A Gentleman’s Guide to Grooming — with David Gandy and Larry King

What these two don’t know about good looks isn’t worth knowing. In the first in our Adventures of Sophistication series, the two men talk haircare, SPFs and the product they can't live without. Brought to you by Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin

Behind every handsome man is an ingeniously talented groomer. David Gandy may have been blessed with genetics to rival Adonis, a twinkle in his eye like the North Star, and the jawline that launched a thousand ships. But even he could do with a spruce up from time to time. Enter Larry King — David’s long-time friend and confidante, and the hair stylist-extraordinaire behind his particularly lucrative locks. He is the chairman, CEO, president, treasurer, and water boy of Good Hair Inc.; Team Handsome’s snipper-in-chief. And what these two don’t know about male grooming isn’t worth knowing. 

Over a Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry gin and tonic (or four), Larry and David discussed the dangers of washing your hair too often, the power of the blow dryer, and why we should all be wearing sunscreen every day. 

How did you two first meet?

Larry: I first started cutting David’s hair 15 years ago, just after he first shot the Light Blue ad for Dolce & Gabbana. We soon became great friends and David started to ask me to do the grooming on his shoots. This made a huge difference to my path as a hairstylist. I started to be offered other shoots and my session career really snowballed from there. David and I have travelled the world together, having a giggle wherever we went — from the beaches of Jamaica to the pavements of New York. We’re a bit like a couple of naughty schoolboys on a shoot — it makes the day light-hearted and creates a great atmosphere on set. 

As time progressed, we talked about the idea of a product range and salons. David was the first person to offer investment in the business, which was really the push in the right direction that I needed. Sometimes just having someone believe in you and your ideas and encourage you to take the first step is all it takes to follow your dreams. I secured further investment and launched the first salon in South Kensington in 2017, followed by a product range in 2019 and another salon in Notting Hill in 2020. The business so far has been an incredible success and I will be forever grateful for both David’s friendship and his belief in what I could do. Brothers from day one.

What, in your opinion, is the most commonly overlooked part of the male grooming routine?

David: Men are getting much better at using good-quality skin care products, but many men could still be doing a lot more. I suppose the most commonly overlooked element is applying a sunscreen to your face everyday, which we only seem to do when on holiday. Thankfully, many good quality daily moisturisers now contain an SPF. 

Larry: Taking a one-product-fits all approach to their hair is the biggest mistake I see. Lots of men buy, say, a pomade, then wash their hair in the shower and pile on loads of product to wet hair, expecting it to dry naturally and look great. This most commonly leads to solid, unmovable crispy hair that still has comb lines through it that night. 

If you really want great hair that’s moveable, that you can run your fingers through and move about through the day, you’ll need to use a hair dryer. I always recommend running some mousse through wet hair. Get yourself a hair dryer, keep the nozzle attached and use it to smooth out the hair. This will smooth down the hair shaft and your hair will look shinier and more groomed. Once dry, finish with something movable and adaptable like my Velvet Texture clay. 

It’s great to see so many men embracing their natural texture. If you have curls, I’d still add the mousse, add in a curl cream, pop on the diffuser attachment to the hair dryer and finish with A Social Life For Your Hair cream.

What is the one grooming tool you could not live without? It could be something built-for-purpose, or that you’ve brought into the bathroom or adapted for personal use?

David: The Dyson Hairdryer. Women realise how important blow drying their hair into a style is, whereas many men may not. This is where Larry differs from other hairstylists.  He educated his clients that a great hairstyle starts with a great haircut. The style is then achieved through blow drying your hair and then enhancing it with good products.  

Larry: Definitely the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer. I’m constantly recommending it to my male clients, it’s an absolute game changer for gent’s hair — once you’ve tried it, you’ll never look back.

In which order do you complete your morning grooming routine?

David: I never shave — just use a beard trimmer every few days. I wet my hair in the shower but try not to wash it everyday, as you start washing away natural oils. Really my morning routine is about my grooming routine for my face, which is the same as the evening: a good face wash/exfoliator, then a serum and finally a good moisturiser.

"It's super important not to wash your hair everyday — I'd stick to every two to three days..."

Larry: Yeah I completely agree with the beard trimmer. I completely avoid a wet shave and prefer the softer finish of just a little stubble. It’s super important not to wash your hair every day — I’d stick to every two to three days. Finer hair types will need to wash every two but for thicker or curlier hair types every three days is more than enough. You’ll generally find your hair looks better the second day and that’s because the natural oils have had a chance to travel down the hair shaft and it’ll look shinier and be more manageable.

Alternating shampoos is a great idea, too — using a detoxifying shampoo one day and something that adds protein and shine another will generally mean you get a better result long term. (Our City Life and Social Life shampoos are great for this). I also think it’s much more OK now to be skincare savvy. For a long time it’s been a one-cream-fits all for men’s grooming products, but don’t be shy to have a cupboard full of different creams and serums at your disposal. Your skin, much like your hair, changes throughout the year and needs different things at different times. There are a lot more gender-neutral product lines out there now, so don’t feel the need to just stick with the products just aimed at guys.

How do you apply your aftershave?

David: The important thing to learn with aftershave is that a little goes a long way. Two or three sprays is enough. The theory is that you apply to parts of your skin where blood flow is closest to the surface of the skin. I therefore put a couple of sprays around your neck and maybe your wrists.

As a salon owner, Larry, what are the most common mistakes you see men make in their daily grooming routines?

I hate over-plucked eyebrows on guys. I think they should be natural. For me, grooming on the brows should strictly be trimming any long and curlies, and that’s it. And of course, a major mistake is often in the beard trimming and marking out defined lines. You really need to keep lines soft. You can achieve this by utilising the different attachments that come with the beard trimmer, so that you’re fading out the lines rather than trying to work out where they should abruptly stop.

Why does it pay to invest in good grooming products?

David: In terms of haircare, it can make a huge difference. I would look for sulphate and paraben-free shampoos. Personally, these are much more gentle on the hair and scalp and are generally qualities found in more natural formulations and therefore more expensive haircare brands. A Dyson Supersonic is a huge investment, but does have intelligent heat control to minimise damage.

When it comes to skincare, however, products range significantly. While some lower cost options may list that they use some of the same ingredients as higher-end products, many of the lower cost options dilute the ingredients or don’t use as much of the same ingredient. Many of the ingredients may be similar but of a much different quality. So, quality and percentage of ingredients in products is what men should look for to promote healthy looking skin and prevent premature signs of ageing.

When it comes to hair styling, there are plenty of different products on the market. From pomades and gels to sprays and clays, which is the best — and why?

Larry: There’s no single one that’s the best. It’s all about hair texture and finding the best one to suit yours. What’s super important is that I would say a mousse is generally great for all hair types — always add it to wet hair. And, as a general rule, the thicker the hair the thicker the paste should be. Finer and curlier hair types are great with a creme finish, while thicker, more stubborn textures will benefit from something with a bit more hold, like a clay.

Further Reading