For the fifth year in a row, I tested every new soap, shampoo, and sloughing agent I could get my hands on. It took two months, but I finally settled on my favorites.
|Dove Men's Soap|
Although the scent is a little strong, the moisturizing effects of Dove Men + Care Extra Fresh body-and-face bar ($3 for two bars; cvs.com) more than made up for it. Not that I really care about soft skin. But my wife does.
|Malin + Goetz |
As an Aussie, I rather like the idea of putting a eucalyptus leaf under my arm — and with Malin + Goetz eucalyptus deodorant ($18; malinandgoetz.com), that's exactly what it feels (and smells) like you're doing. It's a strong, fresh scent that you'll want people to notice.
|American Crew |
Along with dirt, the harsh detergents in cheap shampoos remove something else from your hair: every last bit of moisture. American Crew's new Trichology Hair Recovery shampoo (Starting at $9; shopping.yahoo.com) cleans well, leaves in that moisture, and even claims to nourish and stimulate your hair in a way that could keep it from falling out — which is nice, even if it's not entirely true. If you want to save money, do it on your conditioner. Even inexpensive conditioner can't do any real damage to your hair.
|Gillette Fusion Face Scrub |
You want a scrub with a little grit, something to slough off the layer of dead skin on your face, even out your complexion, and let your moisturizer penetrate deeper. Gillette Fusion ProSeries Thermal face scrub (Starting at $8; shopping.yahoo.com) takes it one further: It's added heat, which softens your beard and opens your pores for a more comfortable shave.
|Anthony Logistics Face Wash|
The skin on your face is thinner than the skin on much of the rest of your body, especially around your eyes, which means it can dry out easily. Anthony Logistics for Men Action ($25; shopping.yahoo.com) is a light foam — it feels like Reddi-wip for your skin — that cleans well without making your face feel two sizes too small.
|Kyoku for Men Shave Cream|
Shaving cream is one thing I don't mind spending a little extra money on, especially something that feels as luxurious as Kyoku for Men Sake Infused shave cream ($34; kyokuformen.com). It's more whip than cream, like the old-fashioned stuff you'd spread on with a brush, so while it's still extremely lubricating, Kyoku washes off much more easily than a gel or a foam.
|Aveda Men's Aftershave|
Aveda Men Pure-Formance dual-action aftershave ($35; aveda.com) incorporates a slight moisturizer, so it soothes the skin you just scraped the hell out of and adds back some moisture. Plus, it smells a little like licorice.
|Nivea for Active 3 Sport|
Although it's not going to do a better job than a separate body wash, shampoo, and shaving gel, if you're just going to the gym or for a weekend away, there's nothing more convenient than Nivea for Men Active 3 Sport ($5; drugstore.com). Shame you can't brush your teeth with it, too.
|Lab Series Face Cream|
It's a little pricey, but Lab Series MAX LS Age-Less face cream ($65; labseries.com) was the best moisturizer I tested in terms of absorption. It left my face feeling soft, not slick. And it doesn't have a scent, which is good when it comes to something you're putting directly under your nose. I also liked the utilitarian and affordable Vaseline for Men Extra Strength body and face lotion ($6; walgreens.com). It's light, relatively fast absorbing, and can be used anywhere on your body.
My favorite colognes are subtle and citrusy, making them appropriate for almost any occasion. Bulgari Man ($79 for 3.4 oz; bloomingdales.com) smells like you tried to chop down a pine tree with an ax made of oranges.
|Kérastase Capital Force|
If you have short hair, a paste will add texture and hold. It can also leave your hair with a shine and a crunch. But not Kérastase Homme Capital Force ($30; kerastase-usa.com), which is easier to emulsify than most and spreads through the hair evenly. For a little more than six bucks, Got2b inPlay sculpting paste (cvs.com) is nearly as good.
|Billy Jealousy Hair Forming Cream|
Billy Jealousy Ruckus hair forming cream ($16; shopping.yahoo.com) acts like a cream and a paste. It gives you some texture and movement but doesn't leave your hair feeling stiff or weighed down and makes this product also perfect for medium length hair.