Style, Fashion and Grooming Tips for Men

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

How I made $22 in 9 minutes Driving for Lyft

On a pretty uneventful morning the other day in Los Angels, something quite unusual happened: for a brief moment it was worthwhile driving for Lyft. I know, pretty much everyone reading this post has either taken a shared ride, driven a shared ride, thought about driving for a rideshare company, or have read about it. And, if you have ever wondered if it is worth driving, take my word for it, it isn't. You can't make much more than $15.00 an hour (and that is on a good day), and overall hourly yield, net of gas, insurance and maintenance expenses will be closer to $9.00 or $10.00 per hour. Maybe less. Over the years as they prepared for their respective IPOs last month, both Lyft and Uber have tinkered with their app, bonus payouts, incentives and other promotional messaging for drivers to get to profitability. They both have bled red ink since the beginning to fund growth, and in their first few days of trading investors have send a clear message buy selling the stock down off their initial public trading prices. So, this means that Lyft and Uber are both going to have to figure a way to avoid legal challenges from states over the status of their drivers (and what benefits they are owed), satisfy demand, maintain supply (drivers), and make each ride profitable. As Amazon does with the constant testing of prices of their basic goods available online, the ride share providers are constantly testing pricing tolerance thresholds for riders. Most agree that fares will increase overall, and rate surges at peak travel times will spike. Indeed, the young people that I drive around in Santa Monica take Uber and Lyft because it is cheaper and less expensive than owning, insuring, parking and maintaining a car. And as long as a combination of ride share, scooters, Waive Cars and public transit come in under say, $600 a month, it is the better deal. Plus you'll have to deal with a valet, a favorite Los Angeles institution.

lyft

 

And so, at about 7:30 in Brentwood a flipped on my Lyft app and saw the bonus fare window box open up. It is a new feature since Lyft went public in late April, and involves a pink square or rectangle, surrounded by a purple outer border with a lower bonus. Stay in the pink area and get a bonus, stay with the purple area and get a slightly lower bonus. I was in the pink area and the bonus was $19.09 (it is usually around $1.75). So, I pulled over, stared at my phone just to make sure I was seeing it correctly, and was pinged for a pick-up. I accepted, drove about 5 minutes to pick-up a very nice woman, and drove her to her office in Santa Monica. It was a 2.6 mile ride that took 8 minutes and 54 seconds, which usually earns the driver $3.23. But on this day, at this time, with a $19.09 bonus, I earned $22.32, which correlates to about $120/hour. Since drivers keep about 80% of the fare and the platform keeps 20%, that means the nice lady paid roughly $28.00 for her 9 minute ride. Obviously she needed to get to work so she paid the extra fee, but at what point will riders choose alternate ways of getting around?

In short, it is my opinion that in the the not too distant future, both Lyft and Uber will be forced to pay drivers a basic minimum hourly wage (in California that is $11.00 on it's way to $15.00 by 2022) and provide for some gas and maintenance. In exchange they'll ask their drivers to keep a predictable schedule so they can manage supply.

6 Reasons You Need a Great Tuxedo

So, I was invited to fancy black-tie wedding this past Fall in Los Angeles. I hadn’t worn a tux in a while and didn’t even know if I still owned one. But I dug through my closet and found the required supplies: jacket, pants, shirt, cummerbund and ties. I even found a sweet pair of my Dad’s old suspenders that were still functional. I knew my wife wasn’t going to let me show up (with her) in a less than acceptable set of duds to this wedding, so I had the jacket and pants professionally cleaned and the shirt pressed. I tried on my clean tuxedo and evaluated myself in our long mirror on the back of our closet door. Save for some minor pinching in the button of the jacket, it was as good as new. No threadbare spots. No tears. No stains. This tuxedo that had lasted me at least 20 years and dozens of boozy affairs was still serviceable. Plus I was still thin enough to wear it. It got me to thinking about all of the parties and weddings, a nostalgic journey where different women accompanied me to significant events though different times in my life. I dug up some old photos and reminisced about my college friend and fraternity bother Ken’s wedding where I broke out my guitar and serenaded him and his new bride. I thought about another wedding where my friends and I were forced to swim across a Cape Cod harbor back to our hotel at 3am. When we returned the next day to collect our tuxes, there they were, wadded up and stashed in the bushes behind the hotel bar we had closed down. And then there was the unfortunate incident at a particularly over - the - top fundraiser in Connecticut  that involved lots and lots of booze and a trampoline. I split the pants of my beloved tux that night, and yet somehow that repair job from the local tailor had held up. In fact, these pants were stronger now than they were when I got them. And then I thought about when and where I got my tux, and I remembered a little custom shop in Manhattan’s garment district where my father had taken me. My father loved clothes and knew all of the best spots in New York to buy them and have them customized. He was tall and handsome and knew what he liked. I was less so, but now, about his age then, I realized how important it is to have a suit that makes you look good and feel good. Of course renting is still an option, and you can do so here, but there are lots of great reason to consider owning a tux. And so here, without further ado, the six reasons to splurge on a nice, quality tux and take good care of it.

Comfort and Style

Looking and feeling good cannot be over-valued. If you are the sharpest looking man in a room of sharp looking men, then you are the king. And being the king has benefits. You’ll attract the right people, engage them in humor and wit that they will remember, and have fun doing it. Plus, if you play your cards right, the next morning you can sport the classic no tie and open shirt look that Daniel Craig has perfected.

Economics

If you do the math, own a tux and having it last 10 wears will probably be more economical. Renting a tux will run you between $75 and $100 for a night, and then you have to bring it back to the shop. I will never forget returning my own rented tux from my own wedding (As the groom, I had to wear a morning suit) and

Confidence

In life, there are moments where your nerves get the best of you. Maybe you get to meet Tom Brady or Derek Jeter, or maybe it is another moment. But your adrenaline will flow and you’ll feel a pit in your stomach. You will be trying to listen but you’ll be distracted by the nagging feeling that you’re

Accessorizing

Let’s face it, it is 2017 and people like spice up some old norms. Men these days like to try and push the envelope and trot out the rainbow cummerbund, the yellow vest, the t-shirt tux, the tux-with-sneaker look, novelty cufflinks or even the pink suspenders. If you are the kind of man who likes to show off your rebellious side without being too annoying or looking too ridiculous, then a black-tie event will provide you with the opportunity to do so.

Instagram

There will a lot pictures taken at black tie affairs, and they’ll find their way onto social media. The last thing you want is to see a photo and wish you had a better fitting, better looking tuxedo on. Pictured last forever, make sure you are looking your best.

James Bond

As if this needs to be said, there was a reason James Bond had a way with the ladies (and men), and it wasn’t just the martinis and the swagger, it was the tux. He looked so cool and he was cool. My favorite is the scene from Skyfall when Daniel Craig is inside the Macau casino and drinking the martini. He is so fit and his tux is snugly tailored, but he is a million bucks.

For more Men's Lifestyle content please visit ForMen.com, and for automotive content please visit DrivingToday.com

 

Razor Comparison 2017

So, in the old days when shaving was a boring, mundane daily routine that just had to be done and not really thought about too much, scrapes, cuts and razor burn just came with the territory. No one griped about it. But now, with fancy new technology (5 blades!), comfort strips and lubrication gel strips, shaving is more like a men’s home care New Year’s Eve party. And why not? The Men’s personal care industry has exploded in the last 10 years and many of the razor & blade manufacturers, shave and after shave balm makers and skin care players are all chasing market share. Heck, Dollar Shave Club is selling butt wipes for Pete's sake, so clearly there is opportunity for the brands to solidify their loyalties with their base. Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and Edgewell are the big players, but there are upstarts like Harry's who are competing to penetrate the coveted recurring cartridge subscriber. The irony is that despite the massive upgrades in gear, blades, cartridges, shave cream and aftershave lotions, people are shaving a whole lot less. Indeed, many of today’s ad pitchmen are bearded Millennials who apparently feel the need to remind the American public that they don’t have to shave for the jobs they may or may not have. But for now we are going to attempt to break down the question of which blade is best, both from a quality and performance standpoint, and from a cost standpoint.

Our collective jaws dropped last year when we read about Dollar Shave Club being acquired for $1 Billion by Unilever. And then we all scratched our heads when Harry’s went on a PR tour about the blade factory in Germany they bought. And it is worth noting that subscription-based services, like those offered by Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and now Gillette OnDemand, are less about a quality shave and more about having your credit card on file to charge every month. There is a good reason the Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin made such entertaining commercials: because he wanted your credit card.

Methodology

I did okay in middle school and high school science, and so I know a little bit about the idea of a ‘control’ to perform a proper scientific experiment. So I realized that before I lay out my findings on the increasingly costly modern shave set-ups, that I would lay out the rating systems and methodology so that there are no gray areas of misunderstandings. And, since this article will be published and translated into 5 different languages, I don’t want to offend anyone.

First, to establish a control I decided that each razor would shave three times: 1) the first time on a 72 hour beard, 2) the second time on a 48 hour beard (same blade), and the third time on a 24 hour beard. I wanted to do it this way to see how durable the blade was and how well it held up as its performance deteriorated and to measure the all-important ‘cost-per-awesome-shave metric’ I wanted to introduce. I say this because every man in the world who is reading this has extracted an extra shave or two or three from an old dull razor. And that is usually because he is out of blades, which is likely because they cost so much damn money and he didn’t feel like trading his financial security for a decent shave (this could also could explain why so many men are wearing beards these days.)

Quick sidebar: I was speaking with my father the other day about the 70’s when men his age wore sideburns and mustaches and long hair if they had it as a means of protest and display of civil disobedience. He told me that NOT shaving was never an option back in the day, and that men demonstrated their defiance and civil disobedience via mustached and hippie mullets (see season 1 of HBO’s Vinyl for a visual representation of this). But I didn’t care (and still don’t), but I do care about figuring out the best razor/shave set-up best for you, the reader.

Okay back to the methodology. I selected Jack Black’s Beard Lube as my shave cream/lube because I have used it in the past and I felt like its eucalyptus scent and cooling feel best represented what readers wanted out of a good shave. I also have noticed in my 30 plus years of shaving that I would rather have a slightly less close shave than a painful cut on my face, and that most men (or women) reading this this will agree. Blood is bad, comfort is good. Finally, to make each blade’s performance an apples-to-apples comparison to its competitor, they need to have the same whisker length and whisker toughness.

Gillette

I thought the Mach 3, the Dodge Charger Daytona of razors, was pretty great when it came out in 1995. And shaving with it was about the coolest thing I could have imagined. I never thought they’d get three blades into a cartridge, and then when they got 5 blades into a cartridge I figured the razor blade wars were over.  But those Gillette razor cartridges are not cheap, and still aren’t. A package of 8 new Gillette Fusion replacement blade cartridges goes for between $28 and $32 on Amazon. As usual, this was a great, comfortable shave. The lubrication strip lasted longer than I expected, and the blades stayed sharp through the third shave. The Fusion cartridges also comes with a blade at the top of the cartridge, above the comfort strip, that is great for getting whisker up under your nose.  I also like the design of the head for easy cleaning. Overall, even with Gillette’s new direct subscription option, these blades are pricey.

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club has a 6 blade cartridge that sells for $9 per month for four cartridges. I really like this shave, and the blades held up well in three times I used the cartridge. What I didn’t really like is the silly marketing and overly complex pricing and subscription tiers. In general, I don’t like having my credit card getting hit every month for something I may not need. I don’t shave as much as I used to, and I want to buy razors when I need them, not when my razor company wants to charge me. Plus, as with any subscription business, there is the ever present lead generation and free sampling that bothers me.

Harry’s

Harry’s offers a few different options as well, but we used the 5 blade option for this exercise. The packing is nice (blue, orange or green handle), but until shaving gear becomes a fashion statement, then the color of the handle doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. What should matter is how close a shave you get, how many shave you can get get from one cartridge, and what the Cost-per-Awesome- Shave (CPAS) is. I liked this shave, but I noticed the blades wore down at a slightly higher rate then the others. I also felt like the website was clunky and didn’t really boil down the all-in costs of ordering a shipment. In general, anytime there is a shipping costs involved, there is room for padding costs.

Schick

The Schick Hydro came our in 2010 and has earned some respect among face shavers. Without over spending on branding and instead focusing on value and quality, Schick has been able to hold onto precious market share in the US while the Big Three beat each other up with media dollars. The truth is, Schick offers and excellent shave at a decent price, and enjoys brand loyalty not only in the US but around the globe. The Schick Hydro 5 performed very well in our comparison, and at $15 on Amazon for a package of 5 new blades, are priced reasonably.

Bic

Ahh the old standby. One blade, one use, throw away. Easy, no gimmicks, no flash, no commercials and, sadly, not a very comfortable shave. The blade will work fine with a decent shave balm on a 1-day beard, but any real stubble and you are in trouble. This shaving experience fit squarely in the ‘you get what you pay for’ bucket, and most men with a face will want to pay a little more for comfort.

  Comfort Durability Price CPAS*
Dollar SC 3.5 3.5 5.0 3.9
Gillette 5.0 5.0 3.5 4.6
Harry's 3.5 4.0 4.0 3.8
Bic 2.0 2.0 5.0 2.8
Schick 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0

* We discussed putting in an actual dollar amount in here but given small price fluctuations, shipping, and free shave cream samples, decide to keep it simple and give an overall grade between 1 and 5. We also overweighted 'comfort' in the calculation of CPAS by @2X

 

To summarize, Gillette, Schick, Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s are making shaving a lot less boring and a lot more exciting for most men. But in the end, most men want a good shave (when they have to shave) at a reasonable cost without too many bells and whistles. We preferred Gillette, but as with everything, to each his own.

Eat Your Way to a More Beautiful Beard

There’s not too much you can do about a receding hairline, other than curse your gene pool. But facial hair is a different story. “The condition of your facial hair directly corresponds to the health of your body,” says Jim White, registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association spokesman. Specifically, he continues, “The same nutrients that have a positive effect on our heart and other major organs also benefit our skin and hair.”

In other words, you can literally eat yourself to a shinier, smoother, more healthy-looking beard. We asked White to tell us which vitamins are an essential part of a healthy facial hair diet, what they do, and how to get them into our diet. Results of our conversation below.

VITAMIN A AND BETA CAROTENE
How they better your beard
: “Vitamin A maintains and repairs skin tissue,” says White. “And keeping your skin healthy allows for better hair growth.” Beta carotene is a nutrient that your body converts to vitamin A. Since it’s found in foods that are lower in saturated fats than those that are rich in vitamin A, you’re better off eating foods that are high in beta carotene.

Where to find them: Vitamin A is present in milk, cheese, butter and egg yolks. Beta carotene is found in yellow and orange produce (e.g., carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and papayas) and leafy green veggies (e.g., spinach and kale).

VITAMINS C AND E

How they better your beard: Vitamins C and E promote the production of sebum, a natural oil that is produced by our bodies and lubricates and moisturizes hair, making it look thicker and more lush. Additionally, vitamin C assists in the growth of bodily tissues, including those that comprise our skin and hair follicles.

Where to find them: Citrus fruits, green peppers and broccoli are good sources of vitamin C. Wheat germ oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, peanut butter, corn oil, spinach, broccoli, mangoes and spinach all contain high amounts of vitamin E.

PROTEIN

How it betters your beard: Our skin and hair are composed primarily of keratin, a structural protein made up of amino acids. We don’t produce amino acids on our own; instead, we need to eat protein, which the body then converts to amino acids.

Where to find it: Fill up on fish, lean meats, poultry, eggs, rice, beans and milk.

VITAMINS B6, B12 AND BIOTIN
How they better your beard:
B vitamins help your body synthesize the protein you eat so it can be used to build new skin cells and hair. Getting enough B vitamins, says White, also helps reduce stress and prevent hair loss.

Where to find them: Fish, poultry, leans meats, eggs, nuts, and whole grains such as brown rice and oatmeal are chock-full of B vitamins. Foods that are rich in B12 include beef, milk, cheese and wheat germ.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
How they better your beard:
Essential fatty acids are just that: essential to normal growth, including that of facial hair. They also protect cell membranes, helping to prevent your whiskers from getting dry and brittle.

Where to find them: Make sure flax seed oil, walnuts and fatty fish (e.g., salmon) find their way into your diet.

Want to make your beard even more beautiful? Of course you do! Supplementing the above foods with a multivitamin, or with any of the individual nutrients listed above, might do the trick. Just don’t overdo it: Your body will excrete any extra water-soluble vitamins (e.g., vitamin C or B12), but it’ll hold on to extra fat-soluble vitamins (e.g., vitamin A). Excessive doses of vitamin A could actually lead to hair loss. Ask your doctor to recommend a proper dosage, and you’ll soon be on your way to winning whiskers.