someone else to do that back, but in the absence of a helper, try and angle the scissors perpendicular to your spine just cut across. Shake off the excess locks, dunk your head in the shower and admire your masterpiece. And don't worry, so one will see you (or care) and two weeks will go by quickly..

 

Photo by Matt Bero on Unsplash

Film Review: Beastie Boys Story

Growing up a child of the 80's in the NY/NJ/CT Tri-State Area, I remember when I first heard Beastie Boys License to Ill on the radio. I wasn't really a big fan of rap, but I couldn't get the sound of Beastie Boys out of my head. The whining shrill of Adam (Ad-Rock) Horovitz, the pounding drum beats of Mike Diamond (KMike D), and the thrumming of Adam (MCA) Yauch's bass guitar was irresistible enough. But the catchy rhymes sealed the deal for me. I was hooked. And so, when i learned a few weeks ago that Apple TV was going to release a full length, Spike Jonze directed feature chronicling the story of Beastie Boys ('the' is not part of the band's name), I made an appointment with my TV.

The movie isn't so much a movie or a documentary as it is a trip down memory lane, as told by the two surviving members of the band (Diamond and Horowitz) as they stand on stage at the Kings Theater in Brooklyn in front of a packed house of Beastie fans. Camera capture the on stage gags and the audience reactions as the hosts set-up each 'chapter' of their story.

Chapter 1 begins in lower Manhattan with the three founding band members meeting each other. One need not be a Beastie fan to know where they came from, just listen to the accents. I was shocked to learn how young these kids were when, influenced by the Clash and Run DMC, they formed their own punk bands and found places to play. Most were friend's dorm rooms or crappy apartments, but it was a real as their ambition. I wondered to myself where these kids parents were as Horovitz repeatedly tells the crown how often they skipped school to go hang out at record stores and friends' apartments. Soon, they are somehow befriending producer Rick Ruben and the head of upstart Def Jam records Russell Simmons, and the game is on. By chapter 4, still teenagers, they've fallen in with Simmons and have signed with Def Jam. This final part of what I would call Act 1 of the story, starts when the band gets tapped to open up for Madonna on her 1987 World Tour after, as Horovitz tells it, Madonna's first and second choices were either too expensive or unavailable. They go on tour with Madonna and begin what would become their License to Ill calling card: boozy party guy antics and more antics. The booze and idiotic behavior was part of the Beastie Boys brand, and while they ate it up and enjoyed the ride, it wasn't going to last. The old footage and images are wonderful and compelling, and serve as reminder on how committed the three band member were to documenting just about everything they did. The costumes alone are worth tuning in for. I won't spoil what happens next as the band migrates West to Los Angeles, but it is a fun ride.

In the end, this is a powerful, passionate, sad story of love, friendship, loss and music. You won't be able to contain your emotions as the story winds down with the passing of Yauch when he finally succumbed to cancer in 2012. Jonze, Diamond and Horovitz address it in the best way possible, with silence and imagery. This film is a beautiful story and instant must for music fans, even if rap and punk aren't your favorite genres.

Are Expensive Razor Blades Really Worth It?

At one point or another we've all gone into a pharmacy to buy razor blades and, depending on the store, the neighborhood and the time of day, have been presented with some sort of anti-theft mechanism. Yes, it is s sad reality that razors are now kept under lock and key, bolted to a wireless sensor or behind bullet-proof glass. Or all three. At $30 and up, a six or 10 pack of Gillette Mach 3 blades is now a line item on you monthly budget sheet. How did we get here? Are these fancy blades really worth the money? Do I need special blades for my skin type? Do I even need to shave anymore? The answers, in order, are 1) unlikely, 2) Maybe and 3) probably not.

I remember the old days when shaving was a must. I wore a tie to work every day (except Fridays during the summer! What a perk!), I showered, shaved, put on a pressed shirt and fought my way to work via the NYC subway. Having a clean shaven face was essential to giving off the right image when sitting through client meeting or buttering up you boss. By 7pm, knocking back drink at the local bar with a bit of stubble seemed like the only way. But, youth is wasted on the young. I worked in advertising and was even tasked to research the wet/dry shaver market for a new client pitch, and we ended up winning the business. As a reward for all the hard work, we all got a fancy electric razor that would work in the shower. You lathered up, shaved your face, and then rinsed it in the shower. Voila! It worked sort of, and while quite convenient I never got used to using it. I was told by the client that it took a week or so for 'your face to get used to it.' But my face never got used to it and I stuck with shaving the old fashioned way, with a razor. But I was working at an ad agency, and expensive blades drove me nuts. Sure, they did the best job, and if you combines fancy 3 or 5 blade razors with the right shave cream and after shave, well, it was a glorious thing. But inevitably I would tray and stretch the lifetime of the cartridge and ended up scraping my face with dull blades with the little comfort strip worn down to nothing. I tried different brands - Gillette, Schick, Bic, Wilkinson, etc - but on a per shave basis, it all kind of added up to the same thing. A great shave was pricey, so how much for a 'decent' shave? Enter Dollar Shave Club, Harry's and the era of razor blade clubs and well, for me it ruined shaving altogether.

So here is my advice for surviving and perhaps even winning the blade wars:

1) Look for coupons and discount codes. If you shave a lot and are willing to spend real money on blades, you might as well take advantage of the blade wars and save a little money. But be prepared to deal with cancelling subscriptions and swapping back and forth between brands.

2) Chances are your face is tougher than you think, and a lessor blade will not hurt your skin. Plus, a few days growth between shaves is a good way to get rid of ingrown hairs

3) Invest in an inexpensive trimmer like this one from Conair. You can add life to whatever blade you use by safely using a beard trimmer without an attachement to take your stubble all the way down. Then finish off with a blade.

4) Do the math. if you shave twice a week and can squeeze two uses from a Bic disposable razor, then you're golden. You really don't need to buy expensive Gillette multi-blade cartridges, and you don't need to worry about making sure the cartridge fits the handle. You can get a Bic value pack with 30 razors for about $13.00, which will last 5 to 6 months and equip you with some easy travel options.

Times are hard, don't make your razor purchase decision hard too. Go with the convenience and cost efficiency of disposable razor and you'll forget about the anti-theft, over the top costs of premium cartridges.

 

 

Running Shoes 101

It hurts and defies logic, really, to shell out $100 or more for new shoes when your current pair still looks good. You can probably get away with holding onto dress shoes a little longer but clinging to an old pair of athletic shoes too long can cost you plenty.
The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine reports that if runners don’t replace their shoes every 350 to 500 miles, they face a potential litany of injuries, including stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and heel spurs. Exactly how long shoes will continue to provide the needed level of protection depends on individual size and weight.

Average runners pound their shoes on the ground around 700 times per mile so it doesn’t require an active imagination to see how shoes lose their shock absorption rather quickly. And once that occurs, it can change your stride and alignment, meaning pain and possible injury are just down the road.

So whether you’re a marathoner or you just like to take a spirited walk or light jog around the neighborhood, here’s what to keep in mind when you shop for new shoes:

Anatomy of a Running Shoe
The heart of running shoes is EVA, a polyurethane material that makes up the midsole, says Daniel Hortoin at Cincinnati’s Bob Ronker’s Running Spot, named the nation’s top specialty running store in 2008 by the Independent Running Retailer Association. The part of the shoe between the hard outer sole and the insole, the midsole delivers the protective spring and cushioning that keeps you running smoothly. It’s also the first part of the shoe to wear out, as its ability to rebound diminishes with miles logged. Hortoin explains that it’s the technical midsole or EVA upgrades to shoes that separate a manufacturer’s introductory model found at many big box chain stores and the higher-end shoes sold by running specialty stores. "Each brand has its specific technology and strategic placement of cushioning (like heel and forefoot gel pads)," says Hortoin, adding that plusher insoles with additional cushioning are a distinguishing characteristic of upper echelon running shoes as well.

Securing the Fit
To find the right shoe for you, Hortoin urges runners to take their old shoes with them to the store. Specialty retailers with knowledgeable sales associates will want to analyze your old shoes for clues to how you run.

"There is an ideal wear pattern we like to see that’s central as possible part in the shoe’s forefront with wear on the outside of the heel which is part of natural outward/inward roll as you run," he says. "If we see certain wear patterns that aren’t ideal, we can suggest a specific type of shoe to help correct it."

One common condition Hortoin and his colleagues at Bob Ronker’s see is excessive rolling or over-pronation, a potentially serious problem that frequently plagues runners (or walkers even) with flat feet. Pronation is the natural inward rolling of the foot as it strikes the ground, but when it’s too pronounced, it can lead to painful plantar fasciitis or long-term joint issues in knees or ankles. "If we see over-pronation patterns, we can suggest a shoe that adds stability and more rigid materials to the medial or inside to help control the motion."

Hortoin adds that when they measure feet for length and width, they look at arches because that can also dictate style and fit. "Some brands and models offer more arch support than others, and we also offer aftermarket inserts that provide additional support," he says of Bob Ronker’s, which has been selling running shoes since 1981.
Once you find a pair you like, the AAPSM suggests spending at least 10 minutes walking about the store in your new shoes and even running a block or two outside -- most good stores don’t mind. And once you make your purchase, resist the temptation to run a marathon in them, to avoid blisters and other race-day disasters. Break them in with a few short runs first to make sure they’re going to work for you.

Thickness of sports socks also can affect fit, so bring the socks you normally run in with you shopping. Synthetic fibers that wick moisture are recommended to avoid blisters.

Price Can Matter
Hortoin says that Bob Ronker’s generally stocks running shoes in the $80 to $150 range, and a pair that will work well for most runners can be found somewhere in the middle. "Price levels generally are a good indicator of quality in running shoes, and most runners should be able to get a good shoe at the $100 level."