Summer’s Here: Keep Your Skin Clear

Ah, summer, at last: surfboards and swizzle sticks, swimmies and softball mitts … and skin that’s so burned, dry or broken out, you can forget about shaving. To avoid the latter -- yep, it’s avoidable -- we sought advice from two pros who’ve seen more than their fair share of damaged dermis. And if you, like us, insist on doing everything bad for you anyway, we’ve got recovery strategies so you can soon return to your favorite summertime activities -- and regular shaving regimen -- without having added years to your face.

Prevention, Prevention, Prevention
As the owner of the Alma G. Salon in Manhattan -- a favorite of celebs, including Ashton Kutcher and freshman “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler -- Alma G. is a firm believer in preventive measures to keep your skin in tip-top shape. Wearing sunblock is foremost among her precautions. “I recommend SPF 30 for your face and 15 or higher for everywhere else,” she says. “Apply it 15 to 20 minutes before you go outside to let it fully soak in. If you’re engaging in activities where you’re sweating a lot, reapply a couple of times during the day.”

Daniela Pranjic, spa manager of the Paradisus Punta Cana and the Paradisus Palma Real resorts in the Dominican Republic, encounters many guests who -- having been pent up all winter in North America -- zip off to the Caribbean for a quick dose of sun and sand only to come back looking like a roast. “You need to take it easy, especially in those first few days,” says Pranjic. Before you jeer at those clueless vacationers, note that the same applies to the early days of summer, wherever you live. To prepare for your first big spate of outdoor activities, Pranjic recommends drinking lots of water and juices. Clothing-wise, a hat and sunglasses are a must, and she also suggests UV-protective shirts.

Can’t wait to hit the pool? Go for it, but note that chlorine can deliver a one-two punch: stripping away your sunscreen and drying out your skin. To deal with the latter, just remember to re-lube after getting out of the water. You won’t need sunblock for a nighttime dip, but you might consider rubbing on some baby oil, which will repel the chlorine from your skin and thus keep it from drying out. And though chlorine kills germs in the water -- a good thing -- it’s not so good for your face. “It will make you more prone to blackheads and whiteheads,” says Alma G., “so it’s important to exfoliate after you’ve been in the pool.”

If chlorine is killing your complexion no matter what precautions you take, try going for a dip in the ocean instead. Although it’s still important to wear sunscreen, saltwater can work wonders for the skin. “It acts like a scrub and dries out irritations,” says Alma G. Surprisingly, blowing sand can also have benefits, acting as an exfoliant. But if you’re going to spend an extended period of time exposed to this ocean-side loofa, make sure to slather on a good moisturizer before and after, lest your skin become raw.

… and Recovery
OK, so you got carried away frolicking in the ocean with your summer crush and forgot to reapply your sunblock. And now you’ve turned a disturbing shade of fuchsia. Not to worry: Alma G. has a host of home remedies in her arsenal to soothe and rehydrate burning skin. Capsules of vitamin E, split open and gently spread over the affected areas, will expedite the healing process, as will aloe vera or olive oil. A slightly more time-consuming treatment Alma G. swears by is mixing whole milk and sweet apples in a blender to create a masque for the burned areas. Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to yank off the peeling skin that will inevitably appear a few days after your ill-fated rendezvous with the sun -- the new skin underneath will be extremely vulnerable, especially on your face. We know that’s a tall order, but find some bubble wrap to pop instead and leave your poor skin alone.


How to Buy a Suit: What Men’s Mags Won’t Tell You

To read what the men’s magazines say about it, you’d think buying a suit is like purchasing a car, warranting copious research, multiple store visits, the accompaniment of an experienced friend. And it can be like that -- if you want to spend thousands of dollars and look like a GQ photo shoot. But for most guys, it’s a much simpler proposition.

That said, there are a few essential pieces of know-how every first-time suit-buyer should have. To break it down for us, we spoke to David Alperin, a Brooklyn-based designer and owner of specialty men’s retailer Goose Barnacle, winner of the Best Menswear Award in New York Magazine’s 2011 Best of New York issue.

1. Pick Your Price
“I tell young people not to go for the cheapest suit,” says Alperin. “It’s not going to last, and in the long run you’ll get more out of something a little higher quality.” Alperin advises shopping at Club Monaco, J. Crew or Banana Republic, where you can find decent off-the-rack suits for $300 to $400 that won’t require too much tailoring.

2. Pick Your Color
“Everyone’s first suit should be a solid navy blue.” And after navy, Alperin suggests, gray. And then navy pinstripe and then gray pinstripe … and then you can start to experiment. Why all the navy and gray? Because they go with everything. And why navy first? Because it’s perceived to be the most professional. We don’t know why -- some things just are.

3. Pick Your Style
If you’re young, says Alperin, no pleats. “Pleats were designed for a heavier-set person, and they make you look a little frumpy.” Flat-front pants give a slimmer, cleaner look -- and who doesn’t want that? Cuffs are a personal decision, he adds, but “the rule of thumb is: if no pleats, no cuffs.”

As for jackets, either two-button or three-button is fine, but Alperin suggests sticking with the two-button option for your first suit -- mainly because there are more of them out there. “In terms of finding suits at everyday stores that are mid- to good quality, usually it’s going to have two buttons.”

4. Pick Your Weight
As with color, until you have a closet full of suits and can pick and choose at your whim, you want something that’s going to be wearable in as many situations -- and seasons -- as possible. That, according to Alperin, would be a mid-weight 100-percent wool or wool blend.

5. Find Your Fit
“The shoulder and jacket length should be as close to perfect as possible,” says Alperin. “Anything else can be fixed.” The shoulders should end where your shoulders end; if they’re hanging off the end, even a smidge, put the suit back on the rack and find another.

Next, check the length. “You should be able to cup your hand underneath the bottom of the jacket.” If you brought dad along, and he’s telling you to go to the tips of your fingers, ignore him. That was the rule in his day; the new rule, according to Alperin, is a more modern look. “It makes everyone look taller if your jacket is a little shorter.”

Now you can start to relax, because the tailor will handle the rest. If your pants are flat front, make sure they fit in the waist (that’s your waist, not your hips) and they’ll have a nice straight fit down to the break on your shoe. Have the tailor hem your pants so they bend right as they hit the shoe and don’t bunch up. The sleeves should be tailored so that your shirt cuffs show a quarter of an inch. If you bought the right shoulders and jacket length, says Alperin, that’s all the tailoring you’ll need to do.

6. Complete the Outfit
“A mistake a lot of men make is purchasing a suit without the rest of the outfit,” says Alperin. “Without the tie, the socks, the shoes, it’s nothing.” You’ll need a minimum of two shirts: one white, one light blue. If you find a white shirt you like, Alperin suggests buying a few of them. “Your suit will outlive all of your shirts.”

There’s only one rule for socks: they must be darker than your suit. If your suit is a very dark navy, you can even wear black socks. Ties, of course, can run the gamut, but if you’re not ready to experiment, just go solid. “A solid burgundy tie, a dark green tie, navy, gray … they all look good with a navy suit on either a white or light blue shirt.”

Finally, says Alperin, invest in a good pair of black shoes -- a typical men’s dress shoe like a Cole Haan lace-up -- and a black belt to match. Most important of all: Keep your shoes polished. “It makes the whole outfit, which a lot of men don’t realize.”


How to Avoid Razor Bumps

If you ask 10 different people how to avoid razor bumps, you’ll probably get 10 different answers. And you know what? All 10 solutions may be effective -- for them -- but not for you! So how do we get a more consistent solution to what seems to be an everyday challenge for most men? We start before the shave.

That’s right. Long before you even pick up the razor, there are three basic points that must be understood:

1. How your beard grows (the angles)

2. What direction your beard grows in

3. How to control your beard growth in order to prevent ingrown hairs

No. 1: Understand how your beard grows.
The way your beard grows can determine where, how often and even how long a razor bump (otherwise known as an ingrown hair) will stay on your face.

Check out the above illustrations. Most men who suffer from ingrown hairs have curly or wavy beards that grow at angles very low to the skin (0 to 45 degrees). Why does that matter? Because these beard types have the tendency to curl into the skin instead of straight out of the follicle.

This valuable piece of information should help you to understand why it’s important to shave with the grain of the beard -- not against it -- and also why it’s important not to shave your beard too close to the skin. Let’s continue.

No. 2: Learn what direction your beard grows in.
The best way to know what direction is “with” or “against” the grain is to study your own beard’s growth pattern. Allow your beard to grow for three to five days so you can take note of what directions the hairs grow in. Once this is understood, make a mental note or, even better, draw an illustration of the directions on paper as a reference guide.

Armed with this knowledge, you can now reduce the frequency in which each hair is shaved against the grain. The less the beard is shaved against the grain and the more the beard is prepped for shaving, the better the face will look and feel.

No. 3: Control your beard.
African-American men who are susceptible to getting razor bumps should avoid shaving against the grain at all times. Shaving against the grain cuts the hairs so close that they fall below the skin line. And, as you can see from those illustrations, once your hairs fall below that line, they’re going to have a difficult time growing out of the skin.

So if you want to get a close shave and significantly reduce the possibility of razor bumps, keep your beard hair slightly above the skin line. And again, the most effective way to achieve this on a consistent basis is to shave with the grain. The only possible drawback to this method is an earlier 5 o’clock shadow. In my opinion, however, a shadow without razor bumps means a man with better-looking skin and greater confidence!

So there you have it. Three principles that will change the way you approach shaving, and, in the process, change the way you feel about yourself. And that, my friend, is priceless. Happy shaving!

Moins de coupe et plus de style

Les femmes ont l’habitude de changer de tête. Court, long, mi-long, avec ou sans frange, blond platine à la Marilyn Monroe… Alors que les mecs eux, ont généralement le même style de coupe depuis le collège ! Pourquoi changer un truc qui fonctionne, hein ? Ben si. « Il faut souvent essayer plusieurs looks pour trouver le bon, explique Ophélie Nguyen, rédactrice en chef du site Glam Media France et bloggeuse ( ). Et puis les filles fuient les garçons qui ont une coupe ringarde… même s’ils sont mignons. Qui veut un copain qui n’a pas de style ? »

Et le fait que les hommes portent systématiquement les cheveux plus courts que leur copine n’est pas une excuse. Il y a plein d’options possibles (et quatre à o-bli-ga-toi-re-ment éviter d’après Ophélie Nguyen : les cheveux en brosse, l’Américaine « Mullet » - court dessus et long derrière - une horreur, la crête ou les raies sur le côté).

« J’ai pas mal d’amis qui se rasent la tête et qui arborent une barbe broussailleuse », dit Jessica Vidy, qui dirige la boutique MenCorner ( ) et a travaillé dans l’esthétique et la coiffure pendant plusieurs années. « C’est un style qui a le vent en poupe. »

Le caméléon de la coiffure - autrement dit David Beckham - a porté un temps ce look. Mais des looks plus classiques « à la George Clooney ou Ben Affleck » sont aussi de bonnes options d’après Jessica Vidy. Pour Ophélie Nguyen, le top en ce moment c’est « les cheveux en bataille, pas trop courts, négligé chic. S'ils bouclent un peu naturellement, c'est juste parfait ! »

Pour trois autres looks approuvés par la gente féminine – à se faire avec un seul produit et parfois même sans passage chez le coiffeur, prenez note.

1. « a cire pour les cheveux, indispensable pour les mecs, pour le fameux "coiffé / décoiffé", explique Ophélie Nguyen (Genre, coiffure au saut du lit). » Ces produits permettent de garder le cheveu souple, vous pouvez passer la main dans les cheveux sans problème. « Faites chauffer une noix de produit dans le creux de la main, recommande Jessica Vidy, puis appliquez sur cheveux secs. »

2. Si vous voulez quelque chose qui tient mais sans briller, optez pour un produit avec une finition mate. Vous pourrez travailler l’effet, fixer, et modeler votre coiffure que vous ayez envie de plaquer ou d’ébouriffer votre tignasse… laissez s’exprimer le Jacques Dessanges qui sommeille en vous. Avec ces produits, vous n’aurez en plus jamais les doigts gras.

3. Des longueurs structurées partout et des pointes effilées sur les côtés, c’est sans doute le look incontournable du moment. Utilisez un produit fixation forte (crème ou cire) pour obtenir suffisamment de volume qui ne bougera pas d’un centimètre. « Utilisez un sèche-cheveu après avoir mis le gel, pour finir le look, conclut Jessica Vidy. Rien ne bougera de la journée. »

Fashion 2011: What to Wear Now

It’s always fun to see what the designers will come up with one year to the next, but what does it mean for you? Certainly you’re not going to spend thousands of dollars replicating something that walked down a runway. We asked two of the most fashionable men in Germany to interpret this year’s trends for three different scenarios: business, business casual and casual/weekend. Staying in fashion has never been easier.


“Style inspirations in 2011 are Wallstreet 2 and the Minister of Defence, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg -- especially for younger guys,” says Bernhard Roetzel, author of the definitive men’s fashion guidebook The Gentleman. In other words, the brown suits of last year are out, and classic blue suits are in. Klaus Stockhausen, fashion director at German GQ, concurs. “No question, blue is the colour of 2011. But medium tones, not the dark ones. Many designers showed the bright ‘Yves-Klein blue’ on catwalks.”

As for cut, the consensus is that young men should go for slim fits, narrow collars and tight trousers.

But this is key, no matter what current trends are: Don’t blow your budget on a suit. Instead, upgrade your outfit with a fine pair of shoes. “Hand-sewn shoes make the difference, and important managers recognize this difference,” says Roetzel. “You can wear them with a suit from H&M for 90 Euro or a P&C shirt for 19.90.” Roetzel maintains that nobody can really differentiate between basic and good middle-class suits and shirts. “Below the barrier of 1300 to 1500 Euro, all suits are more or less of the same quality”, he says. And the same goes for ties. You can find a good silk one (avoid polyester -- that actually does look cheap) for about 10 Euro at Anson’s or Karstadt.

Ideally, you’ll spend no more than 250 or 300 Euro on an outfit -- allowing you to spend at least that much again on shoes. Look for special offers in first-class shops like Berlin-based Budapester Schuhe or Munich’s Ed Meier. If you don’t find a deal, you’ll pay upwards of 380 Euro, but it’s worth it. Taken care of, a good pair of hand-sewn shoes will stay with you for life.

Business Casual
If you don’t work as a financial consultant but still need to look sophisticated, a solid option is a narrow blue blazer with jeans and a cardigan. “Two-thousand eleven is the year of traditional U.S. collegiate style”, Roetzel says. He recommends interpreting this style with a touch of irony. “Try combinations with extra narrow ties, coloured socks or nerd glasses. If you consciously look like a nerd, it shows an easy wink.”

Sometimes the trickiest part of business casual is finding that perfect balance between business and casual. In accordance with this season’s classic revival, says Roetzel, it’s best to err on the side of business. “Youngsters are wearing suits during leisure time, too,” he says. “And they don’t feel funny about it.” Erring on the side of casual, on the other hand, can be a real fashion faux pas. As Karl Lagerfeld said in a recent issue of Die Welt, “Everybody in the cities is wearing pink and grey-green anoraks. It looks like huge mountaineering associations on sight-seeing trips!”

Cargo pants and cardigans are in -- though not with diamond patterns. “This former trend has been pushed aside by horizontal stripes”, says Stockhausen. On your feet, you can wear loafers, white sneakers, or, for a more sophisticated look, boat shoes. Do not, whatever you do, pull out the flip flops when the weather turns warm; they are a definite no-no this season. “The new flip flops,” says Stockhausen, “are Espadrilles”. You can buy them at Prada or Gucci but since you’ll wear them out in one season, you’re better off grabbing a pair for five Euro at H&M.