10 Grooming Upgrades That Make Great Gifts

10 Grooming Upgrades That Make Great Gifts
Some of the best gifts are nicer versions of the things we use everyday.

My students and I just finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray. You know the story: A young stud sells his soul to the devil so that a portrait of him will age, and he’ll stay beautiful. It’s a sad book about the lengths a man will go to in order to stay relevant while hiding his true self, undoubtedly a screaming autobiography of Oscar Wilde himself…but I digress. 

Anyway, you know what the saddest part of the book is? No one told Dorian that all he needed to do to keep looking young was step up his grooming game. I mean come on, dude, we don’t need to make this spiritual. With the right razor, some top notch soap, and a sharp pair of tweezers, it’s not hard to stay fresh. This holiday season, we’ve put together a short list of grooming products to update your arsenal. 

A Winter Scent

Buying cologne for a guy is a risky business because everyone has their own scent preferences. I’ve spent the last ten years narrowing down my favorite scents, and I’ve found that the season makes quite a difference in terms of how I want to smell. My go-to winter scent is Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille. 

Tom Ford’s signature line is exclusively eau de parfum – this means they have the highest concentration of essential oil, giving you the longest-lasting fragrance throughout the day. So yes, they’re expensive, and yes, they’re worth it. Tobacco Vanille goes on sweet and warm with vanilla, tonka bean, and a hint of woodiness. The dry down is smooth with rich tobacco leaves. I’m pretty sure it’s what James Bond smells like. 

tom ford parfum

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille $295

Premium Tweezers and Scissors

I don’t have a unibrow and I don’t have nose hairs growing down past my nostrils or out of my ears. Neither of these is because I’m lucky; it’s on purpose. With a few simple plucks and snips, you can keep your face well groomed. The trick is to get sharp tweezers (which are also great for splinters when you’re wood working) and a compact pair of scissors for nose hair and beard trimming. Plenty of companies sell electric nose hair trimmers, but this is not a process that needs machinery. 


Beardbrand Beard Trimming Scissors $49


Regine Switzerland Slant Tweezer $45

Sexy Soap

There’s nothing wrong with your bar of Dove soap, but gift time is splurge time, and sometimes you just want to smell like a better version of yourself when you step out of the shower. The fact is, no one does soap quite like Molton Brown. My wife and I first found this brand while on a trip to New York City. We walked into Saks; she smelled the black pepper soap and said, “I’m buying you this soap, and that’s that.” 

I now use two Moton Brown scents: Re-Charge Black Pepper and Cypress and Sea Fennel. The Black Pepper is warm, seductive, perfect for a night out. The Cypress and Sea Fennel is crisp, great for everyday use. 

molton brown shower gel

Re-Charge Black Pepper $35

Hair Dryer

In my adult life I’ve gone through four hair dryers. The first three cost about $40 each, and eventually I got the hint. With hair dryers, you get what you pay for. So this time I picked up a Babyliss Pro. It has everything you need for under $100. Just be careful, when you finally get a grown-up hair dryer, it’s easy to underestimate just how hot it can get. 

hair dryer gift idea

BaBylissPRO Porcelain Ceramic Dryer $95

Double Edge Razor

Also called a safety razor, the double edge has been around since the early nineteen hundreds. It was first introduced by Gillette and allowed a man to shave without the worry of potentially slitting his own throat with a straight blade (you know, the Sweeney Todd looking razor that your barber uses on the back of your neck). The misconception that came about with cartridge razor heads is that more blades equals a better shave. I beg to differ; in fact, I say that more blades simply equals more skin irritation. 

The double edge razor uses a single blade (with two edges), offering maximum sharpness with minimal irritation to your skin. Why? Because one keen blade is all you actually need to cut those whiskers of yours, and anything beyond that is overkill. Not only does the double edge look slick and work wonderfully, it’s economical. I bought a pack of 100 blades just before my oldest daughter was born. She’s 7 now, and I still have a few left. 

safety razor

MUHLE Traditional Double Edge Safety Razor $45

Shaving Brush

A shaving brush is one of life’s little luxuries that you don’t know you need until you have it. The purpose of shaving cream isn’t just to offer glide; it’s to get underneath the hair and lift it up, making it easier for your razor to shave. The shaving brush not only evenly distributes the shaving cream (and feels amazing in the process), but it also drives the cream under the hair. 

The best shaving brushes are made of badger hair and come in three grades: pure, best, and silvertip. A pure brush is fine if you’re just getting started, but if this is a gift for someone (or for yourself), then opt for the best badger for a few dollars more. Silvertip bristles (which literally have silver tips) come from the underside of the badger, which is why silvertip brushes can cost well over $100. 

shaving badger brush gift

Edwin Jagger Best Badger Brush with Drip Stand $32

Shaving Cream

Look, I’m not saying shaving cream from an aerosol can't get the job done, but it isn’t doing your skin the justice it deserves. You want a shaving cream that will build a dense lather more than just a lot of lather. 

While there is a myriad of shaving creams and soaps on the market, The Body Shop’s maca root shaving cream is quite literally one of the best. I stumbled upon this brand a few years back accidentally (I gave it a smell while my wife tried every lotion in the store), and I haven’t looked back since. The lather is rich, the smell is delightful, and it leaves your skin feeling smooth and refreshed. 

A word to the wise: Don’t build your lather in the shaving cream tub – that’s an amateur's mistake. Fill your sink with hot water, and let your shaving brush soak for a few seconds. Pick the brush up by the handle and let the excess water drip out. Give the brush two quick swirls in the shaving cream and build the lather on your face. 

maca root shaving cream

The Body Shop Maca Root & Aloe Shaving Cream $16

Face Lotion 

You don’t need to drop big bucks for quality lotion. CeraVe is loaded with ceramides, which help keep your skin from losing moisture. We actually keep a tub in every bathroom: hands, face, body, it’s the best. Use the regular moisturizing cream at night on your face and body, and use the AM cream in the morning for a touch of sun protection. 

cerave moisturizing cream

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream $17 AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion $14

Hair Clay

If you read our article on hair products, you know that there is no one-size-fits-all product; however, of all the products I’ve tried, I find that Arcadian Clay might be the closest damn thing. It goes on creamy and light, all the while making you wonder if it really has the hold it claims. And then it holds, somehow also keeping your hair soft with a matte finish that looks natural without looking dry. 

In the world of hair products, it’s pretty reasonably priced, and their entire product line is designed and produced domestically in Knoxville, TN. 

arcadian clay pomade

Arcadian Clay Pomade $22

Mike Henson

Mike Henson is a literature teacher in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He enjoys shooting 35mm film, restoring vintage straight blades, purchasing too many American-made goods, and spending time with his wife and their three daughters.