According to the market research firm Statista, the men’s grooming industry is expected to grow to $81.2 billion USD by 2024.https://www.statista.com/statistics/287643/global-male-grooming-market-size/
The number of items found in a men’s grooming routine has expanded significantly in recent years. Rather than just relying on a few simple products and calling it a day, men are now finding that their grooming routine entails several products, which includes facial cleansers, exfoliators, beard oil, manscaping products, manicures, and so much more.
But here’s the deal:
Whether it’s an uncertain economy, sudden unemployment, or you are merely looking to be a bit more fiscally responsible – it’s a good idea to step back and take an objective look at your grooming routine as a whole every now and again.
In this guide, I will cover 11 ways to optimize your grooming routine.
1. Approaching Your Routine Objectively
First off – you need to write down your routine.
This helps you to clearly see all the products and what can and cannot be removed.
To help save you a bit of legwork, I put together this Google Sheet template that encompasses many of the steps found in a man’s grooming routine along with some ballpark expenses.
Pro Tip: When you open the sheet, you will want to make a copy of it to your own Google Drive so you can make edits to the document.
What does this sheet do?
It’s a calculator that helps you see your grooming expenses on an annual basis.
When using this sheet, you can put in the prices of products along with how long each product typically lasts for you (Current Price & Current Restock Time):
While this is helpful in seeing your current expenses on an annual basis, you can also estimate your savings if you were to make a few changes to your routine by either going with a cheaper alternative or simply extending the time between restocking (Estimated Price & Estimated Restock Time columns).
To better explain how this sheet works, let’s walk you through two scenarios.
Scenario 1 – Downgrade My Razor
I am currently using a standard cartridge razor that costs about $10 per pack in blade refills. This pack of razor blades will typically last me about 30 days before it needs to be replenished.
If I make the change over to a cheaper cartridge razor ($5 for a refill pack) and purchase a refill once every 45 days, this spreadsheet will help show me that I can expect to save about $80 for the year from this simple switch.
Scenario 2 – Swapping Out Similar Products
Grooming products like aftershave balm, pre-shave oil, and beard oil are nearly identical products.
They all rely on a carrier oil that provides the skincare benefits (more on this in a minute).
Rather than owning three separate products, I could just buy a bottle of carrier oil (i.e., something like jojoba oil) and use it in three different ways. This little change in the data provided above would save me a whopping $430 in over a year ($180 savings on aftershave, $140 savings on pre-shave oil, and $110 on beard oil).
Furthermore, within the sheet there is a simple chart if you like to see things in a visual manner.
Just simply visit the ‘Chart’ tab on the sheet and you can see how each change makes a difference:
Again, the Google Sheet is available here free for your own personal use.
Pro Tip: If you find that a product or service is missing, you can simply insert a new row immediately after row 2 and it should update the formulas accordingly.
2. DIY When Possible
When you start to make products yourself, you begin to realize just how much you were overpaying for a product.
Furthermore, when you make products yourself, you also develop a deeper understanding of the product and what goes into the manufacturing process.
While not every grooming product can be made at home (i.e., razor blades, exfoliators, etc.), there are several that are worth exploring.
As I touched on earlier, products like beard oil, aftershave balms, and pre-shave oils are identical products.
Mainly relying on a blend of carrier oils, essential oils, and some vitamin oils, you can make your own DIY version of these products for a low price.
As I outlined in the beard oil recipe guide, the price of DIY beard oil is about $5 per ounce — an average savings of $10 to $15 per bottle.
In addition to the significant savings, you also can customize the oil to suit your style and preferred scent. After doing this a few times, you will likely never want to go back to paying full retail again.
Pre-shave oils and aftershave balms are nearly identical to beard oil and are also extremely easy to make at home.
3. Know the Active Ingredients & What They Do
When trying to find savings in your grooming bill, it’s essential to know the products and what they do; specifically, it’s necessary to understand the active ingredients that are responsible for much of the benefits of the product.
For example, antiperspirants primarily rely on an aluminum compound to stop you from sweating.
Take this pricey stick of Jack Black Pit Boss Antiperspirant & Deodorant. They rely on Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY (20%). This particular stick of antiperspirant from Jack Black is pretty pricey. According to their website, one 2.75oz stick will cost you $19.
If you look for this same active ingredient on Google or even online retailers – you will get some great results. In a quick search, I came across this Mitchum Antiperspirant Deodorant Roll-On for Men, the same exact active ingredient of Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY (20%) found in the Jack Black stick.
Guess how much that Mitchum was?
…and the size…
That’s a savings of $14 and a bigger antiperspirant by .65oz!
That’s significant, especially if you look at this on an annual basis.
Now this example was only for an antiperspirant – which admittedly is a pretty cheap grooming product compared to others.
But the underlying thought process here is what is essential.
Whether you are buying an anti-dandruff shampoo, hair regrowth product, or whatever it may be, if it has an active ingredient, search for it in Amazon or Google. You will often find several cheaper substitutes for these products that will provide you with big savings.
Here is a list of some other active ingredients that are common in men’s grooming products:
- Coal Tar, Ketoconazole – Found in Anti-Dandruff shampoos such as Neutrogena T/Gel, Selsun Blue, etc.
- Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) – Found in many exfoliators
- Hyaluronic acid – Found in many anti-aging creams
- Minoxidil – Active ingredient in topical hair growth products (i.e., Rogaine)
The list goes on – however, this is just to give you an idea of what you will typically find on the ingredient list.
4. Don’t Pay for Services You Can Do Yourself
It’s always nice when you have to pay a nominal amount and get satisfactory results. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to outsource every part of your grooming routine.
As noted in this recent WSJ article, more men are starting to visit nail salons to get both manicures and pedicures.
In addition to nails, men will often visit estheticians to take care of their eyebrows, back hair, and other manscaping needs.
While there is no denying the convenience of this service, you also can’t ignore the price.
Not only do you have to pay for the service, but you will also need to tip as well.
Depending on the frequency of your visits will help you understand the total costs that you incur over an extended period.
While you could skip going to the local salon altogether, if you want to hang on to this simple luxury, just try to limit the number of visits or services performed – they can add up to a significant chunk of change in a short period.
5. Visit Local Beauty Schools
When it comes to getting a haircut, many men like to go to the local retail haircutter (i.e. Supercuts, Great Clips, etc.) and get a cut for under $20 — and that’s completely okay! If you are doing this, you can skip the rest of this section as it doesn’t pertain to your scenario.
However, if you like to spend a bit extra to get your hair to look perfect by going to a specialty salon – the costs can quickly get out of hand.
Rather than resorting to a high-priced salon or barbershop, if you are looking to save a few dollars, one alternative to consider is visiting your local beauty school. Here you will find students who are working on getting a cosmetology or barber license.
Many of these students are deep in their studies and have practiced countless times on mannequins and are looking for a real head of hair to cut. While they are still learning with real hair, these students have had plenty of training and experience on mannequins before actually cutting your hair.
Furthermore, these same students that are currently in beauty school will be the same ones that will be cutting your hair for double the price in only a few weeks.
As far as anticipated costs, you can expect the local barber school to charge about 50% less than the retail price.
6. There are Times Where You Can’t Cut Expenses
When it comes to cutting back on your grooming routine, there is a delicate balance on what you can and cannot cut when it comes to grooming expenses – and that’s completely okay.
The underlying goal here is to identify the right products that will save you the most significant amount of money while having the least amount of impact in your routine.
But in the instance that you just won’t compromise on a particular product (say a styling agent for your hair), then just make compromises elsewhere to make up the difference.
At the end of the day, if you really love a particular product and what it does for your style or skin, then don’t get rid of it; just cut elsewhere.
7. Buy in Bulk for Significant Savings
I won’t go too far in-depth here as it’s common knowledge for many – but if you can buy in bulk, it will usually result in a decent amount of money saved.
I have found this to be particularly true in staple products like bar soap, shampoos, and razors.
For example – let’s take a look at American Crew Daily Shampoo.
Just simply copy and paste the exact title of the product and size into Google:
And you will get a nice list of some places that currently sell this product.
While this is relatively straightforward – what you may not have initially noticed in the screenshot above is that many retailers will provide you with the price right in the search results:
This is an extremely quick and easy way to scan for the lowest price without having to visit countless pages.
Now, if that weren’t easy enough, another quick trick you can do is to find out the price per ounce (i.e., Product Price / Ounces).
Walmart nicely puts this next to each of their products so you can quickly see the price difference between both larger and smaller product sizes.
For instance, here is the same shampoo at the 33.8oz size:
You can see here that this large size is priced at $.64/oz.
But when you compare that to the smaller sized offering…
…you can see that the price is double at $1.27/oz for the 8.4oz size.
Again, the bigger size is often always the better deal.
It is worth noting that products may be sold in bundles or multi-packs and may not provide a price per ounce breakdown – so some use of the calculator may be involved to calculate the savings.
Additionally, I also found that many small online stores (both boutique retailers and direct from the company) don’t provide a price per ounce breakdown.
8. Drastic Measures (Proceed with Caution)
As we work our way down the list – this tip is a bit more aggressive than those presented previously.
Here are three ways to quickly cut expenses:
Trim Your Hair: Whether it’s going with a size two on the clippers all around your head to merely sporting a much more kempt and close hairstyle, the fact remains that less hair will equal reduced costs. Not only will this save you at the barbershop as you may not require a specialized haircut, but it will also save you on the backend as well in reduced use of shampoo, conditioner, and styling product.
Also, if you are brave enough or have a partner that is willing, you may be able to cut your hair at home for additional savings.
Skip The Razor & Grow Stubble: When you skip shaving, you don’t have to worry about paying for razor blades, shaving cream, or any other ancillary shaving products.
While growing a full beard requires some maintenance – if you keep things to stubble, the required products are much cheaper – all you simply need is a beard trimmer and face lotion.
Make It A Challenge: Once or twice a year, I like to take a look at all the items that are in my medicine cabinet and shower and quickly add up their worth. When everything is said and done – it typically rings up to about $200 in total.
This includes everything from a beard trimmer, toothpaste, and even dental floss (yes, that one I bought ten years ago).
But I like to ask myself the question – could I get away with doing everything for under $100?
What about for under $50?
I found that when you start to look at things in this way, I realize immediately what products are way overvalued or provide no real use.
If you do this exercise at home, it will definitely help you see things a bit differently and how you can begin chopping expenses rather quickly.
9. Sunscreen > All Other Skincare Products
According to Grand View Research, the men’s skincare industry is expected to grow to $18.92 billion (source) from $12.34 billion in 2020.
That’s massive growth!
What does this mean for you?
Well, for starters, you can expect to see more ads popping up in your social media feed from brands trying to get you to adopt their products into your routine.
Furthermore, don’t be surprised if you also hear a few buddies claiming that some of these creams have helped to reduce the signs of aging – especially if you are around the age of 30.
But rather than feeling the pressure to commit to buying these pricey creams and lotions – if you aren’t comfortable spending the cash – then we strongly urge you to simply wear sunscreen.
Don’t worry; you don’t need to go crazy with which product you buy.
Rather, just using a sunscreen that can block most of the UVA/UVB rays will help to prevent the premature signs of aging on your skin.
Pro Tip: To learn more about the differences between the types of sunscreen (i.e., SPF numbers, ingredients, etc.) and how they will benefit your skin – check out this detailed guide from the Skin Cancer Foundation website.
In addition to skin protection, many modern sunscreens in recent years have also worked moisturizers into their formula. This can also allow the product to be more effective in reducing the signs of aging, particularly on the face of older men.
10. Lifestyle Changes
One of the best, and perhaps most honest, advice that I ever read was from an insider at a large clothing retailer.
He said the best thing you can do in order to improve your style is to simply lose weight.
But why, I wondered?
Well, this individual went on to say that most companies don’t design their products for men that are larger or smaller. Instead, many design their products for healthy and active men without pronounced love handles, legs, chest, biceps, etc.
While sure, they do offer some variation on the cuts (i.e., athletic, slim, straight, etc.) – if you want to look your best, then simply having a healthy diet and regular exercise will make the most significant difference.
I say all this as it is extremely relevant to grooming products and how they work for you.
While face lotions, shave creams, etc. all provide their unique benefits – they can only make so much of a difference if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
So if you are downing a bag of chips, hitting the all-you-can-eat buffet every day for lunch, abusing your body with illegal drugs, or are drinking yourself into oblivion every weekend, then a suite of high-end grooming products aren’t going to make a 40yr old’s skin look like they are in their early 20s again.
After reading countless feedback online of what men have attributed to the most significant difference in their grooming routine when it comes to lifestyle changes – these four were the most commonly mentioned:
- Better sleep habits
- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet + plenty of water
- Quit smoking
Rather than trying to transform who you are overnight – just try making incremental changes to your daily routine and develop constructive habits.
These small changes can make a world of difference in how your skin looks and the effectiveness of the products used.
11. Don’t Be Duped by the Marketers
There’s no doubt about it – modern marketing is nothing like it was only a few short years ago.
With targeted advertising that follows you relentlessly, it is easy to cave-in to the pressure and purchase products that you wouldn’t normally buy.
Whether it’s the content that you read online, the influencers that you follow, or even popular online forums like Reddit, etc., it’s important to approach any new product recommendation with skepticism.
More often than not, for every product that is being mentioned online, there is someone on the other side of the screen that is making money on pulling your attention to a particular product.
Beyond marketing tactics, companies are also getting increasingly better at providing a slick presentation style that makes you want to just ‘Buy Now.’
In order to not needlessly waste your money, we always recommend that you do due diligence on a company before purchasing. This includes simple things like looking at their warranty terms, return policy, objective reviews (not on their site), and seeing where the company is located.
Taking only a few minutes to review this information can save you from a potential headache if the product performs poorly.
Wrapping it All Up
I genuinely hope that this article provided you with some useful tips and information on how to not only look at your grooming routine a bit differently but also provide some significant savings to your wallet.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.