We've all endured more than two moths of lockdown now, but during this time you may have re-evaluated your grooming routine.
As hair and beards grow without a barber appointment insight, you’ll probably have taken one of two approaches; shave it all off, or let it grow freely.
Either way, it's more than likely your typical grooming habits have changed since the start of the pandemic, depending on whether you have more, or less, hair.
We've pulled together all the products we think you need to keep you looking your best as we head into summer, whether that's an oil to keep tame your beard or sunscreen to protect your shaved head.
Spanning haircare, skincare and body care, many of the products featured here have been tried-and-tested by our IndyBest team – for the full reviews and more products head to our grooming section here.
You can trust our independent roundups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
How to cut your hair at home
Cutting your own hair at home is nobody’s first choice. But as the weather only gets hotter, you may have come to the decision that shaving all your hair off – with the help of another trusted person – is the best way around this problem.
But if it doesn’t turn out as planned, you've got enough time for it to grow back before you make any public outings past the supermarket or the park.
Songwriter Harry Harris told The Independent that taking the plunge and cutting all your hair off is, in his own experience, easy to do at home. “Firstly, if your hair is already reasonably long, then don’t try beard trimmers – I ruined a pair that way, they just get stuck,” he says.
“If it’s reasonably short then I’ve used my beard trimmers to get it down to a shaveable level. I use Harry’s razors, which for full disclosure explicitly say do not use on heads, but I think they’re great – use a new razor every time, go slowly, and do it twice – you’ll miss bits. Then put lots of moisturiser on your head.”
To stay on top of new hair growth, Harry does this himself at home using a razor once a week.
But if you wanted expert guidance, Birmingham-based barbers Blacc and Blond are offering virtual consultations for £5.
Launched by founder Anil Salhan, the personalised one-to-one sessions are 45 minutes long and are designed to help men and their partners cut their hair, and be happy with the result. From the fee, 100 per cent of it goes to mental health charities CALM and Birmingham Mind too.
When it comes to the tools to use, we were most impressed with the Babyliss 12-in-1 Japanese steel multi trimmer kit (Babyliss, £80).
It has 12 – yes, 12 – assortments in one sleek kit that sort, sharpen and style your stubble, beard and brows. There are even add-ons for nose, ears and all kinds of body hair. It was a clear winner in our guide to the best hair clippers for the price and the breadth of use, with five heads, four trimmers, two combs and one shaver, a cordless battery life that lasted 120 minutes and its even waterproof.
Keeping facial hair in check
Great for keeping things simple, our reviewer found the smart-flexing head on this makes it the easiest of trims, literally guiding your hand along the contours of your face without any accidents. The pop-up trimmer and travel lock are also a welcomed touch, making this multitasker a great choice for everyday use.
If your beard is here to stay, then invest in a beard oil, to keep your hair soft, shiny and more pleasant for your partner. In our guide to the best beard oils on the market, our reviewers tried out more than 40 oils, judging texture, tone and scent to separate the reputable from the rubbish.
Coming in at number one was the Mauli Rituals nourish post-shave and beard oil (Mauli Rituals, £44). It’s calming, conditioning and deliciously fragrant in equal measure.
Beard oils can be tricky, often far too heavy and subsequently weighing down a beard, but the nourish post-shave and beard oil is lightweight and nourishing. Throw in the therapeutic effect of moringa, black seed, argan and watermelon seed oil and you’ve got a product as relaxing as it is result-driven.
Sort your skincare routine
Since the lockdown started you may have also seen a change in your skin, from more breakouts to increased sensitivity. Find out how staying inside is affecting our skin – and what to do about it here.
No matter how simple your approach to skincare is, we’re all looking for efficacy and efficiency in our products.
This CeraVe SA smoothing cleanser (Look Fantastic, £12) is a no brainer. Any good cleanser should be many things, but first and foremost should be able to wash away the dirt and debris of the day (or night). CeraVe’s newest cleanser up’s the ante with salicylic acid, an oil-dissolving acid that can remove pore-clogging impurities such as sebum and pollution to clear congested skin.
To make the most out of the actives, which also includes CeraVe’s signature ceramides (barrier restoring lipids), massage it into the face for a good minute, before rinsing off.
If you’re new to serums, (applied after cleansing and before moisturising) vitamin C is one you shouldn’t go without. It’s one of the few proven anti-ageing skincare ingredients (it encourages collagen production), can improve visible signs of sun damage and scarring, and helps defend skin against environmental damage caused by free radicals.
The texture is gloopy, and one squeeze of the pipette delivers plenty of product to wear under your moisturiser daily. Our reviewer found it to be fast-absorbing and kept skin feeling smooth throughout the day.
Finish your skincare routine with a moisturiser, that creates a seal on the skin, prevents water loss and allows the skin’s barrier to repair overnight.
Our favourite is Teoxane deep repair balm (Teoxane, £34). Formulated for post-treatment skincare, when the face is inflamed and reactive, the product is designed to soothe the barrier and saturate the skin in hydration (specifically via its patented RHA – resilient hyaluronic acid).
For any city dweller, sensitive sort or sun seeker, this moisturiser is the answer to a calm complexion.
Always use SPF
Whether you worship the sun’s rays, love topping up your tan in the garden or actively avoid the sun, the best thing you can do for your skin is wear an SPF daily to protect from harmful UV rays.
"It is well known that UV radiation will not only age and pigment the skin but can induce skin cancers, some of which may be fatal,” Dr Adil Sheraz, British Skin Foundation spokesperson, previously told The Independent.
Find our sunscreen guide here or everything you need to know about SPF, UVA rays and the shelf life of sunscreens.
For the body, our favourite is the Mimitika sunscreen body spray SPF30 (Space NK, £21.50) which was the best product in our IndyBest review of body sunscreens for SPF and UV protection that lasts.
The formula is non-sticky and has a lovely tropical scent. The milky spray is easy to apply, so you won't miss areas and blends in within four to five strokes, so you won't' be left with white marks.
If you’re looking for an all-rounder sunscreen, try the Medik8 physical sunscreen (Medik8, £36). It contains moringa, which adds an extra layer of environmental protection while carnosene is also present to help against any damage caused by infrared rays.
It leaves a deliciously blank canvas to work on; evening skin tone and texture. It’s a tad thicker than some on our list so steer clear if you’re on the drier side.
Don’t skip on bodycare
The skin on your body is important too, so use a daily moisturiser when you get out the shower.
The right one can give a spa-like experience at home, while softening dry, dull skin.
Plus, nobody has the time to spend rubbing it in, the best ones are fast-absorbing, so you can grab and go – even if it is only to the sofa.
Don't be put off by the name, this “bum bum cream” contains caffeine-rich guarana to brighten and tighten skin, as well as cupuacu butter and acai coconut oils for serious moisturising.
For such a thick, heavy feeling cream, it absorbs quickly, leaving behind smooth, soft skin and a sweet, nutty scent. It even worked wonders on our stubbornly scaly elbows
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.