An Interview with Kurt Soller, Esquire’s Online Style Editor

Esquire's grooming ace fills us in on the strangest product that's ever landed on his desk, why doing a mud mask is good way to earn brownie points with a lady friend, and the unexpected super-rugged ingredient that's turning up everywhere.

BB Man: What’s the one thing regular guys with a low level of interest in grooming should introduce into their routines immediately?

Kurt Soller: How low are we talking? Definitely deodorant first. Followed by teeth-brushing. Then I’d go with face moisturizer. Because it actually feels good and helps your appearance—or will, at least, down the road.

BB Man: Deodorant before teeth-brushing—bold choice. Okay, what's a big grooming splurge that's really worth it?

Soller: If you’re of the hirsute variety, I’d probably say back waxes. Barring that, I think the biggest financial splurge should be a great haircut. It’s the only thing I can think of that not only makes you feel good and confident, but that other people will certainly notice. Take your stylist’s or barber’s advice when it comes to products for your new cut, too. They deal with this stuff all day, every day.

BB Man: What's a classic grooming product every guy should steal from his dad?

Soller: Barbasol. No shaving cream out there gets better lather.

BB Man: Steal from his girlfriend?

Soller: I think those mud masks can be pretty relaxing, actually. You can win points with her, be a little silly, and do it together.

BB Man: What’s the weirdest grooming product that’s ever landed on your desk?

Soller: I was once sent vaginal tightening cream.

BB Man: Yeesh! Okay, how about a rare miracle ingredient that guys don't know about but surely will soon? Magic hair growth powder from Thailand? All-natural nose-hair inhibiting serum extracted from baobab trees in Madagascar?

Soller: I’m actually more excited by commonplace ingredients being used in exotic ways. The one that comes to mind now is black pepper, the stuff with which we season our food daily. It's landing everywhere from shampoos to colognes for the “energizing” effect it offers. Mint used to be the go-to for that sort of thing, but pepper’s a bit more masculine: Less clean, more rugged.

BB Man: Can you give us an overview of your own personal grooming routine? A snapshot of your medicine cabinet and shower caddy?

Soller: I use the Kiehl’s grapefruit cleanser, amino acid shampoo, and “grooming aid” conditioner that’s available at Equinox. Body lotion, too, from Kiehl’s, but probably every other day. I’m of the perhaps-misguided belief that deodorant stops working after a bit, so I switch between Dove Men + Care and classic Old Spice. For my hair, I use this paste called Reformer, from Paul Mitchell men’s line, Mitch. Or for something lighter, this stuff from a new unisex line—Verb—called “Styling Cream.” It just works. Big believer in under-eye cream from (MALIN + GOETZ, especially after a night of drinks, and in Kiehl’s Facial Fuel every morning (drinks or not) because it has caffeine inside, to help things look and feel a bit more awake. At home, I’ve been using American Crew’s shampoo and conditioner since high school and have never had a reason to switch. The mint one. Marvis toothpaste in the licorice flavor, which sounds gross but isn’t.

BB Man: That's a very complete but extremely reasonable routine—readers, take note. Last question: Flash forward ten years. You've just released your very own line of men's age-defying SPF moisturizer. Your full-blown toiletry and skincare empire is basically foregone conclusion. What's your brand called? What about the inevitable women's spin-off?

Soller: "Clark." It’s my Grandmother’s maiden name. Seems pretty timeless. The women’s line would also be Clark, because “for her” just seems redundant. Let people figure it out themselves.

Follow Kurt Soller on twitter at @kurtsoller and find his daily grooming and sartorial wisdom at the Esquire Style Blog.

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