See that sorry chap over in the corner of the coffee shop? The one with bags under his eyes, ungainly stubble, desperately downing his second espresso as if it will somehow save him from face-planting into the baby carriage that he’s leaning on? That is the portrait of a new dad.
Here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to have a newborn and still compose yourself as if you care what you look like. These easy tips require minimal time and serve up maximal results.
1. Take care of your eyes.
Red, puffy eyes are a dead giveaway that you either had a spat with your spouse or you’ve got a crying newborn keeping you up at night. Two fast fixes: Remove the red by using eye drops for dry eyes several times a day. Most formulas last 8-10 hours and provide a soothing sensation. Next, calm the puffiness by placing a tea bag dipped in hot, then icy water, over those swollen suckers. Let it rest on your socket for 5-10 minutes to draw out the puff-causing fluid.
2. Shave in the shower.
Because modern razors are built to withstand a stream of water, and because their guards are so good, you don’t need to hold perfectly still with the exact mirror angle to prevent nicks. What you will need: A good mounted mirror on your shower caddy or door, to make sure you get the tricky spots. Extra points: The hot steam from the shower naturally opens your pores, making for a smoother, closer shave.
3. Fix your hair even if you skipped the shower.
If the showering itself is what’s taking up too much of your nonexistent time, then you are a prime candidate for the latest grooming trend: dry shampoo. Basically, the stuff is a powder or spray that you run through your hair, and voila! No need to go anywhere near a shower head. For those times when you do make it to the shower, finish your routine with some styling cream. Natural and inconspicuous, the stuff provides shape and texture with a natural finish. Just work it up in your hands and then run your hands through your wet or dry hair.
4. Go bald.
Sometimes, the best way to deal with a problem is to eliminate it. In the case of your hair, that may mean getting rid of the comb-over by shaving your head. As long as you’re OK with a little peach fuzz, you can buy yourself almost a week of ignoring your hair altogether.
5. Focus on fit.
Nothing says complete exhaustion like the guy standing on the train platform in pants three sizes too big. Trousers should always be tailored neatly to leave 1/2- to one-inch of fabric at the thigh. More than that and you’ll look unkempt; less and it will create an awkward pull at the knees and groin when you sit down.
6. Tweeze the brows and cut your nails.
You’re probably thinking, “Wait, this is an extra step. I didn’t even pluck those before I had a kid!” Fair enough. But if you’re tired and want to create an instant look of energy, it helps to have a clean look all around your eyes. Use your beard trimmer’s brow setting if it has one or DIY the nose bridge section with your wife’s tweezers to rid yourself of the dreaded unibrow. It should go without saying that your nails need maintenance as well. Clip them daily and keep them as short as you can — the less chance for dirt to creep under them.
7. Grow a beard.
Surprised? The truth is, maintaining a well-groomed beard takes less time than keeping your face hair-free. Rather than daily shaving, you can switch to an every-other-day or twice a week maintenance routine. Work your razor or beard trimmer around the perimeter, focusing on clean, defined edges. Use mustache wax to coax errant hairs into place.
8. Drink more water.
So basic, so essential. And probably the single fastest, cheapest way to improve your appearance. Sleep restores and rehydrates your skin. When you miss out on it, doubling down on your usual fluid intake — with an emphasis on non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages — can help give you back some of that healthy appearance.
9. Wear warmer colors.
When you’re trying to decide between the icy-white dress shirt and the cream-colored one, go for cream. Warmer hues restore the appearance of color in your cheeks while the colder shades (blue, etc.) exaggerate the paleness of a sleep-deprived dad.