Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers
In the past ten years, we’ve seen more skin-care, shaving, and beauty products specifically designed for men and male-identifying people than ever before. Whereas guys were once relegated to choosing from a few kinds of shaving cream, moisturizer, and ChapStick from whatever handful of big brands their local pharmacy carried, they now have seemingly limitless options. But more choices likely pose a unique challenge: It can be easy to feel a little bit overwhelmed about what to buy. As this time of year is always a good one to refresh the man in your life’s Dopp kit, we’ve gone ahead and combed our entire archive of grooming content to find the best gifts to keep your favorite guy (or guys) looking clean, healthy, and handsome in the year to come.
This triangular Dopp kit from Topo Designs gets high marks from the Trevor Project’s creative director, Thomas Pardee, and Evan Shinn, one-half of the skin-care-obsessed Dewy Dudes. Pardee says, “The triangular shape is deceptively roomy and sits upright on any surface without spilling or tipping over.” He also likes that the flexible material is easy to squish into tight spaces when packing. The side strap makes it easy to carry and hang up, and the whole thing is water resistant and easy to clean.
If he’s full of excuses about not putting on lotion but complains about itchy skin, give him this very light and fast-absorbing moisturizing body oil. LeVar Burton named it one of his favorite things, saying, “It has magic in it. It’s not greasy or thick, and it absorbs. I went through a bottle in no time and said to my wife, ‘We have to get more.’”
Of all the CBD grooming products out there (trust us, there are a lot), Lord Jones is among the few we would actually want to receive as a gift. This body lotion is a favorite among celebrities with sore shoulders and former Strategist writer Lori Keong, who says it saved her from constant foot pain.
Grooming tools always feel a little bit special, and this one from The Art of Shaving has some serious spa vibes with the added bonus of solving a very real facial-hair problem. The exfoliating brush will help him get a closer, more comfortable shave with less irritation and bumps.
Maybe dull, dry skin is his worst nightmare. Maybe he’s feeling a little itchy from the blasting heat in his apartment. Maybe he’s got ingrown beard hairs. Whatever his skin type, this tube of luxurious exfoliating wash gently removes dead skin cells without irritating sensitive skin for a brighter complexion.
Writer and stylist Alexander Julian uses this deeply moisturizing mask any time he has to go to an event or get in front of a camera. Give this to any man who loves a quick fix as much as he loves getting compliments.
While there’s nothing wrong with a drugstore classic like Old Spice, there comes a time when some men may want something a bit fancier. This aluminum-free spray-on deodorant is a favorite of fashion designer Paul Smith, who likes that “it’s got a bit of fragrance for a second or two, but after that, it’s just a deodorant without a particular smell.”
If he’s looking for a non-obvious fragrance but is still a fan of woodsy scents like Santal 33, this may be the next cologne for him. Actor Patrick Vaill likes how it’s surprisingly subtle and unassuming yet quite unique. The first time he tried it, he says, “it felt instantly right, like slipping on the perfect pair of jeans. Plus, it just smells so damn good.”
Priority No. 1 for anyone new to skin care beyond soap and water is making sure to moisturize and protect skin from the sun. This affordable moisturizer, recommended by fashion designer Sid Mashburn, does both. “It has SPF, it moisturizes, and the smell is really pleasant,” he says. “I have five daughters, and they all like the scent of this more than my cologne. The only problem is the bottles are always too small.”
The Strategist’s resident skin-care obsessive, Buzz Bissinger, tried West Skincare’s entire line of products and found a lot to like. According to him, these three simple but effective items make an ideal starter pack for men who are easily overwhelmed by fancy skin-care products.
Poet Hanif Abdurraqib told us he has a pretty elaborate skin-care routine that includes this firming antioxidant night oil. Even though it’s an oil, it won’t clog pores, and it gently exfoliates as you sleep. “It definitely helps in that skin-care-before-bed way. And it folds comfortably into the rest of my routine,” he says.
Whether you’re throwing them into his stocking or buying a bunch to wrap up, sheet masks make great gifts. They’re fun to use, virtually idiotproof, and create a spa-like experience whenever you want at home or on vacation. This one combines cooling properties with charcoal to refine his pores and help him relax.
There’s nothing more exciting than unwrapping a brand new gadget or appliance, especially if that appliance also gives you an excuse to put down the floss.
Quip’s electric toothbrush starter kit is a perfect not-too-expensive gift for the man who keeps toothpaste in his desk drawer.
For several years now, Jack Black has put out this genius holiday set of three lip balms — one for the car, one for his office drawer, and one for his jacket pocket — in a variety of flavors. The shea butter in these makes them go on smooth, not waxy, and the SPF 25 protects the delicate skin of his lips from harmful UV rays, which are still a factor in the winter.
Mustachio’d men will appreciate this duo of mustache wax and precision scissors. The wax came to us from our panel of master barbers and mustache experts and the scissors come cosigned by Notis, who included them in his list of everything he uses to keep his beard in check.
Fans of New Wash never go back to regular shampoo and will attempt to convert anybody who’ll listen. That’s because it isn’t a shampoo at all. Instead, it cleans your hair without detergent and doesn’t strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it softer and more healthy-looking. So if he hates how shampoo makes his hair feel dry and puffy but doesn’t like the feel of not washing, New Wash (Deep) is a gift that will — no joke — change his life.
Men with very thick, hard-to-control hair will appreciate the firm hold of this clay pomade. According to comedian Hasan Minhaj, just a little bit holds everything together in the way he wants without looking like he used a ton of product. “It’s not super-shiny or greasy; it has a pretty clean finish,” he says.
We could just tell you that Antoni Porowski from Queer Eye uses this and leave it at that. But if you’re looking for another reason to buy this texturizing cream for someone on your list, we’ll let Porowski, who uses this now that he’s growing out his hair, do the talking: “Right after I wash my hair, I’m basically a Chia Pet. My hair gets really fluffy, and I can’t control it. This stuff manages to get it really textured.”
This little sponge thing would make a great stocking stuffer for any man interested in maintaining coarse hair or tight curls. Julius Randle of the New York Knicks told us he (and probably most of the other Knicks players) uses this barber sponge to get his hair in order before stepping out on the court.
If he’s been dropping hints about retinol or DMing you Dewy Dudes posts, get him a tube of this night cream. It’s strong enough to make a difference fast but gentle enough to keep his skin from looking like a plate of Lox.
Nobody wants to look tired, even when they have a perfectly good reason for getting zero sleep. This super-hydrating eye cream is what new dad Tan France told us he uses to fight under-eye bags and fine lines. The creamy balm firms and protects delicate eye skin with ingredients like Persian-silk-tree bark and macadamia, olive, and jojoba oils.
If he needs his shaving routine to be fast, this Philips Norelco electric shaver is a stellar gift.
If his medicine cabinet is full of legacy grooming brands, this tube of Proraso shaving cream from our list of best shaving creams will fit right in.
Even shaving purists will admit that straight razors can be intimidating. Instead, give him the next best thing: a golden safety razor as beautiful as it is good at its job.
Bearded men fricking LOVE beard oil because it adds shine, but also because it makes their beards smell good and feel less itchy. This one came in at the top of our list of best beard oils.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.