A Glorious Grooming Glossary for Guys

So you constantly complain about your lifeless complexion or your itchy beard, and you can't exactly articulate how you want your hair cut. Well, then, how do you expect to look and feel your best when you don't know how to address them? Here's the deal: there are some important gaps in your grooming vocabulary, and it's time to fill them.

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Make a checklist of every grooming tool in your possession. If a styptic pencil, serum, or moisturizer didn't make the list, there's something wrong. Or try this exercise: can you name the type of haircut you have? If the answer is no, read below, because it looks like you need a quick lesson in grooming terminology.

Mike Gilman, founder of the Grooming Lounge website, and Fadi Mourad, chief innovation officer at Dollar Shave Club, are used to answering an entire internet's worth of men's grooming questions.

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Here, they share the terms you need to know most.

Against the Grain — A way to shave that involves sliding the blade in the opposite direction of hair growth.

Pro Note: Mourad does not recommend that you shave against the grain: "It causes the blades of the razor to pull the hair back on itself more harshly and changes the angle of the blades toward the skin, leading to ingrown hairs, razor burn, nicks, and irritation," he says.

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Beard Conditioner — Moisturizing treatments for your beard that you can leave in or wash out in the shower.

Pro Note: "These are different from beard oils. You condition the hair on your head, and you need to do the same for the hair on your face," Gilman says. 

Blank Slate Beard Softener, $22, beardbrand.com.

Boxed — A style of neck trim that takes on a square shape.

Pro Note: "If you want a straight line, you should ask your barber for 'boxed,'" Gilman recommends.

Fade — A haircut that tapers hair short as it reaches the ears and neck. There are two popular styles of the fade, which Mourad calls "slicked back" and "undone."

Pro Note: "'Slicked back' is a short fade on the side and medium-to-long hair on top that is slicked back," Mourad says, adding that the 'undone' look is "a short-to-medium fade on the side with roughed-up shorter hair on top."

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Jojoba oil — An essential oil that works as a moisturizer—you can find it in pretty much any hydrating product today.

Pro Note: "Jojoba oil is naturally derived and very closely resembles sebum, the waxy and oily substance produced by our skin glands," Mourad says. 

Epic Moisture MP10 Nourishing Oil by Jack Black, $32, sephora.com.

Nostrails — The long hairs that grow out of your, well, nostrils.

Pomade — A styling product for hair that can be wax- or water-based.

Pro Note: "Wax-based pomades will offer a higher level of shine," Mourad says, adding "water-based pomades will provide higher hold and light-to-medium shine." These are best used when applied to damp hair. 

Classic Pomade, $22, imperialbarberproducts.com.
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Safety razor — A double-edged razor.

Pro Note: "A safety razor provides as close of a shave as a multi-blade razor and saves a lot of money," says Gilman. 

Anodized Safety Razor, $30, wetshaveclub.com.
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Serum — A pre-moisturizing product composed of different formulas that target specific problems, including dullness, hyperpigmentation, and dryness. 

Replenishing Face Serum, $70, malinandgoetz.com.

Styptic pencil — A device made out of a styptic substance, which is a combination of medicine and astringent that stops bleeding. This is great for little shaving nicks. 

Styptic Pencil by Clubman Pinaud, $5, groominglounge.com.

Sulfates — Chemicals that are the cleansing ingredients in most skin and hair care products.

Pro Note: "You should avoid products with sulfates as they strip hair and skin of their natural moisture barrier," Mourad says. 

Balancing Daily Moisturizer by Port Products, $30, themotley.com.

Tapered — A style of neck trim.

Pro Note: "If you want a natural look on your neck, ask your barber for a 'tapered' neck trim," Gilman says. 

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