A gentleman’s shower routine should me a daily staple of every man’s life, but recently I feel like it has become something of a forgotten art.
Taking a little longer in the shower and actually taking time to care for your body in every aspect is an almost zen-like form of self respect that should be practiced by us fellas far earlier than it currently is. The ladies have been at this for years, whereas only a few woke blokes have held the secret.
It’s time for that to change.
Why a routine is important
This gentleman’s shower routine is extremely important for your wellbeing both inside and out. I’ve compiled a mini-list of why it is so pivotal to your mental state – something often overlooked when it comes to routines and rituals.
Time to think
This whole routine will probably take about 10-15 minutes depending on how much you love a good soak in the shower. This time, including that spent getting ready before and after the routine, is a period of reflection and gives you time to think about whatever comes into your mind that morning.
I like to use this time to get creative – I will let thoughts come and go through my mind whilst in the shower and some may be the answer to a problem I’d been dwelling on the past few days or they may even be a completely new idea – even this post came to me in the shower.
It really is amazing the places your mind will go when you stop stimulating it for more than a few seconds. Phones and the internet have made it so we can never really be alone with our thoughts. The gentleman’s shower routine is the perfect way to get back into your head.
This is a big one. There are many components in this routine that lend themselves to de-stressing your mind and body. The contrast shower further down will help to stimulate the production of testosterone and norepinephrine, two major players when it comes to alleviating stress and depressive symptoms.
The ritualistic nature of a gentleman’s shower routine can also allow you to enter a sort of flow state that can help clear your mind and just enjoy the process for a bit. This short period of empty mindedness can be a great tool for de-stressing the body and mind.
All three of these are sort of linked but this is a good thing – they are working synergistically to improve every aspect of your mentality. Having a routine helps you to focus your energy in everyday life.
You know what you have to do and you can hone in on your routines with expert precision – this sort of practice during my daily routines has helped me build far better focus throughout the day and I know it will help you too.
This will help you to be much more productive with your days and will help you to relax come the night time as you won’t ever have to bring your work home with you.
Bold claims I know but try it for yourself for a few weeks and you’ll see.
Where to start?
Listen, I understand not everyone can buy all the latest and greatest in grooming & healthcare products. With that in mind, if you really want to start but can’t afford/be arsed to get all of my recommendations, you should try to get some coconut oil, whipped shea butter and an all in one hair and body wash.
With them 3 plus your shower, you’ll have a pretty mean little combo going on. You would just have to comprise your routine of all the steps except for 2 & 9. You also won’t be able to experience the full benefits but if you’re just getting started then that’s fine – as long as you’re making progress that’s all that matters.
Once you are comfortable with the routine and can see the benefits for yourself, I’d recommend stepping it up a notch and investing in the quality grooming gear outlined below.
When does the routine begin?
I do this after my workout at about midday but if you work at the office or anywhere that isn’t home, you’re probably best doing this in the morning before you head out.
Since this is probably what most of us will be doing, I’ll be basing the following bits on that assumption – not like it makes too much difference anyway.
Before we even reach our gentleman’s shower routine though, there a few things that you have to do in order to extract the very most from it each and every day.
The night before
It all starts the night before. Go through your night time routine, getting all your things ready and in order for tomorrow morning so that you don’t have to rush around in the morning making needless decisions.
I’ve talked before about the effects of decision fatigue before and how you should really try and limit the amount of decisions you have to make every day so that you can make better decisions when it really matters. Why did Steve Jobs & Albert Einstein wear the same thing every day? They wanted to save their decision power for their big calls.
This is why we want to automate our days as much as possible and it all starts the night before. Eliminate any second guessing and you can go about your shower routine in a meditative state, knowing everything is laid out and ready to go.
I wake up at 5am most days, so this step is vital – bang a fat glass of h2o down you as soon as that alarm goes off. Have your alarm away from your bed so you physically have to get up. Keep that glass of water next to alarm clock so as soon as you switch it off, you can chug that bad boy whilst standing up.
This will get the blood flowing, get you hydrated (no one likes morning dry mouth) and most importantly – wake your arse UP. If you’re looking to start getting up earlier than you currently are, I can’t recommend this step highly enough.
This is a must if you want to wake yourself up and get the blood flowing even more. I find the combo of banging some liquids and doing my stretches gets me alert AF in about 5 minutes, if not less.
Doing daily stretches is also a surefire way of keeping yourself ailment free as you will be building strong levels of flexibility and mobility. If you get just 1% better every day, you’ll be 3 times the man you were in one year – just saying. It will also improve your posture no end.
Stretch, breathe and be thankful that you’re alive – the best way to get yourself out of bed on a Monday morning.
This is a biggie.
How many times have you rolled over to switch your alarm off, then stayed scrolling endlessly for about 30 minutes before you realise you need to get ready quickly and end up stumbling out the door?
My guess is pretty much every morning. Now I’m not saying it’s your fault (although it definitely is) but you can put steps in place that will help you break your zombie-like morning scroll sessions and leave you feeling so much more refreshed and calm when you walk out the door each morning.
First – get an analogue alarm clock. This has been huge for me in terms of cutting down my phone usage. I’ll leave my phone somewhere else in the house – that plus the fact I don’t need it for an alarm completely neutralises my desire to go on it first thing.
This is brilliant if you want to reclaim that precious time in the AM to revel in the calm before the storm.
The essential gentleman’s shower routine
Now we’re here. What you’ve been frothing at the mouth for – what I do to myself in the shower…
All jokes aside, the gentleman’s shower routine will make you feel like a new man, that is a guarantee – sort of. Anyway, follow these steps with religious adherence and you’ll have people oggling your handsome mug in no time at all (if they weren’t already).
All the products I use in my gentleman’s shower routine are from a select few brands and they are all ‘natural’ products. I’m a big fan of all natural ingredients and try to stay away from chemical-laden cosmetics. If you’re interested, I’ve got a full article on my reasons for abstaining from chemicals.
Have you ever heard of a contrast shower? Also known as a Scottish shower (and favoured by James Bond himself), this type of shower is great for boosting circulation and is ideal for a longer session where you want to get your groom on.
Your shower will be split up into two halves – hot and cold – hence, contrast. This first half will be when you can enjoy some hot steamy water. This will open up all your pores, helping your skin absorb the full bevy nutrients from the products.
The steam from a hot shower is also great for clearing out your sinuses and leaving you feeling ‘cleared out’ for want of a better phrase.
Now you’re ready for the first stage. You want to wash your face with a quality, natural cleanser to really get rid of any dirt and clogged pores that may have built up overnight.
This stage is priming your face for what is to come. You want your face to be as clean as possible before putting any more creams or serums on top of it.
I also like to spread my cleanser on with a small face brush as it evenly distributes the product and the bristles of the brush help get rid of dead skin cells too. There are also electric exfoliating brushes you can get which are pretty cool but I prefer the manual way of life.
You don’t have to use a brush either, but I find it’s a lot better for my skin when I do – they’re only about 5 quid. Dry brushing before your shower can also be of benefit if you fancy trying that before hopping in the tub.
What I use
This is by far the best face wash I’ve used (although I’ve only used like, 4 in my entire life). The beauty of this cleanser is that even though it eliminates dirty, it doesn’t strip your mug of its essential oils, so you never get that dried out feeling. Somehow they’ve made it moisturising and cleansing at the same time – Wizards.
It’s citrusy as anything too, so you’ll get a lovely little jolt of energy if you’re feeling a bit worse for wear in the morning.
Wash the mop
Now it’s time for the main event. Your barnet is the big one when it comes to the shower isn’t it? That means we’ve got to take extra care to get this right.
Obviously you can use a two in one shampoo & conditioner but I have found it a lot better using two separate products to reap the full benefits. I don’t know if it’s been of more benefit because I’m growing my hair longer or what but it genuinely is helping a lot.
In the same vein as the cleanser application process, I like to use another contraption when applying shampoo and conditioner. By using a scalp massager, you will be able to perfectly distribute the products into hard to reach bits of the scalp and the massaging element will stimulate hair follicles – meaning potentially extra growth. Sounds a bit woo woo I know but whatever.
Leave the conditioner in for a little bit until we reach the second half of the shower.
Of course if you’re not washing your hair that day – you should wash it every other day, then wear a shower cap (please get this one) or something. You may look a bit daft but it’s for the good of your #aesthetics in the long run.
What I use
I use these two in tandem to leave my hair feeling like Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. Even after one go of these two, my hair had wayyyy more volume to it. That’s not some poxy blogger endorsement either, it was genuinely far more healthy looking after one day.
I have no clue what it’s down to but it could be the blend of sea kelp, green tea, aloe extracts, red algae, vitamin B5 and quinoa protein that they shove into every bottle.
All BYRD products are also made and shipped from California which just adds to the overall coolness factor.
De-funk your bod
If washing your wig is King when it comes to showering, then scrubbing le body is the Queen. Find yourself a natural body wash that doesn’t irritate the skin and has a boatload of invigorating ingredients.
Just standing under the water for a bit isn’t going to cut the mustard I’m afraid. Lather your bod up with the suds, make sure you’re getting rid of any funk that is lingering from the night before and give your face a good scrub too. This second stage after a cleanse will ensure you’re feeling fine.
Leave it all on to settle in and work it’s magic for a moment until the next step.
What I use
Another one from the Californians. These guys literally make the best body wash out there – it won the GQ grooming award in 2017.
It’s packed with loads of stuff similar to the shampoo and conditioner – we’ve got sea kelp, green tea, aloe vera and vitamin B5. It’s also free of mineral oils, phthalates and sulfates which is a huge plus for me and my fear of chems. There’s obviously still a few chemicals in there but you can’t get rid of everything can you.
This body wash makes you feel on top of the world when you step out the shower, I felt like I was being born again when I had finished – just with less blood and screaming this time round.
The Shower Pt.II: This time, it’s personal.
So now it’s time for the second half of the contrast shower. With conditioner in your hair and body wash in your eyes, reach deliriously over to the shower knob and turn it right down to as cold as it goes – it’s time to wake up.
Cold showers have phenomenal health benefits and will help to stimulate skin cells and hair follicles even further. Standing under the freezing water will build serious mental power too – tackling such a tough obstacle so early in the day will give you the confidence to take on anything life throws at you later.
Stand under the freezing water for up to 5 minutes – I worked my way up from about 30 seconds at first. Now I also take ice baths in the morning and cold showers at night – it can be done, you’ve just got to stick with it!
Dab – no, not like that
No fortnite dances please. Once you’re out of the shower, you will want to gently dab yourself clean. I only learnt this recently, having previously been one of those people who viciously scrubbed themselves bone dry and then wonders why their skin gets dry patches.
Same goes for your hair – don’t rub it until it’s falling out, just run the towel over a couple of times to pick up most of the moisture then style it how you want.
We’re coming toward the end now fellas. You’re out of the shower and you’ve been dabbing away for a couple of minutes. Now it’s time to get moist.
I like to moisturise my body straight after the shower as this is when nutrients are most readily absorbed by the skin. And by body I don’t mean I sit there feeling up my toes, ankles, legs, etc – I just moisturise my arms (these are susceptible to dryness) and chest.
You can do your legs and the rest if you fancy but I just feel like I don’t need to.
What I use
I know ‘babe balm’ isn’t exactly the most macho sounding product in the world but at the end of the day, it’s just branding isn’t it. If they put the same product in a different package, would you care? Didn’t think so.
Anyway, this balm is unbelievable for moisturising skin, especially drier patches. I lather this gear on my arms liberally and it has been immense.
This is down to the fantastic ingredient profile of the balm: Calendula oil, hibiscus oil, coenzyme Q1, beta-carotene and vitamin C to name a few. They’ve packed this one full of every bit of goodness you can think of and it shows. I’ll take being a babe any day of the week if this is how good it feels.
This is an optional step but one that I believe is definitely worth it. Having a spray to apply before moisturising your grid is fantastic. Not only does it freshen you up, but if you pick one with Hyaluronic Acid in, it will help your skin keep hold of so much more moisture.
What I use
There are a lot of really poo face mists out there. This isn’t one of them. Just one look at the reviews on the mega mist and you’ll see how much people are obsessed.
Hyaluronic acid is all the rage at the moment but people (myself included) have found that the other ingredients that often come with it tend do dry out the skin.
The inclusion of rose water and aloe in the mega mist give it a really gentle feel whilst still delivering a big hit of the good stuff and giving your skin a health look – great for someone like me who spends 15 hours a day looking at a laptop screen.
It’s also the perfect primer for the next step due to the hyaluronic acid holding onto untold amounts more moisture than skin alone.
This is the cherry on top of the gentleman’s shower routine cake. Moisturising your face and getting it ready to enter the big, bad world isn’t too hard – just pick a moisturiser that has a consistency you like and that is natural OF COURSE.
Also be sure to find a moisturiser with SPF in it as no matter what the weather is, you will always need protection from the rays of the sun. I had no idea this was even a thing until a few months ago but it’s legit so get a moisturiser with SPF in and you’ll save yourself having to apply lumps of naff sunscreen in winter.
What I use
This moisturiser somehow manages to be lightweight yet velvety at the same time. I like thicker moisturisers so this is ideal. The team at Dr. Jackson’s have also purposely left out chemicals with have been associated with hormone disruption which gets a huge tick from me.
Listening to the justification of every ingredient in this moisturiser is a breath of fresh air. They talk about how mineral sunscreens are subpar compared to active (safe) chemical ones, which is why they went with the latter and how it works synergistically with the natural ingredients, which is why they used this as their SPF base.
They they go on to talk about the benefits of other ingredients such as baobab seed oil, kigelia fruit extract and shea fruit butter. All I know is that it works – my skin feels bloody brilliant.
It goes without saying
Obviously you need to brush your teeth, do your hair and whack some deodorant on after the shower but that’s not really part of the shower routine IMO.
But just in case you needed reminding, these are rather important steps towards not being a stinky bugger. I’ve listed the bits I use for this below.
What I use
After I’ve gone through my full routine and am ready for the day ahead, I’ll take a little bit of time to pause and chill out. I’ll usually do this with a cup or glass of something in my grubby mits.
It used to be a morning coffee whilst reading a book or something but I’m trying to move away from caffeine for the most part due its negative effects on anxiety, long term energy levels and sleep quality.
I still love this alone time with no distractions (you still shouldn’t be on your phone), so I decided to replace these coffee binges with either some warm water with a slice of lemon, a sparkling water or a decent little cup of herbal tea.
I know I sound like such a wanker after that list – and I am – but you should definitely give this a go. You can use the time saved from not going on a phone binge to get a bit of peace, read and energise for the day ahead.
Basically, anything that’s not water will do. A little change from the norm helps your mind realise that this period of time is different and it signifies that you can relax – this is more than #hydration – it’s #mindfulness.
What I use
As I have been trying to wean off the coffees, this expedition tea has been an ideal replacement.
Being a caffeine free beverage that promises balanced energy throughout the day, I had to give it a go. And it delivered! This drink is made up of 100% natural ingredients and one in particular is meant to be a fantastic source of natural energy – Rooibos.
Rooibos is used by South African athletes to replenish electrolytes and minerals apparently. I am all for pretending to be a South African athlete every morning so I’m sold.
It does work though – I don’t have any crashes or disrupted sleep like I did with coffee and I genuinely do get a nice little kick out of it which is perfect for when I’m writing. I’m actually writing this article powered by a little cup of the good stuff.
You have now got the tools to set up your very own gentleman’s shower routine – your very own little ritual to get you feeling like a million dollars.
If you can implement as many of these elements as possible you’ll feel so much more refreshed every single day, you’ll have far healthier skin and you’ll probably look a tad more handsome to boot. There’s no losers when it comes to taking care of yourself fellas – just do it.