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Birchbox Man Q&A: Andrew Richdale, GQ Grooming Editor

We like to think we know a thing or two about grooming. But for the most cutting-edge advice, we go to GQ’s grooming sage Andrew Richdale. The man’s byline always brings with it the promise of a serious knowledge drop, from no-nonsense grooming coverage (see his 10 favorites of 2012 and Save Face: A Forehead to Chin Guide to useful dispatches, like his Stockholm travelogue). We caught up with him to talk about common skincare mistakes, the hilarious marketing of body hair trimmers, and the hippie ingredient that just might be the future of haircare.

BB Man: What’s the one thing regular guys should introduce into their routines immediately?

Richdale: Hair product. Anything is gonna be better than just a quick towel dry and dash. It’s a confusing world to navigate, but the basics are simple. Offset drier hair with a product that's creamier. Oilier hair? Try a matte product. And tame insane cowlicks—I'm projecting here—with a product whose hold is commensurate with their rowdiness.

BB Man: Number one mistake you think guys make with regards to skin care?

Richdale: How often they exfoliate. They either don't do it or do it too often. Should be about twice a week, maybe one day more, depending on how oily your skin is.

BB Man: What's a bigger and more expensive grooming splurge that's really worth it?

Richdale: Quality anti-aging products aren't cheap, but you should think of them like a 401-K for your face. The earlier you start, the better shape you'll be in 20 or 30 years. Dr. Colbert's Stimulate Serum is one that I trust. Don't forget to spread that stuff on your neck, too—that's one of the first places you start aging noticeably.

BB Man: How do you assess cologne?

Richdale: Spray and ask yourself, ‘Would I want to smell this all day?’ See how you feel about it after a couple hours (more complex fragrances are going to change shape throughout the day) and then decide. Sometimes I wear this DS & Durga cologne called Cowboy Grass that's spiked with anise. Does everybody like the smell of licorice? Of course not. But it's my nose that's going to be taking it in all day. Besides, you shouldn't be spraying so much of anything that your scent foghorns your arrival into a room.

BB Man: Wackiest product that’s ever landed on your desk?

Richdale: It's not so fringe or novel anymore, but the marketing of body hair trimmers always makes me laugh. I make a game out of reading the boxes, counting each cryptic illusion to your junk. There's always that hilarious heat-map illustration that's become universal language across the brands for “YES, EVEN THERE,” with this masculine shadow figure who has every hair-growing area highlighted.

BB Man: How about a rare miracle ingredient that we’ll all be hearing about soon?

Richdale: I just started using this stuff called Quicksand from a new line called Hanz de Fuko that I'm really into. It contains diatomaceous earth, this soft, sedimentary rock that hippie types use as a pesticide because of its desorbing properties. It sucks up all the excess oils in your hair, kind of like dry shampoo, and makes it crazy malleable all day. It has the hold of really heavy products but washes out quick.

BB Man: Favorite product that you can actually feel working?

Richdale: Ole Henricksen's Body Comfort peppermint lotion. Right after working out, or a day later when you get that masochistically awesome sore feeling, you rub it in to your muscles and you feel the pain burning out.

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

Richdale: It's admittedly absurd how overrun with products my bathroom is but here's a brief rundown of some things I can consider essentials lately: Jack Black lavender lip balm, Old Spice deodorant (I don't wear anti-perspirant because I'm trusting some smarter form of intelligence endowed us with sweat glands for a reason), my Sonicare DiamondClean (there are friends I'd lose to keep it), Aesop Post-Shave Lotion (and most things Aesop for that matter), Ursa Major Shaving Cream, (MALIN + GOETZ) Bergamot body wash, and Kyoku's mask. Use a Clarisonic before and you feel the volcanic mud twice as deep.

BB Man: Let’s say ten years from now you release your very own line of men's anti-aging SPF moisturizer. The full-blown empire is a foregone conclusion. What does your brand look like? What about the inevitable women's spin-off?

Richdale: It would be a line of all SPF-ed products, because we're gonna want sun-battling properties in everything by then probably. None of the products would have the weight or scent of SPF though, so I'd call it Naakt, which is Dutch for "naked," since it wouldn't feel like you’re wearing any sunscreen (and you can charge more with a Euro name). The tagline would be borrowed from a Postal Service song that highlighted the silver lining of global warming: At least we can swim in November. And the ads would have two tow-headed Dutch hotties jumping naked into a lake in that Ryan McGinley, can't-help-but-feel-feelings kinda way. No worries about a women's line down the road, because I'd launch it unisex. By 2023, hopefully we'll have called bullshit on that marketing divide.

Follow Richdale’s grooming and style musings at @therichdale. For a complete list of Brichbox Man interviews, go here.

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