A few years back, when it came to packing for their holidays, most men would have been content to throw in their toiletry bags a deodorant, shower gel and shaving cream. More often than not, beauty products were an afterthought.
But then Metrosexual man was born and the men’s grooming industry exploded, and nowadays there’s nearly as much choice (and confusion) for men as there is for women. So what are the essentials for dads getting ready for a family holiday in the sun?
See also our features on best beach products for kids and mums, and our sun protection advice in family-holiday health and safety.
All prices were correct at the time of writing but are subject to change.
Start preparing your body a few weeks before your holidays so you’re in tip-top condition. We’re not talking hours in a salon here – just easy routines to adopt at home, in the shower or bath.
Firstly, use a body scrub to scuff away dead skin and hard patches so that when it comes to tanning you’ll have a nice even colour. Nickel’s Morning After Rescue Shower Gel (nickelspalondon.co.uk; £16) contains jojoba beads with softening pistachio oil to exfoliate and leave skin deeply cleansed, toned and softened, while Aromatherapy Associates Natural Exfoliating Grains (aromatherapyassociates.com; £15.50) are pure, finely ground olive pits that can be added to any shower gel so you can choose your own strength of exfoliator. They’re both a great way to treat particularly rough patches and light enough to take with you without weighing down your baggage.
For the body-conscious who want to be super-prepared for the beach, the new unisex self-tanning range Hi-Shi has a selection of products, including the Dark Foaming Mousse (he-shi.co.uk; £27) for all skin tones, said to give a perfect ‘man-tan’. It doesn’t stick to hair, is fragrance-free and dries instantly. To top up your tan while away, the Sun-Believable Try Me three-product set (sun-believable.com; £35) contains the travel-friendly 100ml Tan Me Self-Tan Mousse, Scrub-Me Body Exfoliator and Cream-Me Body Moisturiser.
Slather on the sun protection cream when spending any time in the sun. Clinique’s Body Spray (Clinique.co.uk; £17.50) with SPF25 is a practical option for dads who are active on holiday, spraying on evenly so even hard-to-reach places can be covered against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every 2hrs and after swimming or perspiring. Alternatively, Jurlique’s Sun Lotion SPF30 (jurlique.co.uk; £40) contains herbs and flowers harvested on the brand’s organic and biodynamic farm in south Australia, and its gentle formulation is a good choice for those with sensitive skin, while Piz Buin’s 1-Day Long Lotion SPF30 (boots.com; £19.39) is ideal for the no-nonsense man, providing long-lasting (6hr) protection from one application (though you should avoid the midday sun and reapply after swimming or when you feel necessary).
Lastly, one of the most advanced sun protection brands on the market is Institut Esthederm, whose Adaptasun Bronze Repair Anti-Wrinkle Tanning Cream Extreme Sun (spacenk.co.uk; £52) may be at the pricier end of the market but it is renowned among tanning experts for its advanced technology, which uses cellular water and a proactive tanning patent to help develop a more natural tan. This face protector contains centenella asiatica to helps firm skin and reduce the fine lines and wrinkles caused by over-exposure to the sun.
Dry, itchy and flaky scalps can worsen in the heat, but Trevor Sorbie’s Mg Anti Dandruff Shampoo (trevorsorbie.com; £5.10) from his men’s hair-care line cleans and conditions hair and contains aloe vera to help soothe and cool the scalp. If you’re short on time and space, an all-in-one hair and body wash is a great solution for holidays: the highly practical Phyto Plage Moisturising Hair and Body Wash (bathandunwind.com; £11) contains bamboo marrow extract and kukui nut oil to clean and moisturise hair and body. Or try Vichy Homme’s Hydra Mag C Invigorating Hydrating Shower Gel Body and Hair (vichyconsult.co.uk; £9.50), which contains magnesium and vitamin C to energise the skin and reinvigorate lifeless hair. It’s formulated with the same pH as skin, to protect against dryness.
Avoid dry and brittle hair from too much time in the sun by using a leave-in conditioner: Su Moisturizing Softening Leave In Mist with Walnut Extract (call 020 3301 5449 for stockists; £17.57) is specially formulated to take care of hair exposed to the sun, salt water and chlorine. To take away with you, Gentlemen’s Tonic Daily Shampoo and Protein Conditioner (gentlemenstonic.com; £14 and £15) are the perfect luxury duo. Made with the Amazonian babassu nut and bergamot essential oil, the shampoo gently cleanses and revitalises hair and scalp, removing the build up of toxins, products and pollutants, while the conditioner contains protein-enriched ingredients to protect and strengthen.
When it comes to styling, the best solution for travelling is to find one versatile product. Fish Kingfisher UVA/B Shielding Wax (boots.com; £5.99) contains sun-ray protection filters as well as emollient oils to add sheen and prevent hair drying out. This malleable finishing product to separate and define your style is suitable for any length. Tigi’s Bed Head A Hair Stick for Cool People (tigihaircare.com; £15.25), a wax-like formula that comes in a handy, pocket-sized tin, instantly creates texture and a soft, pliable hold and leaves no build-up, making it ideal for those on the move. Also in a small pocket tin that can be used on the beach for surfer-dude hair is Fudge Urban Surfer Wax (fudgeurban.co.uk; £6.99), a super-concentrated hard wax that gives a matte texture and keeps hair in place come rain or shine.
Shower and Go
Whether you spend your holidays lazing by the pool or engaging in adrenalin-fuelled sports, nothing beats a cooling shower at the end of a hot day. Payot Homme’s All Over Shampoo (call 020 7494 6220 for stockists; £14), with iron minerals to energise and copper minerals to purify, gently lathers to wash away the day’s debris.
After a day’s exposure to the heat and sun, a cooling body lotion will calm burnt or sensitive skin. Weleda’s Aloe Vera Body Lotion (weleda.co.uk; £9.95) uses biodynamic aloe vera gel, shea butter and apricot oil to gently moisturise and refresh overheated skin, while Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Deep Moisture Creamy Oil (boots.com; £4.99), a great all-rounder, is a non-greasy, lightweight cream formula that softens and hydrates dry skin, just like an oil.
For indulgence, Gielly Green’s Hand and Body Lotion (shop.giellygreen.co.uk; £18), lightly scented with lemon and muguet, won’t disappoint, using neem, sea buckthorn and argan as well as olive oil, calendula and vitamin B5, to restore the skin’s natural barrier.
A vital inclusion to your holiday toiletry bag is your deodorant. Gentle souls love Madara’s Ecodeo Organic Herbal Deodorant (pravera.co.uk; £10.50) with calendula, chamomile, safe and peppermint, promising long-lasting protection and a quick-drying formula. At the other end of the scale, the Aramis 24 hour High Performance Deodorant Stick (boots.com; £15) has a distinctive, masculine fragrance and is perfect for the active dad.
Lastly, a spray of Kiwiherb Insect Repellent (kiwiherb.co.uk; £7.79) will leave you protected for the evening. This natural product uses lemongrass and fennel essential oil in a Deet-free formula to ward off nasty biting bugs, with a fresh lemon scent that means you won’t end up smelling like something from the medicine cabinet.
Fashion- but budget-conscious dads love Kings Face Wash (boots.com; £3.49) in its retro-style packaging, charged with black pepper and sandalwood to keep complexions free from blemishes. Soap & Glory’s Pre-Shave Extra Gentle Face Wash (boots.com; £4.50) is perfect for oily skin or those prone to breakouts, fighting spots, preventing in-grown hair and prepping skin prior to shaving, while G. Baldwin’s Green Tea & Frankincense Exfoliating Scrub (baldwins.co.uk; £7.99) has bamboo and birch bark to gently tone and cleanse, leaving the face super-smooth. Follow the cleansing regime with Essentially Yours Mu for Men Orange and Grapefruit Preshave Toner (essentially-yours.co.uk; £9.99), which lifts hairs, prevents in-growing hairs and tones skin prior to shaving.
When it comes to shaving, Roger & Gallet’s L’Homme Shaving Cream (roger-gallet.com; £9.50) is a classic choice, with shea butter to protect and soften skin while using a razor. Mrs White’s Physick Shaving Serum (roullierwhite.com; £20), on the other hand, is made from natural, highest-grade oils such as rosehip, carrot and black cumin seed, and its serum-like texture helps the blade glide across your skin while deeply hydrating.
An essential follow-up to shaving is moisturising. Espa Men Postshave Rescue (espaonline.com; £24.50) is an instant soother to calm minor irritations, blemishes and spots, with lemon essential oil, antibacterial tea tree and antiseptic thyme. Ole Henriksen Protect The Truth SPF50 (bathandunwind.com; £31) is an ideal everyday moisturiser with high-protection sunscreen, while L’Oreal Men Expert Hydra Energetic (boots.com; £11.73) is enriched with vitamin C to boost radiance and reinvigorate tired and dull skin, although it’s only SPF15 so not for strong sunshine.
For those who want to splash some cash (or looking to drop some Father’s Day or birthday-present hints!), renowned skincare brand Sisley has launched a men’s skincare line, including the Sisleyum Global Revitalizer For Men (Sisley.co.uk; £150), which is packed with advanced anti-ageing ingredients, helps repair razor cuts, and leaves skin matte and looking firmer.